Tuesday, April 25, 2017

LASG plans to establish university of tourism to train tour guides

Mrs Adebimpe Akinsola, Special Adviser and Acting Commissioner, Lagos Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, on Tuesday said the state government had plans to establish a University of Tourism to train tour guides.

Akinsola spoke on Tuesday in Ikeja, at the 2017 ministerial press briefing of the Ministry to mark two years in office of Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode in Lagos.

She said that when established, the university would assist in developing tourism in the state and ensure tourists’ satisfaction.

“Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode-led administration is investing heavily on the tourism sector to cause an increase in economic activities with a direct bearing on hospitality, entertainment and job creation.

“It is also aimed at making make Lagos a preferred destination for cultural, business and leisure tourism in Africa.

“We have been upgrading tourist sites and constructing new infrastructures, and it will require experienced personnel to promote and maintain that sector.

“We are working on modalities to establish a school –University of Tourism, to train individuals who will be able to show and interpret the cultural and natural heritage of the state to tourists.

“Although, it is not accommodated in the current budget, but perhaps, it might be considered in the next year’s budget,’’ she said.

Akinsola said the ongoing renovation at Badagry Heritage Museum, which serves as a veritable source of information about the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, was at 60 per cent completion.

She also disclosed that the government would soon start the construction on six new theatres which would provide the platform for young artistes to develop and showcase their talents.

According to her, the preservation and promotion of the state’s rich and diverse culture will always be accorded top priority in the government’s economic development agenda.

Akinsola said that the Ministry, through its agency, Films and Video Censors Board, burnt some pirated and unclassified local and international movies to discourage piracy.

She said the movies and duplicating machines burnt were worth N10 million.

“The board apprehended 12 suspects actively engaged in acts prohibited by the Law in 2016.

“Eight of the suspects were prosecuted and sentenced to six months imprisonment without option of fine while four were given the option of fines of N10, 000 on each count.

“On film censorship, which is to determine the likely impact of a movie on the audience, 82 films were censored and classified between May 2016 and February 2017 meant for exhibition within the state,’’ she said.

Akinsola listed other achievements of the Ministry in the last two years to include the official launch of the One Lagos Logo, One Lagos Fiesta, participation in Toronto Film Festival and hosting of All African Movie Awards.

Other achievements she cited are, COPA Africa, Tourism summit, Arts and Culture Stakeholders meeting, construction of new monuments and renovation of existing ones, as well as unveiling of the design for a new museum,

She said the ministry was also making a mark with the ongoing activities to celebrate Lagos at 50, which will climax on May 27.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Federal government to engage 6000 youths in agricultural enterprises under FADAMA

‎About 6000 youths are to be engaged in agricultural enterprises by the Federal Government and the World Bank under the FADAMA III Project under the Graduate Unemployment Youths Support Scheme known as FADAMA GUYSS.
The Fadama National Project Coordinator (NPC), Mr Tayo Adewumi said this in Akure, Ondo State capital during the meeting with the Ondo State Federated Fadama Community Association (FFCA) .
Adewunmi said under the scheme, about 300 youths from ages 18 to 35 would be encouraged to go into agriculture as a profession and business in about 20 states.
He said in subsequent programmes, between 500 and 1,000 youths would be accommodated under the scheme.
According to him "The programme, named GUYS, is to encourage youths from the ages of 18 to 35 and maximum of 40 years to go into agriculture as a profession and business. By study, real farmers are aging away, some dead and old. To start with, 15 to 20 states, including Ondo, will be among the first phase of 200 to 300 youths per state.
"By end of June, starter packs should be given to the youths based on different enterprise of interest like aquaculture, or poultry.
"My coming to Ondo State is at right time because we have a lot to anchor this year for our youths in the country”, he said.
The Coordinator said a good number of youths can be taken away from social vices and restiveness through agriculture adding that there was a plan for Sunshine rice in Ondo State before the end of the year.
"We want to make sure that the rice we are producing, we bring it out publicly and give it a name and brand.
"What the World Bank want us to do is to test run the project in about 10 states, but we are able to convince our minister and the World Bank country director to allow us to do it at least in 20 states.

"The project design to give money or equipment to allow them start business on different agricultural enterprises on their own.

The NPC said that the program would engaged 200 to 300 youths in each state for starting,adding that 500 to 1000 youths would be engaging in subsequent program.

He called on the youths to endeavour to register their names online this week when the programing that the programmes would be broadcast on radio, television and other media organisations.

Adewumi also noted that the Federal and state government were working on modalities to continue to create awareness and sensitisation for both farmers and the herdsmen to live in peace across the country.

Speaking earlier, the Ondo State FFCA Chairman, Mr Akin Olotu appreciated the NPC of the FADAMA Project for its land mark achievement across the nooks and crannies of the nation.

Olotu noted that efforts by the FFCA to secure a friendly credit portfolio for members to revive their projects have not bene easy and had become a great source of discouragement to the members.

According to him, FFCA was able to secure some hectares of land from the Benin-Owena River Basin Development Authority for use by members for cluster farming but were constrained because of lack of tractors.

Olotu said "We only have 13 tractors in whole of the state and the tractors are not in good condition and we have been told that it will take over N1million to repair them”.END.

