Kunle Adelabu & Oyinlola Pelumi Adewale
The Majority Leader of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon. Sanai Oyeniran Bolanle Agunbiade, has received commendations for his efforts in reviving dying cultural values and preserving them in Ikorodu Division.
He was specially commended by the Lagos State Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture Pharm. Uzamat Akinbile-Yussuf, Mrs Nosimot Akinsola, Chief (Mrs) Adebimpe Akinsola, former Lagos State Acting Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, and other guests at the 2021 Asa Arokolo festival held at the Ikorodu Town Hall on Thursday, December 16.
Hon. Agunbiade, who was recently elected as the pioneer Chairman of the Nigerian Majority Leaders’ Forum, is the Scout Master/Convener of the IREP – Ikorodu Division Rebirth Foundation, the organisers of the annual Asa festival.
Speaking with the Commissioner for Tourism, Arts & Culture, Mrs Uzamat. Said that she was excited with the staging of the Asa festival and commended the Lagos Majority Leader, Hon. Agunbiade for bringing back the cultural heritage.
“I am excited to be part of this celebration, where we display so much beauty that comes with our culture. Our culture is rich but because we have left it in the past unattended to, people have now forgotten their source but with this kind of programme that has been put together by the good people of Ikorodu, it’s really exciting to be part of it and that would further spur Lagos State Government to do more of this, especially in collaboration with the royal fathers in the state”, she said.
“I am proud to be part of this event. We will continue to sustain all festivals that come up with the rich heritage and culture. That’s what the administration led by Governor Babatunde Sanwo Olu, stands for and we will continue to support the events that bring about the best of our culture.
“I want to appreciate the initiator of this programme, the Majority Leader, Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon Agunbiade. He is doing a fantastic thing by showing that he is a cultural man who appreciates the culture and heritages and I want to appeal to him not to be tired of doing more in that regard”.
Hon. (Chief ) Mrs Adebimpe Akinsola, former acting Commissioner for Tourism and Special Adviser on Arts and Culture, said that Asa is one of the important cultural heritages in Ikorodu Division which, like many others, was adversely affected by the incursion of foreign religions.
“Asa festival is a festival in Ikorodu division. It is part of our tradition and cultural heritages. We grew up to know Asa tradition in all the towns and villages in Ikorodu division but because of the influx of foreign religions and some other things, it went away but Hon Sanai Agunbiade fought that our tradition and culture should be showcased and that we should not depend so much on foreign culture. That happened when I was the Commissioner for Tourism in Lagos State. That was the time Asa was registered as a recognized festival in the state.
“This is a singular effort by Hon. Sanai and since the first edition in 2017, Asa festival has been a yearly event. My advice for the people in Ikorodu division is that they should come together and look at all other cultural heritages that we have and showcase them to the world. I am so happy and proud of this Asa festival and I can only say thank you to Hon. S.O.B Agunbiade”, she said.
Mr Rotimi Erogbogbo, the Chairman, Ikorodu – Oga Development Association (IKODASS), speaking with THE IMPACT, saluted the initiator of Asa festival for backing the cultural heritage and sponsoring its promotion to tourism level.
“I want to salute my brother, friend, community leader, son of the soil and the Majority Leader. I want to thank him so much for reviving Asa in Ikorodu. That is why we are here to celebrate and show the tourism potentials of the Ikorodu kingdom and the entire Ikorodu Division”, Erogbogbo said.
“Without the help of Hon. Sanai Agubiade in reviving Asa, some of the youths don’t even know what Asa is all about but with this festival, he has been helping us to make them understand what Asa Arokolo is all about. That’s why we are here to celebrate and to show the people of Ikorodu kingdom what the festival is all about”.
He charged the people of Ikorodu that it is important to know their cultural heritages and the importance of keeping and reflecting them in other areas of human lives.
“My message to the people of Ikorodu, let us know that culture is life, it is all about us and when we begin to revive our culture, then, we will revive security, economy and a strong political system.
“The youths of today look for all means to make money but they don’t know that they can make money from their culture. Culture is not voodoo, it is about our heritage, our food, it goes beyond religion. We have allowed religion to bastardize our culture. We need to separate culture from religion because they are not the same thing. Culture is not voodoo and today, most people don’t know why we are here, they think it is all about seeing masquerades. It is not about masquerades but about the need to embrace our culture”, he clarified.
The Executive Secretary, Ikorodu Division Peace Initiative LTD/GTE (IDPILG) and former IKODASS Chairman, Otunba Ganiu Abiru also speaking, said:
“Asa festival is said to be a symbol of what I will call the totality of Ikorodu culture. Just as we have Eyo being the symbol of Lagos Island, we also have Asa symbolising the culture in Ikorodu Division and that is why we are celebrating this festival because it is one of the festivals that unifies every one of us be you a Christian, Muslim or adherent of any other religion. That is why we have a multitude of people here this afternoon to celebrate that one festival that is held in high esteem”, he said.
“Culture is life and I enjoin all Ikorodu indigenes and residents to let us come together and glorify this Asa festival so that in the next one or two years, it can become a massive tourist attraction. We are on the verge of making history. We are improving on it on a yearly basis and I can assure you the one we will have next year will be greater than this year”.
Alhaji (Chief) Monzor Kolawole Olowosago, Publisher of Oriwu Sun Newspaper and the Baroyin of Ikorodu Kingdom, congratulated Hon. Agunbiade for bringing back Asa festival.
He charged the Lagos State Government to give maximum support to the efforts of the Convener towards reviving and sustaining the cultural festival.
“I congratulate S.O.B. I congratulate him in the sense that this Asa festival started from Aga in Ikorodu, when we were still young and now, he has brought it back to life again. More so, he has popularized it across Ikorodu division and also made it an important and recognized cultural activity in Lagos State”, the publisher said.
“We have so many people who have never heard of Asa before, but now, he (Hon. Agunbiade) has been consistent with it in the last 3 years and he has been successful in organizing the festival annually.
“I only pray that after he is done with his tenure in the House of Assembly, this would still be maintained. I am happy that the government of Lagos State has also adopted it as one of the cultural festivals in the state. That’s a great thing.
“Now the question is how do we get money? I don’t know if the state government will continue to sponsor it, but it is my prayer that God gives S.O.B long life and wherewithal to continue to sponsor the festival. I am very sure that so long he is alive, even if the government don’t sponsor him, God will continue to enrich his pocket and give him sound health to continue with this”, Alhaji Olowosago prayed.
“If I wasn’t in support of this, I wouldn’t be here, every year, I make sure l to attend the festival because I am in perfect alignment with this course. I don’t know if the state government sponsored this event but if they did, they should continue and if they didn’t, kudos to him (Hon. Agunbiade) for pulling this event and God will continue to enrich his pocket.
He, however, charged the people of Ikorodu to support the Majority Leader in ensuring that Asa cultural display is preserved and sustained.
“My advice to the indigenes of Ikorodu is to be more involved in this. They should show more support so that we can take this festival to the next level. We had been witnessing this festival since when we were young but it was not like this. Now, it has been taken to a bigger level and people look forward to it every year. It is my prayer that it does not end and that the entire people of Ikorodu will continue to support this course and even take it to a higher level”