The Majority Leader of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon. Sanai Agunbiade, has stated that the IREP – Ikorodu Division Rebirth Foundation, organizers of the annual Asa festival, is receiving attention from the Lagos State Government towards a successful staging of the festival this year.
The four-term lawmaker, who is the Founder/Scout Master of the cultural group which was established to revive the dying cultural and traditional values of Ikorodu division, stated this in an interview he granted to THE IMPACT at the unveiling of the logo for the 2019 edition of Asa festival at the Ayangbure palace in Ikorodu on Friday, July 26, 2019.
He revealed to the royal fathers in attendance that the IREP team had on Thursday, July 25, visited the Governor of the State to present him with gift and researched book on Asa as a way of appreciating the state government’s support for the festival and to also seek for more supports, especially for the 2019 edition.
He stated that the Chief of Staff to the Governor, Mr Tayo Ayinde, who hosted the team at the Lagos House, assured that the government would give financial, moral and other supports to the group for the successful staging of this year’s edition of Asa festival .
The previous administration in the state in it support for the cultural festival, recognized it as one of the annual festivals in the state and also provided other supports.
“We are speaking with the government and we have been receiving support from them. With the recognition that the government is giving to Asa, we expect that a time will come that it will be taking away from an individual and government will be responsible for its annual celebration”, Hon. Agunbiade stated.
“We want the state to see it as its own because Lagos State is about tourism, traditional activities and showcasing of the socio-cultural activities of its people that are firmly established . We are assured that it will continue and the government would finally take over it.
“We want to continue the festival by the grace of God and we are doing everything in that regards. We really want to propagate this festival effectively and adequately”.
Stating why the festival, which was first staged in 2017, did not hold last year, Hon. Agunbiade stated that it was an attempt to prevent it from being politicized.
“We expect that we would have an improved festival. Last year, we could not hold the festival because it was an electioneering period and we tried to afford so many things.
“You know that festival brings a lot of people together but politics put people apart because it is a game of interests and you don’t expect people with different interests to support your own if it’s not in their interest.
“We are trying not to bring politics into the celebration of Asa by not having it during the political period. It’s our way of making it distinct from politics”.
He stated that the focus of this year’s edition coming up in November will be to resonate and propagate cultural values of the people in Ikorodu division.
“For this year’s festival, we are celebrating ‘Asa’, (the man on the delicate still sticks) and ‘Asa’, our culture. The focus is to ensure that we resonate, propagate and develop the culture of Ikorodu division.
“This year, we are going outside Lagos State to bring people with same cultural background from Ogun State to Ikorodu to participate in the festival. Our research has shown that they also have communities practicing Asa as part of their culture.
“We also have those outside Nigeria from Dublin, Haiti and other Carribean Islands. We have also traced the history to the fact that those that practices Asa in Carribean Island and other areas have their root in Nigeria”, he revealed.
While assuring that the festival would be peaceful, Hon. Agunbiade also added that necessary attention would be accorded to providing maximum security at the festival.
“Asa means a lot of things to the people and unify them as long as Ikorodu division is concerned.
“I do not foresee any security challenge at all because festival brings people together and they are usually happy when staging it. The last time that we staged the festival, we had enough security apparatus on ground and we are going to improve on it during this year’s edition.
“It’s a time of joy, solidarity, unity and you will see that people will come together voluntarily and happily and everything will be amicably done. There are going to be lots of pomp and pageantry. I can assure you that people will comport themselves and they will be happy with the development”.
He also stated that massive publicity will be deployed for the festival.
“In 2017, we had people that came from abroad to attend the festival and we are still expecting sons and daughters of Ikorodu and tourists to attend this year’s festival in November. The only thing is that we are trying to keep the information to ourselves because we are yet to brief our kabiyesis but now that we have done that, we will be rolling out massive publicity.
“Publicity will continue after the unveiling today. More information would be out and we are expecting more participants from other parts of the country and in diasporas. Our publicity will be on all social media, daily newspapers and other avenues.
“We are really ensuring that this Asa festival would be a foremost festival which Ikorodu division is giving to the world and the focus is to give our identity to the world because a people without culture have no identity. We are trying to let people know that this is what we are as a people “.