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YUSUF MAITAMA TUGGAR: We have been distracted, too busy with life to focus on tourism



YUSUF MAITAMA TUGGAR: We have been distracted, too busy with life to focus on tourism

Ambassador Yusuf Maitama Tuggar is the head of Nigeria mission in Germany. He recently facilitated the visit of three Germans to Nigeria, touring such places like Abuja and Lagos. ANDREW IRO OKUNGBOWA encountered the team on the Lagos visit during a boat cruise where he spoke with the ambassador on the gains of such a visit


What is the lesson from this trip facilitated by you?

Well, beyond the usual cliché, ‘seeing is believing,’ I will say that the take home is the memories, the experience, which is not something that you can explain verbally.

It is not something that you can read and experience, no, you just have to live it and that is what our guests are going through. For instance, on the boat, one of them said to me, just sitting on that boat, the breeze, the whole scenery was something that he has never experienced before and this is somebody that is widely travelled and has lived in different continents.

Nigeria is unique in that regard. We have been distracted, even we, Nigerians, have been distracted from enjoying and projecting this side of the country. We have been too busy with life, without realising that tourism itself is an industry that has enormous potential that can really form the bedrock if not a bedrock of our economy.

This is just the beginning because we need to attract the right sort of people, the right sort of influencers that will come and experience Nigeria. They have been in Abuja and now they are in Lagos then they can take the message out.


But why hasn’t the embassy been engaged in this kind of undertaking over the years?

We have been doing this maybe you are probably not aware of it. We have to take advantage of circumstances as they present themselves and then use that to bring in people to experience Nigeria.

As we speak now there is another delegation that came but focusing on agriculture. Information technology driven agriculture and we put them in touch with the right people. While they are here they will also experience a bit of Nigeria.

The hospitality aspect of the country is boosted by this kind of visits because they have to sleep in hotels, they have to eat Nigerian foods, they listen to Nigerian music and if they are here on weekend they have to go out.

So, this is what we have been doing. There was another German team that was with me and the head of our economic and commercial section in Abuja. They are exporting ginger out of Kaduna.

They were there just a few days ago and we break our fast together (Ramadan period). They asked questions, people always think that the whole of the north of the country is Muslim and the whole of the south of the country is Christian.

But then they begin to realise that on the table was a Christian from the north breaking fast with us and then you a Muslim from the north. Then they start asking questions. So, it inspired their curiousity. That diversity.

As we were coming to Ilashe, there was a mosque on the Atlantic Ocean and so too when you go to Nigeria border with Niger Republic you will see churches. All of that diversity is the strength and potential that need to be harnessed.

And then it completely changes the perception.


With this kind of exchanges, do you think that the narrative about Nigeria will be better told?

The story has always been there and always been told but sometimes you don’t have listeners. If you look at Nigeria’s history, we have history. People have been telling this story and letting people know that Africans’ history and story does not start and end with the perspective of outsiders.

No, look closer and listen to us and if you listen to us then you will understand that we have a sense of history and the solution even, if you will, to our problem. We just need that partnership to be able to achieve our potential and also solve our problems ourselves.

We are not saying that we don’t have challenges, we are a developing country. But we have home grown solutions to our problems and the way to engage African is not to come with the approach to say I know how to solve your problem or coming with an altruistic approach to help.

Nigeria is not typical of Africa, of what people, especially in Europe perceive African to be. But we are saying we are the giant of Africa, let us meet half way and address our problems and by addressing our problems helping you address your problems and helping you to benefit.

It is a symbiotic relationship.


For how long have you been be at the mission?

I have been there for over one year.


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Travel and Tourism

Dubai: Shoppers’ delight



Dubai: Shoppers’ delight


ubai has over the years continues to entice the world with different offerings year on year as all seasons destination where you are sure to harvest rich fun and unique experience depending on your taste, especially as a tourist, with distinct taste.

For fashionistas, Dubai presents delightsome proposition and a shopper’s delight as it offers wide range of options for style-setters. It has become a gateway to must-have buys from the world’s top designers, chic boutiques, speciality items and local market gems.

It is not surprising that Nigerians, particularly celebrities, entertainers, politicians, business brass and even children and those with sight on highbred and luxury fashion are beginning to explore the new experiences that the country offers.



Unique shopping concepts



If you are a Nigerian shopper looking to get your hands on one-of-a-kind pieces, a range of designers have recently unveiled limited-edition collections that you can only find in Dubai. International retailer Sunglass Hut has partnered with Dubai’s All Things Mochi for two limited edition sunglass chain designs that also double as jewellery pieces. The bespoke accessories have been crafted using traditional methods of intricate embroidery to create whimsical prints.



Sergio Rossi’s ‘SR Walk’ collection stars two sleek new limited-edition styles – Godiva and the SR Slingback – in three and five different colourways respectively, available exclusively at their boutique at The Dubai Mall.



Comptoir 102 is one of Dubai’s first boutique-meets-organic-cafe concepts, combining the love for food, fashion, and interior décor. The gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan friendly cafe is also home to a market of handpicked oils, healthy snacks, tea and organic, local grocery products. The boutique part of the concept features handpicked styles from international designers, unique furniture pieces, quirky gift items as well as the brand’s first in-house jewellery line.



