Anambra State, under the leadership of Governor Chukwuma Soludo, is gearing up to unlock its tourism potential with the initiation of the rehabilitation of the Igbo-Ukwu Museum and plans to reposition significant heritage sites.
The ambitious endeavor includes revitalizing key attractions like the Ogbunike Cave, Agulu Lake, Owerre Ezukala Cave, and Anam Beach.
These investments will change the economic landscape of Anambra. A group, known as Team Make Ogbunike Great (TMOG), even estimated that Ogbunike Cave alone – if put in proper condition – can generate an annual revenue of 40 billion naira for Anambra through tourism.
After addressing the fundamental issue of security, Governor Soludo is now set to harness the full tourism potential of Anambra. Today, it is not by accident that Anambra is no longer in the news for the wrong reasons. Despite the recent upsurge in kidnapping in other states in Nigeria – which has even escalated to the kidnapping of monarchs and school children – Anambra has maintained a good security record in the last months. This is as a result of the work the Governor Soludo-led administration is doing to make Anambra safe.
In the coming days, the rehabilitation of the Igbo-Ukwu Museum – which is located in Anambra State – would commence. The Igbo-Ukwu Museum – known to house many highly sophisticated bronze artifacts that predate other well-known ones like the Ife bronze and Benin bronze – had not been given the attention it deserves. But all these are about to change under the leadership of Governor Soludo.
Today, it is very likely that many valuable artifacts from Igbo-Ukwu are scattered around the world and would need to come back to their base. (Because some Igbo-Ukwu artifacts have been lost, artists had been commissioned to reproduce their imitation as a way to preserve their heritage in the last few years). For example, in 2023, Reuters reported that workers in the National Museum in Lagos were removing rust from some ‘neglected’ Igbo-Ukwu bronze artefacts. Omotayo Adeboye, a curator at the National Museum, said she considered Igbo-Ukwu artefacts to be “masterpieces of creativity and indigenous craftsmanship.”
With the rehabilitation of the Igbo-Ukwu Museum by the Soludo-led administration, the world can now come to Anambra to see some of these masterpieces. And this would have a significant impact on Anambra’s economy.
Governor Soludo has other plans for other potential tourist attractions. A request, which seeks for potential partners to express their interest in the development of Ogbunike Cave, Agulu Lake, Owerre Ezukala Cave and Anam Beach into world class resort facilities has been published. A potential public- private partnership model is being sought to reposition these heritage sites into world class tourist attractions.
Anambra has some interesting tourist attractions. The Agulu Crocodile Lake – which is home to an estimated three hundred crocodiles, water turtles and fishes – the beautiful waterfalls of Anam and the Owerre Ezukala Cave are sights to behold.
The Ogbunike Cave, for example, is listed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as a tentative World Heritage Site and it is made up of several chambers with streams and underground waterfalls. There have been attempts in the past to seek partnership for the development of various potential resorts in Anambra – such as the Ogbunike Cave. (An attempt was made in 2014 to seek partnership for the development of Ogbunike Cave).
But these attempts have not been successful. But this time, the ecosystem for the success of the development of these tourist resorts are being put in place. With the massive development of road infrastructure in Anambra and the proposed world class 5-star hotel in Awka, the business case for the development of these tourist sites is straight forward. There would also be a transparent and rigorous process put in place for selecting private sector partners for the development of these resorts.
The Solution Fun City, which would be completed later in the year, also presents an ecosystem for tourists to have wholesome experience in Anambra State.
In developing Ogbunike Cave, strict attention shall also be paid to UNESCO’s rules of protecting and counteracting threats to sites listed as World Heritage Sites. This includes agreeing not to materially alter such sites.
The intentional development of these tourist sites by the Soludo-led government will help protect these archaeological sites in Anambra. It will help protect them for our children’s children. Today, some of these sites are in bad conditions.
Fundamentally, the propagation of local culture and tourism are potential sources of foreign exchange into Nigeria. It also creates massive jobs in the localities where these sites are located. This potential economic impact is aligned to Governor Soludo’s vision.
Today, the contribution of tourism to the GDP of the United Arab Emirates is roughly 9%. With the mechanism put in place by the Governor Soludo-led administration, tourism would be a major component of the GDP of Anambra in the years to come.