ONDO state government has once again barred traditional rulers from closing markets in their domains for festivals without obtaining approval. It added that when such approval is given, the closure must not affect residential areas but be limited to Obas’ markets alone. Recall that in January this year, the state government outlawed the closure of markets, shops, business premises and restrictions on commercial activities in any part of the state without its prior approval .
THE new directive may not be unconnected with issues emanating from the just concluded Aheregbe festival in Akure and other festivals in the state and the need for government to live up to its responsibilities of protecting lives and property and maintaining law and order in the society.
SIGNIFICANTLY, if not for the intervention of the state government, there would have been possible bloodletting between Akure and Isinkan people (both neighbours) during the just concluded Aheregbe festival. Prior to the festival, the Deji of Akure, Oba Aladetoyinbo Aladelusi Ogunlade had announced the closure of markets across the land. Shortly after, the Iralepo of Isinkan, Oba Oluwagbemiga Ajimokunola announced that markets and shops in his domain would remain open for business with the former insisting that his directive must be adhered to. With the intense rivalry between the two monarchs and their insistence on enforcing their respective directives, it was the quick intervention of the government that prevented loss of lives and property during the festival.
IN addition, it is observed that some miscreants, under the guise of celebrations the festival usually break into peoples property, loot and also infringe upon rights of residents. Reports from the just concluded Aheregbe festival indicated that some young men, in the guise of the celebration, allegedly jumped into a compound and looted a woman’s shop inside her residence.
THE affected woman, with tears and agony, as contained in a viral video, alleged she apprehended one of the culprits and took him to the palace but was released. Also, a pharmaceutical shop was looted by some miscreants under the guise of the festival, despite the Deji exempting pharmacy and patent medicine stores to open during the annual festival. There are also alleged cases of some goods in closed shops being looted, despite the owners not operating business on that fateful day.
WHILE we commend the state government for taking the bull by the horn, it is important to stress that part of socialization is dynamism and Akure has become a cosmopolitan society, housing people from various tribes and regions. This does not mean that the customs and traditions of the land must be desecrated but there must be regulations, as the state government has done. It is worthy of note that the directive of the state government is not limited to Akureland but also to every community in the state.
THE recent elevation of Obas and traditional chiefs is enough reason to acknowledge the reverence of the Ondo state government for customs and traditions and the important roles traditional rulers play in the society.
IN recent times, there has been an unfortunate increase in cases of chieftaincy rifts, Obaship tussles, land borders crises and other related circumstances. It is then imperative for government to do the needful and uphold its responsibilities for the overall interest of rulers, the chiefs, the indigenes and residents of the state. No traditional ruler will pray to have crisis in his domain and during his tenure.
WE appeal to all traditional rulers and chiefs in the state to respect government directive and not consider it as an act of devaluation of their powers and traditions. We also imploy every stakeholder in the state and in respective communities to collaborate with the government in ensuring peaceful coexistence of residents and indigenes, rather than considering the directive as anti-culture and an hostility towards traditional rulers.
WE equally appeal to residents of the state to respect the norms, customs and traditions of their respective communities. We hereby call on security operatives in the state to be alive to their responsibilities during festivals and anybody found violating law and order should be arrested and duly prosecuted.