Sunday, December 10, 2017

Ayade’s new city, Calas-vegas, to host 2017 Carnival Calabar Barbecue fest



CALABAR- Calasvegas, the new city created by Senator Ben Ayade the Cross River State governor is to host the 2017 Carnival Calabar Barbecue fest for a select dignitaries including business executives, top political class and musical and home movie artistes that will participate in the Carnival float.
The city which is situated onshore across Calabar River and only by air or by boat is one of the signature projects of the governor which he created after cutting down large portions of mangrove forest and extensive sand filling of the waterlogged area to make for erection of structures.
Mr Eric Anderson the Commissioner for Culture and Tourism stated this at the weekend during the press briefing to highlight the activities that will feature during the 2017 Carnival Calabar, said the barbecue fest will take place on the night of Friday, 15th December.
Mr Anderson said the barbecue fest will feature music, dances and drama presentation adding that the required infrastructure are being put in place to make for a memorable and hitch free hosting of the event at the Calasvegas.
“There is so much excitement in this year’s ceremony not just with the new programme of events lined up for the festival but the fact that Minister of Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed is himself going to be present during the Carnival Tree lighting which shows the collaboration between the state and federal government“
Mr Ken Aklah, the Special Adviser Governor’s Office/Events Management , who led the team stated that more items have been added to the Carnival programme to make it bigger and better and these include ‘power week’, kings and queens contest taking place along the carnival route and camping of security agents at the Christmas Village to maintain adequate security.
He said twenty five countries are expected to participate in this year’s carnival while contestants from thirty two countries are expected to participate in the Miss Africa Beauty Pageant which will be beamed live through DSTV to over one hundred three hundred million viewers across the world.

He said adequate security measures have been put in place to ensure no ugly incidents take place during Carnival and entire festive period.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

African Development Bank gives wings to Senegal’s aviation industry

Senegal’s new International Blaise Diagne Airport (AIBD), a 525 million euro infrastructure masterpiece, co-financed with the African Development Bank, opened on Thursday. The airport confirms the Bank’s commitment to Africa’s air transportation development, and a strategic component of the High 5 agenda to integrate Africa.

African Development Bank President, Akinwumi Adesina said, “I applaud the great leadership of President Mackey Sall. He is a visionary with a clear commitment to the delivery of transformative projects. This airport will improve regional connectivity, drive down costs of transportation, grow and transform the economy. The African Development Bank is proud of Senegal.”

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) forecasts an average annual passenger increase of 5% over the next 20 years. According to Pierre Guislain, the Bank’s Vice-President, Private Sector, Infrastructure and Industrialization, “Africa must be ready to capitalize on this opportunity. We are delighted that our efforts to fund critical quality infrastructure across the continent are showing results. The new Airport brings us closer to winning the West African aviation connectivity and logistics hub battle.”

The Bank will continue to support the development of an industry which is a major trigger for social and economic progress and life-changing impact on the continent.

The African Development Bank contributed 70 million euros in loans and acted as a Mandated Lead Arranger to facilitate an additional 140 million euros in loans. Other major financiers are the Islamic Development Bank, Agence Française de Développement, the Saudi Fund and the West African Development Bank (BOAD).

The aviation project has already had significant socio-economic impact in Senegal. 3,000 local jobs were created during the construction phase and 427 full-time jobs for the operational phase. Additional jobs are expected in engineering, maintenance, information technologies and security in the next few years.

The state-of-the-art airport facility will be a catalyst for the emergence of small and medium enterprises, attract regional and foreign investments and boost Senegal’s tourism potential.

With a 42,000m2 passenger terminal and a 12,800m² cargo terminal building that is designed to handle 50,000 tons of cargo and 80,000 aircraft movements annually, the new airport resolves a lingering terminal capacity challenge; offers a long-term solution to intra-African economic activity; and resolves a perennial problem of low levels of aviation connectivity in West and Central Africa.

Approximately 3 million passengers are expected to go through AIBD annually.

In the last decade, The African Development Bank has invested close to US$ 1 billion in the aviation sector including funding for airport construction and expansion in Morocco, Tunisia, Cape Verde, and Ghana. Recently, the Bank approved a US$ 160m loan for the expansion of Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA). AfDB has also financed investments and capacity building in air traffic and navigation, as well as airline financing.



Wednesday, December 6, 2017

25 COUNTRIES TO PARTICIPATE IN 2017 CARNIVAL CALABAR FESTIVALS


No fewer than 25 countries from Africa and other continenets of the world are expected to grace the 2017 Carnival Calabar festivals as against 14 countries that took part in the festivals in 2016,they are Morrocco, Tanazania,South Korea,South Africa, and Kenya among others.

Mr. Kenneth Anklah, Special Adviser to Gov Ayade on Events Management made this known on Wednesday while briefing journalists on the calendar of this year’s Carnival Calabar festivals with the theme “Migration “ stated that the increased numbers of countries participating in this year’s event is an indication that the annual event was growing bigger and better.

According to him, a live audience of 264 million viewed the event via social media while 55 countries also watched on DSTV in 2016 edition of the event.

Anklah said the idea was to add value yearly to the festival as we have always been doing in a bid to increase the excitement.

“What we are selling is experience , which is the latest innovation in tourism marketing and tourism is the only product that you need to get to the source to enjoy and that is what we intend to achieve with Carnival Calabar”

“A lot of content has been added and more exciting event introduced and for a product to last for more than a decade, there need to be innovation and this means it will attract more audience ,we want to increase the tempo of the product we have already created “

Speaking further, the S.A said a “Black African Festival” has also been added to create a veritable platform for both local and international artiste to perform in a bid to give local content of breath of life.

