Let me not go far into the distant past but fearfully interrogate why and how Imo state has suddenly become the jack boot of scorn when Cultural tourism is discussed in Nigeria.
It is equally of no critical importance to me when Imo state is mocked as having more hospitality infrastructure than “real” industrial concerns. Certainly ignorance reign supreme in most of the misplaced interventions when the process of development is discussed in the heart land nation.
This is where I will bring in governor Hope Uzodinma intervention. Both Okorocha and Emeka Ihedioha are in the past now and if I must attempt, a thrifty overview of their btimes on imo Cultural tourism evolution, both simply didn’t measure. So it is for any day.
Back to the “fine man” in IMO. Hope Uzodinma is selling to us a different mission for imo Cultural tourism heritage. How did I know this, you may wonder.
At the just concluded National Festival for Art and Culture (Nafest), in Jos Plateau State capital, Hope Uzodinma simply stole the show. He was not there but his delegates led by very effervescent commissioner for Tourism, Creative Arts and Culture, Doris Onyali symbolized the governor’s unwritten IMO state tourism agenda.
The Jos Township stadium, filled to capacity was mesmerized by the awesome dance appearance of the Imo delegates. They were not originally part of the closing Ceremony, yet how the Hope Uzodinma team became the news beats me hallow.
I have known Otunba Segun Runsewe for over a decade and his work schedule, how IMO state got his attention and commendation remains a mystery.
Certainly, there are positive Cultural tourism vibes from the land of Hope Uzodinma. Imo State delegates for the few minutes on the world stage of the iconic Nafest in Jos, simply refocused attention to the heart land state.
IMO tourism just like other developmental socioeconomic engagements, had suffered from immense neglect, and visitations of the worst kind. Like a popular local parlance of made in Warri comedy” Owerri no dey carry last”.
What I saw of Imo Cultural delegates got me thinking of how and why governor Hope Uzodinma must rebuild Imo economy through the Cultural tourism ecology.
Let me state that apart from being naturally hospitable people, Imo state has the gross advantage over the other south east states in terms of endowments in all ramifications but with no focal attention and energy, that is until Hope uzodinma happened on the scene.
It is sad that the state’s very verifiable advantage in hospitality infrastructure has been left for comedians to interpret, thereby fluttering the presence which is a component and fulcrum of enterprenual milage on meetings , incentives and conference narratives. Here, Imo state story in hospitality must be retold differently.
Owerri, Imo state capital remain the most peaceful and crime free metropolis in Nigeria, with a nightlife unequalled. Remember the Bongo music genre, the Nwaokorobo dances, the golf course at Oguta and its district blue waters, romanced by the brownish Orashi river. Iconic Oriental Brothers came from here and it is the home of Highlife apostles.
Hope Uzodinma will make do with providing a timeless tourism canopy for Imo state economy, if the Oguta lake is turned into a huge marine tourism destination with Boating and regatta ecology built into the dream.
Nekede zoo, provides the details to explore the ecological tourism sites across the state. Rivers and streams bestrides IMO and the enterprenual proweress of the people can’t be left to imagination.
Sports tourism and Cultural festival in IMO state is part of its strength and bond. Every local government or community have standing “ national team” and a Cultural troupe willing to perform at the shortest notice.
Hope Uzodinma must go back to the drawing board, and economically factor Cultural tourism businesses as a key driver of the heartland nation economy.
That is what Simon Lalong is doing in Plateau State, and Emmanuel udom in Akwa Ibom state. Am hoping that Hope Uzodinma can make Imo proud again. What is needed is to get the best brains to reevaluate this Cultural tourism reality.
This business is no longer for mere public performances, it is a reality paying business and for a state, landlocked but naturally gifted, all Hope Uzodinma needs is to brace for the new tourism challenge.
Imo state already has an airport and I don’t know if “ the political airline” foisted on the state by Okorocha is of any significance for now, the truth is that a well articulated and funded tourism ministry in the state can make a change.
Barrister Doris Akubou Anyali, the Imo state commissioner for Tourism, creative Arts and Culture, has got the courage to address the economic desire of the state through tourism. I spoke with her in Jos and Abuja, and I ran away with a very deep respect and love for her dreams.
She certainly deserve support and encouragement which the likes of Otunba Runsewe has promised. She is very gifted and picks her words. In Jos, she led a team that got imo state and governor Hope uzodinma recognition and plaudits. Barrister Doris Onyali, can melt a heart, no doubt dignitaries at the Nafest in Jos, kept on waiting on the wings to salute her courage.
Otunba Segun Runsewe, Nigeria’s iconic cultural ambassador told me governor Hope uzodinma maybe the desirable partner NCAC is looking for to bring in the eastern frontier to the national Cultural architecture.