S*uce has been Dubai’s destination for a chic selection of casuals and evening wear since 2004, with five outlets across the city. The brand champions local and regional designers across the fields of fashion, art, accessories and homewares. You can also browse speciality shops like S*uce Rocks for the latest collections from regional labels, and S*uce On-Sea for beach and resort wear.



The cARTel is a Dubai-based fashion platform and concept store founded in 2012 as a creative space that houses edgy and unusual independent brands. The store currently has a portfolio of over 50 international, regional and local designers ranging from women’s wear, men’s wear, bags and accessories available for purchase in their flagship showroom in Dubai Design District (d3) as well as online.



The Good Life



The Good Life is a top tier online sneaker store in the Middle East, with a carefully selected mix of sneakers is the place to be for true sneakerheads, featuring some of the rarest kicks in Dubai. The brand prides itself on developing sneaker culture within the region with its access to the latest drops, unique styles, and most coveted collections. The Alserkal Avenue-based store was originally founded in Beirut before opening its second branch in Dubai.



Dubai is also sprawling with a wide range of trendy boutiques and stores that go to great lengths to source rare and limited-edition items.



Teeb Emirates Perfumes is one of Dubai’s oldest perfumeries, run by Indian expat Yousuf Mohammed Ali Madappan who has been concocting bespoke perfumes for 30 years. Based in Deira’s Gold Souk, the store houses more than 10,000 scents, used to create over 200 fragrances every day – each more unique than the other.



Flip Side is Dubai’s only independent record store, housing the best vinyl from across all genres. Designed to be a hub for the music community, the store also holds monthly sessions with DJs in the local music scene and hosts music production seminars as well as documentary screenings.



Comicave is a one-of-a-kind pop culture merchandise and collectibles store in Dubai, bringing high-end collectibles to pop culture fanatics – be it statues, sculptures, action figures, prop replicas and memorabilia from the most recognised and notable studios from around the world.



Noble Collection is a movie merchandise, props and collectibles store tucked away in The Dubai Mall, where you can pick up all kinds of Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, Marvel and DC Comics-related memorabilia.


Bargains on designer brands



With all the fantastic luxury fashion available in Dubai’s numerous malls and shopping districts, there are plenty of destinations to find marked down prices and delightful discounts. From big name luxury fashion brands to sports and high-street lines, you can find it all at the Italian-themed indoor shopping spot at The Outlet Village. The Dubai Outlet Mall is another shopping haven that houses big-name brands and designers, sold at a fraction of their original prices.

Bargain hunters in Dubai can also browse through curated selections of pre-loved finds, ranging from high street bargains to designer label steals for only a fraction of their original prices.



Bagatelle Boutique promises to authenticate all items by in-house experts prior to buying and reselling to new clients. Though they also have brand new items, a majority of the products sold at the store and their website are pre-loved items.

Garderobe is a treasure chest brimming with authentic pieces at a fraction of the original price – be it vintage jewellery, bags, designer dresses or shoes. Shoppers can browse the site’s listings or visit the shop on Jumeirah Beach Road.




No trip to Dubai is complete without a few souvenirs to help remind you of your unique desert adventures.




Camel milk chocolate is a true home-grown delicacy in Dubai. Combining the finest traditions of chocolate-making with creamy camel milk, Al Nassma

Al Nassma – first and finest camel milk chocolate premium camel milk chocolates contain an assortment of flavours including whole milk, dates, 70% cocoa and Arabian spices. If you don’t have too much of a sweet tooth, you can also take back a gift of handmade camel milk soap from The Camel Soap Factory, made in Dubai using 25% camel milk.



For a taste of gourmet sweets and teas, make your way to VIVEL Patisserie, which features a collection of over 300 pastries – each full of exotic and unique flavours with influences from Europe, Middle East and Persia. They are uniquely produced and shaped by hand using the highest quality ingredients,  and are favoured at some of the city’s most prestigious weddings and occasions.



Arabic coffee (or “Gahwa”) is a testament to the long tradition of coffee cultivation and consumption in the Middle East, and is a mark of traditional Emirati hospitality. It is typically spiced with cardamom, cumin, cloves and saffron and poured from a classic Arabian coffee pot called a “dallah” (which is pictured on the one-Dirham coin) and served in small cups without handles called “finjaan”.



Custom Makes

While Dubai is home to a plethora of clothing stores and shopping malls, why not make your own outfit? Satwa, one of the city’s most diverse neighbourhoods, is the perfect place for a cash-effective couture experience. Choose from a plethora of fabrics available in an endless number of textile stores, and walk over to one of the many tailoring shops in the streets of Satwa.   Within a few days (or even quicker, if you’re willing to pay a little more), you can have your own custom-made dress or suit.



For a truly unique souvenir of your visit to Dubai, why not create a custom gold pendant with your name in Arabic. Places like Cara Jewellers and other shops in Dubai’s glittering Gold Souk or Gold and Diamond Park offer reasonable prices for 18K gold with a quick turnaround so you can have your custom-made piece of jewellery ready before the end of your stay. Or perhaps you’re getting ready to pop the question, in which case you can design the perfect engagement ring.



