The traditional worshippers, on Friday, disregarded safety protocols issued by the Osun State Government which was part of efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during the grand finale of this year’s Osun-Osogbo festival.
They also ignored the ban placed on social gathering ordered by Governor Gboyega Oyetola as few adherents were sighted in celebration mood.
From the palace of the Ataoja of Osogbo, where the votary maid (Arugba) was accompanied by some traditional priests and worshippers to the Osun river to offer sacrifices and supplications, no physical distancing was observed, as most attendants did not wear facemasks.
But there was a low turnout of worshipers and fun-seekers at the grand finale when compared to last year’s edition.
Speaking at the event, Governor Gboyega Oyetola said the purpose of the restriction of people at the event was not punitive but to ensure the safety of the state.
Represented by the state Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Obawale Adebisi, the governor said COVID-19 was fast spreading in the state, as well as in the entire country, and it needed to be curbed.
He said, “The purpose of the restriction is not punitive but to ensure safety of the entire state. People should know how fast COVID-19 is spreading, particularly in our state, and one of the protocols is minimum number of people gathering together and this festival is an international festival.
“People who are coming for the festival, no one knows what they may be bringing in. Osun Osogbo is strategic to the state because it is an international festival and our plan was that people from outside should join the festival but because of the COVID-19, we could not do that.
“We pleaded with the King (Ataoja) to bear with the state and we assured him that by next year, we will bring as many people as possible to celebrate with him. We wish the Oba well and also the people of Osun. We wish them happy celebration.”
The Ataoja, Oba Jimoh Oyetunji Olanipekun, felicitated with the worshipers and the entire Osun people on the annual festival. He prayed for peace and development of the state.
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