He also added that Wonders on wheels a show of vintage cars to allow audience see some exotic cars that were in vogue and ruled in their time to be seen by the generation of today.

“On the streets alone we have about 800,000 people watching it and we have also introduced the wonders on wheels as part as an added value to allow tourist see vintage cars”

Artistes expected to perform at the various shows and events encapsulated in the festival include Mafikozolo from South Africa,Tuface ,Davido,Timaya,Teckno and more with the Minister of Information and Culture ,Lai Mohammed to flag off the event.


Monday, December 4, 2017

Edo Govt. promises colourful cultural fiesta, unveils EDOFEST Logo


The Edo State Government has assured culture and art enthusiasts as well as tourists, of a parade of the state’s prized culture and tourist destinations at the forthcoming Edo Festival of Arts and Culture (EDOFEST), holding between December 17-22, in Benin City.
Speaking at the unveiling of the festival logo at Government House on Monday, the Deputy Governor of Edo State, Rt. Hon. Philip Shaibu, said: “The main focus of EDOFEST is to promote our people, our wealth of history and civilisation and of course our much-revered rich cultural heritage which will be manifested through our colourful traditional festival.”
He assured that the festival will attract “a large number of visitors from diverse regions within and outside the country to partake in the weeklong event that will be filled with attractions and exciting engagements reminiscent of the arts and culture of our people.”
The deputy governor who was represented by the Commissioner for Arts, Culture, Tourism and Diaspora Affairs, Hon. Osaze Osemwengie-Ero, said the choice of the festival theme “Arts, Culture, Our Wealth,” was informed by the fact that “Edo State is deeply rooted in history and civilisation, with global noteworthy monuments such as the arts of Benin Kingdom, the Great Walls of Benin and a host of others that need to be driven and remunerated to the greatest possible extent.”
 L-R: Commissioner for Budget, Hon. Maryam Abubakar; Commissioner for Arts, Culture and Diaspora Affairs, Hon. Osaze Osemwegie-Ero; the Secretary to the State Government, Osarodion Ogie Esq. and Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Hon. Monday Osaigbovo at the unveiling of EDOFEST logo, in Government House, Benin City, on Monday, December 4, 2017
Day one of the event will feature the opening ceremony and there will be a carnival and parade display by indigenes and other invited tribes and countries. The day will climax with a movie premiere titled ‘ESOHE’.
The festival will also feature music and cultural shows; seminars and talk shows; photo exhibitions amongst others.
Congratulating the committee of EDOFEST for a great job, the Secretary to Edo State Government (SSG) Osarodion Ogie Esq., said art is an area that will surely engage the youths positively if properly repositioned.
Ogie noted that the youth would not leave the state, or country to seek greener pastures because the greener pastures are in the state.
He expressed delight and confidence in the project and urged the team to ensure there is synergy in delivering the project.
The high point of the event was the unveiling of the EDOFEST Logo by the SSG, Ogie.

Delta Air Lines flies 1.2m passengers in 10 years of operations in Nigeria



1.2 million passengers have been flown between Lagos and Atlanta by American carrier, Delta Air Lines, in its 10 years of operations in Nigeria.

Mr Bob Cortelyou, Senior Vice President, Network Planning, Delta Air Lines, made this known at a news briefing in Lagos , yesterday , to mark the airline’s 10 years anniversary in Nigeria.

Cortelyou, who noted that Delta had operated 6,300 non-stop flights on the Lagos-Atlanta route, said Nigeria remains a very key market to the airline.

He said :“I am very pleased to announce to you that we are launching a second route from Lagos to JFK Airport, New York, starting from March 25,2018.


Delta Airline


“Delta Air Lines is the only foreign airline operating non-stop flights between Nigeria and the United States and we have carried over 1.2 million passengers between the two nations since our inaugural flight on Dec. 4, 2007.”

According to him, the non-stop flight option has made travelling between both nations very convenient for passengers.

Also speaking, Mr Shane Spyak, Delta Air Lines’ Vice President, Sales, Europe, Middle East, Africa and India, said the projections for the Nigerian market had a positive outlook.

Bobby Bryan, Commercial Manager, East & West Africa at Delta Air Lines (M) flanked by Olufemi Adefope, Managing Director, Skylogistics (L) and Salami Omeiza, Station Manager, Delta Air Lines (R)

Spyak said the Nigerian economy was getting out of recession while the issue of not being able to repatriate funds due to lack of foreign exchange had been resolved.

“Repatriation of funds was difficult for a period of one and a half years but I am pleased to say those issues are fully behind us.

“As at now, we are able to repatriate any amount we want and that is one of the reasons for our route expansion in Nigeria,” he said.

Mr Bobby Bryan, Commercial Director, East and West Africa and Mr Olufemi Adefope, Delta General Sales Agent, who also spoke at the event, thanked the Nigerian people for their support and patronage.


They both assured customers that the airline would continue to invest in modern aircraft towards ensuring their comfort and safety.  

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Marriott International signs Renaissance Lagos Hotel and Marriott Executive Apartments projects in Nigeria

 Marriott International has announced the signing of Renaissance Lagos Hotel and Marriott Executive Apartments. Slated to open in 2020, the hotels will be located within the Landmark Village precinct, a premier mixed-use, business, leisure and lifestyle development along the Atlantic Ocean waterfront in Victoria Island, the central business district of Lagos.


We are excited to partner with the Landmark Africa Group on this project. With the rapid pace of urbanization more and more guests are looking for the value, the convenience and the vitality that mixed-use provides.
The Renaissance Lagos Hotel and Marriott Executive Apartments will be a significant addition to our strong Nigeria portfolio. There is a growing need for high caliber short and extended stay lodging in Nigeria and we believe the two hotels together will help bridge this gap,” said Alex Kyriakidis, President and Managing Director Middle East and Africa, Marriott International.


