Ifa/Orisa spiritualists want Nigeria’s faith tourism potentials harnessed

* Seek govt support

By John Odunayo

The President of the International Congress for Ifa/Orisa Spiritualists (ICIOS), Chief Solagbade Popoola, has said that faith tourism is capable of generating huge revenue for the country and greatly improve its economic fortunes.

Popoola, who says that Nigeria is filled with spiritual treasures which could make the country a world tourists’ destination of choice, called on governments to support Ifa tradition and the numerous spiritual treasures attached to it by way of promoting faith tourism.

The ICIOS president, represented by the Ogun State Secretary of ICIOS, Oluwo Ifaniyi Awoyemi, and other chieftains, spoke at a press conference in Ado Ekiti as part of activities marking the 2024 World Ifa/Orisa Pilgrimage and Festival in Ekiti State.

Awoyemi said, “By recognizing the Ifa tradition, it can render an official recognition to the religion, create a new revenue stream for the country, while sharing local and rich spiritual heritage to the world”.

Similarly, the General Secretary of ICIOS, Wande Akomolafe, said that faith-based tourism had proven to be a lucrative source of income for several countries such as Saudi Arabia, Israel, and India.

Akomolafe lamented that the lack of appreciation for indigenous spiritual practices in Nigeria had diminished home based faith.

The ICIOS scribe, who said that a fraction of what the government was commiting to the two foreign faiths, if given to the Ifa/Orisa spirituality, would significantly benefit faith tourism and potentially transform the nation.

He said, “We (Ifa-Orisa) have all it takes. We are pleading with the government to come to our aid. If we can have 10% of what is given to other faiths, you will see what we will do.

“For this 2024 World Ifa/Orisa Pilgrimage and Festival, we have people from over 15 countries in attendance.

“We are over 350 million worldwide in the last 10 years people have been moving to Ifa from the other religions, and in the next 10 years there will be more converts, so you can see what recognition will fetch in terms of faith tourism”.

Also speaking, the Araba Awo of Oke Agbe Akoko, Ayobami Ogedengbe, proposed introduction of Ifa into national orientation.

Ogedengbe said that Ifa’s knowledge system can be employed to offer “supernaturally” empowerment for security forces to address the country’s insecurity challenges. We have to research Ifa medicines, all these can solve problems for us. So the government needs to do something because the knowledge is rich. We represent the religion, but there are other areas that can be explored.”

Also, a lecturer at ICIOS, Mrs Funmilayo Fakankun, highlighted the advanced technology and spiritual treasures that Ifa encompasses.

Fakankun said, “We have one of the most advanced technologies in Ifa. There are things we don’t know; there are things I didn’t know until I met Ifa, we have a lot of spiritual treasures in Osun State, Ogun State, Ekiti State, Oyo State, Ondo State and indeed all other parts of the country”.

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