300,000 farmers benefit from BOA loan schemes in North Central zone

The Bank of Agriculture (BOA) says no fewer than 300,000 farmers in the North Central geopolitical zone of the country have benefited from its various loan schemes in the past years .
Mr Ibrahim Alamba, the Zonal Manager (North Central) of the bank, said this in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Monday.
He said that the farmers from Benue, Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Niger and Plateau states benefited from the bank’s micro-credit loans, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) loans, and the BOA/Central Bank of Nigeria’s Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP).
Alamba said the loan schemes were initiated to boost agricultural production in the country and complement the Federal Government’s economic diversification efforts.
The zonal manager said that many beneficiaries of the bank’s loan schemes were currently employers of labour in their different agricultural fields.
Alamba said the bank sourced its funds via different collaborations with the African Development Bank (AfDB), donor agencies and international Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs)
“There are people who have become employers of labour through our loan schemes.
“For every loan we give, seven to 10 persons are being employed. This has aided efforts to reduce unemployment, while impacting positively on the national economy,’’ he said.
He commended the BOA/CBN’s ABP, saying that it had particularly assisted the bank in disbursing loans to farmers in 19 states across the country.
Alamba, who listed some challenges of the bank as inadequate funding and poor loan recovery, nonetheless said that the ongoing restructuring of the bank by the Federal Government’s would boost its funding and loan disbursement capacity.

Agriculturist urges Benue govt. to provide more tractors for mechanised farming

An Agriculturist, Mr Joseph Kuku, has appealed to the Benue Government to acquire more tractors to cater to the growing needs of farmers who intend to engage in large-scale farming.
Kuku made the call in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Makurdi.
He underscored the need to discourage farmers from practising the traditional methods of farming, so as to boost the government’s efforts to achieve food security.
Kuku said that the Benue Tractor Hiring Agency should be repositioned and well-equipped to provide quality tractor hiring services for farmers, particularly now when the government was striving to diversify the economy.
“Agriculture is the major option in the new arrangement because agriculture was the mainstay of the country’s economy, prior to the discovery of oil.
“Groundnut, cocoa and rubber, among other agricultural produce, were then sustaining the country’s economy.
“The current potential of agriculture is enormous because modern farming techniques have made faming less tedious,’’ he said.
Kuku said that agriculture had the capacity to turn the nation’s economic fortunes around, if the government decided to give it priority attention to the development of the sector.

2,550 Plateau farmers get loan to improve food production

Jos - 2,550 farmers registered with the Plateau State Chapter of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria, AFAN are to benefit from the over N2bn loan under the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN anchor borrowers' programme to cultivate maize and soya beans in this farming season so that the food security can be achieved in the State.

The Association which has gotten approval for the said loan is to give it to 150 registered farmers from the 17 local government area of the State totalling 2,550 even as it has also secured improved seedlings, fertilizer and other farm inputs which would help the beneficiaries in making profit so that they can repay the loan.

Disclosing these during a press briefing held at the weekend in Jos, the state chairman of the Association, John Jiller added that intensive meetings are ongoing with herdsmen and security agencies to ensure farmers are safe in their farms as only such collaboration would ensure food security and improved income and livelihood of farmers in the state.

His words, "AFAN has sought and gotten approval for a loan of N2,128,125,000.00 under the CBN anchor borrowers' programme for on lending to its members for maize and soya beans farming in this farming season. We are targeting 150 farmers per local government area, we are discussing with ASTC towards accessing their tractors and other allied services, there are seedlings and fertilisers and other inputs.

" The Association is preparing towards leading the role in the state government's proposed schools feeding programme so we are liaising with security agencies and building business relationships with herdsmen, traders and marketers association towards sustaining peace in the state as we are focused in ensuring food security, increase and improve quantity and quality of agricultural products in the state as well as improve income and livelihood of Plateau farmers. "


NGO secures N10 bn loan for young farmers from FCMB

United Young Farmers Forum (UYFF) has secured a loan of N10 billion from First City Monument Bank (FCMB) to empower 10,000 young farmers in the country.

President of the association, Mr Orimadegun Wilson, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Abuja that a pilot phase of the scheme with farmers fron the from the North West and North East geo politicaal zones during this farming season..

Wilson, who said the loan was derived from FCMB, said the pilot phase was started from the two regions because theof the enthusiasm shown by the prospective participants in the region.

He added that 75 per cent of the loan guarantee would be covered by Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), while 25 per cent of the risk would be borne by UYFF.

According to him, beneficiaries are expected to deposit one per cent of whatever was collected to NIRSAL to serve as collateral, adding that the repayment period was one year from the time the beneficiary’s crops mature.

He also said that the organisation will make a presentation on Bio Organic fertilizer at a joint Federal Government of Nigeria and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) mission from May 1 to May 12.

He said that the presentation, which would hold in Katsina, was in line with the Climate Change Adaptation and Agribusiness Support Programme (CASP).

“UYFF, a Non Governmental Organisation (NGO) is a coalition of young farmers in Nigeria, focused on building the capacity of young people interested in agribusiness.

“We believe agribusiness is the future for Nigeria, our vision is to create a new generation of farmers who will create wealth, jobs and ensure food and nutrition security in Nigeria.’’