The 25 floor hotel will feature the 216 room full service Renaissance Lagos Hotel and 44 room Marriott Executive Apartment offering extended stay apartments with space, ambience and the privacy of residential living.
The hotels will offer a wide range of amenities, including local and international restaurants, spa facilities, a fitness center, and an infinity pool with access to a 100-meter-long boardwalk overlooking a vibrant beach club offering exciting watersports.


Marriott International is synonymous with quality and unique lifestyle experiences globally, which we, at the Landmark Africa Group continuously strive to align ourselves with. We look forward to bringing Marriott’s hospitality and passion for excellence to the Landmark Village setting a new benchmark for mixed-use developments in the region,” said Paul Onwuanibe, Chief Executive Officer Landmark.


Designed to be the first Lagos equivalent of the Rockefeller Centre in New York, Canary Wharf in London, Rosebank in Johannesburg and Victoria & Alfred Waterfront in Cape Town, the Landmark Village features office spaces, luxury apartments, high end retail as well as international restaurants. It is rapidly emerging as a leading mixed-use development on the West African Coastline.



Lagos plans 12-hour street carnival ahead Yuletide


The Lagos State Government on Thursday said it would hold a 12-hour street carnival on the popular Oba Akran Avenue, Ikeja, on Dec.3, ahead of the Yuletide.

The Special Adviser to Gov.Akinwunmi Ambode on Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mrs Adebimpe Akinsola, at a news conference in Alausa, said that the overall aim of the carnival was to boost the economy of the state.

Akinsola said that the event, formerly known as Lagos Street party, had metamorphosed into a carnival which would take place on the whole stretch of Oba Akran Road from noon till midnight.

She assured that arrangements were in place to ensure maximum security and traffic control.

Akinsola said that alternative routes would be provided to motorists so that they do not experience pains as a result of the closure.

She said over 700 revellers were expected to attend the carnival in colourful costumes, design and animation in a controlled procession.

According to her, there is provision for virtually all categories of people from kids,adults to the aged.

She said that the carnival would be used to showcase the abundant indigenous culture, food and lifestyle of Lagos.

Akinsola said that besides entertainment and fun making, the carnival would offer upcoming artistes and tradesmen the opportunity to exhibit their skills and market their products.

Earlier, the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Steve Ayorinde, said the objective of the carnival was to make Lagosians unwind, relax and allow small scale entrepreneurs to make brisk businesses.

Ayorinde said it would as well showcase the diversity of Lagos culture.

He said that the event would also showcase veteran and new artistes in the music industry and comedians.



Wednesday, November 8, 2017

LAGOS UNVEILS ICONIC FISH STATUE




Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State has promised to continue the implementation of policies and programs with direct impact on every Lagosian without bias for gender, ethnic or religious inclination.

The Governor said this has ‘informed the creation of aesthetic works of art and its deployment at strategic locations across the State with added value to our environment’.

In an address read on his behalf by the Special Adviser on tourism, arts and culture Hon. Adebimpe Akinsola at the unveiling of ‘The Fish’ Statue at Lekki- Epe T- junction in Epe Local Government; the Governor said the iconic statue is a symbolic expression that celebrate the traditional disposition of the founding fathers of Epe as a generic community of fishermen primarily because of its proximity to the lagoon.

According to him, “The Fish” statue is a celebration of the communal economic activities which revolve the vast potentials available in the coastal area including fishing, marine transportation and job opportunities.


The Governor however, enjoined the Epe community to protect the monument and other infrastructure provided his administration to enhance the socio-economic opportunities available in the area. He also encouraged all Lagosians to improve on their tax obligation compliance.

Earlier in his remark, Hon. Doyin Adesanya, Chairman of Epe Local Government said the siting of the monument at the Lekki- Epe T- junction does not only signifies that Epe the is fish basket of the State but also of the Nation as a whole stressing that anyone in need of fresh fish for occasions thinks of coming to Epe before considering any other place. He stressed that the people of Epe will remain grateful to His Excellency for the development going on in Epe.

Mr. Bale Olorunju who represented the Sculptor, Mr. Hamza Attah in his narrative of the Art work said the monument depicts modern Epe as the collecting point for the export of fish in Lagos, fishing is the major occupation of the people in Epeland. The sculptural work associates the community with the fish that put Epe on the global Map. According to him, ‘in Epe we celebrate fish, this is our pride’.



Among other dignitaries at the commissioning are High Chief Yinka Tobun, Chairman Epe Community Development Committee (CDC), Hon. Sherfat Haruna, Leader of the Epe Council, Otunba Kehinde Adeniyi , APC Chairman, Epe Local Government, Directors and top management staff of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Members of the A-plus Disciples, Market Leader and Artisans graced commissioning.



Thursday, October 12, 2017

Med-View airlines expands to francophone countries


Poised to have a strong presence on the West Coast, Med-View Airline said it will on Friday, October 27 spread its wings to Abidjan, Conakry and Dakar with an inaugural flight.
With the three new cities, the airline now has six destinations on the West Coast as Accra, Monrovia and Freetown are already on its network.
The flights to the new destinations will be three times a week - Monday, Wednesday  and  Friday with early departures (7.30am) from Lagos.



The airline's new generation aircraft -B737-800 is scheduled to service the route.
 Fresh from Saudi Arabia, Medview CEO, Alhaji Muneer Bankole who successfully coordinated the 2017 Hajj in which the airline airlifted over 17,000 pilgrims declared, "our expansion programme is informed by research and planning.
"In the very near future, we will be operating to Johannesburg, South Africa; Lisbon, Portugal; Libreville, Gabon and Houston in the US,' the CEO said.

