Tourism practitioners and consultants from the South-South zone have again drawn the federal government’s attention to serious flaws in the National Tourism Master Plan as currently configured, adding that the drafters failed to take due consideration of the developmental needs of the south-south region, from where the bulk of Nigeria’s economy is produced.
They contended that the exclusion of the BRACED Commission states, comprising Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Edo and Delta, from the Nigeria Tourism Development Master Plan, was both illogical and insensitive on the part of the consultants that were commissioned to do draft, describing the omission as a deliberate ploy to disregard or neglect these key states in the course of configuring tourism cluster areas for accelerated national tourism development.
The position was made known in Benin City, the Edo State capital, in a press release signed by Messrs Andy Ehanire and Piriye Kitaramo, who are tourism practitioners and activists of Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN) / West Africa Travel Union (WATU).
In the statement, they condemned the obvious oversight, reiterating that no consideration was given to the ecological devastation caused by oil exploration and consequent obliteration of local economic activities in the region, stressing that tourism development ought to be one of the safeguards for a sustainable future after the oil wells eventually run dry.
“Furthermore, given the kaleidoscope of peoples and cultures with renowned historical civilisations, such as the legendary Benin Empire that manifested in diverse monuments, priceless artifacts and art, it is embarrassing to observe that no consideration was given to these national assets in the Nigerian Tourism Development Master Plan”, they posited.
Mr Ehanire and Kiyaramo, pointed out that the diverse ecological and geographical landscapes of the south-south region, in the form of rivers, creeks, pristine lowland/mangrove forests, wet lands, beaches and marine ecosystems, were more than adequate bounties to be captured in the national tourism development master plan.
They observed with dismay that the national tourism master plan provides for three tourism clusters for the Northern states of the country, including the Federal Capital Territory, with the South-East and South-West, having one cluster each, while the South-South has no visible mention in the master plan.
“We therefore, consider it imperative for the federal government to urgently create a sixth Tourism Cluster to assuage the apparent shortchanging of the BRACED States/Niger Delta Region, in the Nigerian Tourism Development Master Plan. The historical, cultural and ecological endowments of the Zone should rightly form the hub of a viable accelerated tourism development, which should have as take-off Pilot Schemes in the development of a Culture based Resort in Benin City and a Petroleum Museum at Oloibiri, in Bayelsa State”. They further stressed.
The duo noted that the Niger Delta Regional Master Plan also highlighted the need for tourism pilot schemes as a means for boosting the region’s economy.
They observed that several promises have been made by successive tourism ministers in order to assuage the apparent shortchanging of these contiguous states, which collectively produce the greatest chunk of Nigeria’s economic mainstay, urging the new Minister for Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, High Chief Edem Duke to give urgent attention the issue.
In this regard, the stakeholders also proposed that a consortium of indigenous tourism experts be commissioned to design the new Tourism Cluster for the South-South zone, with the incorporation of the NEPAD Tourism Action Plan for community based enterprises, adding that such actions, when incorporated, would significantly translate into concrete manifestation of the Transformational Agenda of the Goodluck Jonathan’s Administration at the grassroots, leading to civic renewal, job creation and poverty alleviation.
They also spoke in tandem with Chief Edem Duke, on the need for the domestication of the Nigeria Tourism Development Master Plan to such extent that it takes full cognizance of the special developmental needs of the people.
They called on Developmental Agencies, the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and the BRACED Commission, to urgently key into these programmes to be able to impact positively on grassroots.
Andy Ehanire and Piriye Kiyaramo, who are also tourism consultants, expressed their willingness to assembly a team of indigenous tourism experts with capacity and multi-disciplinary skills to fill the apparent gaps in indigenous technical capacities required in the design of a new tourism cluster and the domestication of the National Tourism Master Plan by states.
Bayelsa, UK Seek Investment Partnership
Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, has promised that his administration would provide and guarantee the enabling environment for United Kingdom investments in the state.
Governor Diri gave the pledge last Monday when he met with the United Kingdom’s High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mrs. Catriona Laing, in Abuja.
He requested the envoy to pave the way for British investments in the state in the areas of agriculture, transportation, education, maritime, aquaculture, ICT amongst others.
The governor, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, said the relationship between the UK and Bayelsa predated the creation of Nigeria, which was further consolidated by the discovery of crude oil in commercial quantities at Otuabagi, a community in the state, by Shell in February 1956.
He however noted that despite Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) being one of the leading oil companies in the state and the long history of economic relations with the UK, Bayelsa had nothing to show as there was no other investment from UK companies in the state.
Diri sought the UK government’s support and collaboration to establish a skills acquisition centre in the state that would train and empower women and youths in carpentry, refrigeration, solar power assembly, fashion designing and masonry.
Other areas are farming techniques for high-yield crops production, aquaculture, ICT as well as mechanical/electrical training.
“With Bayelsa occupying a major portion of Nigeria’s 853-kilometre coastline, the government intends to concentrate on fishery development, particularly deep-sea fishing.Bayelsa State has the best potential in Nigeria for the production of rice, cassava, yam, plantain, banana and palm produce. Our government is therefore embarking on a massive programme to train our youths in modern form of agriculture in order engage them in productive activities and divert them away from militancy, restiveness and criminal activities”, he said
“Bayelsa remains one of the main crude oil and gas production states both onshore and offshore. The state provides the best setting for oil and gas investment. About 60 per cent of Nigeria’s gas reserve is in Bayelsa and the government has resolved to create the best incentives and operating environment for all British investors through Public Private Partnership (PPP)”, he added.