Wilson also said that the organisation was in partnership with other organisations to build the capacity of the youth in Nigeria.

Farmer wants govt. subsidy on animal feeds

Sir Lucky Ikukaiwe, a poultry farmer and Chairman, Sparrow Agro-Vet Services, Warri, Delta, has called for government subsidy on animal feeds to boost production of poultry products in the Niger Delta.

He made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Asaba on Sunday.

He said government needed to also subsidise piggery feeds to enable the people of the region, especially the youths, to participate more in agriculture.

The chairman said increased participation in poultry production and piggery would create jobs and ensure adequate supply of protein needs of the people.

According to him, the Niger Delta region has more comparative advantages over other zones in the country in poultry farming, piggery and fish farming.

He added that “in this region, we have very good weather for poultry. ”

Ikukaiwe said that the people of the region, especially the youths, had been distracted for a very long time such that their focus had been misdirected.

He said that except for the oil spillage in the region, the Niger Delta environment was suitable for fish farming.

He noted that “the problem we are having in the Niger Delta is that we are looking at where we should not be looking.

“We do not have the comparative advantage for maize cultivation like the northern part of the country with its vast land mass but we have good weather for poultry, fish farming and piggery.”

The farmer said that for the youths to be properly engaged, states in the region should concentrate on areas they had comparative advantage.

“This region can produce all the poultry products, fish and pork needed in this country because our environment is suitable for it.

“What obtained in the past was a situation where government acquired and gave day old chicks to some ‘political farmers’ in the name of empowerment and leaving the real farmers.

“With subsidy, the true farmers will buy more birds and feeds and produce more,” Ikukaiwe said.  

Edo AFAN calls for provision of tractors, other implements

The All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Edo chapter, has called on the state government to provide tractors, bulldozers, graders and other farm implements for farmers in the state to hire.

The state Chairman of AFAN, Chief Emmanuel Odigie, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Benin on Sunday.

Odigie said the association was willing to pay an agreed amount to the state government on a monthly basis for the use of the equipment if provided.

He said “the idea is to enable our members to hire them at affordable rates to prepare farmlands and construct roads leading to the farms.

”Our investigation revealed that farm produce waste away in the farms due to inaccessible and deplorable state of our farm roads.

“If the roads were graded, farmers would evacuate their produce and avoid the waste,” he said.

The chairman further said that the lack of the equipment and irrigation, as well as poor state of roads posed very serious challenge to farmers in the state.

Odigie explained that the use of the equipment would promote large scale farming and make farming easier in the state.

He however commended the efforts the state and Federal Governments toward improving agriculture through various programmes.

Farmers in Rivers community decry cassava stem scarcity

Some farmers in Etche Local Government Area of Rivers have decried the scarcity of cassava stems in the area, saying it would hamper cassava production if not checked.

The farmers expressed concern over the situation in separate interviews  in Etche .

They called on relevant government agencies to ensure the availability of improved cassava stem species for farmers in the area and the entire state.

They complained that they now bought cassava stems at prices higher than what they were sold during the 2016 planting season.

One of them, Chukwuma Obioma, said that the scarcity had affected his cultivation plan for this year’s planting season.

He said “I buy cassava stems at double the price that I bought in 2016; this situation has affected my plans for the season.

“Ordinarily, my cassava farm should have been ready for weeding this month, but I am still searching for good specie of cassava stem to buy.”

Mrs Nkiru Samuel, another farmer, said that the current scarcity had become a source of worry to many farmers in the area.

She said “in the past, cassava stems were easy to come by as you could get supplies from your neighbours if you do not have any. But today, the story has changed.

“We are watching our farms overgrown with weeds due to the scarcity of stems to plant. Sometimes, it is difficult to find them in the market,’’ she said.

Also, Mrs Gloria Aleru, another cassava farmer, said that the cassava would be scarce and costly in the area next year because of the situation.

She said that many farmers were already planting other crops in their farms which were previously planned for cassava cultivation.

“The implication is that cassava products will be scarce in this area next year.The situation scares me,” she said.

Meanwhile, a check by NAN in some markets in the area showed that a bunch of cassava stem that previously sold for N400 now sells for N1000.

Farming: FG prepares 100 hectares of land in Edo

The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has prepared 100 hectares of land for farming in Oria and Emu communities in Esan South East Local Government Area of the state.

Mr Wellington Omoragbon, the Federal Director of Agriculture in Edo, disclosed this to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Benin on Sunday.

Omoragbon said that the measure was to reduce the hardship faced by farmers in the area and to boost agriculture.

He said the ministry prepared 50 hectares of land as well as began the construction of a warehouse in each of the sites.

”The land preparation is to enable farmers in the communities to plant arable crops such as cassava, maize and oil palm among others,” he said.

According to him, about 150 fish farmers have been selected to benefit from the 2016 Growth Enhancement Support Scheme (GES) programme in the state.

He explained that the fish farmers would be given subsidised inputs to enhance their production.

Omoragbon also said that the modern fish market being constructed by the ministry at Illushi community in the same local government area was about 37 per cent completed.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Sun Aqua Vilu Reef to host World Travel Awards Indian Ocean Gala Ceremony

World Travel Awards (WTA) has revealed that the five-star Sun Aqua Vilu Reef will host its prestigious Indian Ocean Gala Ceremony 2017 on the 8th July.

