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Reviving Jabi Lake Park For Tourism Development



On one particular date, Mr Clifford Emeka and his family wanted to have a good time in a good, quiet location and they resolved that Jabi Lake Park in Abuja would be an ideal location for such relaxation.

Visualising what the park used to be in the past and some verbal reports about the place, Clifford convinced his family members that they should all go there for a picnic.

So, every member of the family was excited about the excursion and looked forward to the ecstasy of relaxing in the serene park that is located midway between Jabi and Kado neighbourhoods of the FCT.

However, at the entrance to the park, Clifford’s wife asked if her husband really knew the way to the park.

“This is strange; this is a caricature of what we used to have here in those days. What is really the problem?’’ a visibly shaken Clifford mumbled.

“This place is unkempt, the gates have been vandalised and everybody comes in and goes out at will. There is no security, this place is the exact opposite of what it used to be in those days,’’ he added.

But the couple’s amazement only typifies the bewilderment of many recent fun seekers who came to the park for leisure in recent times.

A visit to Jabi Lake Park confirms the unspeakable neglect which the park has suffered, as the pond is visibly polluted, while the lake’s shore is littered with layers of garbage and animal dung.

There is no visible sign of development at the park, while two boats — either used for racing or fishing – are usually seen anchored by the side of the lake. In a nutshell, the park looks disgusting, lonely and dirty.

Observers, however, note that the park is often used for religious gatherings, wedding receptions and theatre groups’ rehearsals, among others.

They, nonetheless, insist that park ought to have been a veritable tourist destination in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), adding that it also has the potential of generating considerable income for the FCT Authority (FCTA), while providing jobs for the youth.

Mr Nduka Kelechi, the Manager of Astoria Travels and Tours Ltd., says that the Jabi Lake Park, if adequately developed, has the potential of competing with some well-known artificial lake parks in other parts of the world.

“The Jabi Lake Park could be developed to a level that it could compete with recognised ecotourism sites such as the one in Goyang city, South Korea, which has a lot of ecotourism attractions such as water, trees and flowers where people can interact with nature,’’ he adds.

Jabi Lake Park, which was inaugurated in 2007 by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, was specifically designed to boost the tourism potential of the FCT but observers lament that the raison d’être behind the park’s creation would be defeated unless urgent actions are taken to revive the park.

Jabi Lake Park is originally intended to be later upgraded to an international tourist resort with a five-star hotel with 400 rooms, office suites and other facilities to boost tourism.

Mrs Rose Brown, the owner of a flower garden by the park, says that the park, which is now derelict, has suffered years of neglect by the government.

She, therefore, urges that the government and the management of the park to make tangible efforts to revive the park and save it from further dilapidation.

Besides, Brown notes that the park is no longer serene; adding that it no longer has the quiet natural soothing effect it used to have on visitors in the past.

“When the park was in good shape, the environment was inviting, stimulating natural feelings and encouraging robust engagements. These days, however, these are no longer there,’’ she says.

Sharing similar sentiments, Dr Kate Udoh, another florist at the park, stresses that the current state of the park is by all means pitiable.

“It is more than five years now since the inauguration of the park. We are not happy about its current condition because we don’t have other recreation spots in Abuja apart from the Millennium Park and the Zoological Garden.

“Initially, the environment was well-kept and parties and picnics were held there but right now, the environment is no more conducive for that,’’ she says.

Expressing similar concern about the state of the park, Mr Dan Ukachukwu, a lawyer, says that he once wrote a letter captioned “Jabi Lake Park has gradually gone from beautiful to the ugly’’ to the editor of a daily newspaper.

Ukachukwu, who particularly bemoans the collapse of the perimeter fence of the park, stresses that it has made the park exposed and insecure.

He recalls that the park is formerly an ideal location for solitary reading, writing and sober reflections, adding that it has now become a place for questionable characters.

“Indeed, Jabi Lake Park has become a ghost of the place, previously visited by the connoisseur, to experience the ecstasy of a splendid sunset on the lake,’’ he says.

However, Mr Abdullateef Olajide, a musician, says that he and his group still use the park for their rehearsals because of its serene atmosphere.

