Today as we celebrate Olokun festival, I bear testimony to the fact that there are hundreds of tourists that are present here at this venue; they come annually to Badagry to celebrate with us. “As we leverage on all these benefits and several others, it would translate to tremendous socio-economic progress, particularly to the host community.” Despite challenges and criticism from some quarters, Adams vowed to continue with the lofty idea of celebrating the Olokun festival which he believes would ensure cultural rejuvenation of Yoruba race in Nigeria and beyond.
Otunba Gani Adams, who said this in his opening speech at this year’s Olokun festival, pointed out “In the last 12 years, we have demonstrated an uncommon courage and determination to face all odds or challenges. Thus, we have contended with various setbacks that are good enough to derail us. “But right from the onset, we have decided to sacrifice everything, including our precious time and resources purposely to ensure that the Yoruba nation regain its lost glory and retain its pride of place among comity of nations.”
The OPC leader urged governments at all levels to invest in tourism and create enabling environment for tourists. The investment he empahsised is not too much for the country to make because of its inherent benefits to the country now and in years to come. He disclosed that despite the existence of tourist attractions all over the country, both the federal and state governments have not considered tourism as an area to concentrate investment in the country. The Badagry beach according to Adams would have been a place of international resort if the government has shown enough commitment in investing in the place. “The facilities you are seeing here in Badagry would have been far better than what they are if the government had taken it serious to invest here.” Giving the account of the activities of Olokun festival since its inception, the OPC leader disclosed that he has succeeded in reawakening the Yoruba culture across Africa, Europe, America and other continent of the world. “Without looking back, Olokun Festival Foundation (OFF) under my leadership has set the ball rolling. Thanks to the ‘never-say die’ attitude of our amiable members across the country. “As we sponsor and promote various festivals across the country, the motivating factor is that we have kept the hope alive. “And, whereever we go, be it America, United Kingdom, Asia or Europe, it is on record that we played the significant role in reawakening the cultural consciousness of the Yoruba nation.” Though the 2016 celebration of the Olokun festival which started with prayer to the almighty, tagged: “Prayer to Eledumare,” at the Abule Ado home of festival promoter was low keyed as compared with that of 2015, Adams disclosed that hosting the event cost a huge amount of money. “It does not cost us less than N15 million to organise the festival. In 2015, it was more but due to the present economic reality, we have to modify some things.” The elaborate 2015 edition of the festivals entailed Yoruba quiz competitions among some selected secondary schools in Lagos, series of lectures while winners of Miss Olokun festival Beauty Pageants were also given cars at the grand-finale of the event held at the Badagry Beach. Adams, who has several organisations like Gani Adams Foundation (GAF) where he offers humanitarian assistance to the less privileged in the society, said he has no ulterior motive other than to give back to the society. At the event to mark his 45th birthday last year, a lot of food items, scholarship and clothing were given to widows and orphans in the society.
The OPC leader, who claimed he had some challenges while growing up said there is no need keeping the good things of life to oneself and members of his family while millions of people are destitutes and in need of assistance. He urged those who are in privilege positions to lend a helping hand to the needy in the society. The event attracted Yoruba traditional rulers from within and outside Nigeria, some leaders of Oodua Peoples Union (OPU) from Europe and other countries were in attendance.