Oyo State Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi has laid the foundation of the 13.5hectares Aso Ofi International Tourism Market at Iseyin, saying that the state is ready to partner genuine investors to preserve its historical sites, artifacts and monuments.
The governor, who performed the foundation laying ceremony at the weekend during the second edition of Aso Ofi festival in Iseyin area of the state, added that the partnering investors would also manage and develop new tourist sites.
Senator Ajimobi, represented by his deputy, Chief Moses Adeyemo, noted that Oyo State is endowed with rich diverse cultures and a wide variety of indigenous festivals such as Sango and Oranyan in Oyo Town, Oke-Badan in Ibadan, Beere in Saki, Olele in Ogbomoso, among others as well as beautiful landscapes which include Ado-Awaye Suspended Lake, Oke-Badan Hill in Ibadan, Igbo-Oba Royal Forest in Igboho, Iya Mapo Hill in Igbeti and other numerous species of flora and fauna with their scenic values.
He observed that most of these tourist sites are yet to be fully maximized to generate revenue, saying “It is therefore our duty to identify, plan, package and market them for overall development of the State. The concept of the Aso-Ofi festival is to celebrate Aso-Ofi, one of the State’s Tourism products, towards propagating this unique indigenous textile material globally and promote the youth empowerment agenda of this administration as one of the solutions to the present economic challenges facing the country.
“To this end, youths should be encouraged to learn this trade without waiting for white collar jobs that are not always there; farmers should be encouraged to grow the cotton trees as part of agricultural agenda in the State to boost our indigenous textile industry. We are here today to fulfill the promise made by my administration during last year Aso-Ofi celebration to the good people of Iseyin that an International Tourism Market will be established in this town known universally as the cradle of Aso-Ofi.
“We are lending credence to our pace setting status by laying the foundation of the first ever market to combine a museum with other tourism features here in Iseyin. We appreciate the support of the good people of Iseyin in particular and Oyo State in general for your continuous support for this administration since its inception over six years ago as well as your collaborative efforts in the transformation agenda of our government,” the governor added.
Senator Ajimobi stressed that the state is making frantic efforts to make Oyo State a haven for tourists to appreciate the numerous Cultural and Tourism entities that abound in the State, noting “since we came on board, our transformation agenda has been vigorously pursued and we have been engaging in the revitalization of all indices of development in the State.”
In his welcome address, the State Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Mr. Toye Arulogun explained that the 13.5 Hectares Aso-Ofi International Tourism Market will contain 500 weaving sheds/workshops, 500 exhibition shops, a warehouse, 1st indigenous textile museum in Nigeria, a fire station, a clinic and a police station, pointing out that Aso-Ofi festival was conceptualized to showcase and celebrate our locally made fabric that is now an internationally accepted brand.
Arulogun noted that the first edition of Aso Ofi recorded huge success as financial institutions, Exports promotion agencies, private and corporate organisations have been having serious and genuine engagements with the aso-Ofi weavers and marketers in the state.
He assured that the state would not relent in its cultural tourism drive in order to make it as one of the mainstreams of the economy of the state.
The 2017 Aso Ofi day festival was witnessed by top government officials from the state led by the Secretary to the State Government, Mr. Lekan Alli, Members of the National Assembly, members Oyo State House of Assembly led by the Deputy Speaker, Hon. AbdulWasiu Musa, traditional rulers including the representative of the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, the Aseyin of Iseyin, Oba Abdulganiyu Adekunle Salau, the Eleruwa of Eruwa, Oba Samuel Adegbola, Onjo of Okeho, Oba Rafiu Osuolale, Religious, Community and market leaders, Aso Ofi weavers and marketers from Ibadan, Ilorin and Abeokuta as well as prominent sons and daughters of Iseyin