OGUN, Nigeria – Vice President Kashim Shettima has said that the nation’s diversity should be a source of strength and not of division, just as he urged Nigerians to keep imbibing the lessons firmly fixed in the country’s cultural tapestry.
This is as he disclosed that the traditional institution and its leaders are at the top of President Bola Tinubu’s list of priorities in his administration’s bid to navigate the complexities of Nigeria’s diversity.
The Vice President stated this at the weekend during the 37th Annual Akesan Festival in Iperu Remo, Ogun State.
He expressed delight with the way Nigeria’s noble traditions that serve as poignant reminders of the origins and identities of its people have endured.
Delivering his address titled, “Learning from the Past: Unity and Tradition in the Akesan Festival,” at the event, Sen. Shettima said, “I am further delighted by the significance that the Akesan Festival has achieved, even though I expected nothing less. So, I must, once again, express my gratitude to my brother, our industrious Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, and His Royal Highness, Oba Adeleke Idowu Basibo, the Alaperu of Iperu Remo, for inviting us to witness this festival and participate in shaping this historical narrative.
“Your Royal Highness, this festival serves as an opportunity to reinforce President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s commitment to giving priority to our traditional leaders in navigating the intricacies of our diversity. The commitments articulated by our administration stand firm, and we pledge to honour these assurances, ensuring positive transformations in the lives of our people.”
Like previous festivities, the VP noted that the 37th edition of the Akesan Festival is imbued with the essence of the unity Nigerians have forged as a nation, even as he described Ogun State as a template for the complexities of the nation’s cultural practices.
His words: “It (Akesan Festival) symbolises the heartbeat of our nation, and Ogun State has long become the template for the resilience of our cultural practices as vehicles for progress. From intellectuals and cultural icons to industrialists, Ogun State has been an enduring source of inspiration at the crossroads of culture and modernity.
“Your Excellencies, Your Majesty, distinguished ladies, and gentlemen, this land has not only nurtured industries but also cultivated a rich cultural heritage that unites us. Our nation will forever cherish the sacrifices you’ve made, serving as guardians of tradition, preserving our cultural legacy, and fostering unity among all of us.”
Applauding the state for investing a good dose of time and resources to establish Iperu Remo on the global map, the Vice President urged Nigerians to take a cue from the spirit of unity, cooperation and determination in the community.
VP Shettima continued: “I am not here today just to celebrate with you; I am here to testify to your resilience and spirit. I am here to thank you for reminding us of the sociology and economics of cultural festivities in nation-building.
“Through your preservation of these beautiful traditions, you have reinforced the identities and pride of your communities, fostering their patriotism and commitment to pursuing our collective progress and nurturing the bonds that bind us as a people.
“As we revel in the festivities, let us not forget the lessons ingrained in our cultural tapestry. This diversity within our nation is a source of strength, not division. It is a testament to our adaptability as a people. So, we must thank all those who’ve made this happen, from bottom to top.
“We must acknowledge the artisans, the craftsmen, the historians, the cultural custodians and the everyday people who have devoted their lives to preserving our heritage, passing down traditions from one generation to the next.”
Asking other communities to actively take part in the beauty of the country’s traditions as well as the potential that lies within them, which he said the Akesan Festival signifies, the VP noted that by celebrating their culture, Nigerians are celebrating their identity and showcasing the richness of their values to the world.
Welcoming guests to the event, the Akarigbo/Paramount ruler of Remo Kingdom, HRH. Obama Babatunde Adewale Ajayi, Torungbuwa II, hailed President Bola Ahmed, saying despite the current challenges in Nigeria, the visions and programmes of his administration would definitely wriggle the country out of the woods.
He urged the indigenes to remain peaceful and law-abiding.
Governor Yahaya Bello who spoke for the Chairman of the occasion, Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRasaq of Kwara State, called on the people of Ogun State to continue in their peaceful coexistence and cohabitation as existing amongst the people of the state.
In his speech, Governor of Ogun State, Chief Dapo Abiodun, said Akesan Day was an unending heritage that is fast boosting the tourism potential of the state.
He pledged further commitments to the festival, saying it was fast becoming a uniting event among Ogun people, as well as people of its neighbouring states.
He described the Gateway International Cargo Airport as one mega project that would blossom in the South West and Nigeria at large, adding that it would soon be open for business.