|Captain Idris I. Wada-Arc. Yomi Awoniyi|
Tourism in Nigeria has the potential to generate a lot of revenue and job opportunities for the State and its citizens, just as we have it in Malaysia, Kenya, Uganda and other tourism dependent countries of the world. Over the years attempts have been made to revive the latent tourism industry of Nigeria. These efforts include the increasing influx of foreign and local hotel chains in the country, construction of free trade zones, establishing new international cultural festivals and most importantly restructuring the Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation.
Our dear state, Kogi has a very rich history dating from the colonial times to the modern day Nigeria. It was in Kogi State that Lord Lugard amalgamated the North and South into a unified Nigeria. In 2014 my Administration will invite all Nigerians to celebrate a century of our existence as a Nation. By then Kogi will feature prominently on the Nigerian Tourism Chart.
Our state by virtue of location is the center of Nigeria. The North and South remain untied by routes through Lokoja our state Capital. This equates to the fact that Kogi is the central nerve of Nigeria’s road transport network. My plan is to tap into the vehicular activities that occur on a daily basis at the State Capital. Furthermore our initiatives will bring in new and unique visitors to the State.
The growth of the hospitality industry has shown that if more value is added into the touristic potentials of the State, Kogi will compete with the best in Nigeria and possibly West Africa.
My Administration will restore our cultural pride and tourism economic potentials by embarking on the following:
1. Revitalizing the current tourist infrastructure on ground and sensitizing Kogites on the need to key into the values of our culture. I.e. historical landmarks like Lord Lugards resting point on Mount Patti, the Inikpi Statue in Idah, The Royal Niger Company flag stand, The Confluence of Rivers Niger and Benue, The World War Cenotaph, European Colonial Cemeteries, The Iron of Liberty, which marks the spot slaves were freed in late 19th century, Tombs of some deposed Northern Emirs, Lord Fredrick Lugard’s first residence in Nigeria, First prison in Northern Nigeria. Kogites will be sensitized on the importance of these monuments to Nigeria’s History. Furthermore they will be encouraged to lead the way in promoting our heritage through active patronage and participation. These historical sites are missing on the tourism spots of the world and my administration will restore them to where they belong.
2. The Confluence Beach Hotel will be concessioned to a world-class hotel brand. This will elevate Lokoja to the status of cities that can host world-class events. Furthermore it will force other hoteliers in the State to focus on first class standardization. The state will benefit immensely from Local and International Patronage by virtue of having a 5-star Hotel in the State.
3. Kogi State is one of the few states that has the geographical advantages of having a world-class golf resort. My Administration will ensure that this anomaly is corrected by transforming Mount Patti into a world-class golf resort. Kogi Golf is a key ingredient for economic tourism. We are blessed with fertile land, accessibility by land and water and most importantly a very hospitable culture. A golf course in Lokoja will bring in various categories of tourist both home and abroad. How ideal it will be to play golf on the mountain top overlooking Nigeria’s historic former capital, Lokoja.
4. My Administration will reposition aurora surrounding the Royal Stools and promote the various traditional festivals In the State. Just as National Days are recognized, we shall also recognize our traditional days as a way of preserving their relevance. For example the Italo Festival that takes place in the 1st week of January, will be repackaged and promoted to ensure that the Igala’s living outside the State plan their yearly homely visits during the Festival. Other festivals of notable mention are: Apanigbe fishing festival in Mopa, Emidun new yam festival among the Okun speaking people, Ovia Osese in Ogori-Magongo and Ekuechi in the Central (Ebira).
5. We shall create a yearly festival that integrates all the dynamic cultures of the State. The yearly Calabar Festival began as pet project. Today, it is the most popular cultural festival in Nigeria, ahead of the Argungu festival and various Durbars that have been in existence for a long time. Furthermore the festival will serve as an avenue for Local Film Producers to thrive and promote their art works. This festival will be used to activate the true economic potentials of the State. Imagine having over 10,000 visitors converge in Lokoja at given time of the year to celebrate our rich heritage.
Despite the aforementioned, all these will not be achievable without the enhancement of the Security Framework in the State. We will support the Police Force through a Private Sector/Community Participation model of funding Security. A more secured Kogi will lead to more investments.
In conclusion, this part of my Administrations commitment to ensuring that new jobs are created in the state through harness our God Given touristic assets. Join me as my Administration pilots Kogi to greater heights.
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