Laide Raheem, Abeokuta

Senate President Bukola Saraki has said Nigeria as a nation, should draw lessons of love and unity exemplified by the annual Ojude Oba Festival in order for the country to progress.

Saraki,  who noted that the festival, though has its origin in Islam, is non-discriminatory as it has become a rallying point for all the indigenes of Ijebuland, maintained Nigeria will witness accelerated development and growth, if there is no division along political, ethnic and religious line.

The Senate President stated these, on Wednesday, during his speech at the 2018 Ojude-Oba festival, held at The Pavilion, Ijebu Ode.

Saraki, who was the Special Guest of Honour at the event, was accompanied by his wife, Toyin, senators Ben-Bruce, Dino Melaye, Oluyinka Olujimi, Shaba Lafiaji and the Speaker of the Kwara State House of Assembly, Ahmed Alli, among others.

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Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State was, however, absent at the festival. But the state delegation, by the deputy governor, Yetunde Onanuga, also included the Secretary to the State Government, Taiwo Adeoluwa, the Speaker of the Ogun State House of Assembly, Suraj Ishola Adekunbi and state commissioners.

Speaking further, Saraki, who described the festival as an ‘example of dynamism in culture’, added that it has also promoted and reinforced the culture of the Ijebu people.

He commended the Awujale of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Adetona, for providing the required leadership, which according to him has enhanced unity among his people.

While calling on other parts of the country to emulate Ijebuland in creating harmony and peaceful co-existence among the people, Saraki pointed out that peaceful and united Nigeria remained a task that must be achieved.

“Ojude Oba fosters unity among all Ijebu people,  and this is another way in which we as a nation could take a leaf from the festival.

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“Unity is paramount, unity is key.  When we are united, we achieve more.  When we are united,  we record monumental progress. I urge us all, therefore, to pursue more activities that will unite our various peoples.

“Our diversity is our strength. We must,  therefore, continue to initiate programmes that will bring us together and further highlight the fact that we are one and the same.

“In over a century of Ojude Oba, Ijebu citizens have shown us that unity will always lead to progress, and that there is strength in unity.  This is a shining example for us all,” Saraki stated.

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He lauded the organising committee of the festival for putting together a colourful and unique display of traditions of the people, urging Ijebuland to continue to maintain the peace and unity.

In his remark, Oba Adetona, who reiterated that the festival remained non-political, however, threatened to invoke ancestral curses on anyone who tries to turn the event into politics arena.

The monarch, speaking against the chanting of political songs and displaying of party emblems at the festival ground by a group, noted the festival was beyond politics.

The Awujale also expressed confidence that creation of Ijebu state, would soon be actualised.

Earlier in his goodwill message, chairman of Globacom, Mike Adenuga Jnr., noted that the telecommunication company, since inception, has been in the vanguard of efforts to support, grow and nurture Nigerian culture and festivals.

Other dignitaries at the event include the former governor of Ogun State,  Gbenga Daniel,  Senator Sefiu Adegbenga Kaka, Senior Special Assistant to former President Goodluck Jonathan on Public Affairs,  Doyin Okupe, representative of Remo Federal Constituency at the House of Reps,  Oladipupo Adebutu, among others.