The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has kicked-started a tour of tourist sites in the country with a visit to the spectacular Owu Waterfall in Kwara State.
Mohammed was accompanied on the trip by representatives of the local community in which the Waterfall is located, as well as officials of the Kwara State Ministry of Culture and Tourism and some journalists.
He described the waterfall as a wonder of nature, adding that the government is exploring avenues to develop Nigeria’s natural assets, like the Owu waterfall, for economic benefits.
“We are all awed by the awesomeness nature of the Almighty. You can’t begin to wonder where the source of this water is and what I found most enticing and really baffling is the louder we shout, the more the volume of the waterfall,” the minister said after the visit.
“This is one of those natural assets that we have been bestowed with and there is no country that has this kind of assets that will not be able to exploit it for economic benefit,” he said.
Mohammed noted that lack of infrastructure is the major challenge confronting tourism development in Nigeria, but added that the Presidential Council on Tourism, PCT, is working to reverse the trend.
He said: “Fortunately we have been very busy trying to revitalize the Presidential Council on Tourism because tourism is not a stand-alone ministry.
“Without the cooperation of other ministries such as Power, Works and Housing – because you need to provide road, electricity and security – you cannot actually have a vibrant tourism industry.
“I am happy I came here personally today and I have seen it and at the next meeting of the Steering Committee of the PCT, we will actually put this across.
“The Minister promised to liaise with his counterpart in the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing to give priority to the construction of the 7-kilometer access road to the waterfall.
He also commended the Owa-Onire Community and the Kwara State Governmentfor encouraging tourists to visit the Owu Waterfall through the facilitation of access and the provision of security.
A community leader, Akanbi Sunday, who also serves as a tour guide, chronicled the history of the waterfall, while commending the Minister being the first-ever Culture Minister to visit the waterfall.
The Minister had earlier paid a courtesy visit to the traditional ruler of the community, Abdulraham Fabiyi, where he intimated the monarch of government’s intention to develop the Owu waterfall into a viable tourist site, in line with the diversification policy of the federal government.