The State of Osun has been acknowledged as a major tourism and cultural centre in Nigeria, which has one of the most beautiful and spectacular scenery in the country that is capable of making a first timer to the state wanting to come back again, even with a larger number of delegation.
The United States Consular-General, Mr Jeffrey Hawkins, stated this in Osogbo during a visit to the state in company of diplomats from the US and his mother, Mrs Susan Westar, who, he said, was visiting the country for the first time.
He stated that the visit was a reflection of the breadth and depth of the relationship between the United States and Nigeria, adding that it is important to understand the culture and tradition of the people they are working with.
Hawkins stated this during a reception organised for him by the state governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, held at Ideal Nest Hotel, Osogbo, the state capital.
Speaking on his team’s experience while moving round the state, Hawkins explained that they have been highly impressed with what they have seen on ground, stressing that they were particularly happy with what they saw in one of Nigeria’s two UNESCO world heritage sites, the Osun Groove, which, according to him, has made him decide to visit the state next year with a larger delegation.
While commenting on the political aspect of the visit, the US Consular General explained that Governor Aregbesola is currently playing a very important political role in the country and is very important to understand his thinking and vision, saying that the desk officer from the department of states is part of the team to take the huge knowledge back to Washington for analysis.
He added that such knowledge will help informed decisions about happenings in the country and strengthen the United States policy on Nigeria. Hawkins added that they have had discussions with some Nigerian universities like the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife on ways of assisting Nigerian students, who will be interested in studying in the US.
Responding, Aregbesola, who observed that it was not very common for diplomats with such high level and status to visit and relate with officials of a state government, said the State of Osun is not an ordinary state, because it is the heartland of the Yoruba all over the world.
He described the Yoruba as the only people that naturally embrace everything that is good and fantastic, saying that through his study of many races, there is no race that has the latitude of tolerance like the Yoruba.
“Yoruba don’t quarrel on beliefs, no matter how much attached or committed to a particular faith they may be. Yoruba believe that individuals are individuals and the divine will take care of whatever differences that may be, in terms of faith and beliefs”
He said the lesson we Yorubas will want to pass to the entire world is the spirit of tolerance and accommodation.
“Despite the difference in the mode of worship of the various deities in the Yoruba land and with the fact that in almost every home, they may have combination of Muslims, Christians and the traditional worshippers, there is no love lost among the people, which are more reasons the Yoruba are looked at as a sort of strange people, who can never be disunited by differences in faith and religion,” Aregbesola said.
Explaining the historical relevance of the state as the source of creation, Aregbesola hinted that “the vision of the state and the Yoruba race is to use her history to build a society that will take-off from the glorious past and build a hub of culture, tourism, commerce and all that is good, which when combined, can stimulate the spirit of productivity, achievement and human development that will be second to none in the continent of Africa.”
Present at the reception were the state deputy governor, Otunba (Mrs) Grace Titi Laoye-Tomori, the Chief of Staff to the Governor, Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola and other members of the State Executive Council.