Concerned by the indifference of the federal and state government towards traditional religions in the country, a Yoruba cultural group known as Asa Orisa Traditional Worshipers Association, has mobilised its members to sensitise the government on the need to give reognition to traditional faiths.
In pursuance of their goals, members of the association recently paid a courtesy visit to the Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland, Aare Gani Adams in his Omole Phase II Lagos residence.
The association is an umbrella body comprising adherents of various Orisa Traditional Religions (Ogun, Sango, Osun, Orunmila, Esu, Iyemoja, Orisa Oko, Oya, Obaluaye, Egbe Alaso Osun, Oba, Oke, etc.) in Yorubaland.
The representatives of the association arrived Lagos as scheduled in a fairly large number of about 60 members, most of whom were visiting Aare’s residence for the first time.
When they were ushered into the living room by Adams aides, they wasted no time in first felicitating with him and offering prayers for his long tenure, sound health and peaceful reign.
They then solicited his support on their request to the Federal and state government of Nigeria to declare an holiday for Traditional Religion on August 20 for the observance of Orisa Traditional Religion as ORISA DAY or ESIN IBILE DAY just like the Easter, Christmas, Idel Fitiri and Idel Kabir holidays.
With a popular adage, the association argued insisting that what is good for the goose is equally good for the gander as much as the 1999 Constitution (as ammended) recognises Nigeria as a secular state in which different religions should enjoy equal right within the purview of the law.
The chairman, Oloye Oke Adejare said the recognition given to Christianity and Islam in the declaration of holidays to celebrate their respective festivals should be extended to traditional faiths in the name of justice and fairness.
“We also deserve such recognition. Or is it recorded anywhere that traditional faithful don’t participate during elections? We go all out to encourage our members to cast their votes for their choice candidates. What we are only against is making a promise and failing those promises. But we are all law-abiding citizens of Nigeria like others,” he said.
The meeting, which started at 12 noon and ended at 3 pm, saw Aare Adams expressing his readiness to support the group in achieving their objectives, adding such efforts deserve nothing but total support from his end as a foremost promoter of Yoruba culture.
Recalling his acceptance speech at his installation on January 13, 2018 in Oyo, he repeated his anguish at the rate which Yoruba culture suffers erosion, pointing out that people of other races were taking more interest in the culture.
He said that Americans, Europeans and Asians now study and earn degrees in Yoruba culture, meaning the Yorubas need to preserve the culture to fully realise the potential of the nation.
“Though with an activist background, it is now clear that I have to do more as a bridge builder with this new responsibility. Inasmuch as the focus of my struggle has changed over the years from the heady days of the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC) to the spread of our culture through the formation of the Oodua Progressive Union (OPU), which is now in 79 countries, the Olokun Festival Foundation, Gani Adams Foundation and many others, this new responsibility, despite my age, has unwittingly forced the stature of a statesman on me. I promise to live up to that calling,” he assured.
He again promised to work with traditional rulers, grassroots leaders and have good rapport with all stakeholders, no matter the differences of the past, for the unity, progress and advancement of Yorubaland and Nigeria.
The office of the Aare Ona Kakanfo, he added, would project the Yoruba culture and tradition by promoting and sustaining our identity globally, while it will equally ensure unity of all Yoruba sons and daughters all over the world.
Adejare also promised Adams the continued loyalty and support of the association with a view to ensuring his tenure enjoy peace among the people of Yoruba.
“You are our pride and a symbol of our culture and tradition. Owing to this, we have no choice than to rally round you to lead us to the promised land,” he said.