Politics

Ojude Oba: Realising Nigeria’s tourism potential

THE Ojude Oba, an annual pageant carried out on the pavilion of the Awujale of Ijebuland, Ijebu Ode, Ogun State, can go locations. The 2024 version noticed the Ijebu at dwelling, Diaspora and vacationers pay homage to the Awujale of Ijebuland, Sikiru Adetona. The occasion showcased a vibrant ensemble of Yoruba tradition, particularly in its sartorial opulence, dance, and fanfare. The organisers ought to intention to make it actually world.

During the 2024 version tagged ‘Ojude Oba: Unity and Harmony, Our Gift’, the Ogun Governor, Dapo Abiodun mentioned the state would attempt to make it worldwide. He mentioned the pageant, which showcases the hospitality and custom of Ijebuland, had reworked right into a “significant event” that has drawn native and worldwide vacationers to the state.

The Federal Government additionally indicated its plans to record the pageant as a UNESCO heritage occasion. The Minister of Culture, Arts and Creative Economy, Hannatu Musa-Musawa, harassed that these festivals would diversify the financial system, cut back overdependence on oil, and assist attain its mandate of producing $100 billion from tourism in 2030.

The Ojude Oba (The King’s Forecourt) is an historical pageant of the Ijebu idiolect folks of Yorubaland. The occasion, which happens on the third day of Eid-el-Kabir, is a vibrant parade of homage to the Awujale by the ‘regberegbes’ (the age teams), divisions, and the traditional households throughout the Ijebu panorama. The occasion consists of horse using and dancing.

While the occasion has to this point obtained sponsorships from homegrown corporations in telecoms, actual property, and beverage industries, extra needs to be achieved by the state to bolster tourism and create a sturdy financial system.

Ogun ought to enhance safety by boosting the Amotekun corps within the state. This will assist increase the shortfall of federal police personnel and curtail criminality within the communities. Incessant kidnapping, armed theft, and crime close to Ijebuland would possibly discourage vacationers from travelling to and lodging within the metropolis.

In May, seven gunmen killed one individual and kidnapped seven travellers on the Sagamu-Ijebu-Ode Expressway. In January, a 70-year-old man, Adeife Ifelaja, was kidnapped in Ijebu-Igbo, Ijebu-North LGA on New Year’s Eve. These underscore potential threats to residents, travellers, and vacationers. Technology needs to be deployed to enhance surveillance.

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Abiodun ought to enhance rural and state roads linking communities to federal highways, and airports. This will open the communities to investments, and ease travelling. Other fundamental and infrastructural wants like potable water, improved electrical energy, and high quality motels needs to be in place to spice up tourism.

Without a correct plan, a possible tourism earner just like the Ojude Oba will proceed to depend on sponsorship and engagement by the casual financial system. The state ought to pitch the pageant nicely by way of storytelling, commercial, and cultural conversations to obtain world investments.

While the intention of the Federal Government to diversify its revenues by way of tourism is laudable, there have to be a transparent and seamless technique to realize its 2030 aim. It ought to present higher safety to boost its aims.

Nigerian states ought to do higher. The state governments involved ought to reclaim the Argungu Fishing Festival in Kebbi, and re-enact the Ofala Festival in Anambra, and the Calabar Carnival in Cross River.

The lesson from Brazil is that the income generated by the tourism and providers sector in the course of the carnival season in 2024 contributed $1.8 billion to the financial system, per Statista. The Rio Carnival alone generated $1 billion, up 18 per cent in 2024.

Beyond rhetoric, Nigeria ought to reinvigorate its cultural festivals to advertise a way of belonging, protect its heritage, and harness its financial potential. The states ought to spearhead tourism improvement by emplacing safety, high quality infrastructure, and promotion to endear vacationers to cultural or historic websites and occasions.

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