President Boni Yayi
Suddenly, the weather changed. The mist rose like a white balloon and enveloped him and his team. It was euphoric! The temperature dropped. Everything seemed to stand still. They often do. At the hilltops of Obudu, the weather swings like the mood of a pregnant woman; one moment it is warm, the other it is chilly. As the President took it all in, he nodded his head intermittently.
A thought crossed his mind: the best of Africa should share in this experience. That was how the African Union Chairman (AU) and two-term President of Benin Republic, Boni Yayi, made up his mind that the next Summit of the African Union would hold in Cross River State. As President of Benin Republic and Chairman of AU, Boni Yayi thought he had seen the best Africa had to offer in scenic beauty and floral splendor. But as it turned, nothing in his experience had prepared him for the wonders of the Obudu Ranch Resort. Confronted by the ethereal charms of the resort, complemented by 21st Century technology and a courteous staff, the president marveled at this hidden treasure of Africa.
He chatted excitedly about how the beautiful resort had re-affirmed Nigeria’s leading position in Africa as a land of possibilities. Awestruck by the other-worldliness of Obudu and its surrounding landscape, President Yayi was eager to explore. He decided on his second day at the ranch, to move around and take in everything Obudu had to offer. From the Presidential Suites, he was driven to the waterpark from where he was taken to behold the beauty of the waterfall, which from the mountain peak, looked like a giant silver thread. Overwhelmed by what he was seeing from a distance, he sought to know how long it would take him to walk to the waterfall. Six hours he was told. That got him fascinated the more. For how could he see the waterfall, which was six hours away from him on foot? But then, that is one of the many magic of Obudu.
…And The Weather Changed
Done with taking in the sights of the mountain ranges and its allure, he and his team began walking back to their vehicles. Suddenly, the weather changed. The President and his team realized they were taking a walk in the clouds as a fog enveloped everywhere. With temperatures dropping to create a chill, visibility became poor. The ranch is the only place in Nigeria that experiences four different weathers. And like is often said of the United Kingdom, weather in Obudu swings like the mood of a pregnant woman. One moment it is sunny, the next moment it is freezing. Despite the ‘European like’ weather, as he put, he decided to descend to the foot of the ranch. He was going to experience a ride in a cable car for the first time in his life.
And believe me, it is not an adventure for the faint-hearted. At the cable car station, his advance team took off first. When it was his turn to board the car, he did something that got everyone around reeling in laughter. After taking a ponderous step towards the cable car, he hesitated, turned around looking at no one in particular. Then he did a sign of the cross, a form of prayer by Catholics for protection before entering the cable car that took him from a mountain range of over 500 000 feet above sea level to the ground level. On the ground, he joined the locals in playing drums and dancing to the rhythm of their dance steps. Done with dancing, he hopped back into the cable car that took him back up. Overwhelmed with excitement, President Yayi revealed that given what he had seen and tasted in Obudu he no longer would spend his holidays in Paris, France or Madrid in Spain. “I will come back,” he said repeatedly, before adding that he would make a case for the next Summit of the African Union to be hosted at the Obudu Ranch Resort.
President Yayi, who could not hide his feelings, described Cross River State as the most beautiful place he had visited in Africa. “It was a pleasant surprise to me when I visited those attractive sites here in the Ranch. I never knew there are God’s wonders in this part of the world. It is fantastic,” he enthused. Yayi urged Nigerians to see Obudu as a tourism offering that must be aggressively marketed to the outside world, adding that the world ought to know Nigeria by this God’s wonder and not Boko Haram. “We should not only talk of insecurity in the country, but try to project other good things that abound here and showcase them to the world in order to bring development to the country,” the AU boss stated. He promised to contribute his quota to support the tourism initiatives embarked upon by the state government. While commending the state Governor Senator Liyel for the laudable initiatives and for keeping the state clean and green, which is one of the things that have made him contemplate more visits to the resort for holidays, he said Nigerians and indeed Africans have no business going to Europe or other parts of the world when they have a jewel that must be patronised to grow.