He disclosed that the airline has already positioned for Dubai come November /December .


CEO, Medview Airline, Muneer Bankole, with his crew members



“Ika carnival to showcase rich culture of our people”'


Ika carnival to showcase rich culture of our people”'

The organizers of the annual Ika Xmas Carnival in Agbor, Delta State, have revealeed that this year's event will showcase the rich culture of the Ika people to tourists.
Mr. Steve Aderemi the marketing consultant to the event and managing director of Astol Communications, said the carnival would be opened up to tourists and visitors, so that visitors would have a taste of the rich tourist endowments.
He said having organized the carnival for the past two editions, the carnival will improve in terms of content and participation.
Ika Xmas Carnival is a 19-day funfair that is in its third edition. It is aimed at not only providing people from that area with the opportunity to have fun during the yuletide period, but to also promote the culture of the area through the carnival. He said the cultural endowments of the area are normally on display during the carnival.


During the 19-day fiesta also, young and talented natives of Ika have a platform to display their talents and give their careers lift. They will also win fantastic prizes.
Aderemi said: “The carnival kicks off on December 15, and ends on the 2nd January the next year. In addition to the carnival and talent and musical shows, there will also be cultural cultural exhibition, beauty pageant, cultural dance, business empowerment, comedy night and many more.
“We really want to use the carnival to not only engage the youths, but also make sure we promote the tradition and culture of our people.
It is an opportunity for us to celebrate our unity and oneness. We have heard so many positives from the last two editions of the festivals. People of the area use the opportunity to interact and know one another.


Southern Sun Ikoyi Hotel hosts offshore challenge

A sizeable 23 boats contestedkeenly at the all-day 6th annual Southern Sun Ikoyi Offshore Challenge, 2017, thrilling guests who were left mesmerized by the challenging weather conditions offered by one of Africa’s budding sailing environments, Lagos.

Mark Loxley, General Manager,  Southern Sun Ikoyi; Onyekachi Paul Okereke, competitor Lightning Fleet; Jan Muyesen, competitor Lightning Fleet and Ubong Nseobot, Sales and Marketing Manager, Southern Sun Ikoyi presenting the 1st Place trophy to the winning team (Lightning Fleet category) at the 6th Annual Southern Sun Ikoyi Offshore Challenge held at the Lagos Yacht Club, in Lagos.

Encompassing designs reminiscent of the best of nautical heritage, this year’s Southern Sun Ikoyi offshore challenge was conducted with typical grace and sportsmanship by the sailors.

Commodore of the Lagos Yacht Club, Laurent Couderc expressed that despite the dull weather, “We had a good run today”. “It is often a question of boat handling and tactics as there is always a surprise with the changing winds and particularly with the rain as we’ve seen today. It is never predictable and this is what makes each race unique and very interesting”.



Applauding the efforts of the teams, Mark Loxley, General Manager, Southern Sun Ikoyi, thanked the sailors for the enthusiasm and participation, stating that, “This is a highly competitive sporting event and Southern Sun Ikoyi is very proud to again bring about this moment of happiness to the teams and to reviving the community spirit especially on the Lagos Island. We are indeed proud to have so many boats participate, all putting up their colourful sails for all to see on Lagos waters. We definitely will be back next year”.

The participating three teams were rewarded in 1st, 2nd and 3rd place categories with Julian Hardy emerging as 1st place winner in the Combined Monohull category, sailors Jay and Natasha Smulders took 1st place in the Hobbie Fleet category and Onyekachi Paul Okereke and Jan Muyesen were crowned 1st place winners in the Lightning Fleet category. Ecstatic about their win, sailor, Onyekachi Paul Okereke expressed that “We are immensely proud of our win from amongst so many boats. We got to the front early and it’s always good to stay there”.

Taking place at the prestigious Lagos Yacht Club (LYC) founded in 1932, the Southern Sun Ikoyi Offshore Challenge has in recent years become one of the most popular attractions in the city geared at reigniting a passion for sports, relaxation and networking within Lagos’ thriving business community.


The day’s activities ended with participants treated to delicious canapés and fine wine alongside exciting prizes of Dinner for two, Sunday Champagne Brunch for four and Weekend Bed and Breakfast for two all at the hotel. Southern Sun Ikoyi remains the preferred lodging and hang out location for business and leisure travelers alike in Lagos. 

Kigali Marriott Hotel Clinches Two Awards at the World Travel Awards, Africa


The award was presented at a glittering award ceremony attended by eminent industry leaders and VIPs from across Africa at the World Travel Awards Africa 2017, Annual Gala at Kigali, Rwanda
KIGALI, Rwanda, October 12, 2017/ -- Kigali Marriott Hotel (www.KigaliMarriott.com) was recognized as Rwanda’s Leading Business Hotel and Rwanda’s Leading City Hotel at the prestigious World Travel Awards, Africa 2017. The award was presented at a glittering award ceremony attended by eminent industry leaders and VIPs from across Africa at the World Travel Awards Africa 2017, Annual Gala at Kigali, Rwanda. Voted by travel and tourism professionals worldwide, this accolade underpins the hotel’s commitment to excellence and recognizes the commendable achievement of the hotel within its very first year of opening.

According to Rex Nijhof General Manager Kigali Marriott Hotel, “We are truly honored to win this coveted award and be recognized for our efforts to create experiences that meet the needs of the modern traveler. We remain committed to enabling our guests to think differently when they travel by offering aesthetically inspiring spaces, and forward thinking experiences that spark their creativity together with the acclaimed Marriott service.”

World Travel Awards serves to acknowledge, reward and celebrate excellence across all sectors of the global travel and tourism industry. Regarded as one of the highest accolades in the travel and tourism industry today, the selection process for these awards consists of public voting as well as recommendations by professionals from travel, tourism and hospitality industry worldwide.

