- . . .the need for collective efforts in achieving this elusive goal has to be concerted.
On Wednesday September 22, 2021 British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, addressing World Leaders at the 76th United Nations General Assembly compared humanity to a youngster with an infantile belief that the world was made for his gratification. Johnson, charging humanity on the need for greater responsibility in tackling the menace of climate crisis held that “It is time for humanity to grow up.”
“My friends the adolescence of humanity is coming to an end,” Johnson said during his address at the 2021 UNGA.
“The world – this precious blue sphere with its eggshell crust and wisp of an atmosphere – is not some indestructible toy, some bouncy plastic romper room against which we can hurl ourselves to our heart’s content.”
The British Prime Minister, simply put, was adumbrating on the fierce urgency of “now” in tackling a global menace, which aptly encapsulates the reality of the Nigerian situation vis-a-vis the need to parlay the country’s abundant tourism potentials for national development.
Leveraging the tourism potentials in Nigeria for economic development has somewhat evolved into a platitude over the years. It has more or less become music to everyone’s ears. What has been sadly lacking has been the concerted effort to parlay these tourism prospects to tangible results which builds the base for its wide-scale consumption to usher in far reaching benefits.
It goes without a saying that tourism has far reaching impact on industries, economy, social fabric, hence impacting on the progress and development of a country. The very idea of tourism also creates the foundation and the broad context of an industry through which most of the advantages and benefits are propagated by the country as a whole.
When in 1964, Canadian philosopher, Marshall McLuhan said that the world had become a global village, the media enthusiast was merely referencing the emerging reality that the world had become condensed through technology. At this juncture, people could share, communicate, and access information in ways that made the European Renaissance look like a dress rehearsal. This annotative way of connection, as McLuhan stated, was a kind of ‘village is fission, not fusion.’
But the veteran, with this time-proven assertion, had perhaps inadvertently alluded to mankind’s increasing desire to explore other geographical terrains and cultural inclination to soak in the fascination of the fact that despite our common humanity, there exists an uncanny thrill in our differences that pushes further this drive to explore; that drive could be said to be the birth of tourism in the modern era.
Nigeria, despite its perennial paradox of poverty in the midst of plenty, boasts of unique tourism potentials capable of complementing its abundant natural and human resources and launching the country into the top 20 economies of the world, as was articulated in “Vision 2020” by the turn of the new Millennium. These tourism potentials, whether it be the dusty Sahara of the North, or the rich rain forests of the East, or the rocky hills of the West, or the oil field swamps of the Delta, are laced with huge economic potentials that have been hitherto, unexplored.
Coming nearer home to Nigeria’s Centre of Excellence and Africa’s economic epicentre – Lagos State, Epe Division, which constitutes one of five cardinal administrative divisions in the state is, without gainsaying, replete with immense tourism potentials. These prospects, rooted in its rich cultural gallery and unique natural endowments have drawn national and international attention to the Division; amply indicating the fact that should these potentials be harnessed meticulously enough, Epe Division could usher in a new era of unprecedented economic growth, or, in the words of a former state commissioner, Kayode Opeifa, an “industrial revolution.”
In recognition of the immense tourism potentials of the Division, successive governments have intensified efforts towards infrastructural development in Epe, since tourism cannot adequately thrive without adequate structures in place to host inbound tourists. But if the division is to truly live up to its tourism billing, the efforts not only has to be intense, but dogged, intentional, and unyielding.
With its immense aquatic potentials, good coastal roads, a seaport, the free trade zone, as well as other developments in the offing like the proposed six-lane expressway, an airport in the pipeline, the proposed toll gate and a trailer park; Epe Division, without doubt, boasts of all the right accoutrements to become the economic hub of Lagos State.
Earlier this month, the Epe Kayokayo festival, one of many iconic festivals in the division was held; and, despite obvious limitations occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic, made a profound statement on the Division’s drive to leverage on its enormous tourism prospects to consolidate developmental strides by the political class, which in recent memory has moved with a sprinter’s pace.
Hon Surah Olayemi Animashaun, first female Local Government Chairman in Epe, in an interview with Eko Hot Blog during the festival had hinted on a plan in the works to use the instrumentality of performance to showcase some of Epe’s iconic monuments.
“On the 27th of September is World Tourism Day, and we are planning to do something to facelift Epe. If not for COVID we would have done it in a big way. There will be a show in the theatre. It will be in collaboration with two LCDAs, that is Ejinrin and Eredo. The idea is to showcase some of our monuments in Epe,” she said.
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- 2021 Kayokayo Curtain Falls At Lagos Theatre, Epe
So much has been said, but the need for collective efforts in achieving this elusive goal has to be approached not by oratory alone or the conventional platitudes of yesteryears, but with a maturity and sense of responsibility as echoed in the words of the British Prime Minister during his address at the global summit.
Indeed, as far as the conversation of finally leveraging Epe’s tourism potentials for its development goes, in the words of Mr Johnson “We are approaching that critical turning point when we must show that we are capable of learning, and maturing, and finally taking responsibility for our own destiny.”
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