Activities for the celebrations of this year’s Ulefunta festival was unveiled yesterday by the Steering Committee, as even as the events will kick off tomorrow with 20 kilometres Akure Owa- Oropo Marathon Race within the capital city.
The Committee declared that the festival has grown beyond a mere traditional festival into a more unifying and rallying point that addresses contemporary socio-economic imperatives.
The Chairman, Central Steering Committee Ulefunta, Olu Adekunle Ajanaku announced this at Deji’s Palace in Akure, at a news conference to mark the festival which means the annual leave of the Deji of Akure, Oba Aladetoyinbo Aladelusi Ogunlade.
The Odopetu of Akure kingdom, Senior High Chief Femi Bello; a former Provost of College of Education, Ikere Ekiti Prof Olu Aderounmu as well as Chief Lawrence Adegbehingbe among others also spoke during the news conference as chairmen of other Akure committee.
Olu Ajanaku said the race to be led by a national, Commonwealth and Olympics medalist, coach Lawrence Adegbehingbe had the potentials in the race ran by palace aides called Omode Owas for the past 500 years.
He explained that the 2023 Ulefunta festival would also include free medical outreach on 5th October, festival Annual Public Lecture slated for 12th October; awarding of Scholarships to some students from Ifedore, Akure North and Akure South local government areas as well as honouring some prominent Akure indigenes on 14th October.
While appreciating Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu hitherto assistance, the committee Chairman also urged the Ondo State government to temporarily remove the concrete barrier at the junction leading to Deji’s palace to ease Deji’s traditional walk during the festival.
Olu Ajanaku said, “It is with great pleasure that I welcome you all on behalf of the Deji and Paramount Ruler of Akure Kingdom, Oba (Dr) Aladetoyinbo Ogunlade Aladelusi, Odundun ll, CFR, our Standing and Sub Committees Members to our unveiling ceremony of Ulefunta 2023 festival.
“I warmly welcome our Fourth Estate of the Realm who have continued to project the festival and the gains so far achieved in good light. When we came on board in 2022, we saw the need to expand the scope of the festival to be more inclusive in addressing our socioeconomic needs and helping the underprivileged
“This is why His Imperial Majesty, the Deji of Akure graciously approved that Intervention Schemes be initiated to capture the needs of vulnerable Youths and the underprivileged in our society. The festival has thus grown beyond a mere traditional festival into a more unifying and rallying point that addresses our contemporary socio-economic imperatives.
“Our constructive engagements with various stakeholders led to the initiation of the following Intervention Programmes: Education Support Scheme to assist indigent Students across Akure Kingdom; Skills Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Programmes for vulnerable and unemployed Youths in Akure Kingdom; Health Support Outreach during and after the festival (this will include donation of drugs, medical facilities) Establishment of Akure Heritage Library Promotion of Ulefunta Multipurpose Cooperative Society to support upcoming Entrepreneurs, Local Artisans and Farmers; and Upgrading of some structures Within the Deji’S Palace, among others
“One new addition to the festival is the Akure Owa Oropo Marathon Race currently being put together by a Technical Committee led by Coach Lawrence Adegbehingbe, a National, Commonwealth and Olympic medalist and a retired Director in 0ndo State Civil Service.
“The Central Steering Committee saw the potentials in the traditional race usually ran by “Omode Owas” (Palace Aides) since over five hundred years. We saw the need to also complement the traditional race with a more standard and competitive race that can be of tourism value like other marathon races worldwide. The maiden edition will be low keyed to hold on 23rd Sept 2023 from 7:00am prompt. We look forward to having major Sponsors as from 2024.
“Also Topical of the festival event is the annual festival lecture scheduled to hold on 12th October 2022 at the Obafemi Awolowo Auditorium of the Federal University Technology, Akure (FUTA). At this point, we want to appreciate the Vice Chancellor of FUTA and her Management for their support for the festival and indeed our Skills Acquisition Programme.
“Our lecture theme for this year is Global Climate Change and Food Security in Nigeria: The Roles of Rural Communities in Global Mitigation and Adaption Measures to be delivered by Dr Halilu Ahmed Shaba, Director General of the National Space and Research Development Agency.
“During the lecture event, three prominent indigenes of Akure will be honoured posthumously for their Services to Humanity and laudable contributions to Akure Development. They are late Hon Adedayo Omolafe (aka Expensive), Late Engr Rotimi Fasakin and late Prof Kole Omotosho.
“ln same vein, we want to thank the Provost and Management Federal College of Agriculture Akure for supporting our Education Support Programme to five Akure Indigenes that will be admitted to the college.
“The Central Steering Committee on behalf of the Deji and good people of Akure also seize this medium to welcome back our ”Talk and Do Governor” Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu SAN, CON from his medical leave. We join other Nigerians to wish him fullest recovery to enable him continue his services to Ondo State and the Nation in general.
“We want to appeal to the State Government to approve the following requests as a matter of utmost urgency, which we have forwarded in previous requests to the State Government and other concerned MDAs.
“Temporary removal of the concrete barrier at Deji’s palace road junction at Oba Adesida Road on 14th October 2023 for the “Deji’s traditional walk” to MKO Abiola Democracy Park; Usage of MKO Abiola Democracy Park on 14th October 2023, for the Homage and Parade event.
“Permission to use designated routes within Akure metropolis for the maiden edition of Owa Oropo on Traditional Marathon Race on 23rd Sept. 2023, Release of two State Government ambulances during the festival period and Medical Staff for Health Support Outreach during the festival.
“To our sponsors and other donors, we thank you for your previous support and urge you to support our entire humanitarian programmes connected to this festival. Same applies to Akure eminent Sons and Daughters, Clubs, Association and Corporate Entities in Akure Kingdom.
“On a rather pensive note, we have observed with amazement that most corporate entities and businesses in Akure Kingdom despite their thriving enterprises have been reluctant to fulfill their corporate social responsibilities to Akure people by investing in our social intervention programmes enumerated above. We appeal to them to turn a new leaf while we salute the few ones that have always responded to our calls,” Olu Ajanaku said.
The Director of Communications and Sponsorships, Michael Adeyeye said some eminent Nigerians will be conferred with Honourary Chieftaincy titles; saying “We have started receiving 2023 donations into festival our account and prices for raffle draws night which will hold on 15th October 2023 at the Springs Royal Complex, Oda Road Akure.”