…Urges Okowa to develop tourist sites in Delta State
…Says river comparable to Thames, Rhine, Danube in Europe
Author of increasingly popular children’s storybook Igho Goes to Farm and editor with The Guardian, Mr. Anote Ajeluorou, has canvassed the need for Nigerians to look inwards and exploit the vast tourism potential and destination points in the country for the benefit of local communities and the country’s economy. He condemned the penchant of rich Nigerians for always travelling abroad to enjoy the things that could be developed at home, but which continue to be abandoned and left undeveloped. He lamented the amount of job loss Nigerians’ unpatriotic attitudes continue to exact and the attendant social menace it poses.
He said Ibedeni, an Ndokwa East LGA community in Delta State, where he set his children’s book is one such local tourism destination points in the country waiting to be tapped on account of the Ase Creek that flows along its banks and other communities and empties into the River Niger. He, therefore, called on Delta State Government and other business-minded individuals to invest in the tourism potential of the state to help boost its economy.
Ajeluorou made these submissions shortly after the recent Book Party organised by Committee for Relevant Art (CORA), in conjunction with Nigeria Liquified Natural Gas (NLNG), sponsors of The Nigeria Prize for Literature. This year’s edition centres on children’s literature. His children’s storybook, Igho Goes to Farm, is among the 11 books longlisted vying for the USD$100,000 prize money on offer for the eventual winning work.
Ase Creek, Ajeluorou said, is comparable in stature and scenic beauty to any other internationally recognised and acclaimed water bodies like the Suez Canal in Egypt, River Thames in London, the Rhine River in Germany, and the Danube in Central and Eastern Europe. He added that Ase Creek deserves to be treated with the respect accorded these other rivers that attract millions of visitors every year. Ajeluorou noted that Ase Creek has a peculiarity that other water bodies do not have, noting that the river has two major seasonal offerings that make it unique. First are its numerous sandy beaches during dry season that makes it apt destination for beach sports of all kinds, from football, basketball, and volleyball to many others.
Secondly, according to the author and experienced journalist, is the river’s flood season that starts in June and lasts till November, when the floodwater sometimes overruns Ibedeni and neighbouring communities as it happened in 2012 and 2018. While this season is not good for outdoor sports, Ajeluorou said, it offers mouthwatering boat rides up and down the river from the Ndokwa upland to its last point at Asaba Ase where it meets the River Niger. Boat regattas, competitive fishing and swimming contests in the open river can also be held during this period.
What is, however, common to the two seasons, Ajeluorou noted, is the incredible amount of freshwater fish harvested from Ase Creek and its hundreds of streams, lakes, and ponds. He listed the fishing lakes to include okpani, suomo, esisi, ukpetor, egonoye, omii, osominomi, biose, owai, and penipeni. Ajeluorou said a major stream that flows into and out of the river that also houses these fishing lakes, depending on the season, is Utekere that perhaps holds the largest and seemingly inexhaustible number of fish. Also swimming in the open river, as Ajeluorou rightly documents in Igho Goes to Farm, is a popular pastime for the young and old irrespective of the season.
But Ajeluorou noted that while Ibedeni, the Ase Creek and surrounding lakes are rich in fish and games, what is lacking, however, is how to develop the river and the community to modern tourism destination points so they could attract more tourists and not just the mere trickle that come from upland Isoko only for the fish the town offers. He, therefore, called on Delta State governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa to urgently pay close attention to Ibedeni and other destination points in the state and develop them to world standards so tourists could visit to boost the state’s economy and help in employment generation and increased economic activity. He said other destination points awaiting government and private investors’ attention in the state include Cable Point, Forcados, Excravos, River Nun, Abraka, Sapele, and Koko to mention just a few.
Ajeluorou further added that he chose to set Igho Goes to Farm in Ibedeni, a sleepy community situated on the bank of Ase Creek, as a way of returning to his childhood and dredging up unforgettable memories of his idyllic growing up years. He regretted the neglect the community continues to suffer as it still has no electricity and other social amenities to make life meaningful for the inhabitants. He charged politicians representing Ibedeni and other Ndokwa and Isoko communities on the Ase Creek axis that include Asafo, Egbeme, Ase, Ekregbesi, Ivrogbo, Asaba Ase, and Epe to sit up and take the welfare of the people seriously by developing the communities and make the area a tourism destination, saying it was the only way the dividends of democracy could be delivered to the people.