The event will take place on Meedhuffushi Island in the Maldives' South Nilandhe Atol, with hospitality leaders from across the region expected to be in attendance.

Sun Aqua Vilu Reef offers 103 luxurious rooms and suites - all of which come with deep soaking tubs, complimentary Wi-Fi and 24-hour room service.

Beyond the bedrooms, guests can indulge in signature spice-scented scrub at the spa or borrow a book to read while soaking up the sun on the pristine beach.

When night falls, sample one of Sun Aqua Vilu Reef’s restaurants serving a range of international cuisine, before enjoying a sundowner cocktail while listening to DJ spun tunes.

Ahead of the Indian Ocean Ceremony, WTA Founder and President Graham Cooke said: “It is an honour for us to reveal Sun Aqua Vilu Reef as the host for the World Travel Awards Indian Ocean Ceremony 2017.”

“This is a wonderful resort in a picturesque tourist hotspot. It will be genuine pleasure for us to welcome nominees to the event in July.”

Cooke added: “With voting still open there is a chance for members of the tourism industry and general public to make their voices heard in the build up to the event.”

Voting for the World Travel Awards Indian Ocean Gala Ceremony is open until 22nd May 2017, with more information here.

A full list of nominees can be seen here.

World Travel Awards was established in 1993 to acknowledge, reward and celebrate excellence across all sectors of the tourism industry.

Today, the World Travel Awards brand is recognised globally as the ultimate hallmark of quality, with winners setting the benchmark to which all others aspire.

Each year, World Travel Awards covers the globe with a series of regional gala ceremonies staged to recognise and celebrate individual and collective success within each key geographical region.

World Travel Awards Gala Ceremonies are widely regarded as the best networking opportunities in the travel industry, attended by government and industry leaders, luminaries and international print and broadcast media.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Nigeria Wins Right To Host African Tourism Ministers in 2018

Nigeria on Wednesday won the right to host, in 2018, the 61st meeting of African Ministers in charge of Tourism, tagged the UN World Tourism Organisation (WTO) Commission for Africa (CAF).
Nigeria won the hosting right by acclamation following the presentation of a five-minute video, entitled ''Simply Nigeria'', to delegates at the ongoing 59th edition of the UNWTO CAF Meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.
The compelling video, which highlighted Nigeria's rich cultural heritage and tourism destinations, was greeted by a prolonged applause.
Responding, the Chairman of the UNWTO Commission for Africa and Zimbabwean Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Dr Walter Nzembi, said: ''Procedurally, when a member state offers its destination for the host of the next CAF, we all put that request to a test, do I take the applause of the Minister’s presentation to mean your approval of Nigeria as next destination call?''
The question was greeted by a more resounding applause, confirming Nigeria as the host of the 2018 meeting.
Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed (left) with his counterpart from Niger at the 59th edition of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Wednesday.

Making a case for Nigeria's bid, which was launched at the 58th edition of the UNWTO CAF Meeting in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire, in 2015, the Minister said it presents an opportunity for the country of almost 200 million people ''to showcase our rich cultural heritage and to promote Nigeria as a leisure and business destination''.
He described Nigeria as a ''fascinating country'' which previously hosted the UNWTO CAF Meeting in 2003, 2008 and 2012, in addition to hosting the Second World Festival of Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture in 1977.
Alhaji Mohammed said Nigeria is a country of peaceful and hospitable people, and that the 2018 UNWTO CAF Meeting will be a practical demonstration of the government's commitment to developing the tourism sector as an alternative source of revenue.

Earlier in the day, he told the delegates that the Nigerian government has defeated the Boko Haram insurgency, noting that occasional attacks on soft targets by the insurgents who are now on the run do not amount to a resurgence of the group.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Ethiopian airlines lands airbus in Abuja

Ethiopian Airlines says it will land a brand new Airbus 8350 at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, on Tuesday to mark the reopening of the airport on Wednesday.

The Airline’s Traffic and Sales Manager, Mrs Firiehiwot Mekonnen, said that the aircraft land in Abuja on its first day of operation from Addis Ababa and that it would remain on Abuja route.

She particularly stated that the arrival of the aircraft in Abuja marks the first time an airbus would be permanent on the Abuja route.

She said that the decision to celebrate the inaugural flight to Abuja was because of the airline’s commitment to the Nigerian market.

According to the manager, the 313-passenger capacity aircraft that landed at 11.15 am is the first aircraft to land at the newly rehabilitated Abuja runway.

“The Ethiopian’s brand new Airbus 8350 is landing in Abuja airport is the first aircraft to land on the newly rehabilitated runway and first airbus to land in Abuja.

“From now on, we are going to operate airbus on Abuja route,’’ she said.

Recall that when Abuja airport was closed on March 8 for repairs on its runway and flight operations diverted to Kaduna International Airport, Ethiopian Airlines was the first to land its new Boeing 787 in Kaduna.

The airline, being the only international carrier that agreed to operate at Kaduna, had maintained consistent operation at the airport since the beginning of the six weeks operation.