Nothing beats a product made especially for you. For a unique purchase in Dubai, visit these specialist fashion artisans to see what they have to offer. Nike opened its largest store in the MENA region, and the world’s largest single-storey store, at Dubai Mall late last year, spanning 3,290 square metres. Here, you can personalise your shoes and clothing for free with laces, straps, buttons, markers and labels – and even get a unique artwork imprinted.



Italian Shoe Factory is the ultimate place for ordering top quality bespoke footwear for every occasion in Dubai. With over 25 years of experience, they specialise in delivering exceptional handmade custom shoes worldwide from their store in Al Quoz. They can make a design from scratch or replicate an existing shoe that you adore – from wedding and special occasions to custom polo riding boots.



Much more than your average tailors, Scissors Tailoring Studio is also home to local label Rewita, a back-to-basics Indonesian designer specialising in pieces that can be customised. Select your favourite style of dress, coat, pants or blouse from the in-store templates, then add in your pick of patterns and fabric. Inspired by a piece you already own? The in-house seamstress can replicate your favourite design, turning out your dream outfit just days later.

Fashion events



These include Fashion Forward, an avant-garde gathering of fashion designers, connoisseurs and enthusiasts from across the Middle East. Happening from October 30 to November 2; and Arab Fashion Week organised by the Arab Fashion Council, the world’s largest non-profit fashion body. It is the only official fashion week dedicated to promoting Ready-to-Wear-Couture and Pre-Collections that define luxury fashion in Dubai and the Arab world. It holds from October 9 to 14.



There’s also International Fashion Week Dubai that brings together renowned and emerging international designers to showcase their talents. The retail-focused event also hosts a two-day lifestyle exposition by top designers and vendors. It will hold from October 17 to 19.




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Travel and Tourism

MAAHA BEACH RESORT: Nature’s best gift



MAAHA BEACH RESORT:  Nature’s best gift





ocated in the Western region of Ghana, Maahe Beach Resort is a sought after for many visitors to the region for many reasons. It location is one of the attractions while its natural appeal is very unique and stands it out as environmental friend in every respect.

In terms of its construction, the resort is built with a natural material that is known as Maahe, sourced from the raffia tree. It is this natural ambience that makes it a fascinating cocoon for many. Besides it elegantly and sophisticated apportioned facilities, in terms of service, the resort is a top notch with sight on excellent service culture delivered by the best of professionals, which include as mix of professionals from West Africa region, with the executive chef of the resort being a Nigerian professional.

The Acting General Manager of the resort, Jean – Jacques Mass, speaks of the unique experience that the serene resort offers people. Excerpts:


What is the attraction for the resort?


We have an island where we organise retreats. We also organise events for our guests and at times our own type of event that attract guests. We have sport machines, and also team building activities, depending on the request of the guests, we can sit down together and put something that will meet their needs.


What is your patronage level like?


Most of the people who are coming in are coming in at weekends. The highest number of guests we always have here are at weekends. And it is an average of 60 per cent.


What are some of the unique attractions of the resort?


I think what makes this place unique is the fact that is very close to nature. When you come around, you will see this high coconut trees that give you the impression of being in some American country, but we are still in Ghana. And the type of buildings that we also have they are really local made and it is unique. If you really look around even in Ghana, you will never see a building without the raffia stick.


So the concept behind it is really to be proud of our creativity in Africa with our local materials. So I think this place should be an example for most of our African countries to promote what we have. Everything was built by local artisans with local materials in conjunction with the owner who is also into construction. I think this is the best destination in Ghana, you will not have to deal with concrete. It is not like concrete is not a good thing but we are trying to promote what we have, that is the most unique thing that this destination is known for.

What are the level of facilities of the resort?


We have 135 rooms with two conference rooms, with a cinema. We also have two restaurants, we have a private presidential area where you have six bedrooms, you have a private kitchen, laundry, a private bar and pool and private beach also. You can even have friends in that area and organise a private party.

What are the challenges you face while trying to put this facility together?


The challenges that we are having here is the procurement of the materials. We are using organic materials, we are using bamboo, wood and to maintain it is really hard. It is not like when you are having a concrete building and you can always paint it. We are also sometimes having issues with this breeze. So those things are natural challenges that we learn on a daily basis on how to manage with them. But we have been able to cope with it and we have been consistent.

When was the resort opened for business?


Officially we opened this resort June 2017. It is a young place.


You seems to have a mixed nationals working here, how come?


We have the privilege of having a lot of expatriates work here, we had at the beginning Portuguese and Moroccans working here who also contributed to set up the menus that we have now. And now our executive chef is a Nigerian and he is well – skilled.

Also, they all contributed to putting together this nice and beautiful gastronomy that we have in the resort. We also have Ivoirians and Portuguese that were also involved at the beginning of the project.

How would you describe the business level of the resort since 2017?


It has been very busy and now I will say that it is a very great opportunity having you here because we are now targeting the leisure market.

