FROM GBENGA OLARINOYE, OSOGBO
Osun state governor, Mr Rauf Aregbesola has identified lack of a national cultural identity among the diverse people of Nigeria as one of the major challenges working against the nation’s unity.
Aregbesola who made this assertion at the grand finale of the Osun Osogbo Festival held Thursday urged the Yoruba nation to promote the culture and tradition of the race in such a way that it will set the pace for other ethnic group.
In his speech entitled “Exploring the Benefits of Cultural Tourism,” which was delivered on his behalf by his deputy, Mrs Titi Laoye-Tomori, Aregbesola stated that lack of cultural synergy made it impossible for the country to form a national cultural symbols which every citizen of the country can proudly and voluntarily subscribe to .
Aregbesola maintained that aggressive promotion of tourism on a national scale would go a long way to mitigate some of the problems facing the country and help forge a pan-Nigerian cultural consensus upon which a national identity can then emerge.
He explained that, the essence of promoting the Yoruba culture by his government was not mainly to generate revenue , but to showcase the cultural identity of the people .
Aregbesola stated that it is against this background that his government places a high premium on tourism, because his administration appreciate the fact that culture is the soul of a people and helps to foster unity , builds character, and encourages communal harmony and peace.
He noted that his administration’s plan was to make the state a tourist attraction by promoting the festivals and culture of people of the state.
He stressed that part of the plan of his administration was to promote the festival to an international level and make it compete favourably with other festivals globally .
He said “as a government, our vision is to develop a cultural tourism in the area where the Osun Osogbo Sacred Grove and World Heritage Site is located. Our plan is to make it a major international tourist centre, complete with modern and up-to-date infrastructural facilities. We are sincerely earnest about this. Already, the approaches to the grove have been given necessary facelift.”
He noted that other major festivals celebrated across towns and communities in the State would be included in the cultural tourism initiative of his administration and that government will encourage individuals and groups to get ready to participate and invest in the sector.
Speaking about the importance of the festival , the national coordinator of Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) Otunba Gani Adams said the festival has imparted significantly in promoting Yoruba culture , just as he urged Yorubas to be keen in promoting their culture and tradition, because culture is a symbol of identity .