By Elizabeth Uwandu
Organisers of the Ojude Oba Festival which holds in Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State on Wednesday September 14, 2016 have said that it will as usual live up to its billing as a grand fiesta that would be exciting and rewarding for the thousands of people within and outside the country that would grace the occasion.
This is as First City Monument Bank, FCMB, Limited has pledged to once again support and participate in this year’s edition of the festival.
The bank explained that its continuous support of the festival is borne out of its commitment to celebrate and preserve Nigeria’s cultural heritage, while also boosting the tourism sector in line with the government’s ongoing drive to diversify the country’s economy. FCMB has in the past 10 years continued to play a significant role in ensuring the success of the festival.
The Group Head, Corporate Affairs of FCMB, Mr. Diran Olojo, reiterated this at a press conference organised by the Ojude Oba Festival Planning Committee at Ijebu-Ode to announce commencement of plans for this year’s festival.
The Ojude Oba (which in Ijebu dialect means the king’s fore-court or frontage) is a major festival in Nigeria that began over 100 years ago. It brings together all sons and daughters of Ijebuland in Nigeria and diaspora for a carnival-like celebration of the traditional, cultural, spiritual accomplishments and other values of the Ijebu nation. During the festival, various age groups (popularly known as the Regberegbes), indigenes, their friends and associates from far and near – all in their colourful costumes and riding on horses throng the palace of the Awujale and Paramount Ruler of Ijebuland to pay homage to him amidst prayers and other fun-filled activities.
In a goodwill message to the Awujale of Ijebuland, Oba (Dr.) Sikiru Adetona, on the occasion of this year’s Ojude Oba Festival, the Chief Executive Officer, FCMB, Mr. Ladi Balogun, congratulated the monarch for upholding the values of Ijebuland and raising the status of the event over the years. He stated that FCMB is committed to the longevity of the Ojude Oba Festival, and was proud to be associated with it.
‘’The Ojude Oba Festival has become a long standing yearly tradition we look forward to as a unifying factor and a tourist attraction. For over a century, the festival has gone a long way to showcase, amplify and promote our cultural heritage.’’
“FCMB has been a major supporter of the Ojude Oba Festival for more than a decade and it has been a mutually beneficial journey. As a socially responsible corporate citizen, we realise that globalisation, though essential, could also become a threat to the cultural identity of a people.
“We also recognise that celebrating the heritage and diversity of Nigeria is important in educating generations to come about the evolution of our country”, he said.
In the same vein, the Founder of FCMB Group, who is also the the Olori Omo-Oba Akile Ijebu, Otunba (Dr) Michael Olasubomi Balogun, expressed his gratitude to the Awujale, especially considering the paramount ruler’s selflessness in attending to the different requests and yearnings of the people of Ijebuland.
In a message delivered on his behalf by Mr. Olojo, the spokesman of FCMB, Otunba Balogun commended Oba Adetona for his, ‘’distinguished and exemplary leadership over the years which have continued to endear you to all of us”.
While congratulating the entire indigenes of Ijebuland, the FCMB founder also prayed that the monarch’s reign would, ‘’continue to bring joy, prosperity and robust health, all in abundance to the entire Ijebu race, at home and in the diaspora, in all that you endeavour to do for our people”.
Apart from the glitz and colours associated with the annual Ojude Oba Festival, the event provides an opportunity for the indigenes of Ijebuland, their associates and well-wishers to discuss pertinent issues that fast-track the development of the Ijebu nation. The festival also boosts business activities, tourism and the general hospitality sector in the area, thereby contributing to socio-economic development of the nation.