Because at the beginning there was also a very good opportunity for us with the oil and gas companies. The oil and gas companies were always with us, so the resort is fully booked. Not for a day but for the whole year and now some of them are at the end of their projects, so now we have to focus on the leisure market. So the population can also enjoy the beauty of the serene environment that we have and the great service that we offer.

Would you say the long distance from Accra to your location is a barrier to patronage?


What I can say is that we don’t really have to focus on these things as Africans. If Nigerians are coming to Ghana to discover this place, I think we can also contribute altogether to promote tourism in Africa.

Some of our African brothers also travel far to have other experiences, then why not among ourselves as Africans, distance shouldn’t be a factor that should count. I think distance should also be part of the adventure. Some people will travel from Ghana to Kenya to have safari, some will travel from here to South Africa, I think South Africa is very far from Accra.

Any apparent security challenge?


I think that is our strongest point, if you want to talk about competition in this area, before you will really have a contract with oil and gas companies, we go through a lot of inspections. And we have ENI that is really known, it is a great company. If they choose Maaha Beach Resort, I think we are trustful and secured. There is something that they saw and they feel secured here.


How are your conference facilities?


Our main conference room is the biggest with 300 seats, if you want to do the theatre setting you have 200 seats and we also have the privilege of hosting very big events, like the birthdays of one of the political figures in the country.

What other facilities do you have?


We have a cinema, we also have an island, a Spa, a gymnasium, we have a tennis court, and we offer massage, it is part of the treatment that the spa is also offering.



What are some of the activities you offer at the ocean front?


We have activities at the ocean front but it depends on the tide because we are very close to the sea. So when the tide is low, we sometimes play beach soccer around that area, but we can also play beach soccer behind the gate.




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Travel and Tourism

NANTA trains travel agents in Lagos, Port Harcourt, Abuja



The National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA) has conclude plan to embark on training of its members across the country, with Lagos, Port Harcourt penciled down as the training centres for the training of travel agencies who are both registered and non- registered agencies with International Airport Transportation Association (IATA) at no cost to the trainees.


This was disclosed by the President of the association, Bankole Bernard, describing it as part of effort by the association to enhance professionalism in the operation of travel agencies.


The training, he said is tagged as IATA EasyPay Workshop for IATA and Non-IATA Agents, and it is to enlighten travel agents on the IATA EasyPay (IEP) plan. According to him, “IATA EasyPay (IEP) is a new payment method that is globally available to all IATA accredited travel agents for the issuance of tickets through IATA’s Billing Settlement Plan (BSP). IATA EasyPay is a secure, pay-as-you-go solution. It is an electronic wallet and is available to agents to use alongside the other payment methods in the BSP.”


The association stated that it would not only use this opportunity to address certain issues and challenges it had been facing over the years but that it would also make use of this platform to put its house in order by encouraging unregistered NANTA agencies to come under the umbrella, thereby drastically reduce fraudulent practices in the travel market.


He further stated that the benefit of the workshop for the travel agencies is that the IEP provides a greater level of flexibility for agents. “The IEP will provide travel agents with more flexibility, it will also provide a failsafe, allowing travel agents to continue transacting in the BSP if they ever reach their Remittance Holding Capacity (RHC).’’ Also speaking on the training, the Public Relations Officer of NANTA, Yinka Ladipo, disclosed that the workshop commenced this week the Port Harcourt Zone on September 10, Abuja Zone training already held while that of Lagos will hold on October 3 at the Lagos Continental Hotel.

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Travel and Tourism

TRAVEL BEATS; Sabre partners Babcock University on MBA programme in airline and travels management



Sabre Network West Africa, one of the global distribution solution provider has concluded plans to partner Babcock University in Ilisha – Remo, Ogun State to begin a post graduate programme, Masters in Business Administration (MBA) in Airline and Travels Management, with the school’s College of Postgraduate Studies.


This followed a two year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that was signed by the two parties. With this development, Babcock has become the first university in Nigeria to offer such a course in aviation at the MBA level with professional certification in Airline and Travel Management, beginning with the 2019/2020 academic session while the programme is expected to run for 18 months. Some of the areas of focus include: Managerial Economics, Organisation Behaviour, Management Theory, Aviation Safety and Security, Essential of Airline Training and Technology, and Fundamental of Airline Operations.


Speaking, on the development, the President of Sabre Network West Africa, Dr. Gbenga Olowo, stated that the MBA programme was open to all holders of first degree certificate in any discipline across the world. Olowo also gave an assurance that the programme would be of great benefit to Nigeria’s aviation industry. He further explained that the company chose Babcock because of its integrity and willingness to work with the organisation.


According to him: “We are expecting as many as many people. In fact, we are thinking of 180 million Nigerians. Luckily, there is no university in Nigeria or on the continent that runs this programme. So, we are pioneering his programme. “Nigeria has placed a huge emphasis on pilots and engineers training which constitutes its major cost. Hopefully, the economic health of our airlines will improve with the influx of would-be graduates into the industry.’’ Classes for the intakes for the programme is said to have commenced this week.

