The traditional ruler of Omupo in Ifelodun Local Government Area of Kwara, Oba Yakub Buari, has identified the development of culture and tradition as critical toward achieving the desired national transformation.
Buari, who is also the Olomu of Omupo, made the comment in an interactive session with newsmen on the sideline of the annual “Oba Igba”, Cultural Festival in Omupo in Kwara State.
He said that revamping and development of the nation’s various cultural heritages, through adequate funding, would assist in diversifying the country’s economy from its current oil dependency.
According to him, each state, towns, villages and localities nationwide are endowed with their unique culture and traditions that could attract investment and generate foreign exchange earnings for the country.
Buari, who decried the neglect of the nation’s tourism sector by past governments, regretted that most of the nation’s cherished culture, tradition and artifacts are fast going into extinction.
The monarch also emphasised the need to orientate and sensitise the citizens to enable them to differentiate between culture and religious beliefs.
He also advocated adequate security to ensure preservation of African antiquities and heritage.
According to him, the incessant shipment of African antiquities abroad was eroding the citizens’ identity and dignity.
“A lot of the citizens have misconstrued culture with religious beliefs and regarded the latter as fetish.
“That is why you can see adherent of Islamic and Christian doctrine in this part of the society dissociating themselves from culture and traditional engagements.
“But the people that brought independence to us knew the importance of these artifacts and took them away and now we are paying huge amount to watch what actually belonged to us in overseas.
“Your belief in God does not mean you should forget your culture and I think some of us have realised the importance of this sector, hence the annual “Oba Igba Cultural Festival.
“Candidly, culture and tradition have the potential to enhance the growth and the socio-economic transformation of our nation, if well harnessed,” the monarch said.
Buari charged the Ministry of Culture and Tourism both at the state and national levels to be alive to their responsibility of ensuring adequate protection for the nation’s cherished antiquities.
The Olomu said the festival, which dates back to the 1700, was an historical event geared toward remembering the founder of the community, who migrated from Ile-Ife, the cradle of the Yorubas.
He said efforts were on top gear at enhancing the profile of the festival to by making it a destination of choice for international and foreign exchange earnings for the country.
According to him, some other side attractions such as novelty wrestling bout with attractive prizes in the form of gifts and scholarship would be added.
Dr Sola Afolabi, the National President of Omupo Descendant Union (ODU), expressed satisfaction with the level the festival had attained and pledged the union’s commitment to sustaining the spirit.
Afolabi appealed to the state government to accord the festival the attention it deserved in projecting the image of the community and state positively to the outside world.
He also used the opportunity to call for more developmental projects in the community and charged the indigenes to remain committed to its growth, progress and development.
The Nigeria News Agency reports that the high point of the festival was the novelty wrestling bout between the Olomu and Chief Elemoso at the community market square amidst singing and drumming.
Edited & Vetted By: Emmanuel Okara/Felix Ajide