We all want to live a better life, a life of good health, and sound mind. Every day, Nigerians and people all over the world move to other places to learn new things, visit unique places. Israel and Egypt are great examples of countries that earn huge foreign currencies from tourism. Badagry in Lagos State is still having good share of visitors because of the roles it played during the slave trade era.
In Asaba, the Mungo Park building, the Lander Brothers Anchorage and the famous River Niger are tourists’ destinations. But, with the transformation that the state is witnessing, especially, Asaba, courtesy of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa’s focused administration, a lot of visitors and investors are entering the state.
This could be attributed to the erection of an edifice to accommodate all Ministries, Departments and Agencies named Prof. Chike Edozien Secretariat by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa’s administration in Asaba. Of course, the Asaba International Airport has all necessary facilities for flights to land and take off to any part of the world. The airport boasts of one of the best runways in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The need to boost tourism in Asaba made the Desert Warrior, Dr Newton Jibunor to establish the Nelson Mandela Park. Yours sincerely was present when the first set of trees were planted at the Park to mark late South African President and freedom fighter, Nelson Mandela’s birthday. Today, the park is wearing beautiful look with decent accommodation.
Governor Okowa has shown commitment to the development of Delta State and bearing in mind that relaxation spots are not so much, the governor made it possible for a Film Village and Leisure Park to be built in Asaba. This in the nearest future will be a money a money spinner as one of the relaxation spots in the capital city.
The Delta State Capital has a twin city that is fast developing, that is, Okpanam. In short, a visitor to Asaba will not know that Okpanam and Asaba are two different towns and administered by two different kings and two different local government councils.
In Okpanam is a natural recreation park cum tourists’ site, the Igwogwo Pit. It is just some minutes’ drive from the Asaba International Airport where the Nelson Mandela’s Park is located. Okpanam is famous to be home to Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogu, the forerunner of the Nigerian Army Intelligence Corps (NAIC) who was killed during the Nigeria/Biafra Civil War. The town plays host to notable politicians. Presently, an Hockey player and golfer who is the Secretary to Delta State Government (SSG), Chief Patrick Ukah is from the community. Governor Okowa’s administration is constructing a Hockey Pitch in the community that can host international tournaments. Naturally, the town has benefitted a lot from Governor Okowa’s administration in terms of road network. This has greatly made the people to feel that they are part of the state capital.
However, in that community is yet to be tapped or harnessed pit, Igwogwo. There are different stories about the pit that will hold visitors in awe but, yours sincerely will dwell more on its tourism potentials. Of course, there is no way that tourists will not be told the stories to make them visit and visit again.
The pit is said to be the source of the Anwai River, that is, the river before the Dennis Osadebay University that empties into the River Niger. We can recall that the source of River Ethiope in Umuaja, Ukwuani local government area of Delta State has been developed to play host to visitors daily as a tourist site. As such, with the Igwogwo Pit in the Capital Territory, if well developed, it will become a money-spinner in the nearest future. It has tall trees and serves as home to different species of birds and animals, animals that are now endangered due to development that is fast eating into the pit. Even the trees are being cut down on daily basis which has made it to become an erosion site. Unless government acts fast, some of those trees may not be in existence in the next few years and the natural habitats for the birds and the animals that are in Igwogwo Pit will be another story of how it used to be.
Whenever it rains in Okpanam, Issele-Azagba and other places, the water empties into the pit, thereby, making it a natural water collector or basin. The pit is not man-made, so, one can only but, imagine the mineral deposit in such a place having collected several materials for centuries. Again, it has spring water – as a source of a river, water in the pit does not dry.
On the last Saturday of the month of July, 2022, yours sincerely joined the Commissioner for Environment in Delta State, Chief Godspower Asiuwu to visit the pit shortly after the monthly sanitation exercise in the state. The pit has now become an erosion site that is threatening lives and property in Okpanam and if left unchecked, no one can really say how far the pit will extend to.
Asiuwhu expressed surprise that such an ecological problem is ravaging the state capital. As someone who is passionate about saving lives and property, Asiuwu, a geologist, was looking more at how soon government can act to check the erosion from swallowing the structures, including electric poles that are on danger list rather than looking at how to develop the area for tourism or tapping the resources in the area for other economic benefits.
It was gathered that the spring water of Igwogwo is unique and that some countries had in the past bided to establish their companies in the area to tap the water but, such did not yield desired results.
The Environment helmsman was attracted to the plight of the people living in the area by a post made by yours sincerely that the pit was threatening lives and property. Governor Okowa no doubt, has people who are passionate about the plights of the people working with him. Almost all of them are ICT compliant and just like their Boss who is a true democrat, the aides to the governor listen and work in tandem with what the people want.
So, it did not come as a surprise when Asiuwhu in less than 12 hours after the post, visited the erosion site and did a follow up by briefing Governor Okowa about the impending disaster if the erosion menace was left unchecked. So, within a period of three days, the governor directed his Works Commissioner, Engr. Noel Omordon to inspect the site with a view to save lives and property of those living in the area.
Naturally, with the combination of Asiuwhu and a qualified engineer, the people of the area heaved a sigh of relief that the road which links Okpanam community to its local government council, Akwukwu Igbo which was cut off by the erosion may be restored. They also, expressed confidence that the alternative road which was been threatened by the erosion, will also, be saved from the ravaging pit.
Governor Okowa’s administration deserves accolade for swift response to the needs of the people as exemplified with the manner the Commissioners responded and this has in no little ways, calmed frayed nerves and endeared the governor more to the people of the area as they are confident that they have a Governor that cares.
The days ahead will surely prove if the Igwogwo Pit is a tourism site or erosion menace eating up the Delta State Capital Territory. This is because, the nature of the project according to the Commissioner for Works is massive.
God bless Delta State as we keep praying for God to continue to guide and guard the administration of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa.
Fidelis Egugbo is the Special Assistant, Media to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State.