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Travel and Tourism

NationalCouncilfor WomenSocietylauds Runsewe, IGPon promotionofNigerian culturalvalues



For their various actions at promoting Nigeria cultural values and heritage, the Director General of the National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), Otunba Segun Runsewe and the Inspector General of Police, Muhammed Adamu, have been lauded by the National Council for Women Society (NCWS). In a press statement by the President of NCWS, Dr. (Mrs.) Gloria Laraba Shoda, over the duo recent actions in condemning decadent acts in the society, especially by Nigerian youths and promoting high moral values, expressed delight over their pursuits, which she said is the right way to go to instil moral values in Nigerian youths.


‘‘We at the NCWS are happy that our visit to the DG of the NCAC has yielded positive responses from the government and the public as indicated by the actions so far taken and the messages we continue to receive from well-meaning Nigerians,’’ said the body even as it described as offensive the promotion of despicable conducts such as nudity and transgender activities by the likes of Bobrisky. The NCWS lauded Otunba Runsewe for exposing the unbecoming conducts of Bobrisky and the IGP for his intervention to stem this ugly trend.


It lamented that the wanton show of cross gender activities is projecting a negative image to Nigerian youths, adding that Bobrisky activities are not true representative of our culture. NCWS, therefore, warned Nigerian youths to be wary of the manner Bobrisky and his likes are painting our culture, as they cannot be taken as role models or an icons. NCWS further decried the progressive erosion of Nigeria cultural values and the importation of alien cultures such as indecent exposures and open sexual activities in electronic media.


The council stressed that Nigeria culture and law recognise the clear distinction between men and women, reiterating that anything to the contrary is absurd, unacceptable and therefore should be resisted. It is regrettable and strange for Bobrisky to publicly declare that he has 24 boy-friends in high places, the NCWS President said. The NCWS called on Nigerian government and all well-meaning Nigerians to rise up against this festering evil before it destroys Nigerian children and youths as well as the future of the nation.

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Travel and Tourism

Akwaaba 2019: Envoy of UAE to Nigeria, CEO Dubai Tourism to lead team




Dubai tourism is leaving no stone unturned in its preparation to make an impression at this year’s Akwaaba African Travel Market expo that is billed to hold at Eko Hotel and Suites, Lagos between September 22 and 24, with the Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to Nigeria and the Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Tourism and Commerce Marketing, Issam Kazim, billed to lead a powerful team of the country to the travel and tourism trade conference and exhibition.


With Nigeria emerging recently as one of the biggest source markets of Dubai, with many Nigerians visiting the country and the good run of Emirates and other carriers flying the country, with over 20 flights daily from Lagos and Abuja and over 300, 000 Nigerians received yearly, Dubai tourism is set to enrich the market with juice offerings hence the powerful delegation from the country.


To this end, with more partners and delegates, Dubai will be launching a dedicated breakfast to meet the entire travel trade, tagged: ‘A glimpse of Dubai’. About 22 companies and a highpowered delegation from the DTCM will engage Africa on Destination Dubai.


Dubai will also be giving out lots of prices and gifts to participants in raffle draws. Besides the envoy and Kazim, DTCM Delegation include: Stella Obinwa, director, Africa, International Operations; Shae Brotherton, senior manager, Integrated Experience Management; Tareq Binbrek, senior associate, International Operations; Salim Ali Mohamed Dahman, senior manager, Campaigns, Campaign Management and Janelle Lewis, senior manager, International Communications, PR and Communications

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Travel and Tourism





After a long break in undertaking a group or individual tour of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, one had another opportunity to do so again during the recent training of members of the Association of Nigerian journalists and Writers of Tourism (ANJET) by the National Institute of Hospitality and Tourism (NIHOTOUR). The group tour was part of the requirements for the training, at least offering practical experience outside the rigours of the classroom.

The take – off point on this fate day was Rosebud Hotel: Suites and Apartments, Central Business District, venue of the training session. Everyone was excited and the mood was that of high expectation especially for those who were engaging on the tour of the city for the first time. The only drawback in this case was the fact that it was not a hop on, drop off bus that was used but a normal enclosed coastal bus and no provision made for stop over at designated points.

However, that was not enough to dampen the expectant mood, if nothing else, it was a good enough opportunity to explore the city from such a close range. The weather on this particular day was clement, which was an added impetus.

It was only fitting that Elisha Dabak, one of the instructors from NIHOTOUR, who gave an exposition on Destination Nigeria, took on the duty of tour guide for the day. Dabak turned out to be adept at tour guiding as he displayed a rich professional candour of a guide, with vast experience and mastery of the subject; possessing the right register and a good story technique to hold the attention of the tourists all through the duration of the trip.

One of the most profound discoveries for me on the trip was the perspective he brought to the historicity of the city, a historical narration that was utterly new to me and that ignited one’s rapt attention as he regaled us with the tales of the two brothers that gave birth to the FCT, which over the last three decades has served as Nigeria’s administrative and political city and ‘city of unity.’