Gov. Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State had also requested that the airline maintained its Kaduna operations even after the reopening of Abuja airport.

Mokennen said that the airline was seriously considering the governor’s request.  

Africa will produce next UNWTO Secretary-General – Lai

Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information and Culture, has expressed optimism that Africa will take the job of Secretary General of United Nation World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) in January 2018.

The minister said this on Tuesday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in an interview with newsmen at the 59th Meeting of UNWTO Commission for Africa.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports Mohammed is leading Nigeria’s delegation to the four-day conference of Africa Ministers of Tourism, the highest UN advisory body on tourism globally.

“The UNWTO Secretary General, Mr Taleb Rifai, a Jordanian will be leaving after a very successful two terms and we all believe that it is the turn of Africa to occupy this post.

“Of course, intensive lobbying has been going on, but the most important thing for us is to ensure that we use all available opportunity to ensure we produce the next Secretary General.

“There are candidates from Africa, Europe and Brazil but for us who are ministers from Africa, we want to ensure that an African emerged as the next Secretary General of UNWTO,’’ he said.

Mohammed said that Nigeria would use the ongoing meeting with the theme: “2017 as Year of Sustainable Tourism’’, to leverage on the achievements recorded so far on tourism sector.

He recalled that the 58th Edition held in Cote d’√ćvoire last year was used to re-launch the country back to the UNWTO fold and it had yielded fruits.

“After the meeting in Abidjan last year, Nigeria was invited to the headquarters of UNWTO in Madrid, Spain where a session was dedicated exclusively to address Nigeria’s challenges on tourism.

“It is as a result of the meeting that UNWTO sent experts to Nigeria to review our Tourism Development Plan.

“We hosted them for five days in December last year, and during the meetings, the experts met with cross section of all the major stakeholders in the industry.

“We are already implementing recommendations from the engagements and they are yielding results,’’ he said.

The minister said that the second leg of the meeting –a High Level Meeting on Chinese Outbound Tourism in Africa will strengthen cultural relation between China and African countries with Nigeria in particular.

He said that the meeting would review the proposal by China to Africa on facilitating cultural exchange and visit of Africans to China.  

Monday, April 17, 2017

Medview to resume Abuja flights Wednesday

As the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, reopens on Wednesday for air traffic, Medview Airline on Monday released a schedule with six daily flights to the nation’s capital.

The airline made the announcement in a statement signed by its Chief Operating Officer, Mr Lookman Animashaun, in Lagos.

Medview had on March 9 diverted its flights to Kaduna following the closure of Abuja airport for rehabilitation.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the repair lasted for six weeks.

Medview said that the resumption of commercial flight operations to Abuja airport followed the successful rehabilitation of its runway by the Federal Government.

According to the airline, besides the six daily flights, its flights to Yola, Kano and Maiduguri will be routed through Abuja, which has been the practice.

The airline said that the closure of Abuja airport brought out the potential of Kaduna International Airport.

It said that it was operating a daily flight to Kaduna.

“Kaduna has a lot of potential, hence, we decided to maintain daily presence there,” it said.

The airline hailed the Federal Government for extensive work to improve the Kaduna International Airport.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Argungu fishing festival to hold in March 2018, polo to feature — Emir

Alhaji Samaila Mera, the Emir of Argungu on Sunday said the popular Argungu Fishing and Cultural Festival would hold in March 2018 and feature polo as one of its events.
Mera made the remarks during a courtesy call by Francis Ogboro, the President of the Nigeria Polo Federation (NPF) and his officials to the Emir’s palace.

The four-day yearly festival held in Kebbi State is one of Nigeria’s internationally recognised tourism attractions.

But unfortunately, it has not been held since the last edition in 2009, posing a huge revenue loss to the local economy and the country.

The Emir, however said plans were on ground to ensure the festival holds next year.

“We are working together with the State government to make sure that the festival is staged next year.

“We are in the process of appointing a Director-General for the festival, create a Secretariat and start making contacts with our various sponsors as well as the various stakeholders.

“As you know, the festival has now been inscribed in the World Heritage list which makes the United Nations a stakeholder in the festival.
Image result for argungu fishing festival 2017

“So, immediately the director-general is appointed, we will have a tripartite meeting between the State, the Federal Government and the United Nations, who are the major stakeholders in the festival.

“From that meeting, we should be able to announce to the world when the next festival will hold which will definitely be sometime in March next year Insha Allah,” he said.

He also noted that there was great potential in the polo tournament being part of the festival, adding that the tournament has continued to evolve and grow over the years.

“The festival started with just the main even, which is the grand fishing.

“Today we have like seven to eight major events making the entire festival.

“Therefore, this has huge potential in my opinion of becoming one event amongst so many to hold during the festival,” he said.

He explained that the reason for the lengthy delay in holding festival was largely due to the security situation the country had been faced with for quite a while.

“You know the festival is such that attracts people like no other festival in the country.

“In our wisdom, we felt that it was a kind of opportunity the miscreants in our society will want to take advantage of to attack and cause maximum damage.

“So, we were not prepared to take that chance.

“Alhamdullahi, peace has come to most part of the country and we felt it is safe enough to stage it at this time.

