20 January 2013

Nigeria: Developing Nigeria's Monuments to Enhance Tourism

Tourism experts are worried that monuments and historical sites across the country are not being accorded due recognition they deserve.

The experts say because of the neglect of the monuments, their patronage by tourists has appreciably dropped with attendant loss of revenue.

They, therefore, call for the upgrade, renovation and proper maintenance of the numerous monuments across the country.

However, the National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM) has expressed its readiness to upgrade and further popularise the numerous monuments in the country.

Alhaji Yusuf Abdallah, the Director-General of NCMM, gave the assurance at the centenary anniversary of the late Prime Minister of Nigeria, Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, recently in Bauchi.

The posthumous birthday celebration also featured photo exhibitions on the life and times of the late prime minister, who was killed in Nigeria's first military coup d'état of 1966.

The director-general said that monuments in the country served as reminders Nigeria's past.

Abdallah said that the commission was working with states, local government councils and the media to promote and popularise the artifacts, in order to attract local and foreign tourists to the sites.

He stressed that the monuments had great historical significance, which Nigeria youths ought to be taught.

The monuments include Olumo Rock in Abeokuta; Nigeria's first storey building in Badagry, Tinubu Square in Lagos; Osun Grove in Osogbo, Obafemi Awolowo Mausoleum in Ikenne, Badagry Slave Port in Badagry, Ogbunike Cave in Ogbunike and the National Theatre in Lagos

Others are Zuma Rock in Madalla, Abuja Gurara Falls in Niger State, Kano City Wall and Owu Falls in Kwara, among others.

Mr Ikechi Uko, the Project Director of Seven Wonders of Nigeria, a tourism company, stressed the need to upgrade the country's monuments so as to attract patronage of tourists.

He said, because of the capital intensive nature of the tourism industry, the Federal Government should develop it private-sector participation.

"Some state governments do not know the importance of the tourism potentials they have; tourism is a big employer of labour," he said.

Uko called for the improvement of tourist facilities at Erin Ijesha Waterfall, Oguta Lake Resort and Tinapa Resort, as well as beaches, museums and other monuments across the country.

"All these are great tourist and relaxation centres which state governments could generate considerable revenue from," he said.

Statistics on NCMM's activities in Lagos indicate that no less than 42,960 persons visited museums and monuments between January and October 2012, an improvement over the 40,200 figure recorded in the same period in 2011.

The figure, which experts still consider as low, reflects the low level of patronage of museums and monuments by Nigerians.

An official of the NCMM, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said foreigners who visited the museum in Lagos "loved the artworks in the gallery and showed interest in investing in Nigeria's arts sector".

The official recalled that some of the visitors however bemoaned the dilapidated state of the museum building and its facilities.

"Patronage will surely increase if government renovates the museum and makes it more befitting," he said.

He, however, said that the NCMM was planning to upgrade the museum to international standards, while working closely with security agencies to provide adequate security for all the artifacts.

However, Mr Wilbert Frank, the Group Managing Director, International Africa Hospitality Leisure Group, advised the Lagos State Government to convert some historical centres in the state to monuments.

He specifically urged the government to convert the Glover Memorial Hall and other historical sites across the state to monuments to boost tourism in the state.

Frank, however, noted that some of the historical centres were not well managed; adding that with the government's intervention, the centres would be revamped and made suitable for relaxation and other tourism purposes.

"The government can attract tourists to the historical centres," he said, adding that many of the country's historical landmarks were located on Lagos Island.

Sharing similar opinion, Mrs Wanda Ibru, the Managing Director, Pathways Tourism Development Initiative, urged the Federal Government to copy other countries which converted some of their historical centres to monuments.

She said that the historical centres could be named after nationalists like Chief Obafemi Awolowo, General Murtala Mohammed, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, Sir Ahmadu Bello and Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, among others.

However, Mrs Nkem Ahufo, General Manager, Delta State Tourism Board, underscored the need to establish a databank on historical monuments, important buildings and structures across the country.

Ahufo stressed the need for regular maintenance of the indentified buildings, objects or structures to avoid their deterioration.

Experts re-iterate that the few functional monuments in Nigeria are not enough to make the country a preferred destination for tourists across the world.

They, however, stress that Nigeria could be developed into a world-class tourist destination if existing national monuments are upgraded, while new ones are created.


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