As the activities commemorating the OsunOsogbo Festival comes to a climax today, and in a move to ensure adequate information about the dreaded Ebola Virus , organisers of the OsunOsogbo Festival have produced 10, 000 leaflets to be distributed to people who will be attending the grand finale of the festival to sensitise them on the decease.
Ayo Olumoko, Chief Consultant to the festival, told Daily Independent Tourism that the organisers felt it expedient to do so to keep the people abreast of how they can prevent the decease during and after the festival.
“We are prepared for this festival and that is why we have printed these leaflets to sensitise our people. Our prayer is that nobody will contact the decease at the festival and that we are joining hands with the Osun State Government to ensure that we have a hitch free and Ebola-free festival,” he stated.
However, in a statement jointly signed by Ayo Olumoko and the Legal Adviser to the Ataoja of Osogbo, Mr. S B Ajibade, the organisers thanked the people of the state for the continued support of the organization, promotion, presentation and participation of the OsunOsogbo Festival in the past years and most especially, in the ongoing 2014 Osun Fiesta which is midway.
“We all know that the OsunOsogbo Festival prides itself as a festival that has been celebrated consistently since 1370 AD without any default. Even, when the presentation of the 2010 edition of the festival coincided with when the immediate Ataoja of Osogbo, late Oba Iyiola Oyewale Matanmi III joined his fore fathers on Tuesday August 3rd 2010, the presentation of the 2010 OsunOsogbo Festival still held on Friday, August 27, 2010. Hence, it is a festival that has withstood several challenges and will still withstand challenges even in the face of the current outbreak of Ebola in Lagos State,” the statement stated.
The organisers said that Ebola virus is not a ruse, but a fact and that it is here in Nigeria. “But our sincere prayers and hope is that it will not get to the State of Osun before it is nipped in the bud by the Federal Government of Nigeria with the assistance of the Government of the United States of America in which a relationship in ensuring that the cases we have in Nigeria are attended to.
“As enumerated by the State Government of Osun, we want to support their efforts and admonish our people to please inculcate the prescribed hygiene measures put in place as neither anybody nor religious group are being intimidated in performing their religious obligations.
“They then implored each and every one of us to ensure that we moderate our reception of our visitors, either from overseas or most especially from other states within Nigeria, where cases of this deadly disease are being managed. Also, we the organisers of the Festival are in total support of the State Government’s crowd control measures being put in place to minimize the risks of the spread of this disease during the OsunOsogbo Grand Finale coming up on Friday, August 22, 2014.
“To you our gentlemen of the Fourth Estate, we want to thank you for your steadfastness in the coverage and reportage of the newly packaged OsunOsogbo Festival since 2002 which earned the Osun Grove the enlistment by United Nations Educational Scientific Organisation(UNESCO) at Durban, South Africa, on 15th July, 2005,” they said.
Meanwhile, the Osun State government has announced that it has barred foreigners and non-residents from attending this year’s annual Osun Osogbo festival.
It was authoritatively gathered that this development was aimed at checkmating potential spread of the deadly virus to the state.
Announcing the ban placed on foreigners and other categories of people who are not resident in Osun, the state Commissioner for Information, Mr. Sunday Akere, at a press conference, expressed the determination and readiness of the administration to safeguard the state from the menace of Ebola virus.
He maintained that the state took the “painful” decision in order to prevent some people who might have contracted the virus from spreading it to others who would also attend the festival.
While disclosing that the state government had taken some measures to ensure effective treatment of affected victims, in case of an outbreak of the virus in the state, Akere implored the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC), the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) and other groups not to mobilise people to attend the festival.
“In our effort to make sure that the dreaded virus does not find its way into our midst, government has, at great pain, decided to restrict the influx of tourists into the state for this year’s Osun Osogbo International Festival.
“Government does not, in any way, intend to deprive the festival of its glamour or keep people away from being a part of the festivity. However, government has a duty to ensure the safety of lives and good health for the people, especially in situations of mortal threats such as the one posed by the deadly Ebola virus,” he said.