By Bennett Oghifo
The second edition of Argungu Polo Tournament and Cultural Fete will take place early next month, Alhaji Nura Sani Kangiwa, Special Adviser to the governor of Kebi State on Tourism and Co-ordinator of Argungu Fishing festival, has said.
Kangiwa added that although the Argungu fishing and Cultural festival was scheduled to take place early next year, but that the Argungu Annual Polo Tournament and Cultural Fete, which was one of the events to herald the age-long festival, would begin in the first week of next month.
The Polo Tournament is also part of the programme of the main festival, according to Kangiwa, adding that this epoch making tournament would be chaired by the Grand Patron of NSK farms Polo, HRH Alhaji Sama’ila Mohammed Mera (CON) Emir of Argungu.
He said this year’s event is being sponsored and supported by the Federal Inland Revenue Services and the National Council for Arts and Culture respectively. Maltina, and Argungu Emirate Council are also partnering the programme.
Like the Polo Tournament, there is also the fishing festival, which is another grand event that takes place during the Argungu festival.
Kangiwa noted that Governor Abubarka Bagudu was determined to work hand in glove with Nigerian tourism stakeholder to harness the one billion tourists projected visit to notable global tourism destination at the end of this year, an opportunity to which Kebbi indigenes are prepared to benefit from which will in turn oxygenate rural economic and social development.
Governor of Kebbi state, Alhaji Abubakar Bagudu said he is targeting 15000 jobs from the activities of the re-branded Argungu fishing and cultural festival billed for next year.
The governor said that Kebbi’s most famous fishing festival with a huge international offering could swing travel visits to Nigeria and consequently create jobs that will drop unemployment rate in the state and also cause rapid urbanisation of Kebbi’s rural areas.
According to official records, the Argungu Fishing festival is one notable festival that is domiciled in the northern part of Nigeria. There has been several reports in many publications that the Argungu fishing festival began in 1934, but according to the post on Airkhaleej, the attendance of a prominent non-Argungu man who was invited by the then Emir of Argungu to the 1934 event marked the beginning of the exposure of the festival to the country and the international community. It was the then emir and his council that organised the grand fishing festival to entertain the guest in their midst.
From 1934 to date, the festival has attracted millions of people to its grounds and is often graced by dignitaries, including heads of state. During the time of Gen. Yakubu Gowon as Nigerian Head of State, he attended the festival alongside his Nigerien counterpart, Alh. Diorihammani. Former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo is said to have graced the occasion up to four times. The attendance of these government officials is said to have led to an increase in government’s participation in the festival.
It would be recalled that UNESCO has listed the Argungu fishing and cultural festival as an intangible cultural heritage the only one of its kind in Nigeria.