The fourth session of the Seven Wonders of Nigeria® Zoom conference took place on July 10, 2020, and it was another exciting time, as the panellists took the online guests on breath-taking excursions around their favourite destinations in the country.
Several important personalities in the tourism industry tuned in to the session and some of them like: Gabe Onah, Chairman of Carnival Calabar; Jude Nneji of ABC Transport; Alhaji Aminu Agoha, former NANTA President were asked to say a few words.
The panellists of the day were: Alhaji Rabo Saleh, President of the Federation of Tourism Association of Nigeria (FTAN); Shalom Asuquo of Travel Lab; Debbie Egwuogu (Waka With Debbie), Taiye Olayemi of News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) and Dayo Adedayo, ace photographer and author of Tour Nigeria and several books documenting the rich beauty of Nigeria.
Amazing untapped destinations like the 38 islands in Akwa Ibom State, the Tomb of Uthman Dan Fodio, among others were on the spotlight as the session maintained its theme, “Where to Visit in Nigeria: Issues of Access and Security?”
The session kicked off with Amb. Ikechi Uko whetting the appetite of the audience about the capacity of the panellists.
He noted that due to the attention previous participants had given the Bower Tower in Ibadan, Oyo State in SW Nigeria, the site is getting upliftment from the state government.
Also, Amb. Uko had good news concerning the first pictures of the rare lowland gorillas in Cross River State, SS Nigeria which were released to the public this week. It is a big opportunity to explore for the country, considering that places like Rwanda earns as much as USD400m from gorilla tracking activities.
After a quick commercial of ABC Transport, one of Nigeria’s leading road transportation company, the first panellist, Alhaji Saleh opened the session by giving kudos to Amb. Ikechi Uko for the Seven Wonders of Nigeria platform, which he believes will boost domestic tourism in the country.
His first destination was the Katampe Hill, located in Maitama, FCT Abuja and regarded as the geographical centre of Nigeria. He noted there that efforts are underway to develop the place.
His second destination was Assop falls in Plateau State.
He pointed out that the famous Nigerian soap opera of the ‘80s, “Cock Crow at dawn” was shot art Assop Falls. While highlighting the accessibility of the waterfall, as the location is along the road, he pointed out that the absence of conveniences was a sour point.
From there, the FTAN President took the audience up to the Hubbaren Shehu (Tomb of Uthman Dan Fodio) in Sokoto State, NW Nigeria. It is a historic site when and a burial site of the sultans of Sokoto. He then mentioned the famous Kano Walls, which has been recognised as one of the Seven Wonders of Nigeria from the first edition of the project which took place between 2010 and 2012.
Alhaji Saleh rounded off his presentation with the Mambilla Plateau in Taraba State, SE Nigeria. He mentioned that snow have been purported to have fallen in the area.
He remarked that the place has potential to be as good and viable as the Obudu Mountains, and advocated for accommodation facilities to be built in the area.
Afterwards, tour operator and CEO of Waka With Debbie, came on and presented her favourite location, starting with the iconic Kajuru Castle in Kaduna State, which was built between 1981 and 1989.
She took the audience down to Badagry, Lagos State to the Slave Museum which she remarked is a big hit with her foreign clients. She however, regrets the absence of conveniences and the bad state of the roads to the location. The Lekki Conservation Centre was next on her list, as she pointed out how it is a good spot for family get-togethers, retreats and picnics.
Next, Debbie talked about Camp Ikare, a private beach resort accessible only by water in the Amuwo-Odofin LGA of Lagos. She hinted that it was upscale and a bit pricey though, but the facility is excellent.
She rounded off her presentation by highlighting the famous Olumo Rock and the recently launched Kuti Heritage Museum in Ogun State, SW Nigeria.
NAN correspondent, Taiye Olayemi was next, and she started off with Mount Patti in Lokoja, Kogi State.
The hill is 402km above sea level and it was the spot Lady Flora Shaw coined the name Nigeria for the most populous black nation in the world. Also, Lord Frederick Lugard who was in charge of colonial Nigeria built a resting place on top of the mountain, where he often resorts to, enjoying the breath-taking views of the rivers and landscape below.
Her second location was the War Cenotaph, also in Kogi State, which was erected for the fallen soldiers of WWI and WWII. She pointed out that the place comes alive every January 15, as the nation celebrates Armed Forces Remembrance Day.
Up next, she talked about the Erin-Ijesa, also vas the seventh step.
Locals believe the waters of the fall has medicinal properties, and for those who have managed to get to the very top, they find a community known as Abake Village right there.
She closed her presentation with the Oloku Grove in Ile-Ife, giving the background about a wife of Oduduwa who turned to the Olokun River as a result of not being able to bear the taunting of her cowives.
Madam Shalom Asuquo of travel Lab took the floor next and started by highlighting the eco-tourism potential of Agulu Lake in Awka, Anambra State and the beautiful views from Golden Tulip Hotel.
The lakehas crocodiles and turtles and other marine life. The locals revere the crocodiles and no fishing is allowed in the lake.
Her next pick was Agbokim Waterfalls in Etung LGA of Cross River State, which she described as being “one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Africa.”
She heighlighted the picturesque beauty of the falls pointing out that during the rainy season, the falls branches out into seven falls because of the high tide, but it has four falls in the dry season.
Her third pick blew the minds of everyone, as she reported that Akwa Ibom has 38 untapped islands along its coasts, spread across three LGAs.
These includes, Parrot Island, Monkey island, Crab Republic among many more. She had so much to say about these untapped islands, highlighting the unique two-headed Calabar python, before moving on to the Itam Monkey sanctuary.
She rounded off her presentation with the Ibom resort which has been quite popular with previous panellists, highlighting the Discovery Walk which no one else had talked about.
The final panellist of the day was Uncle Dayo Adedayo, the ace photographer who has captured some of the most beautiful images of Nigeria, and has been to as much 774 LGAs in the country.
His first pick was the famous Sungbo Eredo, a ditch believed to be about 2,000 years old from carbon dating. The moat is about 160km around Ijebuland and is tied to the Queen of Sheba from the Bible.
Moving on to the Mambilla Plateau, Mr. Adedayo wondered why Taraba State was not the richest State in Nigeria, as he talked about and showed the amazing beauty of the destination from his portfolio.
He talked about the Olusegun Obasanjo Library being the 14th presidential library in the world. The interesting thing about that is the fact that the library is the only one outside America, and it is a great resource centre.
Mr. Adedayo was torn between Awhum and Farin Ruwa waterfalls, but settled for the cataract in Kaduna State and showed a breath-taking view.
From there, he stated that Borno state should be second richest state in the country after Taraba, as he highlighted the beauty of the Lake Chad and it boundaries with Niger and Cameroun.
He showed lovely pictures of the Damasak dunes, wondering why Nigeria cannot replicate the desert tourism of Dubai in the country, before closing with the famous Riyom Rock formation in Plateau state.
Dayo Adedayo had a word of encouragement for Nigerians, urging everyone to put aside their differences and work towards a great and beautiful country.