The State of Osun which recently increased its Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) from N300million to about N1.5 billion annually but also got enmeshed in financial difficulties that led to over seven months salary areas for its workers has plans to bounce back and strongly too. It is planning further revenue increase as it is prepared to leverage its rich culture as a platform.
Of its about 63 tourist sites, the state wants to particularly play up the Osun Osogbo annual festival where it hoped to generate about $1 million yearly to boost its internally generated revenue to augment its financial status.
The former commissioner of tourism and culture in the state, Adetona Ayedun told BusinessDay at the grand finale of the 2015 Osun Osogbo festival that the state wants to grow its revenue base and from the Osun Osogbo festival alone “we are looking at a minimum of about $1m in a year. With this we believe that the Osun IGR will grow.We intend to add colour to the festival but in as much as we want to create modernity to the festival it has to be in line with the tenets of the culture”.
Grand finale of 2015 festival
The 2015, unlike last year festival that was almost marred by the scare for ebola disease, was grandious in many respects as it had more visitors and the clement weather complimented the festival.
Secretary to the Osun State Government, Moshood Adeoti who was delighted about the success of the 2015 festival said “This year’s celebration was interesting and a huge success compared to last year. There was ebola threat last year that prevented a unique ceremony but this year, a lot of visitors and community members came out to celebrate the festival”.
He hinted that the Osun state has entered into partnership with UNESCO to develop the festival and make the annual festival more grandious. “The paucity of fund has prevented some innovations at the site. As soon as we are over with the backlog of workers salaries we are going to concentrate because we are hoping of generating a lot of IGR here, as visitors come from all over Nigeria and world to Osun Oshogbo festival. We are still working on generating IGR from it. We are going to block the road and erect toll gates as people will need to pay to come in”, he said at the festival.
Over 200,000 visitors were seen crowded at the grove, the site of the celebration as some engaged in various activities such as worshipping the deity at corners, dancing and performing different traditional rites. A lot of security personnel were on hand to check misdemenour.
Traditional chiefs took turn to pay homage to Jimoh Oyetunji, Olanipekun Larooye 2, the Ataoja of Osogboland while den gun was shot intermitendly at the grove which has artistic carves at strategic places. The Ataoja said “this year makes it ten years since the enlisting of the Grove by UNESCO as a world heritage site”
Goldberg keys in to keep the culture glowing
For several years, NBL through one of its brands, Goldberg, has been partnering with the organizers of Osun Osogbo, a festival that continues to put Nigeria on the world tourism map, Patrick Olowookere, corporate communication manager, NBL said recently.
“This partnership is no doubt a working one between two historical brands: Osun Osogbo, a 600 year old festival that truly reflects the traditional culture of the Yoruba race and Goldberg, a brand that is the fastest growing beer in the western region”
During the two-week festival Goldberg uplifted the town with exciting communication materials as the brand owners also staged a 21-day Goldberg beer village where the people of Osogbo and visitors were exposed to an unforgettable experience. Goldberg involvements will not only keep the rich festival which got the endorsement of UNESCO recently flaming, but it will assist in realizing the aspiration of the state government to generate additional IGR from the festival.
According to the carnival consultant, Ayo Olumoko, the managers of the festival plans to list the festival on Nigerian Stock Exchange
The Consultant told BusinessDay in Lagos that the idea to list it on the stock exchange is to expose the festival to more stakeholders to be part of it. According to him, this is on the basis that it is one of the festivals with global recognition that has been organized consistently over the years.
According to him another idea for approaching stock exchange is to ensure that this pride and initiative of a community which is tourism is assisting Nigeria’s economy thrive so that government will not continue to depend on the oil.
About the festival
Osun Osogbo, an old age cultural festival celebrated in the grove has lasted for over 600 years.
The festival which has grown to become an international carnival was said to have begun in 13th century from a real live story in the acient Osogbo. A historian, Egbele Ben John, narrated that Osun was one of the wives of Songo. Osun was gifted in tie and dye called today as Adire in Yorubaland. She was the queen of indigo which represents colours. She had a particular pot called the dye pot containing dye solution. An account had it that she quarreled with one of the Songo wives and one of them broke the pot. Though there are different mythologies associated to the story. Probably also she broke the pot from mishandling consisting of the indigo dyes which is very laborious to produce. “The liquid started flowing and she got angry and flowed with it in to the river”, Egbele said.
At a point, a hunter and his family who lived in the hinterland lacked water. Then the hunter started searching for deposit of water when he discovered the Osun River from where Osun state derived its name. Then he told his people the need to settle where the water was found. When they settled, they were felling trees for fire and other things like erecting huts. In one of the incidences they fell a palm tree which fell into the Osun river and a female voice came from nowhere and shouted ‘you have broken my dye pot’. They played the oracle and realized that a goddess, Osun was living there.
From there, they started worshipping the goddess which today turned to Osun Osogbo festival. Osun, the goddess is known for fertility as people today also fetch the Osun water with beliefs to solve all sorts of barrenness.