The paramount ruler of Ijebuland, Sikiru Adetona, on Thursday warned politicians and their supporters not to turn the Ojude Oba festival of his people into a campaign forum.
Mr Adetona gave the warning following chants of “APC! APC!! (All Progressives Congress)” from a group in the crowd at the annual cultural event in Ijebu Ode.
Obviously angry at their action, the traditional ruler warned the broom-wielding group to desist from such act, stressing that the festival is apolitical.
“Those who were waving the brooms are not of Ijebu extraction. I believe they must have been hired. Ojude Oba is over 100 years, what you did today has never happened before. Many groups are here, but what you have done today has never happened,” the monarch said.
“I believe most of you are not members of the APC. We have people from Peoples Democratic Party, APC, Social Democratic Party among others here. Ojude Oba is about culture and tradition. It is non-political. It has been like that since our forefathers started it. It is an abomination for anyone to drag politics into it.
“I want to appeal in the name of God; such act should not repeat itself here. Those people who hired you, if they are bold enough, they should show their faces”, he said
The traditional ruler also made reference to messages allegedly posted on the social media of a threat by some people to stone the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, at the event.
“I was looking, expecting them to do it, ” Mr Adetona said indignantly.
Mr Saraki, who was the Special Guest of Honour at the event, described the festival as a platform for Ijebu people to meet, interact and showcase their cultural heritage.
He said despite its origins in Islam, the festival does not exclude any religious groups, adding that the country should borrow a leaf of co-existence from it.
“This is what illustrious Ijebu people demonstrate to us yearly with this festival. Muslims, Christians and others can be found among us here today, and I understand that this is how it has been since the very beginning.”
Mr Saraki, who had in his entourage his wife and eight federal lawmakers, said ”Ojude Oba affirms that Nigeria’s cultures are veritable sources of revenue, if well packaged.”
In his remarks, Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun, described the festival as a symbol of national unity which has become a tourist attraction across and outside Nigeria.
He noted that it has become a rallying point for the Ijebu people.
Represented by his deputy, Yetunde Onanuga, Mr Amosun congratulated the Awujale for the successful hosting of this year’s Ojude Oba festival.
“Ojude Oba is a celebration of a rich cultural heritage. It is an avenue for cultural re-awakening. It is a symbol of identity for Ijebu people all over the world,” the governor noted.
Mr Saraki’s entourage included senators Dino Melaye, Ben Murray-Bruce, Biodun Olujimi, Sam Anyanwu, Rafiu Ibrahim, Duro Faseyi, and Shaaba Lafiagi.
Other dignitaries include former Governor of Ogun State, Gbenga Daniel, former Deputy Governor of the state, Gbenga Kaka, Speaker Ogun State House of Assembly, Suraj Adekunbi, Secretary to the State Government, Taiwo Adeoluwa, and Chairman, First City Monument Bank Plc, and a high chief of Ijebuland, Subomi Balogun.