Negligence and inability to creatively utilise the potentials around us for economic development and transformation of the society is one of the many problems militating against the advancement of Nigeria.
The country is no doubt, blessed with lots of potentials and humongous natural resources that can enhance development and create jobs. These opportunities abound in almost all the state in Nigeria but only few states consider developing tourism as a goldmine that can substitute irregular income.
Domestic tourism is a major pride and great economic booster in many countries. Apart from using it to generate income, these countries also use tourism as a platform to showcase their culture and tradition, promote unity and create jobs for the creative industry as well as enhance creativity among the younger generation.
Oyo State in western Nigeria is not left out in the distribution of potential tourism spots. Endowed with a lot of these potentials that can be converted into tourism destinations, the state will not only attract development but also reduce unemployment rate and enhance creativity if the facilities are tapped.
Apart from the Agodi Garden which enjoyed a little reform from the last administration, virtually all other historical monuments and natural tourism spots in the state continue to suffer neglect to the point of turning into hideout for criminals.
In Ibadan alone, there are about 100 tourism sites ranging from historical monuments, to natural and eco-tourism sites. Majority of these sites however, are in bad shape.
A recent visit to Eleyele River, an eco-tourism site in Ibadan, revealed how the water and its environment which is supposed to be a great source of economic advantage to the state is being underutilised. Apart from the dam project which supplies water to the city, the river and its environs is not properly used for other purposes such as water transport, fishing, construction of resort of international standard and promotion of local tradition and culture through tourism.
The speed boat operator on the water ways is operated by a company from Lagos, with just five boats moving from Eleyele Alakuta in Apete, Ologuneru and other places at a relatively cheap price.
Fishermen are busy on the water carrying out their businesses without proper license from the government and the traders at Temidire Market have no option that to continue with their trading activities in a filthy and unkempt environment.
Obviously the thick tree plantation that surrounds the water is a great source of shelter belt for buildings around, but in a normal clime, a resort could be built on a part of the area covered by the plantations. This could serve as a revenue generating source for the state.
At the resort, locally made arts and crafts of various designs could be displayed and sold to visitors who would definitely include foreigners. The resort would also employ scores of people for service.
Entering the river from Temidire Market in Eleyele is not encouraging, the muddy road is almost impassable for both motorists and trekkers. The market itself is a shadow of its own glory. There is no evidence of government presence in the market which is not only filthy but smelling of cassava product such as fufu, garri, starch and other waste.
Since motor mechanics are major occupants of the plantation, there is a deluge of abandoned cars under the green vegetation.
Some of the people who go by the river every day when they go out, while commenting on the state of the river banks said: ”Before the introduction of the jetty, we use to travel on the water in canoes and as a result have recorded many casualties on the water. We have lost great people but if the government takes rightful steps to transform it, things would be much better.’’
Ahaji Rasaq Fabayo, president of Awotan Community Landlord Association, while speaking on the underdevelopment of the river said: ”Apart from being concerned as a landlord, I am also a tourism enthusiast and I understand the importance of tourism in economic development . Eleye River is a great potential that can be used for many things. We can use it for water sport, kayaking, fishery even the idea of having a resort is not a bad one.’’
The state commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, when contacted said: ”The government is considering planting a resort of international standard which will be called Eleyele Lake to the site, we already have a design and our partners are ready to bring in speed boats for smooth operation on the river.
”We are also going to clear the hyacinth on the water to pave way for free flow of water and ease of movement on the water to all areas as soon as the governor approves it. People will soon see something new expanding from Eleyele to Apete, Ologuneru and others,’’ he said.
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