Oyo State Government on Friday said that henceforth it would not tolerate any act of violence and hooliganism among Egungun (Masquerades) and their followers during the forthcoming Egungun Festival. It stated that necessary machinery had been put in place to reform the celebration of the festival across the state in order to curb the excesses of Egungun followership. It added that the festival would rather be used to showcase the rich cultural values of Egungun in the state and promote it beyond the shores of the country.
Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Mr. Toye Arulogun who made this disclosure in a statement after a stakeholder meeting with heads of masquerades in the state declared that “the era of using Egungun Festival to perpetrate violence is gone, stating that the entertainment and cultural values of the festival would be celebrated and promoted locally and internationally.” Arulogun said “The Egungun festival is one of our heritage festivals and the Ministry tasks with the promotion and preservation of our cultural heritage is set to project and package the entertainment value in a non-threatening manner devoid of violence”.
He said that the government had commenced the engagement of stakeholders in readiness for due collaboration to give the festival the prominence it deserved, urging the stakeholders to support the government in the reform process. In his remarks, the Olori Alagba of Ibadan, Chief Ojetunde Akinleye Asoleke appreciated the government for the initiative, pledging their loyalty and showing their readiness to cooperate with the government on its reform process to curb violence and use the festival to promote the cultural values of Egungun.
He advocated that any masquerade that foments trouble should be banned for three years, saying that they had cautioned their members on the need to stay away from any conduct that can affect the reputation of the festival. The Aare Ise n baye Saki Zone, Chief Sesan Onibode said that the meeting showed that government was very serious about security, stressing that the repackaging of the festival and the collaborative efforts of the government will bring sanity to street carnivals. He appealed to the government to engage in sensitization and enlightenment at various levels, appreciating the government extension of the hands of fellowship to the masquerade during their festivals.