By Seyifunmi Odunuga
The Awujale and Paramount Ruler of Ijebuland, Oba (Dr) Sikiru Kayode Adetona has approved the cancellation of the 2021 edition of the Annual Ojude Oba Festival of Ijebu Ode, in Ogun State.
As contained in a press statement issued by the Coordinator of the Festival and Baagbimo of Ijebu, Chief (Dr.) Fassy Yusuf, the cancellation was attributed to the prevalence of the COVID-19 pandemic, its likely upsurge with the Delta variant and the negligible number of people that had taken the anti-COVID 19 vaccine.
“Rather than expose peoples who will converge on Ijebu Ode from all over the world to participate in the ancient and unique socio-cultural and religious festival of the Ijebu nation, with its parade of traditional-age groups and the spectacular durbar with unsurpassable equestrian display, to avoidable and preventable health hazards, the monarch directed that the 2021 edition be cancelled,” the statement read.
This is the second time in its known history of more than One Century that the festival, which normally hold two days after the Eid-el-Kabir (Ileya) and that unites Muslims, Christians and adherents of other faiths, will be cancelled.
“In his message to the Ijebu nation on the occasion of the 2021 Eid-el Kabir (10th of Dhul-Hijja 1442 AH), the foremost traditional ruler thanked his subjects for the peace, progress, and tranquillity pervading Ijebuland.
“He prayed for additional economic and social prosperity within Ijebuland and charged his people to remain resolute and be optimistic that sooner than later, Ijebu State would become a reality.
“Oba Adetona further charged his people and visitors to Ijebuland during and after the festival to ensure they wear their nose masks, wash their hands regularly with soap, keep social and physical distances at public places, get vaccinated against the pandemic, and adhere to other medical protocols as directed by the federal, state, and local government authorities.
“The Awujale thanked all the sponsors of the festival for the mutually beneficial partnerships that have ensured the unparalleled success of the annual festival in the past, while also hoping that the 2022 edition would be a reality.
“He further thanked his subjects for their unflinching love, affection, loyalty, and solidarity in his sixty-one years on the throne as Awujale and Paramount Ruler of Ijebuland,” the statement added.
Chief Yusuf disclosed that while the Awujale regrets that COVID-19 would not allow him to host his usual guests and visitors, he assures all that he is in high spirit and will be celebrating the Eid-el Kabir with his family and very few others as dictated by medical protocols.
“Oba Adetona prayed for the return of peace and prosperity to all troubled areas of our great and beloved country, Nigeria,” the statement concluded.