If Nigeria as a country will ever join the league of developed nations of the world, its citizens must stop using religions as tools to destroy their culture and tradition.
This appeal was made by the Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Adams, on Thursday, in his address at the 2019 edition of Oro-Ebedi festival, held at Old NYSC Orientation Camp, Iseyin, Oyo State.
The festival was supported by the Olokun Festival Foundation (OFF) and Oyo State chapter of Oodua People’s Congress (OPC).
The Aare Ona Kakanfo enjoined the leadership of both Islam and Christianity religions in the six South-West states of Nigeria not to use religions as tools to destroy the tradition and culture of Yorubaland.
He said until Nigerians “begin to appreciate what God has done for us in Nigeria, appreciate humanity and place important priority in sustaining our culture, tradition and other core values of life, that is when we can continue to enjoy the blessings of God that are bestowed on us as a people.”
Adams’ charge was against the backdrop of objection of leadership of Islam and Christianity to holding of Oro-Ebedi festival in Iseyin and the insistence of Oro adherents that the festival must be held.
The exchange of banters preceding the festival between the religious leaders led to signing of peace accord during a peace meeting convened by Commissioner of Police in Oyo State, Mr Shina Olukolu, with a strong warning that any group that contravened the law would be dealt with.
The Aseyin of Iseyin, Oba Abdul Ganiy Adekunle Ajinese I, and some traditional rulers from Oke-Ogun zone of the state as well as distinguished sons and daughters of Iseyin, graced the festival on Thursday.
Speaking further, Adams said “But I feel bad whenever I see how some of us are doing everything to denigrate our culture. Some of us use religions as tools to destroy our tradition. And this is affecting us as a people.
“I want to make it clear today that the Yoruba nation of our dream is a collective responsibility. Therefore,
it is instructive to say it openly that across the length and breadth of the world, history remains the bedrock of development.
“No nation in the world can make any meaningful progress without a good knowledge of history. All over the world, people’s culture and tradition take the centre stage.
“You appreciate people most by what they do and how they are able to impact their society. Let me say it once again that efforts should be made to sustain the cultural identity of the Yoruba race.
“Olokun Festival Foundation is poised to promote the tradition and cultural identity of the Yoruba race. It is our duty to educate and re-orientate our people on the need to preserve what is truly ours.”
He particularly appealed to all indigines of Iseyin to embrace the age-long tradition and culture of their forebears, adding that there are differences between culture, tradition and religion.
“What we are doing here today (Thursday) is not to undermine any religion, but to promote the tourism potentials of Iseyin. We are here to build the eco-tourism of this ancient town.
“So, the situation whereby religious leaders and the traditionalists in Iseyin fight over the sanctity of the town’s tradition and cultural heritage is not the best for the entire town. It will affect public peace and create unnecessary tension across the town. Let us give peace a chance and support the traditional institutions.”
He also identified some of the historical places in the South West that could be developed into tourism hub, saying they include Iyake Suspended Lake and Oke’badan in Oyo States, Olumo Rock in Ogun State, Osun-Osogbo in Osun State, Oke Idanre and Okota River in Ondo State, Ikogosi water springs in Ekiti State, and Olokun in Badagry in Lagos State.
On tourism, Adams called on the six governors in the South West to turn the various tourists’ sites in their respective states to goldmine, noting that “other states in Nigeria could also optimise the opportunities in their historical sites to generate more revenues.
“As a nation with almost 200 million people in population, Nigeria is blessed with oil, agriculture, tourism, and solid minerals. We have a duty as a people to use all these natural resources and endowments to develop our country, as it is done in United Arab Emirates (UAE).”