Sunday, January 20, 2019

Oyo State Govt. moves to rid Egungun festival of violence, hooliganism

Oyo State Government has reiterated its determination to rid the annual Masquerade (Egungun) festival of violence and hooliganism that usually characterised it across the state.

The State Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Mr Toye Arulogun and made known in a statement in Ibadan on Sunday.

The annual festival was in the past characterised by violence and hooliganism, which has severally promoted insecurity in the state.

Arulogun stated that the state government had as part of efforts to proffer solution to the problem held a meeting with the heads of masquerades across the state.

“The state government has put in place machinery to reform the celebration of the festival across the state in order to curb the excesses of Egungun followership.

“The festival will rather be used to showcase the rich cultural values of Egungun in the state and promote it beyond the shores of the country,” he said.

He said that the era of using the festival to perpetrate violence was gone, adding that the entertainment and cultural values of the festival would be celebrated and promoted locally and internationally.

According to him, the festival is one of our heritage festivals and the ministry is task with the promotion and preservation of our cultural heritage.

“The ministry is set to project and package the entertainment value in a manner devoid of violence.”

The Commissioner said that government has commenced the engagement of stakeholders in readiness for due collaboration to give the festival the prominence it deserves.

Arulogun urged the stakeholders to support the state government’s reform process aimed at making it a worthwhile celebration.

Chief Ojetunde Akinleye, Olori Alagbaa of Ibadan had appreciated the government for the initiative, pledging their loyalty to the government on its effort at using the festival to promote the cultural values of Egungun.

Akinteye, popularly known as Asoleke declared their readiness to cooperate with the government on its reform process aimed at curbing violence and promoting the festival.

He advocated a three-year ban on any masquerade that foments trouble, saying they have cautioned their members to stay away from any conduct that could smear the reputation of the festival.

Similarly, Chief Sesan Onibode, Aare Isenbaye from Saki Zone, said the efforts has shown that government was very serious about security.

Onibode stressed that the repackaging of the festival and the collaborative efforts of the government would bring sanity to street carnivals.

He appealed to government to engage in sensitisation and enlightenment at various levels, appreciating government’s extension of fellowship to the masquerade during their festivals.

Mr Yinka Ogundaisi, a representative of Universal Films and Communications Limited, said that the government was not taking away the festival from the custodians of the masquerades.

He said that the collaborative efforts of government with their outfit was to ensure that the festival is transformed to have global appeal.