Few hours to the celebration of the Eid-el-Kabir and few days to the celebration of the annual “Ojude-Oba’’ Festival, scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 23, enthusiasm is at a fever-pitch in Ijebu-Ode, Ogun.
Socio-economic activities in Ijebu-Ode where the “Ojude-Oba’’ Festival is celebrated annually have continued to witnesses positive spikes as one enters the ancient town.
Both the indigenes as well as visitors, tourists and dealers in souvenirs have begun to arrive the state for the annual carnival-like “Ojude-Oba’’ Festival which holds on Aug.23 with the theme: Ojude-Oba: Celebration of Rich Cultural Heritage.
The “Ojude-Oba’’ Festival is an annual reunion of sons and daughters of Ijebu-Ode, their in-laws, and invited guests usually held two days after the Eid-el-Kabir celebration.
A news correspondent who went round the town on Monday observed a beehive of activities by residents who had their rams and other livestock tied within their compounds for the celebrations of both festivals.
Also, it was observed that hotels in the town and its environs had been fully booked while operators of outdoor bars, tricycles, motorcycles and relaxation spots had begun to count their gains.
Ijebu-Ode, a town predominantly occupied by Muslims, comes alive every Eid-el-Kabir alongside the age-old “Ojude-Oba’’, which is celebrated to honour the Awujale of Ijebuland.
Several corporate organizations had displayed their advert billboards as a way of participating in the celebration of the two festivals.
Ishola Fatungase, a resident of the town and a paint dealer, said that they were looking forward to a memorable celebration of the “Ojude-Oba’’ Festival.
He, however, appealed to the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC), in charge of power distribution in the area, to make the event memorable through uninterrupted power supply.
“The icing on the cake for us will be full-scale-power supply throughout the period of the sallah to make it lively for us as well as being able to preserve our drinks and consumables.
“For me as a Muslim, it is the only time of the year I get to see most of my family members as they are located in different parts of the country and outside the country,” he said.
Another respondent, Gbenga Otukoya, a civil servant, lamented the high cost of rams this year as compared to the same period last year.
“I just returned from Imowo Eleran market, where livestock is considerably sold cheaply. Yet, I could not afford the type of ram I wanted due to the high price.
“A medium-sized ram, sold last year for N60, 000 is now N85, 000 at the market, while cows sell for between N120, 000 and N180, 000 or even higher depending on the quality.
“A large ram is going for between N120, 000 and N150, 000.
“We are in a joyful mood as expected but the only downturn is that most people are not as buoyant financially to celebrate the sallah and Ojude-Oba as expected,” Otukoya said.
Mr Dare Odusanya, a car dealer based in Chicago, USA, said he arrived in the country two weeks ago to have ample time to savour the holiday mood in the town alongside his other family members.
“The high point for me apart from the sallah break is the Ojude-Oba festival which is celebrated with so much pomp and pageantry.
“The festival is colourful and unique as it’s a spectacle to behold given the magnitude of attractions and displays that grace the occasion.
“I strategically fix my vacation to correspond with this occasion and also invite my white friends to Nigeria just to grace the grandeur of the “Ojude-Oba’’ Festival,” Odusanya said.
The Chairman of the Ojude Oba Planning Committee, Otunba Wahab Osinusi had previously assured participants coming to witness it of maximum security and safety.
“The festival is not only about equestrian display, parade of culture and tradition, merry-making and funfair.
“It is also to boost commerce and trade in its entirety as commercial and trading activities are at their peak before, during and after the festival.
“All the facilities; hotels, restaurants, artisans, craftsmen, transporters, professionals, market men and women, among others are fully engaged with several multiplier corporate effects,” Osinusi said.
He assured intending visitors and guests coming for the event of adequate medical services, security and traffic management saying all security agencies were working assiduously to ensure a hitch free celebration.
Several hundreds of thousands of people including visitors and guests from diverse cultures and nationalities are expected to grace the 2018 edition of the Ojude-Oba Festival that began over 100 years ago.