Conveniently situated along KN3 Avenue in the city center, near the financial district and Kigali City Hall, Kigali Marriott Hotel provides a luxurious home away from home for business and leisure travelers. The hotel offers 254 spacious and elegantly appointed rooms including 25 suites, an executive club lounge and over 11,000 square feet of flexible event space with 10 meeting rooms. The hotel also offers an array of dining options from the all-day dining Soko, to Italian specialty restaurant Cucina and the Iriba Bar and Terrace. Recreational facilities include an outdoor pool, fitness center, Saray Spa, and gift shops.


Sunday, October 8, 2017

ANJET confirms speakers for inaugural Tourism Summit 2017


Speakers have now been confirmed for the inaugural edition of the Tourism Summit 2017 organised by the umbrella body of travel writers in the country, the Association of Nigerian Journalists and Writers of Tourism (ANJET), in partnership with the Southern Sun Hotel Ikoyi, Lagos.

 A statement by the body said the summit slated for November 2 at the expansive Ikoyi-based hospitality establishment on Alfred Rewane Road, is part of activities marking the World Tourism Day (WTD), that was celebrated globally last September 27.

 While Chief Executive Officer of CELTRON Nigeria Limited, Dapo Adelagan has been lined up to deliver the keynote address on the theme of the seminar, which is: ‘Tourism – A tool for Sustainable Development,’ same as the UNWTO’s WTD global theme.

The other speakers include: Kofo Adeleke of the Community Conservation Development Initiative (CDDI), Dr. Olatunji Babatola of the Department of Geography, University of Lagos, Akoka, Yaba.

The Chief Executive Officer of media and public relations firm, Chain Reactions, Israel Opayemi, completes the roll call of distinguished speakers at the Tourism Summit 2017. 

According to ANJET, the summit is part of its commitment towards broadening discourse on the Nigeria tourism agenda, its potential as well as challenges, just as it also added that as a major stakeholder, its ‘responsibility transcends reporting the industry.’

“We lend our voice to issues bordering on the development and promotion of the sector which is essentially why we have also created different platforms in the course of the year to engage with both the private and public sector operators on ways to drive growth and progress in the industry.

 “Hence we annually organise event around the WTD, but this year we have decided to make the celebration much bigger by partnering with the Southern Sun Ikoyi, which is one of the leading international hotel brands in Nigeria as well as other stakeholders in the industry, including the government agencies which are expected to support this initiative in different ways,” read the statement.

 Notable figures expected to grace the epoch-making event include: The Minister of Culture and Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Director General, National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), Otunba Olusegun Runsewe, Lagos State Acting Commissioner for Arts, Culture and Tourism, Mrs. Adebimpe Akinsola, the Director General, Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Mr. Folorunsho Folarin-Coker, the Director General, Nigeria Institute of Hospitality and Tourism (NIHOTOUR), Mrs. Chika Balogun.

 Others include: The President of the Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN), Alhaji Saleh Rabo, the President of the Nigeria Association of Tour Operators (NATOP), Mr. Nkereuwem Onung, and that of the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA), Bankole Bernard as well as students, members of the Diplomatic Corps, media practitioners, and a host of other dignitaries from the private and public sector organisations in the country.

 The one day seminar would also feature a host of other related activities such as arts and craft exhibition, music, dance drama, spoken word presentations, selected to showcase products that make Nigeria tourism unique.

ANJET is an organisation, which has been in existence in Nigeria for about three decades and is an affiliate of the global body, FIJET and a member of the Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN).

It is devoted to the development, promotion and marketing of Nigeria tourism through its various activities, which also include advocacy, education, enlightenment, setting of agenda and creating networks and rallying operators to brainstorm on issues affecting the industry.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Conspiracy theory trails Ogba Zoo invasion


Conspiracy theory trails Ogba Zoo invasion  

Conspiracy theories have continued to trail last Sunday’s deadly attack on the Ogba Zoo and Nature Park in Benin, Edo State, culminating in the death of security operatives and the abduction of the facility’s Chief Executive Office/Managing Director, Dr. Andy Osa Ehanire, tourism experts have expressed worry that the problem of insecurity which had plagued tourists destination in the northern regions of the country have now become a cause for concern to sites in the south.

It would be recalled that gunmen reportedly attacked the iconic Ogba Zoo and Nature Park in Oredo Local Government Area of Edo State, during the peak hours of tourists’ activities, leaving three policemen attached to the Edo Police Command dead with the whereabouts of Ehanire still unknown but presumably abducted by the attackers.

The policemen who were posted to provide security for fun seekers died in the ensuing surprise attack even as they also lost their service rifles to the assailants who also allegedly abducted Ehanire in the process.

 

Spokesman of the Edo Police Command, DSP Moses Nkombe, who confirmed the killings and abduction on the phone, said that the attackers would soon be brought to book as security had been beefed up in the area, just as he assured members of the public that the park is safe for fun seekers.

 

State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, has since condemned the attack saying he would soon meet President Muhammadu Buhari on the need to restructure the Edo Police Command so as to strengthen the state’s security situation.

 

The governor, while describing the incident as unfortunate, said that Edo has not had such situation for a long time.

 

“As we move toward the end of the year, this kind of occurrence is not unusual, but we have taken necessary steps to stop such,” Obaseki said.

 

Similarly, the Federal Government in condemning the attack and kidnapping of Ehanire, described it as ‘saddening, condemnable and most unfortunate.’

 

Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who made the government’s position known,  said, in a statement that the attack on one of the country’s foremost tourist destinations was a big blow to ongoing efforts to lift the tourism sector in the country.

