Despite the Osun State Government’s ban on social activities in respect of the 2020 Osun Osogbo festival, residents and devotees thronged the groove to mark the festival on Friday.
The Osun State Government cancelled all social activities because of the spike in the number of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the state.
A statement issued by the state government through the Commissioner of Culture and Tourism, Hon Obawale Adebisi, noted that the observance of traditional rites and routines associated with the festival are approved; Also, only authorised persons and worshippers will be allowed into the grove. These worshippers must, however, comply with the state government’s COVID-19 protocols.
At the festival on yesterday , our correspondent, who went round, observed that devotees, worshippers and residents defied directive banning social activities associated with the festival. The safety protocol of social distancing was not followed while some of the devotees and worshippers were not using facemasks.
Security operatives, including Nigeria Police, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, and Osun Security Network codenamed ‘Amotekun corps’ were stationed at three junctions before the Osun Osogbo groove. Armoured Personnel Carrier and patrol vehicles were also stationed at the entrance of the groove which was manned by heavily armed police officers.
We learnt the Arugba carried the calabash from the palace in the company of the Ataoja of Osogbo, Oba Jimoh Oyetunji to the Osun groove around 8:30 AM contrary to the norm of delaying time till 10 AM or 11 AM. It was done to avoid the funfair that accomplishes the carriage of the calabash.
As a custom, the Arugba’s company returned the calabash to the palace of Ataoja at 1:43 PM while worshipers, devotees and onlookers thronged out in their great numbers, following them back to the palace without observing social distancing and use of facemasks.
Beer pubs along palace road adjoining the groove were opened and many people were sited drinking in clusters with use of face masks. They were entertained by drummers.
There was however strict compliance to COVID-19 safety protocols at the groove where the monarch and Osun State Governor, Mr. Adegboyega Oyetola, stayed to mark the festival but after the ceremony had lapsed; there was a surge of worshippers thronging into the groove.
At the groove, the Osun State Governor, Oyetola, who was represented by the Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Mr. Obawale Adebisi, appreciated Ataoja and Osun Osogbo worshippers for their cooperation with the state government.
He pointed out that social activities restriction on the 2020 festival is not to punish anybody but it is imperative for the safety of the people of the state.
He said, “I want to appreciate the monarch and the worshipers of Osun Osogbo for their cooperation with the state government. The purpose of the restriction is not punitive but to ensure safety of the entire state,” he said.
The Ataoja prayed for the state and the citizen of Osogbo. He also urged them to be law-abiding.