“We have enough space to do all our rehearsals without disturbing anybody; even the cool breeze and fresh air there is inspirational but the place could be better, if well-managed,’’ he says.

Mr Ikechukwu Iyeke, a businessman, who underscores the need for the proper maintenance of Jabi Lake Park, claims that he usually visits the park twice every week to have a good time with his family.

“The park, however, needs a face-lift; weeds have taken over a larger part of the place; due to the lack of proper maintenance, the whole place is now littered with garbage and filth.

“On Saturday mornings, civil servants still come here to jog and have their walkouts in large numbers,’’ he says.

Mr Olatoyinbo Hosea, who resides in the neighbourhood, also complains about the state of Jabi Lake Park, expressing concern about the possible presence of scorpions, snakes and other dangerous reptiles at the park, which is now taken over by weeds.

Mr Ndubuisi Okoye, an engineer, says that he is largely uncomfortable with the state of security at the park.

“The gates have been destroyed, nobody mans the gate; people come in and go out the way they like without any qualm. The park’s lighting facilities have all been vandalised and stolen; you cannot come here at night.

“Jabi park can be as good as any other park in the world; the concept is laudable but the vision is never sustained,’’ Okoye says.

However, that is not to suggest that the government is unmindful of the current state of Jabi Lake Park.

Investigations reveal that as part of government’s efforts to revive the park, the park’s management was ceded to some South African investors in a contract worth 1.5 billion dollars (about N225 billion).

The two-year contract ought to have commenced in October 2008, while the Parks and Recreation Department of the Abuja Metropolitan Management Council (AMAC) was given the mandate to oversee the accelerated greening of the park.

“What then is the effect of the contract on the park?’’ some observers are often tempted to ask.

Mr Ologun Rolands, the Acting Director, Department of Parks and Recreation, FCTA, however, declines to comment on the matter.

He explains that a law suit on the park’s management is before a competent law court, adding, however, that his department still undertakes a skeletal monitoring of the park.

“Commenting on the issue would be sub juidice; it would be tantamount to a contempt of court,’’ he says.

All the same, tourism experts insist that concerted efforts should be made to revive Jabi Lake Park in good time so as to boost tourism in the FCT and provide exceptional recreational services to the residents.

Nwapi and Onuegbu write for the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)


Edith Nwapi and Perpetua Onuegbu

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Don Traces Environmental Challenges To Poverty, Ignorance



Dean Faculty of Environmental Sciences, University of Calabar, Prof. Imo Ekpoh on Wednesday disclosed that Nigeria cannot solve its environmental challenges without solving the challenges of poverty and ignorance.
Ekpoh said this in an interview with The Tide source in Calabar.
The Prof. of climatology noted that as a nation we needed to carryout measures that would ensure that rural dwellers lived sustainably with the forests and not destroy them.
“Telling people who have been logging or burning bushes as a profession they learnt from their fathers to stop logging and burning bushes at the beginning of the farming season because you want to check greenhouse gases emission won’t work.
“This is because they will not understand, unless they are educated and given an alternative means of livelihood.
“Today, many of our rural communities take bush burning as a way of life and when village A, B, and C continue to burn  the forests, it becomes a major challenge contributing to global warming, he maintained.
Ekpoh stated that the major factor that was enhancing global warming was the amount of greenhouse gases such as carbon-(iv)-oxide, methane, nitrous-oxide and chlorofluorocarbons released daily into the atmosphere.
He said that preindustrial level of atmospheric carbon-(iv)-oxide  was in the region of 280 parts per million but at present, it was over 400 parts per million.
He added that if not for the efforts of some communities like Cross River in planting trees, it would have risen to 500 parts per million.
“Planting of trees is important because it helps in the absorption of carbon-(iv)oxide which escapes into the atmosphere from different sources and enhancing global warming.
“Global warming brings with it surprises because earth’s atmosphere becomes unstable, making it difficult for scientists to predict.
“This is why you see massive flooding in China, storms in America and bush fires at the same time, some other countries are witnessing draught and even Nigeria is not left out with the effects of desert encroachment and other disasters.
“As a nation we need to start enforcing the use of catalytic converters in our vehicles and factories and also provide an alternative and safe means of survival for our people, if we must save our environment,” he asserted.

