JUMADA-AWWAL 30, 1429 A.H.THURSDAY JUNE 5 2008
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Traditional worshippers want public holidayThe Lagos State House of Assembly is to hold a public hearing on the declaration of a public holiday to celebrate "Isese" - an African traditional religion. The House resolved to convene the hearing following a petition by the state chapter of the Association of the African Traditional Religion of Nigeria (AATREN).AATREN claimed that the government had not given traditional worshippers equal privileges with imported faiths and requested that Aug. 20 be declared work-free day annually to celebrate "Isese".The association also asked to be moved from the state ministry of Home Affairs and Culture to the ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs for better treatment. It equally requested for budgetary allocations, which it claimed, was being enjoyed by both Christians and Muslims. The House Committee on Chieftaincy Affairs, headed by Mr Abayomi Sadiq, however, recommended that AATREN remained under Lagos State Council of Arts and Culture.The committee also recommended that the ministry of Home Affairs and Culture made budgetary provisions for AATREN, adding that the request for an Isese Day celebration on August 20 anually be granted. While debating the issue, some lawmakers argued that the state already had many public holidays and that an extra one would negatively affect the economy.Some others claimed that there were many deities whose activities and modes of worship were not transparent enough.Yet, some lawmakers suggested that "Isese" Day be harmonised with the Black Heritage Day -- an international cultural festival.Mr Babatunde Ogala, representing Ikeja 1 constituency, called for documentation of information on traditional worship groups to make their beliefs and activities more popular.He submitted that attention should be given to research on deities to promote the nation's cultural heritage. Majority of the lawmakers, however, did not support budgetary allocation to AATREN.Speaker Adeyemi Ikuforiji held that Aug. 20 had no historical significance in the state, saying that a public hearing on the matter would give the state residents the opportunity to express their views.