Historically, Abuja was originally the south-western part of the ancient Habe (Hausa) kingdom of Zazzau (Zaria). It was populated for centuries by several semi-independent tribes. The largest of the tribes was Gbagyi (Gwari), followed by the Koro and a few other smaller tribes. In early 1800s when Zaria fell to Fulani invaders, Muhammed Makau, fled south with some followers and his brothers- Abu Ja and Kwaka. Abu Ja succeeded Makau in 1825.

The full name of the king was Abubakar; Abu was his nickname. By some accounts his fair complexion earned him the nickname “Ja” which means “red” or “fair-skinned” in Hausa. He became known as “Abu-Ja” meaning Abu the red” or “Abubakar the fair one while other sources say that the “Ja” is a shortened form of Ishaku Jatau, his father’s name. King Abubakar founded the kingdom of Abuja.

In 1902, Abuja was occupied by the British colonial army. The British re-organised the kingdoms and called them “emirates” which means “kingdoms” in Arabic. Until 1975, it remained a quiet part of Nigeria. The present landmass of the city were contributed by Abuja in Niger State, with 80% of the land; Plateau State (Now Nasarawa State), with 16 % of the South east territory and Kwara State (now Kogi State), with four per cent of the south-west territory.

Of historic note also is the fact that in Gbagyi (or Gwan) language, the word “Aso means “success” or “victory.” According to tradition, the original inhabitants of the region lived at the base of the rock for centuries and were never conquered. The rock served as a refuge and a mystical source of strength. Asoro “(Aso Koro”) the name of one of the local areas, therefore, means “people of victory.” In addition to this, the term “Aso Rock” refer not only to the physical structure of the most imposing rock in the area, but also as a symbol of government power and a nation. 

On February 4, 1976, a decree was signed by Nigeria military head of state, late General Muritala Mohammed, establishing the Federal Capital Territory (Abuja) and setting up the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA), with the mandate of the physical development of the new city. Physically, it is regarded as a neutral location and centre of the country, hence it is known as the city of unity. It is bordered on the north by Kaduna State, on south-east by Nasarawa State, on the south-west by Kogi State and on the west by Niger State.

The 1979 master plan indicated for Abuja to be developed in four phases, with estimated population of about three million by the year 2010 and it is believed that most of the entire phase one development has been completed. These include: Central Business District; Three Arms Zone (Presidency, National Assembly and Supreme Court); Maitama; Wuse; Garki and Asokoro.

The Phase one has five districts; these are: Central, Asokoro, Garki, Wuse and Maitama. Phase two also has five districts, Kado, Durumi, Gudu, Utako and Jabi while Phase three districts are Mabuchi, Katampe, Wuye and Gwarimpa. There are also five suburban districts, which are Gwagwalada, Kubwa, Nyanya, Karu and Jukwoyi while its satellite towns are: Lugbe, Chika, Kuchigworo and Pyakassa, Mpape, Karimu, Gwagwa, and Dei-Dei among others.

Officially, the federal government moved the seat of government to Abuja on December 12, 1991, during the regime of former President Ibrahim Babadamosi Babagidan.

The half day tour began with a drive – through Asokoro area, which is more like government reserved area as here is where you have most of the government offices and installations. Some of the installations that came to sight during the drive – through included Aso Villa, military offices, the secretariat of the Economic State of West Africa Countries (ECOWAS) and the headquarters of the police with the tour guide noting that of all the military agencies, the police appeared the least developed with less installations to their name when compared with others.

We rode through the back entrance to Aso Rock (Aso Villa) the seat of the presidency, with Aso rock, from which the presidency drives its name looming large at the backdrop of the villa. No one is actually allowed around this vicinity as it is regarded as security risk to do so. Some of the iconic buildings that we feasted on as we drove – through this axis included the Zoological garden, WU Bassey Barrack for Nigerian Army and Army War College as well as the Nigerian Army Resource Centre.

And of course, IBB Golf Course, one of the best golf courses in the country; a membership only golf course, which over the years has played host to a number of golf competitions and other social events of note. It is said to be maintained on a regularly basis by Julius Berger, the construction company, which is believed to have handled majority of the construction works in the city. And as it has become the tradition of the company, you see their symbol etched in many of these constructions bearing its imprint.

A drive – through Aso Drive was another impressive exploration of the city as this is where, according to the tour guide, you have most of the political offices of the presidency alongside some military installations, such as the headquarters of the Department of State Security (DSS). Also in view was the National Assembly structure but a better view of it and the Three Army Zone was later to be feasted on as we drove through the Central Business District area of the city.

One of the landmarks of the Aso Drive section is the Millennium Park, which was constructed during the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo. It is perhaps the only area within the Aso Villa zone that is opened to the public. An expanse of lush green and luxuriating garden, it is a park most frequented by both residents and visitors to the city to unwind and have intercourse with nature. It is opened all days of the week, including public holidays.

From this impressive scenic, serene and very attractive section of the city, we made a detour to the Central Business District, which comes up with different propositions as it is home to all sorts of businesses and offices both government and private. What it lacked in terms of serenity, it appeared to make up for with iconic and enchanting buildings of all sorts. Here the Three Arms Zone comes into full glare and adjacent is the Eagle Square, which is a public square for hosting government and private events.

