Lagos considers public holiday for traditional worshippers

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Sanwo-Olu

By Benjamin Omoike

Lagos State Government has assured the Association of African Traditional Religion, Nigeria and Overseas, AATREN, Lagos State Chapter, that it has not jettisoned the request of the practitioners of the traditional religion for the declaration of August 20 yearly as a public holiday in their favour.

The Special Adviser to the Governor on Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mr. Solomon Bonu, disclosed this when members of the Association visited his office in Alausa, Ikeja, describing the Association as promoters of the indigenous cultural heritage of the state.

He pleaded with the members to allow the State Government follow due process before acceding to their request, considering the legal implications of making such a declaration without due diligence.

“You know that it is a matter of law; even the House of Assembly has deliberated on this same issue, which attests to the fact that the approval is not such that can be solely granted by the Executive arm of the Government. It requires working together with the Legislative arm of government in order to reach a conclusion that would be backed by law,” Bonu stated.

The Special Adviser acknowledged that although the State Government has been advocating for very low-key celebrations of all festivities, in view of the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic globally, the government will also look at the possibility of lending a hand to support the practitioners during this year’s ‘Isese Day’, the same way it has always assisted the practitioners of modern-day religions.

Bonu advised the traditionalists to be very moderate in all their activities, just as he urged the leadership of AATREN to prevail on their members across the State to observe all protocols of COVID-19 and ensure that they do not exceed 6 p,m in any of their activities while commemorating this year’s “Isese Day”.

Disclosing that plans are already being perfected by the Ministry to make the annual celebration more elaborate next year, the Special Adviser gave an assurance that the traditionalists would be fully carried along and involved in the programme.

The idea for the Ibile festival, according to him, is premised on the belief that before the arrival of Christianity and Islam, Africans had their ways of worshipping God, hence, the need to celebrate the traditionalists with fanfare, that will promote cultural heritage tourism in all the six divisions in Lagos State.

Bonu, therefore, called for prayers for Nigeria and Lagos State in the battle against the deadly Coronavirus as well as for Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and his entire team in their quest to bequeath a Greater Lagos that everyone will be proud of.

Earlier, the President of AATREN, Chief Olusegun Elegushi, had presented the request for approval of August 20th as a public holiday, the same way practitioners of other religions enjoy public holidays, arguing that the denial of a single day as public holiday out of 365 days in a year, is not fair to the practitioners.

Citing the instance of Osun State, which has accorded due recognition to August 20th of every year as “Isese Day” for the practitioners of the traditional religion, the traditionalist pleaded with the Lagos State Government to fasttrack consideration of the request from the Association.

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