Sunday, February 7, 2010

Arogbowei Is Back

We are back! Quite a lot has happened in the last couple of months since we took a temporary break. Events occurred at neck breaking speed that left one breathless. These incidences have far reaching implications for the growth of tourism world wide, and Nigeria in particular. There was the Christmas Day attempted jet bombing, perpetuated by no other than a 23 year old Nigerian, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.

Now what could drive a young man who does not know want and privation into such heinous crime? Fundamentalism or parental neglect? You be the judge.

The implication for tourism is obvious to all, travelling is now tedious. New security measures have been introduced in most of the airports, full body scanners have also been introduced, infact in Heathrow and Manchester airports, you will not board any flight unless you submit yourself to the scanning machine. Fearful flyers now have not only their fears to contend with, they now have to put up with discomfort with the rest of us frequent flyers, endless searches and delays and cancelled flights for security reasons. And if you are carrying the Nigerian international passport, then you are in for all sorts of searches. But it must be emphasised that the Nigerian citizen south of the River Niger will never agitate to the point of killing himself, suicide bombing is not part of our culture. It is alien to us.

When misfortune commenced in a particular region, it does not trickle, it rains, just like July rain in the heart of the Niger Delta of Nigeria. No sooner had we settled to the aftermath of the U S reaction categorising Nigeria as a terrorist nation, Jos and its environs erupted like Mount Vesuvius. Jos a one time peaceful city, serving as a melting pot for all ethnic groups in Nigeria and beyond, a city preferred by most Europeans because of it’s ideal weather, has now turned a full cycle. Jos has now become a killing field, a slaughtering ground for ethno-religious zealots. Want to commit suicide, then relocate to Jos. As for the victims of Jos, our hearts goes to them. For those who foment the latest round of crisis, this amount to shooting yourself in the foot.

Then came Haiti, as if mankind was not doing enough to spread avoidable sorrows and dampen our spirit, forces of nature also connived, this time in the form of an earthquake. Earthquake shook the foundation of Haiti to its’ very limit, burying hundreds of thousands in its wake. It’s no use talking of finding those trapped under the rubbles alive, since the sad incidence occurred some weeks ago. But the incidence brought out the best in mankind, we all one and all rose up in sympathy, we did all we could to ameliorate the suffering of the survivors of the quake.

Yours sincerely had gone on a well deserved vacation, considering the fact that the last time I had the privilege was some six years ago. My vacation was to no other place than the heart of the Niger Delta, which a lot of people considered as the hot bed of agitation in Nigeria. From Port Harcourt, to Warri/ Sapele to Benin, Igi-Eduma to Ewosa, Iruekpen to Ekpoma and Ubi-Ajah, Akpata to Arogbo, just to mention just a few. We drove through the heart of the Niger Delta without any molestation from the locals. We equally toured on dug out canoes, the entire region was calm, ready and waiting for government and multinationals to implement their global memorandum of understanding (GMOU) signed with the oil bearing communities.

In some of these places we took time out with the locals, the message is clear, their collective their collective resolve is never to return to the dark days of the recent past, the inglorious path of kidnapping and ransom taking. Never to fold their arms and watch a few bad eggs taint the image of the region.

Despite all the threats and fears which terrorism is bound to spread, our world will not stop. This civilization will fight back. Tourism will continue its forward march; it will continue to grow from strength to strength. Tourism will never cower to terrorism or natural disaster; neither will it bow to sectarian crises. Above all tourism will always remain a viable option for the growth and development of any nation that embrace it.