It would be stating the obvious to say that the continuous dependence of the nation’s economy on oil needs to be reviewed in view of the persistent fall in oil prices in the world market. This ugly development has hirtherto called for a paradigm shift towards other sources of revenue by the federal government to finance its yearly budget so as to add more value to the socio-economic growth of the nation.
It is on this premise that the senator representing Kwara South Senatorial District of Kwara State at the upper house, Senator Oyelola Ashiru designed a move that would make the federal government look into other sources of revenue other than oil sector to get more money to embark on developmental projects capable of adding values to the lives of members of the public across the country.
One of such move is for the government to develop its tourism and cultural potentials, which abound in various parts of the country. These potentials if well developed by the government can serve as a revenue generation for the government and also bring foreign investors that can tap on the potentials for economic gain of the areas.
Championing this initiative, Ashiru accompanied by other members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) party in the senatorial district recently paid a visit to some of the tourist and cultural potentials of Kwara South Senatorial District to enable him get neccessary information that can be tapped to make the federal government look into the potentials for overall benefit of the people of the zone, state and national level.
Among the tourism and cultural potentials visited by the lawmaker include Esie National Museum and Monument located in Edie town Irepodun Local Government Council Area of the state; Owu waterfalls in Isin Local Government Council; Ero Omola waterfalls in Oke-Ero Local Government and Cave Hill center at Owa-Kajola in Ekiti Local Government Council Area of the state.
At the different locations visited by Ashiru, it was discovered that government has lost a lot of revenue in view of its inability to look inwards in these affected potentials that abound in some parts of the country, especially in the state.
It will be noted that these potentials abound in the above mentioned communities without any move by successful administrations in the state to take the opportunity of keying in towards developing them for the economic prosperity of the state. No wonder, the desire to get required funds for various developmental projects every year by these administrations had continued to be a serious concern.
The lawmaker who believes in economic development of his people and the country in general decided to come out with the intention to uncover these potentials for the government so that the era of continued dependence on oil to finance nation’s budget every year would be a thing of the past.
Speaking with journalists after the tour of tourism and cultural potentials in the state, Ashiru said that, “Esie Images and Museum located in Esie town, where we have stone artifacts hewed out of the ground are dated back to 10th century. It is like a history book of our people. This is to show the prosperity of the people of Esie, Igbomina and Kwara South in general. This is to show their prowess in the 10th century. This is to show that in the 10th century our people living here were engaged in agriculture, commerce and cultural and social life.
“The idea is to show ourselves and cherish our past. Equally too, it is an opportunity for us that the development of our museums and monuments could bring a lot of prosperity to this land and can serve as a sources of revenue to the government. People go abroad a lot of times to show things that are not as good as this; to show and see things that are not as natural as this and spend a lot of money during their visit and thereby contribute to the economic growth of the countries visited.
“This is an opportunity for us to showcase that cultural tourism is an important aspect of human life. There are so many countries today that are just living on cultural tourism. A visitation by our people within and outside the country will bring a lot of prosperity and revenue to us. The idea is to attraction the attention of all tiers of government to the creation of this museum and its development.”
The lawmaker also said that “apart from this, this is a good site for a university of history and archeology, which is so important. Africans have to rediscover themselves. It is usually said that we are the cradle of civilisation, but we have not been able to show it in Nigeria as much as it is in Esie here. We will encourage the federal government to set up a university of history and archaeology here.
“Before that time we are initiating a yearly conference on culture and art which is an international one. A lot of facilities are needed to do this. We need a big conference centre, we need the roads to be made up with modern facilities, we need infrastructural facilities that will take care of the hospitality side of this and this is why we are here.
”I will call on the federal government to do a real capital project on this site. That is why I am thinking of a university of history and archaeology as it is very important for our tomorrow and it is important to link up our present with the past and the best place we can do it is this place.
“We need specialised universities. Universities that will take care of some specific needs of the people. We discover that in Nigerian universities today, history and archaeology have been relegated to the background and it is not appropriate because discovering yourselves is so important to your development”.
He therefore called for public-private partnership in the task of driving the agenda so as to bring the museum into both national and international attraction as this would enhance its economic potentials.
Also speaking, the Curator of Esie National Museum and Monument, Mrs. Mopelola Omowunmi said “This is the first museum in Nigeria. It was established in 1775. The Esie people came from old Oyo Empire according to history. They migrated because of royal dispute and they stopped in different spots before they finally got to this place(Esie).
“Where they settled, one of the leaders who was going on hunting expedition stumbled on these important images you have seen this morning. Immediately he turned back to inform the king. At that time the only medium to unravel history was through Ifa. When Ifa was consulted, it said they were people who turned to stones. But there are lots of schools of thought as regard this.”
She added that, “But when the archaeologists went into research as regards the objects they discovered that they were not human beings that turned into stones, because they are three times shorter than normal human beings. Also a critical look at the inner and the outer parts of the objects, there are sharp differences. The outer part is smooth while the inner part is rough. When people come here we will tell them the oral and archaeological sources. It depends on you to pick whichever you want..But research is still ongoing to unravel how these objects came about.”
On the challenges facing the museum, the curator said, “The road to this place is bad. Recently, we heard that something will be done to the road. We want this place to be turned to research centre for research purposes. Some people still want to unravel the mystery behind the images. If we have craft centre here too, it is not out of place”.
By and large, with this new interest and intention of Ashiru to bring out the available tourism and cultural potentials in Kwara to the notice of the federal government for urgent attention, it is certain that, if the potentials can be tapped, the continued dependence of federal government on oil will be of a thing of the past and this will also serve as a source of revenue for government, thereby boosting the economic growth of the nation.