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The maiden edition of Apapo Okun Cultural Festival, a gathering of Okun speaking peoples of Kogi, Ekiti, Ondo and Kwara States, which ended in Kabba, Kogi State at the weekend, is capable of generating over N6bn, yearly into the economy.
The curator of Gold Tourism and Sail Limited and Chairman of the organizing committee of AOCF 2016, Prince Olusesan Orebiyi made the disclosure in his address at the ceremony held inside the Kabba Township Stadium.
“We are proud to tell you that it has the capacity to bring in to the economy of Okunland over 600 million naira yearly. It will develop the private and economic sector and revitalize the general landscape. It will further engender unity and progress and reduce the challenges of unemployment and curb the vices of youth and general crime”, he said.
“Today it is a new dawn, permit me to deliver to the entire world the birth of a great festival that shall sharpen the future of Okunland. It shall run yearly every November”.
He said the Okun festival was packaged as a brand with collaborations with the Okun Area Traditional Council led by the late Obaro of Kabba, Oba Michael Olobayo, Kogi State Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Federal Ministry of Information, National Tourism Development Corporation, among others.
Chairman of the occasion, former Military Governor of old Oyo State General David Jemibewon (rtd), welcoming captains of industries, scholars, traditional rulers, members of state and national assembly, government officials, and representatives of private organizations, described the Apapo Okun festival as “historic”, “important” and “one of the ways we can network among ourselves and also make contacts with the rest of the world.”
According to him, “We have talents all over the world in every profession, this sort of festivals keeps us connected to our roots, our culture, our values and origin; and through festivals like this, we hope to preserve the best of Okunland”.
He described tourism as one of the largest industries contributing trillions of dollars to the global economy, through creation of jobs and wealth, generating exports, boosting taxes and stimulating capital investment. He commended the organizers describing Orebiyi as ‘an international tourism promoter’ and expressed optimism that Apapo Okun Festival would “encourage the practice of cultural entertainment to attract tourists to Okunland”.
The festival witnessed varieties of cultural display by representatives of each of the six Okun speaking local councils in Kogi West Senatorial District and award presentation to distinguished personalities of Okun extraction from all callings. Highlights of the occasion was the unveiling of Mrs Funke Eseyin, a regional manager of United Bank of Africa (UBA) as Yeye Okun (a woman of substance/representation of who a real Okun woman should be) and the face of the event in Chief Mrs Nike Okundaiye of the popular Nike Arts Gallery.
Governor Yahaya Bello was represented by the Secretary to Kogi State Government, Mrs Ayoade Folashade among other cabinet members.
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