 

”The success or failure of a tourism destination depends largely on a safe and secure environment. Incidences such as the attack on the Ogba Zoo and Nature Park therefore negate the concept of tourism as well as government’s determination to develop our tourism industry as a tool for socio-economic development.

 

”The killing of the three policemen attached to the zoo to provide security for fun seekers, the abduction of the zoo boss and the trauma suffered by the visitors who witnessed the attack are saddening, condemnable and most unfortunate,” he said.

 

Also, the umbrella body of travel and tourism operators, the Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN) strongly condemned the incident, as the body, in a statement by its President, Alhaji Saleh Rabo described it ‘as a sad development for the Nigerian tourism industry and a major set-back for the little gains made by the Nigerian tourism industry.’

 

“I find it difficult and unacceptable that such a thing should happen at a tourist site in the country.  The kidnap of Ehanire at the Ogba zoological garden is a serious set-back for the tourism industry.  We are putting in efforts to promote local tourist sites and also promote our sites and destinations as safe to visit. Ehanire has contributed so much to this industry and is at the forefront of the drive to develop it and make tourism a major income earner for the country. It is unfortunate that he would now fall victim of kidnap.  It is important for the Nigerian tourism industry that Ehanire is safely released back to his family.

 

“We are appealing to his captors to immediately release him and also call on the Edo State government to leave no stone unturned to ffect the release of Ehanire,” FTAN said.

 

The operators also called on the government to increase security at tourism sites to avoid such occurrence in the future: “Tourism is big business and cannot flourish under insecurity. All tiers of government should ensure that our sites are safe and secured. This is the only way they could attract visitors as no tourist would like to go to any site that is unsafe.”

 

However, Oracle Today notes that the abducted Ehanire has for decades been involved in a running battle with highly-placed indigenes of the state who had engaged others from communities surrounding the zoo in destroying and encroaching on the nature park.

 

The battle by the zoo’s management which has also reached the court as the management had sought its intervention in checking alleged land-grabbing moves by indigenes, communities and other interested parties, only recently in June attracted the attention of the state governor, Obaseki, who granted the management team audience following a desperate appeal to his office.

 

At the June meeting, Ehanire in company of the Chairman of Ogba Zoo Board, Prof. (Chief) EU Emovon had urged Governor Obaseki to quickly set up a panel to investigate the circumstances surrounding the loss of nearly 70 per cent of the company’s land to land grabbers.

 

 “We seek the intervention of His Excellency the Governor of Edo State, to set up a special investigative panel to look into the destruction of the Zoo Staff quarters and the conversion of the land for private development, in violation of a subsisting Arbitration judgement.

 

“This investigation should naturally extend to the scandalous incursions and destruction of nearly 70 per cent of the zoo, since we currently hold the unenviable record of being the most vandalized Zoo in Nigeria. We have absolute confidence in the integrity of the Governor to do justice to these disturbing issues plaguing Ogba Zoo, as only a panel set up by the Governor can guarantee neutrality, rather than the intended investigation by the House of Assembly,” said Ehanire.

 

Following that meeting, Obaseki immediately acceded to the appeal of the Zoo’s management with the setting up of an investigative committee to look into these complaints and charged with making recommendations within six weeks.

 

Many believe that the Obaseki panel may have indicted the highly-placed Edo indigenes, some of who, according to Ehanire, are lawmakers at the state House of Assembly.

 

It would be recalled that in the same June also, the Ogba Zoo management raised an alarm over moves by the state House of Assembly members to set up a probe over allegations it levelled against the zoo of trading in animals kept in its custody, an accusation the management denied citing ‘spurious petition that had neither been verified nor investigated.’

 

“It was alleged in the so-called petition that the Zoo animals had all been traded off and that the Zoo is now worse off from our management intervention, so much so that we are to be subjected to an investigation. Gentlemen of the Press, these grave allegations were the subject of a sensational Press coverage in the House that we see as an attack on the reputation of the Zoo and its Management, especially when the allegations had not received preliminary or even a cursory verification.

 

“It was expected that at the receipt of such a petition, the Honourable House would seek to bring such to the attention of the Zoo Management, being partners in progress, since the Zoo is a foremost tourism asset of the State, as well as a conservation heritage. We would have expected that the Honourable House would have even brought the petition to the State’s Ministry of Environment that has competency as a regulatory authority over the Zoo. We would have expected to be invited by the appropriate Committee of the House in charge of Tourism or Environment to underscore a latent consummation of liaison and synergy.

 

“We were not accorded any of these privileges stated above or even the benefit of doubt, but these disturbing issues were thrown into the public domain to the effect of misleading the public as to the State’s tourism standing and creating a negative or perverted image that has caused severe harm to the Zoo, its Management and its clientele. Schools on excursion, as well as other visitors come daily from as far as Delta , Bayelsa, Anambra, Ondo and Kogi States, on account of this facility that provides conservation education and recreation to children, scholars, our teeming youths and those of all ages; so such negative signal being put out in the public domain will unwittingly dissuade them from this important tourism circuit, thus causing further stress to the economy of Edo State,” said Ehanire at the press meeting in Benin.

 

Continuing, Ehanire said: We are actually in damage control mode, since a public facility like the Zoo is always open for easy verification and confirmation if there is any disappearance of lions or other species. As a privately managed Zoo that was rescued by us after it had suffered prolonged atrophy and extensive decay under Government, we can at least reveal that all the physical improvements and animal collections in the Zoo now are all from private efforts and not what can be brought under any charge of misappropriation or mismanagement of any kind.

 

“It is rather uncanny that the Zoo Management only recently brought a Court action against some principal officers of the House of Assembly in their private capacities for the destruction and conversion of six (6) blocks of Zoo staff quarters and taking over the land for their private developments. This charge against the Zoo Management, coming from the House so soon after we initiated this Court action, gives the impression that it is designed to intimidate the Zoo Management and dissuade it from pursuing a legitimate legal action in the public interest.

