Babaloja-General of Oyo State, Alhaji Sunmaila Aderemi Jimoh, has called on the State and Federal governments to always support initiatives that could guarantee gainful employment for the teeming youth populace and strengthen earnings of local business men and women in Nigeria.
He made this call at this year’s edition of Aso Ofi Festival held at Iseyin, an ancient town in Oyo State widely known to be the biggest manufacturing hub for Aso ofi in the world, saying several vocations synonymous with the Yoruba race are big enough to provide employment for many people in the country and globally.
Babaloja who led hundreds of market leaders from Ibadan to Iseyin accompanied by Chairperson of the coalition, Chief Odunayo Kayode Danjuma, lauded the Oyo State governor, Engr. Seyi Makinde, for creating a conducive environment for local inventions to thrive.
Speaking at the event, wife of the Executive Governor of Oyo State, Engr. Tamunomini Olufunke Makinde said the festival would promote the cultural values and heritage of the State.
She appealed to Iseyin weavers not to compromise the originality of the wool used in weaving Aso-ofi adding that it can never be duplicated.
She also hinted that Aso-ofi has grown to be one of Nigeria’s internationally recognised fabrics known for its rich cultural values.
“I appeal to our weavers, put a mark on our heritage, it cannot be made elsewhere. If it is not made here, it is counterfeit”, she said.
She added, “Ensure you protect our heritage, promote what we have and keep our culture for our generations unborn. Don’t sell out your trade’s secrets. Do your best to protect our heritage”.
The Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Dr. Wasiu Olatunbosun said the present administration in Oyo State is committed to showcase and harness the tourism and economic potentials embedded in the festival.
He said that the Aso-Ofi festival, which was last celebrated in 2018 is set for revival and unhindered annual celebrations.
Olatunbosun said with the Aso-Ofi fabrics and resolution by the State Government to promote it, there will be a revolution in the tourism sector of the state.
He hinted that the Oyo State Government is resolute to champion the exportation of Aso-Ofi fabrics in the state adding that the cultural, tourism and creative industry have been identified as one of the major sectors to diversify the economy.
The State Government’s spokesman added that Oyo State Government is formulating policies that will aid promotion of this sector while actions are being taken to unlock the huge potentials in the sector
He said the State government has found it expedient to increase awareness about the annual festival due to its potential.
“We are confident that the Aso-Ofi festival is back and the State Government in collaboration with major stakeholders will be working to revive the festival and promote Aso-ofi beyond the shores of Nigeria.
“We are working hard to ensure that all potentials are harnessed. We are set to work with sponsors, exporters and promoters in order to make it as international as possible to attract cultural enthusiasts and huge buyers,” he said.
Highlight of the programme was presentation of “The Ambassador of Aso-ofi of the year” award to Governor Seyi Makinde, Olubadan of Ibadan and some other notable personalities.