“Hopefully, next year Insha Allah it will hold,” he said.

In his response, Ogboro said he and the entire NPF family were very honoured to have been personally invited by the Emir to witness the maiden Argungu polo tournament.

“I am very excited that polo has come to Argungu for the first time in the history of the state and I am proud to have been part of this historical event, ” he said.

He said the NPF would work harmoniously with NSK Farms, the sponsors, as well as the state government to ensure that the dream becomes a reality.

He added that the game of polo would indeed be a plus to the festival as it had the potential of attracting people from all over the world.

“The benefits are indeed numerous for this part of the country as well as the entire nation,” he said.

The Argungu Polo Tournament which was organised by Alhaji Nura Kangiwa, the patron of the NSK Farms galloped on Friday and ended on Sunday.  

Be proactive in re-positioning Nigerian tourism, culture - ANJET tasks new DGs

Segun Runsewe, DG NCAC

A call has gone out to the newly-appointed Director-Generals in the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture to see their appointments as a veritable opportunity to reposition the ailing culture and tourism sector of the country’s economy.
Making the appeal in separate congratulatory messages to Mr. Folorunsho Folarin-Coker of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) and Otunba Olusegun Runsewe at the National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), Wednesday, the umbrella body of travel and tourism writers, the Association of Nigerian Journalists and Writers of Tourism (ANJET), urged them to also consider their appointments as ‘a call to national service’ with a view to winning back stakeholders’ confidence in the industry.
Folarin-Coker, NTDC DG

According to ANJET, which commended the federal government for appointing professionals to man the affairs of the agencies, the need to restructure and reposition the culture and tourism industry as well as regain waning industry practitioners’ belief, had become imperative on account of the agencies having been poorly managed.
“For us at the Association of Nigerian Journalists and Writers of Tourism (ANJET), we reiterate that your appointment could not have come at a better time than now, as we have consistently harped on the need for the federal government to appoint a professional to man the affairs of the corporation.
“We, therefore, use this medium to express our confidence in your ability to change the deplorable state of the NTDC and by extension, the Nigeria tourism against the backdrop of your enviable records achieved as former Commissioner for Tourism in Lagos State.

“We, however, charge you as a major stakeholder in the Nigerian tourism sector, not to see this achievement merely as a political appointment, but instead an opportunity to restructure Nigeria tourism with a view to recapturing investors’ confidence, as well as providing a viable playing field for indigenous players in the industry,” the writers charged Folarin-Coker.

ANJET, which is a tourism association under the Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN), similarly charged Runsewe, ‘‘to be circumspect, focused and committed to delivering on the mandate of your parastatal with the unalloyed personal sacrifices, commitment and passion for which you are known and had handled every national assignment entrusted to you in time past.’’

Fun-seekers troop to Badagry beach, resort to celebrate Easter

Fun-seekers on Sunday trooped to the Suntan Beach and the Whispering Palms Resort, both in Badagry, to celebrate Easter with their loved ones.
A News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) correspondent who visited the Suntan Beach reports that it was a bee-hive of activities, as people from various parts of the country came around with their friends and family members.
Mr Olaitan Akinsanya told NAN at the beach that the Easter break was a time to spend quality time with his family.
“I have been looking forward to this period for me spend time with my family.
“This is my first time of coming to the beach and I must confess, it is a serene and cool place,” he said.

Mr Joshua Akande, a student, said the Easter period was a time for him to take a break and relax.
“I looked forward to the break to get a deserved rest from all the stress of school.
“The beach is a perfect place for me to relax, chill and have fun all at the same time,” he said.
Mrs Senami Asham, a soft drink seller, said her business had been profitable since the beginning of the day.
“So far, I have made a lot of money through patronage by customers and I’m sure I will still make more money because more people will still come,” she told NAN on Sunday afternoon.
NAN reports that many people were also seen at the Whispering Palm Resort, Iworo, Badagry, having fun.
Mr Deji Femi-Pearce, chairman of the resort attributed the large turnout to the various activities the resort had to offer.
“We have different packages for the different people that come here for Easter and the prices are cheaper compared to what you have in Lagos and other states.
“The serene environment of this place and its safety makes people to always come here despite the distance,” he said.

Jos carnival: Mother of 4 wins mountain climbing competition

 A 26-year-old mother of four, Anya Ashom has emerged winner in the female category of the maiden Jos Mountaineering Competition.

Kaze Samuel, a 35-year-old security guard, who was the oldest participant, won the male category held on Saturday in Jos as part of the ongoing Jos Carnival.

Mr Peter Mwankon, the Plateau Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, said mountaineering was featuring as competition for the first time in any carnival in Nigeria.

Mwankon implored people of the state to guard their heritage, stressing that such competition would attract development.

Mr John Kaze, a community leader that host the Shere Mountains, lauded the government for initiating the carnival.

Kaze said game would expose its youths to economic opportunities.

NAN reports that Shere Hills, located in Jos East Local Governmet, is about 1000 feet above sea level and has served as training ground for military and paramilitary agencies over the years.

The mountaineering recorded five casualties out of the 48 persons that registered for the competition.

Two had bruises while three had cases of respiratory distress but were quickly resuscitated.

