The issue of relevance of some festivals to contemporary life has been a moot point for several years. A school of thought believes that some festivals have lost their relevance and outlived their usefulness. One festival that has continued to increase in relevance year-in-year-out since it was re-introduced thirty years ago is the Lisabi Festival, the rallying hub for all Egbas. This year’s edition which is the sixth consecutive edition to be sponsored by Globacom broke all records and got a pass mark from the Alake and Paramount Ruler of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Aremu Gbadebo who described the 2016 edition as the biggest ever to be staged. The monarch who was apparently impressed by the inimitable standard of Globacom’s organisation of the Festival commended the company, at the press conference held to announce Lisabi festival activities, for elevating the Lisabi Festival to the highest level ever imagined by Egba indigenes since the telecoms company started sponsoring the festival.
Oba Gbadebo was gratified that Lisabi is now listed on the world map of festivals as a result of Globacom’s support and yeoman’s efforts of its indefatiguable Chairman, Dr. Mike Adenuga,Jr whom he described as a living legend.
Who exactly was Lisabi Agbongboakala? Legend has it that Lisabi was the hero of Egba liberation from the dominance of the old Oyo Kingdom. It chronicled the strategic way Lisabi organized the emancipation. The fight for freedom started from the rotational cooperative efforts called “aro” which entailed farmers and hunters coming together to assist each other to cultivate,nurture and harvest farm produce. The story was that Lisabi worked very hard for other Egba leaders but never used his own slot for a long time. He later decided to use his pending “aro” slot when he asked his colleagues to neutralize the “Ilaaris” as the messengers from old Oyo kingdom were called. This move led to the freedom of the Egbas from oppression. Lisabi’s mobilization was not only courageous but visionary and largely accounted for the pre-eminent and pioneering roles played by Egba indigenes in the scheme of things in the country. It is an open secret that Egba indigenes are pioneers in most professions and have occupied the highest socio-political positions in the country.
In his keynote address to the 2016 Lisabi Festival, Globacom Chairman, Dr. Mike Adenuga,Jr. described the theme of the 2016 Lisabi Festival “Wealth creation through Small and Medium Enterprises” as germane and vital to the revamping of Nigeria’s economy. He noted that Small and Medium Scale Enterprises are the engine of growth Nigeria needs to embrace, cultivate and stimulate at this crucial period in order to wade through the myriads of economic challenges confronting the nation. Whilst congratulating the Ogun State Governor,Senator Ibikunle Amosun and the paramount ruler of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo on the 40th anniversary of Ogun State and the transformation the state, Dr. Adenuga explained that it collaborated with the organizers of Lisabi Festival to keep the legacies of hardwork, courage, integrity, honesty, love and patriotism alive in order to imbue the young ones with these noble values.
At the seminar held on the theme at the iconic Centenary Hall, Ake, Abeokuta on Thursday,3rd March, 2016, participants unanimously identified training in entrepreneurial matters as a key factor for the success of Small and Medium scale enterprises in Nigeria. Delivering the first paper on “Agricultural Entrepreneurship”, Professor Adewale Dipeolu of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta urged Nigerians to invest in food related businesses constantly demanded by people to create wealth. He said man depends on food to survive and as such cannot not eat! He counselled that SMEs should be allowed to drive the nation’s economy because of its huge job creation potentials adding that Nigerians should curb their taste for exotic things by buying home made goods. Professor Dipeolu identified physical resources, reputation, organisation, finance, intellect and technology as success factors for SMEs adding that government should reduce levies on businesses.
Presenting a paper on “Promoting Youth Entrepreneurship”, Dr. Olusegun Obadina of the Federal University of Agriculture , Abeokuta lamented that Nigerian youths were involved in criminal activities rather than engaging in small scale agro allied initiatives like sugar cane juice, tomato powder and onion grills which are viable money spinners. He expressed willingness to assist whoever is interested in designing such equipment to contact him. Also contributing, Professor Olufunmilayo Adebambo urged women to invest in local chicken and livestock production to cater for their needs describing them as the cheapest and fastest means of wealth creation. She said chicken can replace cow as the preferred choice for protein adding that problems associated with nomadic cattle rearing would be reduced if we all consume chicken instead of red meat. Professor Adebambo said she was working on an experiment involving house wives in villagesand posited that if each homestead raised fifty chickens each, the job would be done. She decried the love for okada riding and pool betting prevalent among youths and called for sensitization against get rich quick syndrome .
In his own remarks, a former Commissioner for Finance in Ogun State and member, Egba Economic Summit, Mr. Kehinde Sogunle said Nigerians should stop agonising and start organising themselves to fight poverty with brain power . He proposed the creation of an Enterprise Development Fund to be jointly funded by Egba indigenes to grant loans to micro, small and medium scale enterprises. Also speaking earlier, the Alake and Paramount Ruler of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo said it was imperative for all Egba indigenes to set up Small and Medium scale enterprises to reduce unemployment throughout Egbaland and beyond.
The grand finale was indeed a spectacle as gaily dressed indigenes and guests thronged the Ake Palace venue of the event in various exotic cars. The atmosphere was electrifying with sporadic gun shots by hunters, banters and music by local artistes combining to form a somewhat pleasing cadence. Club after club paid homage to the Alake. The Paramount ruler addressed the gathering and thanked all for making the week long festival which is the thirtieth in the series a unique one. In his remarks delivered in Yoruba language, the Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun called on indigenes of the state, at home and in the diaspora, to join hands to develop the state by bringing investments. He enjoined them to avail themselves of the recent infrastructural development in the state to site industries and businesses that would help reduce unemployment in the state.He urged the unemployed to be productive by learning a trade or vocation to augment their educational qualifications in line with the theme of the Festival, “Creating wealth through Small and Medium Enterprises”.The Governor thanked Globacom for supporting Lisabi Festival robustly in the last six years and urged other corporate bodies to support worthwhile initiatives that abound in the state. Materials produced by the about one hundred youths who participated in the train-the-trainers training organized for the festival were displayed at the event. The participants were trained in tie and dye, event planning and decoration, catering and ICT.
In all, the 2016 Glo sponsored Lisabi Festival has generated viable ideas for the generation of jobs and sensitization of youths to look at what they can do on a small scale to feed their families and keep body and soul together. This is the current challenge being faced by the Egba and modern day Lisabis should be galvanized into setting up micro, small and medium scale enterprises.
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