 

“Perhaps, the honourable Members are not aware that the Zoo recently won an Arbitration judgement, in which the same Zoo quarters is amongst the reliefs granted to the Zoo Management, in the overriding consideration that since the inception of the Zoo, the quarters served the purpose of providing critical accommodation for Zoo staff in close proximity to the Zoo, in the interest of public safety concerns. It is rather unfortunate, therefore, that soldiers were used to chase away the occupants of these quarters and the buildings were summarily demolished one month after the Arbitration judgement.

 

“It is a common charge we make that zoos lack institutional support in this clime, as the Ogba Zoo has been thoroughly vandalized by land grabbers in recent years and we have not received any solution from this honourable House. Rather, this House spent more than three years (2012 -2015) investigating the demolition of some illegal structures on the Zoo land and at the end of it all, the Zoo lost almost 70% of its entire expanse to land grabbers, only for some of its Members to be found to be complicit in the very same act,” he added.

 

According to Ehanire, the Ogba Zoo, as a privately managed facility, was ‘rescued by us after it had suffered prolonged atrophy and extensive decay under Government, we can at least reveal that all the physical improvements and animal collections in the Zoo now are all from private efforts and not what can be brought under any charge of misappropriation or mismanagement of any kind.’

 

On his frustration with the lawmakers over the problem of land-grabbers, Ehanire,  said: “It is a common charge we make that zoos lack institutional support in this clime, as the Ogba Zoo has been thoroughly vandalized by land grabbers in recent years and we have not received any solution from this honourable House. Rather, this House spent more than three years (2012 -2015) investigating the demolition of some illegal structures on the Zoo land and at the end of it all, the Zoo lost almost 70per cent of its entire expanse to land grabbers, only for some of its Members to be found to be complicit in the very same act.”

 

The popular Ogba Zoo which was designed and developed in the early seventies by then military Administrator, late Brig. General S. O. Ogbemudia, was an extensive biological garden, with potential for resort development. In tandem with the ambitious and iconic scale of Ogbemudia’s drive and vision for the defunct Midwest Region, later Bendel State, and now Edo / Delta States, Ogba Zoo was at par, or even surpassed most of its kind, both far and near.

 

However, soon after Ogbemudia’s regime, Ogba Zoo suffered a long era of decline and eventual collapse, spanning the late eighties and nineties. 

 

“It must be understood that the decline and neglect of any zoo is always horrible, since without a proper winding-down procedure, the animals suffered neglect and deprivations akin to torture. It is instructive that the treatment of wildlife in any society can be likened to the barometer for measuring the level of its humanity, hence the circumstances of the collapse of Ogba Zoo, or any of such therefore, would amount to criminal neglect in humane or civilized societies.

 

“Nevertheless, Ogba Zoo experienced a painful rebirth through our rescue mission, which was purely self-financing, with no support from Government. On the contrary, it is the nature of the Lease Agreement that our private sector led eco-tourism outfit pays rents to Government. But as challenging as reviving a dormant zoo was, there were other hidden challenges that can hardly be imagined in a sane society.

 

“It started as a minor incursion by community land grabbers into the zoo land, until it was aided by official government instruments in the form of a gazette. Even with Government claiming, soon after, that it committed an error in issuing such gazette, the errant instrument has not been repealed for more than ten years running, but left to serve as a license for unlimited plunder of a foremost tourism heritage of the State.

 

“All these years of battling the encroachment on the Zoo, our private-sector led management was as good as left to solely tackle the growing menace unaided. With little or no response to dozens of memos crying for speedy deployment of Government machinery to dislodge and prosecute offenders, the area encroached upon grew from about 10% of the zoo land that was purportedly ceded by the gazette, to more than 60 per cent of the entire Zoo.

 

“It was like a horror movie to see bulldozers levelling priceless forestry in this pristine Conservation heritage that had been a classic urban forest rarely found anywhere in the world. It is a sad commentary that these last three years (2014 to 2016) have seen the greatest devastation of the zoo, even when the then Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, would be making pronouncements as to immediate Government intervention. While not tolerating any nonsense in other areas, all the administrative machineries of his Government was appearing helpless in the face of the onslaught on Ogba Zoo.

 

“It eventually dawned on me that I had been encircled by a mammoth conspiracy and therefore published a series of open letters to the Comrade Governor calling for an administrative or judicial inquiry, but all to no avail. It also became evident that a cabal was bent on sharing most of the zoo land without any official Government process but the diabolical ploy of community youths and thugs as alibi.

 

“The sum effect was to create widespread but dangerous impression in the area that Government had acquiesced to sharing the zoo land, but that we were the only one standing in the way. It was also painfully obvious that the security situation had long degenerated, with threats and suspicions of ecological terrorism becoming a constant nightmare, yet our pleas for police protection went unheeded. It was rather intended to intimidate. than merely to inform, when some Government officials hurried to say that an infamous Government political appointee and other cultists were amongst those carrying on with illegal development on the Zoo. Fingers also pointed at House of Assembly Committee members, who were assigned to look into the issues, but spent over three years purporting to be engaging community agents without any new position on the matter, after an initial one had declared that the encroachment was illegal and unacceptable, as far back as year 2011. Meanwhile, all these were happening at the time of the worst incursions and impunities, making it all an uncanny coincidence. 

