Water from the rock
Hammed Shittu in Ilorin writes on the Kwara State government’s realization that promoting tourism in the state is bound to reduce dependence on federal allocations…
Tourism development has remained one of the major options for various levels of government to source for funds capable of assisting them in adding value to the socio-economic development of the rural populace.
The reason is not far -fetched as dwindling federal allocations continue to have serious effects on the drive of the various levels of government to embark on meaningful programmes that would alleviate the sufferings of the people that elected them into office.
In Kwara state, the present administration under Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed has put a lot of effort towards identifying the major tourist centres in the state so as to develop them for the overall growth of the state.
The state government had put in place a masterplan of tourism development to run between 2011 and 2015. In the masterplan are plans such as: speedily intervening in and ameliorating destitution with a view to reintegrating destitutes into the mainstream society; promotion of the diverse culture, arts and crafts of the state to complement tourism development towards promotion of unity and economic development; and transformation of the state into a foremost tourist destination in Nigeria attracting foreign and domestic tourists.
In doing this, the governor believes it would boost revenue generation, create employment, create investment and more importantly showcase the great cultural potentials of the state to international communities, thereby allowing foreigners to take serious interest in coming down to invest in tourism and provide foreign exchange for the state.
In order to achieve the tourism plan, the government has commenced a strategic framework capable of assisting the policy to be achieved. Among such strategies include staging cultural carnivals, comprehensive renovation and upgrading of facilities in state cultural centres, capacity building and provision of required costumes, provision of the required materials for the cultural troupe, identification and upgrading of notable indigenous art and craft work in the state, identification of tourist sites in the state and involvement of the private sector in the development of tourism in the state.
Others include provision of robust incentives to investors in the tourism sector, recruitment of professional personnel, enlightenment and sensitization programmes on the importance of tourism, adequate budgetary provision for the tourism sector and participation in international events on culture and tourism.
In order to achieve this stated objectives, the state’s recently appointed Special Assistant on Culture and Tourism Development, Mr. Oyedele Adetula said that, “the Governor of Kwara State, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed, has emphatically mandated my office to employ all possible means within the state’s capacity to see that tourism takes its place in the positive drive for economic growth in the state.”
Mr. Adetula who on assumption of office undertook various tours of existing tourist attraction centers in the state, decried the deplorable state of facilities in the sector and blamed this on neglect and inadequate publicity. He however expressed optimism that total revamp will be witnessed in a short while.
Visits to Potential Sites
After visiting the Tourism Board in Ilorin, the Owu Falls - one of Nigeria’s highest water- falls - situated in Owa Onire, the Esie Stone Images museum, at Esie, Imoleboja Rock shelter in Ekiti/Irepodun Local Government Area, Aso-Oke weaving center, Okuta Ilorin (ancient historical stone), Dada pottery and Okelele Hide and Skin local industry amongst others, Adetula strongly established his belief in the tourism potentials of the state.
He said that his agenda includes intensive evaluation of existing facilities, face-lifting of facilities, massive public sensitization, intensive education on sustenance of tourist attractions as well as involvement of investors to key into the rich and vibrant tourism industry of the state. The governor’s aide assured that the government of Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed is set to create the enabling environment for investors interested in partnering with the state in this project, looking at security and favorable business friendly policies. He cited the example of the just concluded Patigi Regatta and Durbar as one of the many festivals that will create the platform for investors to visit the state and also called for the support of the media.
Adetula also urged citizens of the state -home and abroad - to key into this new drive and revealed that plans are underway to partner with the NTDC to perfect the Kwara tourism project.
Flag-off With Boat Regatta
To kick-start the state’s new tourism drive, Alhaji Ahmed two weeks ago in Patigi, Kwara flagged-off the joint celebration of the 57th Patigi Boat Regatta and Durbar.
The event which was attended by notable personalities provided an avenue for the Nupes living on the banks of River Niger in Kwara and beyond, to showcase their cultural outfits.
The Regatta festival also provided them the platform for resolving their communal conflicts.