The traditional religion worshipers have endorsed the governor of the State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, for a second term in office.
They gave the endorsement in Osogbo, the state capital, on Tuesday at the 2013 Yoruba Aborigin Day.
The celebration, which was celebrated with fanfare, recorded the gathering of worshipers of Yoruba deities like Sango (Gods of Thunder), Egungun (Masquerade), Osun (Gods of water); Ifa (oracle) and several other Yoruba traditional religions.
Speaking at the event, Governor Aregbesola said that the reason his administration was giving traditionalists the opportunity to celebrate and supported by the government was to ensure religious tolerance and see that they are not denied their rights under the Constitution.
He stated that traditionalists are clear examples of religious tolerance, even before the advent of Islam and Christianity, saying that in-spite of their religious differences as traditionalists, they are tolerant.
The governor said: “What is being celebrated is what distinguishes Yoruba race as responsible and tolerant.
“This is why we are giving traditionalists what is due to them, because, if we don’t, we might not know how they can contribute to religious harmony in the state.
“This day, August 20 is not a day chosen by this government. That is how it is celebrated all over the world, but the only difference we have made is that we are supporting the traditionalists and we declared a public holiday, so as to give them a sense of belonging,” he added.
The governor then warned that in the course of celebrating their religion, the traditionalists should be careful by ensuring that they do not constitute nuisance by disturbing or harming people of other faith.
In his address, the Coordinating President of the Traditional Religion Worshipers’ Association in the State of Osun (TRWASO), Chief Awopetu Idowu, acknowledged the support of the state government towards the befitting celebration of the 2013 Isese Day.
Before the advent of the present administration, Awopetu recalled that the celebration used to be a day affair, being celebrated in a low key, while noting that the involvement of the state government in the celebration has also given traditionalists a sense of belonging.
He then called on the governors of other states in Yoruba-land to take a cue from Governor Aregbesola’s gesture, by supporting the culture and tradition of the Yoruba people.
Flanked by leaders of all the sections of traditional religion, Awopetu declared support of the traditionalists for the second term of the governor.
Speaking, the Commissioner for Home Affairs, Culture and Tourism, Mr Sikiru Ayedun, added that the declaration of a public holiday by the state government for the celebration, was in line with its policy to provide equal platform for all religions and to promote communal peace and progress.
Apart from the promotion of cultural values and heritage, he noted that the celebration equally proved wrong, especially those speculating that the state governor was planning to turn the State to an Islamic one.
In her lecture titled: “Traditional Rulers at the Crossroad of Tradition and Faith”, Mrs Adeola Faleye, a lecturer in the Department of Linguistic and African Languages, Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, said that the only way Yoruba cultural values could be brought back is by ensuring unity.
She also added that instead of being exposed to foreign culture alone, Yoruba children should be exposed more to their culture, saying that this will encourage them to promote such culture when they assume mantle of leadership in future.