 

We finally had recourse to an Arbitration process in order to encapsulate the issues in proper legal perspectives. It is disheartening that even while the Arbitration was ongoing and up till the Award was published in January this year, various levels of devastation were still being unleashed on the Zoo and its assets. For example, even after the Arbitrating ruling, a six block staff quarters meant to keep critical staffers resident in close proximity to the Zoo were bulldozed and the place is already shared to powerful individuals who are hurrying to develop their own piece of the loot. A purpose-built lion enclosure in the middle of the encroached land was also bulldozed only last month (April) and the foundation of a mansion is coming up on the premises. The case of the Zoo staff quarters that have now been demolished is of particular interest since it was part of the specific provisions in the Arbitration Award requiring it to be dedicated for the use of the Zoo. Coming from this brutal experience, we now have a new Governor who is most likely to take a decisive approach to save the Zoo from the grips of brigandage and anarchy.

 

“But then, there is a stranger element and a very sad feeling that some of those involved in perpetrating these atrocities on Ogba Zoo may have taken prominent roles and positions at the elaborate ceremonies to mark the exit of the revered Brig. Gen. S. O. Ogbemudia, while destroying his legacies even while he was alive. We do pray that the forces of light will prevail over those of darkness in this nascent and very promising Administration of Governor Obaseki,” narrated Ehanire to Oracle Today, adding: “My role in the rescue and resuscitation of Ogba Zoo has evolved from just its management, to that of an activist, since the Zoo Association (NAZAP), of which I am National Secretary, is aimed at the pioneering mission of bringing sanity to all the Zoos across the Nigeria.”

Thursday, September 28, 2017

AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina receives accolade of highest honour from the Republic of Niger





The President of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group, Akinwumi Adesina, has been bestowed with the Grand Officer in the Order of Merit of the Republic of Niger  by the President of the Republic, Issoufou Mahamadou, during a gala dinner hosted by Nigerien Prime Minister Brigi Rafini at the Gaweye Hotel in Niger’s capital, Niamey.
The award was bestowed on the AfDB President during a two-day official visit to the Sahelian country.
“I am both surprised and very touched by the honor you have given me. I ask you to convey to his Excellency the President of the Republic my deepest thanks,” said the President of the premier African financial institution before an audience of members of the Government, high-ranking accredited ambassadors and diplomatic staff, the Bank’s Executive Director to Niger, Martine Mabiala, and the AfDB Director General for West Africa, Janvier Litse.
The award was in recognition of Adesina's visible and tireless commitment to the rapid economic development of the African continent through the implementation of the Bank's priorities as set out in the High 5s: Light up and power Africa, Feed Africa, Industrialize Africa, Integrate Africa and Improve the quality of life of the people of Africa.
"These High 5 priorities are in line with Niger's development priorities," said the Nigerien President, after listing them in front of the AfDB President during an audience earlier the same day at the Presidential Palace in Niamey.
"The African Development Bank will continue to finance many other projects in Niger, particularly in agriculture and energy," said Adesina.
Since December 17, 1970, the African Development Bank has been actively involved with Niger in a variety of projects, with a total funding amounting to US $1.4 billion as of August 31, 2017, (nearly 840 billion CFA francs) largely for rural development.
The Bank's active portfolio in Niger comprises 15 projects totaling US $510 million, distributed as follows: 44% in rural development, 20% in transport, 14% in multi-sectoral projects, 12% in water and sanitation, and 10% in the social sector.

AfDB joins international community in supporting sustainable tourism development in Africa



This World Tourism Day, September 27, 2017, the African Development Bank has called for collaborative actions from all stakeholders for sustainable tourism development in Africa. The Bank recognizes that Africa’s tourism and travel industry can serve as an engine of progress for socioeconomic transformation.
The United Nations’ World Tourism Day, with the theme ‘Sustainable Tourism − a Tool for Development’, presents a unique opportunity to raise awareness about the contribution of sustainable tourism among public and private sector decision-makers and the international community.
In addition to its investments in tourism infrastructure (ports, airports, roads and rail, among others), the AfDB is promoting the creative and cultural industries to diversify the economic base of African countries and attract tourism. 
The Bank has, through various initiatives, given tourism development a new focus.
Through its Fashionomics Africa initiative, the AfDB is supporting the development of creative industries that utilize local products, especially cotton, in Africa. The Bank’s Food Cuisine Africa platform connects key players and newcomers in the food industry in Africa.
Omoyemi Akerele, founder of Lagos Fashion and Design Week, stressed how the fashion industry fuels sustainable tourism.
“Fashion weeks [fashion industry events] generate considerable foot traffic for cities like Lagos, which hosts the annual Lagos Fashion and Design Week. But there needs to be a deliberate attempt on the part of African governments to tap into the potential that fashion has to grow the tourism industry,” Akerele said.
AfDB’s Visa Openness Index measures how open African countries are when it comes to visas by looking at what they ask of citizens from other countries in Africa when they travel.
Visa openness blends with AfDB’s ‘Integrate Africa’ agenda, which seeks to make Africa more open, prosperous and interconnected.
After adopting a visa-on-arrival policy, Rwanda witnessed a 22% annual increase in the number of tourism arrivals for meetings, conferences and events. Many visitors in turn have become investors in the country.
“Of course, visa openness is not the solution to all problems, structural aspects such as the size of the market, infrastructure connectivity, and purchasing power are as important. Visa openness is really a quick-win,” said Jean-Guy Afrika, Principal Policy Expert at the AfDB.
The 2017 Africa Tourism Monitor – an annual research publication by the African Development Bank in collaboration with New York University Africa House and the Africa Travel Association – highlights the importance of developing a sustainable and resilient tourism industry through innovation, entrepreneurship and technology.
The AfDB has for many years highlighted infrastructure development as one of its focal priorities to facilitate accessibility and trade across the continent.
The Bank is also supporting the construction of a new terminal at Ghana’s Kotoka International Airport. The project is expected to make the country a destination of choice with a yearly target of 5 million passengers.