Ojude Oba Festival fosters unity, economic growth – Ladi Balogun

The annual Ojude Oba Festival, a vibrant celebration of Ijebu culture and tradition, recently concluded with great success.

The festival attracted thousands of participants and visitors who showcased elaborate traditional attires, captivating dances, music, and impressive equestrian displays. The festival showed how cultural traditions can drive economic growth by empowering local businesses, service providers, artists, and artisans from Ogun, Lagos and practically all the other states in South West Nigeria.

Affirming the economic and social development potential that could be harnessed from the festival through tourism, Ogun State Governor, Adedapo Abiodun, MFR, committed to elevating the Ojude Oba Festival to a global stage. He envisions the festival as a permanent fixture on the international tourism calendar and its listing as one of the festivals backed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Central to the festival’s enduring legacy is the Regberegbe system, a tradition of age-grade solidarity and mutual support. Historically rooted in communal labour practices, the Regberegbe has evolved into a symbol of community cooperation, fostering social bonds and collective responsibility. This unique social structure empowers individuals. It has contributed to the overall resilience and development of the Ijebu community for centuries.

FCMB Group Plc, a major sponsor of the Ojude Oba festival, recognises the festival’s significant contribution to social cohesion and development. By celebrating shared cultural heritage, promoting unity among diverse groups, and strengthening community bonds, the Ojude Oba festival fosters a favourable environment for socioeconomic development.

In his goodwill message, Ladi Balogun, Group Chief Executive of FCMB Group Plc, noted that the festival attracts visitors from across Nigeria and the diaspora, contributing to the growth of trade and tourism in Ijebuland, Ogun State and Nigeria. The FCMB Group Chief Executive urged Ijebu people to embrace the festival’s spirit of togetherness and use it as a springboard for further development and inspiration for younger generations.

This year’s Ojude Oba festival witnessed the participation of 90 Regberegbe groups, a significant increase from 76 in 2023. This surge indicates a rise in social cohesion, which is crucial in promoting unity and peaceful coexistence within the community.  

Speaking on the festival’s economic impact, Adewale Adenugba, CEO of Blooms Hotel in Ijebu-Ode, said, “the festival has significantly boosted business activities across Ijebuland over the years, coinciding with the Muslim Eid-el-Kabr celebration when many Ijebus and their friends return home. During this period, hotels in Ijebu-Ode and surrounding towns experience full occupancy, and relaxation centres also see increased activity. Artisans, traders, and vendors of various items, including festival paraphernalia, food, drinks, and transportation services, enjoy brisk business and substantial income. If we aggregate all these, the festival generates billions in revenue, benefiting not only Ijebu-Ode and Ogun State but also Nigeria. I urge the government to leverage this platform to promote tourism further.