Within sight also is the Federal Secretariat; clusters of buildings, which host most of the federal government ministries, departments and agencies. One of such buildings is the Bullet House, which is believed to be the first of the buildings. The office of the head of the federal civil service is located within this precinct just as you have the office of the now defunct ministry of culture and tourism. However, the office has been converted to office of the minister of information and culture.

Other impressive structures that came into sight as we drove – through included the Millennium Tower, which bears the coat of arm and said to be quite visible and illuminated during night hours. The National Library, though uncompleted, is also located in this axis of the city alongside Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), NNPC Towers, Federal Mortgage Bank, Ministry of Transportation, and Audit House, which houses the office of the auditor general of the federation.

Also in sight was Grand Square, one of the popular department stores in the city, World Trade Centre and Churchgate building while heading towards the Abuja National Stadium, we feasted on the Ship House, which houses the Ministry of Defence and down the road is Bolingo Hotel, one of the earliest highbrow hotels in the city. Then we headed to Garki, Area 10, and drove – through the Diplomatic Zone, which is the reserved area for all the foreign missions and embassies in the city.

One of the public buildings within this zone is The Envoy Hotel By Mantis, and it is the only hotel within this zone. Run by an international brand, it is popular for its fascinating ambience, with luxurious and sophisticated facilities and world class service at your call. Recently one spent two nights at the hotel where one was treated to the best of world class hospitality. It is an experience to be cherished for a long time to come.

Heading out of the Diplomatic Zone, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) came into sight, leading to Airport Drive where such buildings as the National Hospitality, which is only noted for its impressive outward look but deliver less on its mandate of saving lives, UN House, which after the unfortunate bombing incident years back, has reclaimed its majestic position as it remains one of the most impressive structures in sight. Then the National Stadium, which has also become an abandoned national structure, as it is hardly put into use all year round.

We also drove – through Jabi area where a train station presently under construction came into view and then to Wuse area where the Wuse market, in its full bloom and bursting hours came into sight. We could perceive its busy nature with people massing around the vicinity and heavy traffic.

The sometimes heavy traffic is one of the draw backs of the area, which most times make it difficult for people to visit and feast on its nature, which is an apt study of Nigerians in their best of elements conducting businesses unhindered.

In the course of the tour, we also drove – through Mubushi and Utako Districts where we saw a number of very enchanting structures, mostly business and government offices and then made a detour to Jabi District again and drove – through Jabi Lake and Shoprite mall, one of the five Shoprite malls in the city. We then headed to the office of NIHOTOUR on Mike Akhigbe Way in Jabi, where we toured the office complex and interacted with the staff before departing for the hotel with our lunch packs courtesy of the training institute.

In all, it was an impressive tour and quite a cherished experience for the team, especially for some of the journalists who were touring the city for the first time. It was a way of reconnecting with the city and feeling its pulse and observing the interplay of the various elements, which have made the city what has it become for many.

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Ekiti to use arts and culture for state development



Ekiti to use arts and culture for state development

The Ekiti State government has made a case for using arts and culture as a vital tool for the socio – economic development of the state. This disclosure was made by the state governor, Kayode Fayemi even as the state plans a festival of art and culture for December.

The governor made this known during the recent Ekiti State Art and Culture Stakeholders Forum held in Ado Ekiti by the state Council for Arts and Culture, with the theme: Art and culture for economic prosperity.

Represented at the debut forum by the state Head of Service, Ayodeji Ajayi, the governor said it was on this basis that the administration organized a cultural expository and exhibition programme immediately it took over the reins of power in the state.

Commending the strides of the council under its newly appointed director general Wale  Ojo-Lanre, for following through the mandate of the council, Fayemi said: “It is a known fact that one of the major causes of our current economic woes in Nigeria is that those within the productive age, who also have the capacity to contribute immensely in improving the economy are either doing far less than necessary or directing their energies wrongly into areas that do not impact meaningfully on the economy.

‘‘It is consequent upon the understanding of the immense capacity of the Arts and Culture sector, to impact on the socio-economic wellbeing of the generality of the people, that this administration has continued to ensure adequate commitment, both in budgetary considerations and approval of funds, to the creative sector as symbolized by the Council.”

Also addressing the gathering, the governor’s wife, In her remarks, Erelu Bisi Fayemi, commending the council for putting together the forum, which she said is the type of interface that can bring about timely achievement of transformational agenda of the government.

While pledging her continuous support for arts and culture, that he state government is set to revive the art and culture sector and set it on the pedestal.  The First Lady noted out that the strategy of open interaction with the stakeholders is another way of making them part of governance by pointing out to government their basic challenges.

‘‘The knowledge that would be gained today would go a long way in widening their horizon on how to effectively access available opportunities that would make them prosper by their trades and innate talents.

‘‘Arts and Culture has been one of the prime areas to which the JKF administration gives attention. This explains why the administration in its first tenure established the Ministry of Arts, Culture and Tourism as well as the Council for Arts and culture to harness the great potentials of Ekiti people in arts and crafts, develop and market them towards attracting economic prosperity for the people.”

