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The six South-West governors were on Monday advised to ensure Yoruba Language is a compulsory requirement for admission into state-owned tertiary institutions as part of efforts to stop the Yoruba language and culture from going into extinction.

The Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Adams, gave this advice while speaking as the Chairman of the first edition of the Omituntun Pacesetters Cultural Tourism Festival organised by the Oyo State Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, which took place at the Cultural Centre Ibadan, emphasising Yoruba Language is as important as English and should be made a condition for admission and a must for students during the Senior Secondary School Certificate Examinations.

Expatiating on this while speaking with the media, Iba Adams noted that as indicated in the theme of the festival, ‘Asa Wa…Ipile Wa,’ culture has to do with the clothes that people of a particular tribe wear, the language they speak, and so many things that are peculiar to a particular ethnic tribe, including the food they eat which differentiates them from others, adding that this forms the heritage of the people and their identity.

“Our culture is how we are. What the Oyo State government is doing today is very unique, very significant to the progress, peace and tranquility of the state. One of our problems in our society is that we neglect our culture and tradition. By the time you neglect your culture and tradition, there may be problems in that society. You will lose orderliness and cohesion. Promotion of culture is about projecting ecotourism, and cultural tourism. And by projecting eco and cultural tourism, you are projecting commerce and you are projecting visibility of the structure of that place that you are projecting its culture. You are projecting the visibility of Ibadan, and visibility of Oyo State.

“At the same time, you are giving the people of that place a pride that this my culture and this is my identity. We are fast losing touch with our identity. For our children, it is becoming difficult for them to speak Yoruba Language. It is becoming difficult to identify with our culture. Instead of them to identify with our culture, they are following the Western culture. So, it is very dangerous if we don’t start working on the promotion of culture and turn it to tourism potentials, and upgrade our destination so that the generation that is coming can be proud of how God Almighty created them.”

“Like we have English and Mathematics, Yoruba Language should be taught as a priority before you can gain admission to any university-owned by state governments. But then, it will ginger our generation and the pupils to learn Yoruba right from primary school level up to secondary school, so that they can have admission to state universities. It is the key. It has to be inserted in the curriculum. Our curriculum must reflect Yoruba Language. The teachers and lecturers, teaching Yoruba must take the subject seriously,” he stated.

Earlier, the Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Dr. Wasiu Olatubosun, in his welcome address, noted that the last time cultural festival was celebrated in the state was 11 years ago during the Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala administration, adding that it was held on a low scale unlike the elaborate one that the administration of Governor Seyi Makinde has introduced.

According to him, Engr Makinde has been taking pragmatic steps to promote the culture and tradition of the state and has brought the festival which he described as the first of its kind because he is a lover of culture.

“It was in the first year of this administration that the state was represented at NAFEST for the first time in eight years and we came fourth. The purpose of this is to create a platform to celebrate our heritage and identify talents that can represent the state in competitions while also ensuring UNESCO identifies with this festival,” Dr Olatubosun stated.

Dignitaries at the programme include a representative of the French Ambassador to Nigeria, Dr. Vincent Hiribarren, who is the Director, French Institute for Research in Africa (IFRA); Commissioner for Local Government, Bayo Lawal; Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Development, Seun Ashamu; former Speaker of Oyo State House of Assembly, Senator Monsurat Sunmonu; the Chief Executive Officer of Ilaji Hotels and Sports Resort, Engr Dotun Sanusi; and Major Gen Abdullahi Muraina (rtd).

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