Lagos State to consider public holiday for traditionalists

The Lagos State Government has assured the Association of African Traditional Religion, Nigeria and Overseas (AATREN), Lagos State Chapter, that it has not jettisoned the request of the practitioners of the traditional religion to declare August 20th, a public holiday in their favour.

The Special Adviser to the Governor on Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mr. Solomon Bonu said that the State Government valued the practitioners whom he described as ‘the promoters of the indigenous cultural heritage of the State’ and would do anything possible to continually protect their interest.

Mr Bonu said this when played host to members of the Association led by Chief Olusegun Elegushi, the Opemoluwa of Ikateland and the Vice President, Chief Mrs. Foluso Adeogun-Oga on Tuesday at Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos.

He pleaded with the Association to allow the State Government follow due process before acceding to their request considering the legal implications of making such declaration without doing due diligence.

“You know that it is a matter of law, even the House Assembly has deliberated on this same issue which attests to the fact that the approval is not such that can be solely granted by the Executive arm of the Government, it requires working together with the Legislative arm of government, to reach a conclusion that would be backed by law, “Mr Bonu stated.

He explained that the establishment of the Ministry of Tourism and the inclusion of Arts and Culture proved the willingness of the State Government to pay due attention to the promotion of the indigenous culture of the State.

The Special Adviser noted that though the State government has been advocating a very low key celebrations of all festivities in view of the ravaging Covid-19 pandemic globally,

According to him, government will also look at the possibility of supporting the practitioners during this year’s celebration, the same way it has always supported the practitioners of the modern day religions.

Mr Bonu advised the traditionalists to be very moderate in all their activities, just as he urged the leadership of AATREN to prevail on their members across the State to observe all protocols of Covid-19 and ensure that they do not exceed 6pm (local time) in any of their activities while commemorating this year’s “Isese Day.” Isese Day is set aside for traditional worshipers to celebrate their deities.

”Plans are already being perfected by the Ministry to make the annual celebration more elaborate next year with a week-long programme planned by the Ministry of Tourism Arts and Culture to climaxed on the 20th of August as the grand finale for the annual celebrations.. I want to assure you that you will fully carried along and involved in the programme,” he stated.

Promoting cultural heritage

The idea for the Ibile festival, according to him is premised on the belief that before the arrival of Christianity and Islam in Africa, Africans have their ways of worshiping God, hence the need to celebrate the traditionalists under a funfair atmosphere that will promote Cultural heritage tourism in all the political divisions in Lagos State.

Mr Bonu however called for prayers for Nigeria and Lagos State in the battle against the deadly virus and for Mr Governor and his entire team in their quest to bequeath a Greater Lagos that everyone will be proud of.

The traditionalists had lamented the delay in giving approval for the August 20th as a public holiday the same way practitioners of other religions enjoy public holidays, arguing that the denial of a single day as public holiday out of 365 days in a year, was not fair on the part of the practitioners.

The President of AATREN, Chief Olusegun Elegushi said that the Association has been on the request since the administration of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu as the Governor of Lagos State and the debate had been on since then up till now.

“I just want to plead with our incumbent Governor to fast track this approval for posterity sake and he will forever be remembered for this,” he stated.

Citing the instance of Osun State in according due recognition to August 20th of every year as “Isese Day” for the practitioners of the traditional religion, the traditionalists argued that a precedence has already been set by a State and urged Lagos State to follow suit.

Source: Voice of Nigeria