While in his welcome remark earlier, Ojo-Lanre, stated that the stakeholders forum marks another milestone in the efforts of Governonr Fayemi -led administration to make governance responsive to the yearnings of the people and the need to make people optimally responsible by complementing the efforts of government in leveraging on talents, acquired skills and crafts of the people.

According to the council’s DG, Arts and Culture sector has evolved between the last ten months and now from being a mere entertainment establishment into a vision-driven sector that is focused on empowerment of people through discovery and exposure of talents to ensure self-reliance and economic prosperity.

He stated that the state Council for Arts and Culture, knowing the capacity of arts and culture to impact on the economy, has embarked on consultations with stakeholders to seek their support.

He added that the consultation has taken the council to the chambers of the Ekiti State Council of traditional rulers, the tertiary institutions in the state, corporate institutions and individuals, who can assist in effecting a positive change in the sector.

He emphasised that the stakeholders forum is hinged upon the need to create an interface with its local artisans, men and women who constitute the creative workforce of the state and, who have, over the years, suffered neglect and treated with disdain by the immediate past administration.

Ojo-Lanre pointed out that the idea is to address the glaring depletion of the of the state creative industries as a result mass departure into other areas where innate talents are relegated and people earn far less than their worth.

According to him, the forum is aimed at strengthening the arts and culture stakeholders as an intervention which would renew their zeal, rejuvenate their interest in creative businesses and widen their horizon.

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Ofala Festival gets NTDC’s endorsement



Ofala Festival gets NTDC’s endorsement

Good time is here for the annual Ofala Festival celebrated by the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Nnemeka Achebe, as the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) has finally come around to endorse the age – long communal celebration of the people of Onitsha.

The endorsement came on the heels of the meeting between the Ofala Marketing Strategy and Communications, Government Relations, Culture and Tourism Industry Committee, led by its Chairman, Nn’emeka Maduegbuna, and the management of the NTDC.

In the formal endorsement letter signed by its Director General, Folorunsho Coker, to the committee, the government tourism development and promotion apex body noted that: “We are convinced that the festival which celebrates the emergence of the monarch from seclusion and also homecoming of Onitsha indigenes will be an avenue to showcase Nigeria’s cultural heritage and also sensitise both the local and international populace on the abundant tourism potentials in Anambra State.

“Whilst promoting domestic tourism in the engagement of youths and the good people of Onitsha Kingdom, the Ofala festival will be a viable tool for harnessing tourism resources for sustainable development in Nigeria.”

The NTDC boss disclosed that the corporation will offer technical support in the planning and eventually in the digitally capturing of the grand ceremonies to ultimately place it on global digital platforms to attract the world.

Coker then expressed optimism that the project would have an invaluable impact on the Nigerian tourism sector.

The last time the festival enjoyed the support and presence of the tourism body from the federal government level was years back when the formal minister of the defunct Ministry of Tourism and Culture, High Chief Edem Duke attended the festival.

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American post graduate students on study tour of Nigeria



American post graduate students on study tour of Nigeria

Nigeria has continued to attract interest from different source markets across the world, the latest being America as a group of 10 students and one faculty member from the University of Pennsylvania’s Lauder Institute of Management and International Studies visited the country on a study tour, with Jemi – Alade Tours, curating the tour packages for the visitors.

This visit is coming on the heels of over 50 Black Americans recent visit of the country for the time, touring different parts of the country, which included Benin City under the auspices of Jemi – Alade Tours. According to the Chief Executive Officer of Jemi Alade Tours, Oladipo Jemi-Alade, it is a good development for the country’s tourism sector and something to build on to attract more visitors to the country.

The visiting students were part of the leg of Lauder Institute Africa Region Summer Immersion Programme as matriculated student of the University of Pennsylvania. The study-tour is a required part of Lauder Institute’s Summer Immersion Programme. They are dual enrolled as student in the M.A. in International Studies at Lauder Institute and the MBA programme at the Wharton School of Business, also at the University of Pennsylvania.

During their time in Nigeria, the group visited some private sector corporate organisations to understudy their business models and met with leading entrepreneurs and social enterprises.  They also visited the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to know about the role IFC is playing in Nigeria and AXA Mansard Insurance, where they were briefed about risk and security issues in Nigeria. The group also was in Port Harcourt, where they visited Intels Oil Logistics Field Sites to learn about issues and challenges in logistics in Onne.

Besides, they also savoured the culture and social life style of Nigerians through their experience of Lagos, touring such attractions as Kalakuta Republic Museum and the New Afrika Shrine. Terra Kulture Arts and Studios Limited hosted them to lunch and gave a talk on ‘Entrepreneurship in Nigeria’s education and recreation sectors. A dinner reception at Bottles Restaurant was hosted for the group by the University of Pennsylvania Alumni group in Lagos.

Jemi – Alade described the tour as a promotion and god advertisement for education tourism in Nigeria: “The purpose of their visit, as such, is educational tourism, not business and this would be the third year the programme will be visiting Nigeria. A similar group visited Lagos in July of 2017 and July 2018.” 

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