A former Vice Chairman of Mobil Producing Nigeria and Asiwaju of Okeagbe Akoko in Ondo State, Otunba Solomon Oladunni has called on the Federal and State Governments to embrace tourism in the face of dwindling revenue from oil.
Oladunni while speaking at the grand finale of USE festival of Ogosi Afa Okeagbe Akoko said government and other stakeholders should explore the opportunities embedded in USE festival.
He said government should incorporate the festival in its diversification plans, noting that tourism could be used to generate more revenue for the government, especially at this period that oil, which is the mainstay of the nation’s economy, was not yielding fruits like it used to.
USE festival is one of the many festivals celebrated annually in Ogosi Afa, Okeagbe-Akoko in Akoko North-West Local Government Area of Ondo state, South-West Nigeria.
The festival, which ushers in other annual festivals in the community, promotes the rich cultural heritage of the people, with specific reference to the way of life of their forefathers
“The Federal Government should collaborate with the state government and the people of Ogosi Afa Okeagbe in creating a platform where the USE Festival could be showcased for the world to embrace” Oladunni noted
In his address, High Chief Adewumi Efficacy, the Ologotun Igase said USE festival is usually celebrated every February noted that this year’s event was not devoid of the usual funfare, with more active involvement of sons and daughters of the community from within and outside the country.
According to him, we want government to join hand with the people of Ogosi Afa Okeagbe to promote the festival in order to attract more visitors so as to attract more tourists to the event and boost the economy of the state.
“As you can see now, there are cultural displays by the old and the young, who added glitz and glamour to the event. The festival as special and i am urging government at all levels to give special attention to development of culture and tourism potential particularly USE festival”, Adewumi remarked
Also speaking, the Elegiri, Chief Oladimeji Ojo said if proper attentions were paid to tourism and culture; it would not only serve as an alternative source of income but also reinforce the fight against social vices.
The Chairman of the Planning Committee, Basorun Akinwumi Bada who spoke more on the essence of the festival said USE festival has become a major tourist attraction in Okeagbe particularly in Ondo State.
Bada particularly urged the government to repackage USE Festival and develop it into an international tourist event that could generate revenue for the country.
The planning Committee Chairman underscored the need to develop the festival into a tourist attraction by facilitating its restructuring and sponsorship via the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC).
“With what we have seen here today, if we can get the support of international donors and sponsors, USE festival can be taken to an international height where tourists will come from all parts of the world to witness the annual event.
“This will boost the economy of the community, the state and the country at large,” he added.
Other Chiefs who spoke in the same vein are, the Olisa Iruja, Chief Soji Aremo, the Elejofe, Chief Ajayi Festus, the Aro Onile, Chief Akintunde Giw, the Elemofe, Chief Charles Ajakaye and the Sarede, Chief Folorunso Bada. They said development of USE festival would increase the state revenue and local economic and social empowerment of local communities.