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Traders Blame Flooding In Mile One Market On Lack Of Drainage Facilities



Traders at the popular Mile one Market in the Port Harcourt City Local Government Area of Rivers State have blamed the incessant in the market to lack of drainage facilities.
A cross section of traders who spoke to The Tide in an interview said the market need good drainages to enable easy flow of water whenever it rains.
They also call on the government to put in place polices that will check indiscriminate dumping of refuse in the market.
Speaking in an interview, Mr Adekunle Alabi, a meatseller said the market needs good drainage system to ensure the flow of water dring rainfalls.
“According to him, whenever it rains, flood passes through the railway, if there is good drainage, the water would just flow out”.
Also speaking, a woman who gave her name as a fisherman’s wife called on the government to ensure that the market is regularly adding that most traders have developed the habit of dumping refuse in gutters in the maket.
According to her, this refuse always block the water from flowing out during rainfall.
She said, the situation is affecting traders adversely.
“Some people carry dirty and dump inside the gutter, so the water does not see road to pass, and it cause flood everywhere.
“That is why we are suffering in this market” she said.
Also speaking, another trader, Mrs Betty Silas said the gutter needs to be cleaned up regularly to ensure that there is easy flow of water.
The most important thing, the gutters are not deep enough, so when it rains it causes flood in the market” she said.
For Mr Ezekiel Solomon, the cause of the flooding in the market is due to lack of sanitation, stressing that a Thursday weekly sanitation exercise should be enforced, to ensure that no debris blocking the gutter.
Also speaking, Mrs Abigail Chukwudi call on the government to enforce regular sanitation exercise to compel some traders to always clean their stalls.
Another trader, Mr Oliver the also call for the regular visit of sanitation officials in the market to ensure compliance in the weekly sanitation exercise.

By: Elendu-Obochi Esther Inmgba Favour Victor & Oribim Nyanaa Ibama

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Gas Leakage Destroys Properties At College



Authorities of the Federal College of Education (Technical Omoku say a gas leakage which occurred at the permanent site of the college has destroyed properties worth millions of naira.
According to a press release emailed to the reporter, the incident brings to three, the number of gas leakage witnessed so far within the last four years in the college.
The release signed by the institution’s Public Relations Officer, Prince Charles Amadike, said the leakage which occurred last Friday emanated from a high pressure gas pipeline 95 bar allegedly belonging to the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas which runs through the college’s permanent site.
It said though no life was lost, the ugly incident apart from posing health and environmental hazard has destroyed many properties including farms, fish ponds, students’ demonstration farms as well as degradation of the college’s environment therefore may cause the College to shut down as staff and students have deserted the campus for fear of explosion.
The release also said that the permanent site of the college houses the instiution’s Directorate of Degree Programme in affiliation with University of Nigeria Nsukka and University of Uyo, students hostels, many schools of study, laboratories, water factory, directorates, departments, units, staff offices, games village as well as fish ponds, etc. with thousands of staff, students and traders residing within the area.
Meanwhile, some students who spoke at the scene of the incident threatened to stage a peaceful demonstration if the companies that laid pipelines through the college did not find lasting solutions to the reoccurring oil and gas spillage in the college. According to them, the school was not safe for learning as a result of such ugly incidents.
Also speaking at the scene of the incident, the Provost of the college, Dr Emmanuel Ikenyiri, accompanied by some members of the Management of the college appealed to the affected company to come and stop the gas leakage which is still on as at the time of filing this report. He also appealed to government at all levels, multinational companies, corporate bodies as well as philanthropic organizations and individuals to come to the aid of the college which is the only gederal tertiary institution in Orashi region of Rivers State outside Port Harcourt, as frequent oil or gas spillage in an academic institution is a risk on human lives, lamenting that apart from the destruction of college’s valuables and other aquatic lives, staff, students and visitors to the school could not breath well because the gas has saturated the area.
While thanking God that no life was lost as a result of the incident, he also commended the staff, students and farmers for their peaceful approach and urged them to remain calm as the management had concluded plans to contact the affected company.

By: John Bibor

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