Artisans and wood sellers have taken over some National heritage sites in Edo State including the ancient Ogiamien palace on Sokponba road in Benin City, Edo State Capital. Founded about nine Centuries ago, it is the only surviving structure that was mysteriously spared the heavy bombardment and razing down of the City during the British
Artisans and wood sellers have taken over some National heritage sites in Edo State including the ancient Ogiamien palace on Sokponba road in Benin City, Edo State Capital.
Founded about nine Centuries ago, it is the only surviving structure that was mysteriously spared the heavy bombardment and razing down of the City during the British invasion of Benin Kingdom that was followed by the deportation of Oba Ovoranmwen N’ Ogbaisi to Calabar in 1897.
The Managing Director of Ogba zoological Garden and Nature Park, Mr Andy Ehanire, described this prolonged development as unacceptable while delivering a lecture titled, “Tourism and Jobs: A Brighter Future for All”, to mark Edo 2019 World Tourism Day Celebration, which held Friday 27th September 2019 at the Ogba Zoological Garden and Nature Park in Benin City.
He listed this national monument among other heritage sites in Edo State that may go into extinction if measures are not taken by stakeholders, especially the National Commission for Museums and Monuments to carry out massive restoration and proper administration of this heritage site, including the famous Benin moat, to their original specifications.
“We have a unique treasure trove of cultural and geographical landscapes for tourism development in Edo State. We need to reinvent ourselves and our tourism offerings to have more of our indigenous cultural content.
“Unfortunately, most of our national monuments are in decline while some are in ruins. more…Ogiamien palace was declared a national monument by an Act of Parliament sometimes in 1961, but not much attention has been paid to giving them the pride of place. The sanctity of some of these monuments have been violated by unwholesomely incompatible activities such as turning the place into a wood market.
“Our moats are still seriously degraded and are meant to be re-conditioned back to their original specifications”, he said.
During his comparative analysis of the tourism sector in developed, developing and underdeveloped nations, Mr Ehanire, advised the State government factor-in the Benin moat into her rolling development plans as to feature in its annual budgets.
He also sued for the introduction of tourism studies into the Nigeria schools curriculum, beginning from primary schools, among other critical areas to provide skills for manpower development and job creation.
According to him, “No culture is inferior to another…Some people want our shrines back. Although, not everybody will worship those shrines, but, we should preserve them in as museums.
The State Commissioner for Arts, Culture, Tourism and Diaspora Affairs, Mr Osaze Osemwegie-Ero, in his address, said that Governor Godwin Obaseki-led administration “has plans to revive and rebrand over 58 tourist sites and Festivals across the State and repackage them for domestic and international tourists”.
Osemwegie-Ero whose address was read by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Mrs Dorcas Idehen, said the sites include, Oba of Benin palace, Igue Ewere Festival, Igun Bronze Casters and Craft Centres, Okomu National Park, the Benin moat, Benin National Museum and Captain James Philips Tombstone, Sokponba Holiday resort among others.
An Official of the Institute for Benin studies, Peter Obobaifo, sued for sustainable investment in the tourism sector with the right skilled manpower which is needed to drive the process and measure progress and resource.
A participating organization at the event was the Association of Tourism Practitioners of Nigeria (ATPN), led by its Vice President South South, Mr. Andy Ehanire. Other organizations include the Hotel Owners Association led by Chief Rowland Nosakhare Osunde. He said Edo State under the leadership of Governor Godwin Obaseki, was determined to transform the tourism sector given the huge investment ahead of the forthcoming 32nd Edition of the National Festival of Arts and Culture (NAFEST) billed for October 2019.
On his part, a Public Affair Commentator and Veteran journalist, Mr Tony Abolo tasked the State government on strict implementation of urban planning laws as part of measure to reclaim the various heritage sites and adequate sensitization as well as education on tourism which is a spin-off for job creation.