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Worshippers, visitors shun COVID-19 protocols as Osun Osogbo festival ends

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Thousands of worshippers, devotees and tourists at the grand finale of the Osun Osogbo festival on Friday ignored the mandatory wearing of face marks and maintenance of social distancing as part of the COVID-19 protocols.

A correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria who was at the Groove reports that worshippers and visitors violated the COVID-19 safety protocols.

Though the state government had said it would enforce the use of face masks and social distancing at the festival, there was nothing of such as the worshippers did not observe the protocols.

This is even as the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, on Friday said that the Federal Government was committed to the development of domestic tourism sector in the country.

Mohammed, made the remarks at the grand finale of the Osun Osogbo Festival, saying that development of the sector would make it more attractive to both local and international investors.

The minister was represented at the festival by the Director-General, Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation, Mr. Folarin Coker.

Mohammed said that the Federal Government was would tap into the rich cultural heritage of the Osun-Osogbo Festival, which he said, had been recognised as UNESCO world heritage.

“The uniqueness of this festival is that it attracts local and international devotees of the Osun goddess and it promotes commerce for indigenes and innovative entrepreneurs.

“It has now evolved into an international festival, which we hope with our support, will grow stronger in years to come.

“Our cultural festivals, like Osun-Osogbo, are symbolic for their spiritual, religious, communal and commercial nature.

“And, culture is increasingly an important element of the tourism product in our modern society.

“Our cultural tourism can help reinforce identities, enhance cross-cultural understanding and preserve the heritage and culture of an area.

“Cultural tourism can also have positive socioeconomic impacts as witnessed in the annual celebration of the Osun-Osogbo festival.

“Our cultural heritage is a tool of peace and development, but it must stand on a strong foundation of shared responsibility,” he said.

In his remarks, Governor Gboyega Oyetola of Osun State called on devotees and worshipers of the Osun goddess to exploit the spiritual angle of the festival to collectively pray for the peace and security of the state and country.

Oyetola, represented by the Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Adebisi Obawale, also urged the devotees in the state to see the festival as an avenue for preaching peace and harmony to others.

“We should be cooperating with other faith to engender religious tolerance and ensure the peace and progress of Osun,” he said.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the festival ended with fanfare, as traditionalists and cultural groups, were paying homage to the host, Oba Jimoh Olaonipekun, the Ataoja of Osogbo.

(NAN)

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