Governor Diri also solicited support for undergraduate and postgraduate scholarship to Bayelsa students as well as inter-city collaboration with either the city of London, Liverpool or Manchester in order to enhance the state’s transportation infrastructure, urban planning and waste management.
“I equally seek grants from the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) to support the state government’s urban renewal efforts in the provision of potable water, rural electrification, construction of schools/learning materials. We are aware that the FCDO’s Overseas Development Assistance through the Conflict Overseas Stability and Security Fund programme worked through the Social Democtatic Network, an NGO, in some communities in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of the state to carry out rice farming, which was successful. But this stopped since March 2020 and we wish to request that it resumes, this time, with collaboration with the state government for better results and continuity”, the governor noted.
He commended the envoy for the warm reception and presented a copy of the interim report of the Bayelsa State Oil and Environment Commission (BSOEC) and an overview of its work, which he said highlighted the challenges Bayelsa people faced from decades of degradation of their environment.
In her brief response, the UK High Commissioner, Catriona Laing, thanked Governor Diri for the visit, saying the mission encouraged collaboration with states and organisations that border on mutual interests.
Laing said the UK was interested in the economic development of Bayelsa, particularly in the area of sustainable agriculture and other areas that the governor highlighted.
By: Ariwera Ibibo-Howells, Yenagoa
Police Arrest Two, Recover 44 Phones, Others In Delta
The Delta State Police Command has arrested suspected cell phone snatchers in two separate operations in the state.
The command’s acting spokesman, DSP Edafe Bright, announced this to newsmen yesterday in Warri.
He said that one of the suspects identified as Bernard Aloba, was arrested on June 7 by operatives of the Safer Highway Patrol team of the command on the Warri-Sapele road.
“On June 7, 2021 while men of the Safer Highway Patrol team were on stop and search duty on the Warri-Sapele Road”, intercepted one passenger bus of the first suspect simply identified as Amusa.
“On searching the bus and the owner, 20 cell phones, three laptops suspected to have been stolen and one bullet proof material were recovered from a suspect,” he said.
The police spokesman said that investigation was ongoing.
Bright said that the second suspect, Iliyasu Hamzat was nabbed on June 20.
He explained that Hamzat was arrested by men of the Safer Highway Patrol team while on a stop and search duty on the Ughelli-Patani axis of the East-West road.
“On June 20, 2021 at about 1500hrs, while on stop and search duty on the Ughelli-Patani road, intercepted a commercial vehicle.
“While search was on, one of the passengers whose name and address is unknown suddenly jumped into the bush and escaped.
“On searching his luggage, 24 android phones of different makes was recovered.
“However, one of his gang members, Hamzat who kept calling the suspect’s phone to find out what is delaying the delivery of the stolen phones was tactically lured and arrested by the police,” he said.
Bright said that the police have launched a manhunt for the fleeing suspect.
Tribunal Affirms Victory Of Senator Odey
The Election Petition Tribunal, sitting in Calabar, the Cross River State capital, has upheld the victory of Dr. Stephen Odey, of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, had declared on December 6, 2020, as the senator representing Cross River North senatorial district at the National Assembly.
The tribunal also demised the petition filed by Joe Agi, SAN, praying the tribunal to upturn the result of the Cross River North senatorial election in his favour, claiming that he is the authentic winner of the contest, having come second in the contest since, according to Agi, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, didn’t have a candidate in the election.
Recall that Agi had approached the tribunal to upturn the election result in his favour and declare him the winner, given the fact that the PDP, the 3rd respondent and INEC, the 4th respondent in the petition, presented two candidates in the elections.
But delivering its judgment, the three-man tribunal headed by Justice Yusuf Ubole Muhammad in suit No: EPT/CR/SEN/03/2020, squashed Agi’s petition and uphold the result of INEC, which declared Dr Stephen Odey as the winner, stressing that Odey, the PDP candidate participated in all the stages of the senatorial contest, and scored the highest votes.
The three-man tribunal, which had as other members Hon. Justice s John Olajide Abe and Gilbert Ngele, averred that Odey, who participated in all the stages of the elections scored 129,207 votes, against his APC petitioner Barr. Agi, who scored 19,105 votes in the said senatorial election, is still the winner of the election.
The Director-General, Cross River State Due Process, Mr. Alphonsus Ogar Eba, while reacting to the judgment at the court premises said, “I am very happy, but happier, because God has come in human form to show Himself in this judgment that has just been delivered.”
Ogar stated that the good thing about the judgment delivered is the fact that the action of INEC on the 18th of December, 2020 which was the plank on which the second respondent, Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe, has been hinging on, has been declared by the tribunal as a jiggery pockery, stressing that he doesn’t know what those who had never been pleased from the time Odey was declared winner would do.
He described the journey of political opponents as vain expectation, stressing that Odey’s persecutors have stamina and energy for trouble.
He opined that that probably is the reason why the tribunal found no reason to upturn the election result against Odey, who he described as winner of the contest.
He said: “What the court has said today was that the petition Agi (SAN) filed, saying that the PDP had no candidate was not true at all.
“That court found here today that Senator Dr. Stephen Adie Odey was the candidate that was dully sponsored, who participated in all the stages of the election, and was declared winner on the 6th and everything that was done there was perfect and court could not find any reason to upturn that.
“It also went further to say that, because the second respondent Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe’s, name was not forwarded, he did not participate, everything he did was just a nullity and of no avail”.
By: Friday Nwagbara, Calabar
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