By Dipo Olowookere
Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, has hailed the revival of the centuries-old ‘Ijakadi Festival’ by the Offa Kingdom in Kwara State, assuring that the festival will be one of the beneficiaries of the training for festival managers being planned by the Ministry in collaboration with its partners.
The Minister gave the assurance in Abuja on Wednesday when he received a delegation of the Offa Descendants Union (ODU), which came to formally invite him to the festival, scheduled for Offa on December 29, 2016, on behalf of the town’s monarch.
He said the decision to revive the traditional wrestling festival, which dates back to the 14th century, is in line with the ongoing efforts by the present administration to leverage on the creative industries in the diversification of the nation’s economy.
Mr Mohammed said the festival has the potentials to attract domestic and international tourists to Offa, thus impacting positively on the economy of the town and the state.
“We will provide the enabling environment for the festival, as well as similar ones across the country, to achieve their full potentials,” the Minister said, adding that he was “humbled and honoured” to receive the delegation that was led by ODU President, Alhaji Najeem Usman Yasin.
While accepting the invitation to attend the festival, he commended the “resilience, honour, principle and industry” of the Offa people, saying the qualities are responsible for the uniqueness of the town.
Speaking earlier, the ODU President urged the federal government to support the festival to enable it achieve its full potentials and boost culture and tourism in the community as well as the entire Kwara State.
“We want the Ijakadi Festival to be included in the list of festivals being promoted by the Ministry because of its rich cultural content,” said Alhaji Yasin, who noted that his delegation came to invite the Minister as a Special Guest of Honour.
While congratulating the Minister on the first anniversary of his assumption of office, the ODU President commended him for bringing to his new assignment the same passion with which he successfully carried out his responsibility as the National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The Ijakadi Festival, which was revived in 2012 after a three-decade lull, reinforces a tradition that encourages strength and determination, in addition to addressing the notion of equality among the indigenes of Offa.
Also on the ODU delegation were the 1st Vice President of ODU, Alhaji Bashir Adetokun Adepoju; the ODU Treasurer, Mrs Mulikat Aliyu, and the ODU Secretary-General, Chief (Mrs) Wasilat Tinuke Macarthy,
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