Emmanuel Ukudolo l Friday, February 08, 2018
ABEOKUTA, Ogun, Nigeria – Olumo Rock, The Kemta Tye and Dye Market, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, The Palace of the Alake of Egbaland are major tourism landmarks in Ogun State. These may just be the few most international and perhaps local tourists know about tourist attractions in Ogun State. But there are a lot more.
Commissioner for Tourism and Culture in Ogun State, Mr. Muyiwa Oladipo told journalists brought together by Tourism Innovation and Development Advantage(TIDA) on tour of tourists sites in the state that Ogun is home to educational, religious, cultural and aqua tourism. Besides, he noted that the oldest Bible and first church in Nigeria, The Cathedral of St Peters in Ake, Abeokuta are all domicile in Ogun State. He also alluded to a Drum Museum in Ota that is home to over 200 variety of drums and the African Drum Festival coming up from April 19 – 21, 2018.
He was not happy that indigenous culture in terms of language and dressing is gradually fading away but that the Senator Ibikunle Amosun-led government is determined to reverse the trend hence the partnership with Skyview Communications Ltd to boost tourism in the state.
With this background, the TIDA Press supported with the likes of Avantgarde Tours, Park Inn by Radisson, Travels & Services, Kayo Africa and Halogen Security began the tour. The team drove round Abeokuta and even without stopping, the tour guide pointed to the first church in Nigeria, the palace of the Alake of Egbeland, the massive Chief Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library on the way to the ancient Olumo Rock. It is an impressive structure, the tallest in the capital from where you could get an overview of Abeokuta.
The road to the site is currently been dualised in line with the vision of the government. But as for the site, nothing seems to have changed after the exit of Otunba Gbenga Daniel: The neat exterior staircase that takes you halfway into the rock where you come into contact with the shrine worshipped yearly with black cow. “Only the Alake of Egbaland and the Chief Priest enter the shrine”, the tour guide cautioned. Just by the side are the mud huts built by Egba Warriors to hide their families during the ancient war and the Soni-Osi Toko’s grave. As you go further you are dazed by a group of elderly women who are traditional worshippers of the shrine.
Most striking among them is the elderly, Mrs. Sinatu Aduke Sanni who clocked 133 years in August 13, 2017. She is agile and very lively. Going forward, you are faced with the choice of taking the inner staircase or the ancient maskeshift alley to the summit where you will be able to have an overview of Abeokuta.
The two lifts, one from the base and the other to take you midway to the summit for those who cannot climb are no longer functional and in the process shutting out the physically challenged who would love to be on the summit and behold the beautiful skyline of Abeokuta.
But as the commissioner explained at a post-visit conference there is really no need for elevator. For him, the lift takes away the joy derivable from climbing the stairs. Besides, he said, if lifts were important the operators of Mount Kilimanjaro in Kenya would have installed a lift. Besides there are two art galleries loaded with artworks and antiquities for sale.
The two lifts, one from the base and the other to take you midway to the summit for those who cannot climb are nolonger functional and in the process shutting out the physically challenged who would love to be on the summit and behold the beautiful skyline of Abeokuta. But as the commissioner explained at a post-visit conference there is really no need for lift. For him, the lift takes away joy derived from climbing the stairs
The site as it is certainly begs for government attention. It would need a standard restaurant and a facelift to come to terms with its status as a World Heritage site. Perhaps, it is for this purpose that CEO of Skyview, Mr. Femi Lawson sold the idea of Public Private Partnership, PPP arrangement for the government to allow those who know about tourism to run the business. He believes the development will create job with a boost in Internally Generated Revenue, IGR for the state.
He said his organisation and a group of tourists came together for the purpose of reviving tourism thorough virtual tourism in Nigeria. But he is not alone. The Commissioner believes that tourism, the neglected child will soon become the cornerstone and he buttressed this fact with 1 Samuel 16:1-12 with an appeal for Nigerians who spend so much travelling abroad for holiday to save cost and enjoy the comfort tourism has to offer in Ogun State.
The GM Park Inn by Radisson, Mr. Kayode Aina believes security need not be an issue when it comes to tourism in Nigeria since tourists visit areas with even higher proportion for violence and called on Nigerians to spread positive things about Nigeria. His hotels has the best of facilities in Abeokuta with good security, good food and beautiful environment at moderate cost.
The Kemta Market is home to original Adire. It is a very rare community where everyone is involved in the production of Adire. It was indeed a beautiful experience with those involved calling on government to improve the environment with access to portable water. But beyond this they seem to be happy, making money while enjoying themselves.