The Jos carnival continues with a musical festival on Easter Sunday and a carnival procession on Easter Monday.

Speaking to NAN, Samuel, winner of the male category, said he had never participated in any mountaineering competition before.

He said he decided to try his luck at the maiden edition of the Jos Carnival.

“I am a security personnel with three children, I have never competed on a big platform like this but decided to try my luck and I am grateful for emerging winner in this category.

“I urge the government to sustain this competition to give us platform to compete even on bigger levels both locally and internationally,’’ he said.

On her part, Ashom told NAN that she had grown up climbing hills to gather firewood to cook for her family.

She added that she enrolled for the competition since the feature and terrain of a hill was similar to a mountain.  

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Ethiopian airlines in talks with El-Rufai to continue flight to Kaduna

Ethiopian Airlines and Kaduna State Government are in talks for the airline to continue a separate flight to Kaduna International Airport after the reopening of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja on April 19.

The Traffic and Sales Manager of the airline, Mrs Firiehiwot Mekonnen disclosed this in Abuja yesterday.

Mekonnen said that Governor Nasir El’Rufai of Kaduna State had begun discussion with the airline to that effect, adding that she met with the governor on Thursday.

According to her, "The Governor has requested that Ethiopian Airlines should continue separate flight to Kaduna even after the reopening of Abuja airport."

"The management is still considering the possibility and will come with its decision on that before the reopening of Abuja airport."

"If the option is good we will go ahead with our operation there. We met with the governor today at the Kaduna State Governor’s Lodge in Abuja and we discussed extensively."

She said the discussion is hinged on the possibility of the airline to continue separate flight to Kaduna even after Abuja airport is opened.
Gov. Nasir el-Rufai with Firiehiwot Mekonnen, Traffic and Sales Manager for Ethiopian airlines on Thursday in Abuja

Mekonnen also said that the airline had started operating full flight from Kaduna since the beginning of last week, recording 286 passengers daily.

She explained that the passengers had adjusted to the arrangement of flying out through Kaduna, adding that Ethiopian airlines had recorded great success in its Kaduna operation.

According to her, "We have been having full flights from Kaduna since last week and even for today, tomorrow and next, our flights are already fully booked,’’ she disclosed."

The Federal Government had on March 8, shut the Abuja airport for six weeks for rehabilitation of its failed runway and diverted all Abuja-bound flight to Kaduna airport.

It will be recalled that the Minister of State for Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika had on Tuesday announced that the rehabilitation work was 96 per cent completed, assuring of the reopening of the airport on schedule.

However, many airlines, especially the international airlines that have refused to flight to Kaduna are already planning to return their operations to the airport from April 19.


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Ethiopian, Singapore Airlines expand codeshare agreement for connectivity to Africa, Asia

Ethiopian Airlines and Singapore Airlines have expanded their codeshare agreement effective June 1, 2017 to enable customers travelling between Africa and Asia have seamless connectivity options.
Ethiopian Airlines’ daily non-stop services to Singapore from Addis Ababa, due to be launched in June 2017, will be covered by the expanded codeshare agreement.
Under the expanded agreement, Ethiopian Airlines customers will be able to access multiple destinations in Australia, China, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Thailand and Vietnam across Singapore Airlines’ wide network.
In turn, Singapore Airlines customers will enjoy access to Ethiopian Airlines’ vast intra-African network including countries like Botswana, Burkina Faso, Chad, Cote D’Ivoire, Kenya, Nigeria, Mozambique, The Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.
The Acting Vice President, Strategic Planning and Alliances, Mr. Girma Shiferaw said, “I wish to thank Singapore Airlines for the successful completion of this vital agreement. The two airlines will synergize their respective networks in Asia and Africa to offer customers the best connectivity options with one ticket and one single check-in at the first boarding airport.
He said, "It will also play a critical role in enhancing investment, trade and tourism ties between a rising Africa, and a highly developed, innovative, and business-friendly Singapore.”
Singapore Airlines Senior Vice President Marketing Planning, Mr Tan Kai Ping, said, “We are delighted with our expanded codeshare operations with Ethiopian Airlines. This significant expansion of our important partnership is in line with our ongoing effort to continuously expand our network reach and to offer customers more travel options and convenience when travelling between Africa, Asia and Southwest Pacific.”

The airlines first began code sharing on each other’s flights to and from Dubai in 2011. The expanded codeshare flights are subject to regulatory approvals and will be progressively made available for sale across various sales channels.
Ethiopian Airlines operates the youngest fleet on the African continent with an average aircraft age of less than five years, serving more than 90 international destinations across five continents with over 240 daily departures.
Singapore Airlines operates a modern passenger aircraft fleet of more than 100 aircraft. Together with wholly owned passenger airline subsidiaries SilkAir, Scoot and Tigerair, the SIA Group’s combined network covers more than 130 destinations around the world.


Sunday, April 2, 2017

Folorunsho Coker to head NTDC not NFVCB – Presidency

The Presidency has clarified that Mr Folorunsho Coker is the new Director-General for Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), not the National Film and Video Censors Board as earlier announced on Friday.

Mr Femi Adesina, the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the President made clarification in a statement on Saturday in Abuja.

He said Mr Adedayo Thomas was the Executive Director of the National Film and Video Censors Board, (NFVCB).

The statement read: “As part of new appointments approved for government agencies and parastatals by President Muhammadu Buhari on March 31, 2017, Mr Folorunsho Coker, is the new Director-General for Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), while Mr Adedayo Thomas, is the Executive Director of the National Film and Video Censors Board, (NFVCB).

Image result for folarin coker commissioner“This corrects the earlier announcement that Mr Coker is of the National Film and Video Censors Board.’’

It would be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari approved the appointments of new executive management for the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA), Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and some agencies under the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that Mr Duro Onabule, one time Editor of the defunct National Concord as well as Chief Press Secretary to former President Ibrahim Babangida was named as Chairman of the Board of the Nigeria Television Authority.

His appointment was announced on Friday along with those of new Executive Directors of the NTA.

They are Dr Steve Egbo (Administration and Training), Abdul Hamid Salihu Dembos (Marketing), Mohammed Labbo (News), Fatima M. Barda (Finance), Stephen Okpanachi (Engineering) and Wole Coker (Programmes).

Adesina also named Aliyu Hayatu as Chairman of the Board of Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), while Buhari Auwalu and Yinka Amosun, were appointed as Zonal Directors for Kaduna and Lagos stations, respectively.


The Ooni of Ife, His Imperial Majesty Ooni Adeyeye Ogunwusi Ojaja II, has described Nigeria’s cultural heritage as a huge export potential capable of igniting economic rejuvenation.
Ooni Ogunwusi said this in Ile-Ife at the weekend during the joint celebration of Alafere, Oya and Ijugbe festivals which attracted a huge crowd of participants from within and outside Ile-Ife, especially the Bariba and Nupe people in Niger and Kwara states of Nigeria.
The African foremost monarch who is the spiritual leader of Yoruba race stated that the celebration is to give glory to God Almighty who he described in Yoruba language "Oba ti a ko ri, ti a n ri ise owo e"(the unseen God but whose impact is being felt always.
The Ooni wondered why cultural festivals and heritage are not getting necessary attention from citizens of the country, saying this has been affecting the growth of the local festivals and culture in the country.

He also expressed displeasure that foreigners were beginning to appreciate the African culture, mysteries and festivals than indigenes of the continents.
Our heritage is so strong. All the things that we are celebrating may be strange to a lot of people living in Nigeria and Yorubaland but in the Western World, I just returned from the UK where I met with the British royal family and visited the British museum, they don’t joke with our culture. All these things are so important to them. They traced the origin of mankind to Africa and all these facts are displayed in their libraries and museums. They believe in the potency and power of all these festivals. It is about time for us (Africans) to nurture what we have.
We should celebrate what nature has given to us. Our culture is a very huge export potential and tourism is one of the biggest trades in the world. It is bigger than a lot of investments that you can think of because it has a lot of people’s movement. With tourism, people are able to establish a common heritage and ancestral background.” Ooni said.
He added a call on government at all levels to improve the level of infrastructure, noting that government needed to support drive to project the Yoruba culture to the world.
It is about time for us to focus on tourism by improving our infrastructure and for us to package these entire heritages. Most of the heritage and festivals are very timely and yield benefits.
Government should pay serious attention to our heritage. We are blessed here because our tourist centres and attractions are natural. We don’t need to create any form of artificial tourism. They are very natural tourism potentials and that is why we need to display them. We hope that at one point, government will appreciate us." He added.
The Obalejugbe of the source, High Chief Abiodun Akinrefon, declared that worshipping IJUGBE god of rain in Ile-Ife would boost the economy of the community.
He acknowledged the Ooni of Ife for resusitating the ignored deities in Ile-Ife which the foreigners cherish so much, saying that Obarese (IJUGBE) is the custodian of rain for mankind.
According to him, as the priests went to make sacrifice to Obarese at Idi-Aje shrine, rain that refused to fall for long in the ancient city started falling with immediate effect.
The Obalejugbe ascertained that Ijugbe festival led to heavy rainfall in Ile-Ife and failure to celebrate the diety annually causes scarcity of rain which led to famine on the land, while small Pox will be rampant and cause death in the town.
Also, the High Chief Oyarekun Oyaro, the Balogun of Famia who doubles as Oya priest attributed the rain that poured to the spiritual performance of Oya festival in Ile-Ife.
Oyaro said that the invoked rainfall gave a landmark for the beginning of planting and plenteous harvest.
He admonished the citizenry to value their tradition and culture, adding that they all have important roles to play in the life of mankind
Oya- Igunnuko/Alafere/Ijugbe festival is a transition festival to welcome raining season and all the nature associated with raining season - rain, wind, thunderstorm.
The festival is basically to show the workings of Olodumare and to make the season to be of high benefit to mankind. to bless the soil for multiple achievement during the season, and for the season not to become a calamity for the people.
The festival witnessed a heavy downpour with wind blowing and thunderstorm which lasted for 2hours to signal the commencement of the celebration.

While Ijugbe also known as Obarese is the deity of rainfall, Oya(Igunnuko) and Alafere are the co-deities of wind. They are all of ORANFE(Sango)'s family and were among the Yoruba's 401 deities that started the mankind.