How Support From Private Sector Can Lift Culture
TOURISM, Culture and National Orientation Minister, Edem Duke, has pledged the support of the Federal Government for private investment in tourism development. Duke made the pledge when he visited the sprawling Smoking Hills Golf Course and Resort in Ilarin Mokin, Ondo State, last Friday. Chairman of Elizade Nigeria Limited, Chief Ade Ojo, who hails from Ilara Mokin, owns the 18-hole golf course and resort.
Accompanied on the visit by the Artistic Director of National Troupe of Nigeria, Mr. Akin Adejuwon, Duke, who disclosed that the visit was at the instance of Chief Ojo, also used the opportunity of the visit to call on other well meaning individuals and groups to invest in the development of tourism in the country. Apparently impressed with the facilities at the golf course and resort, Duke noted that tourism, apart from offering good returns on investment, it creates jobs and other opportunities for the investor and the community.
Also, the minister noted that the tour to Ilara Mokin afforded him the opportunity to appreciate some of the attractions that Ojo has developed so as help in its promotion and development.
Ojo, who received the minister and his entourage, later took the minister on an inspection tour round the gold course and resort.
“This is massive and impressive,” Minister Duke said repeatedly as they rode round the expansive and well-maintained golf course.
Done with the golf course, Ojo led the way for a tour of Elizade University, which he also owns. The well-laid out institution is tucked right inside the town.
“This is one private university I have seen that is built like universities you find in Europe,” Duke said when he’d gone round the senate building, the student hostel, staff quarters and the Vice Chancellor’s Lodge.
On his impression, Duke who had earlier noted that the Jonathan administration has encouraged a relatively stable culture and tourism environment in the country, described his experience during the visit as ‘overwhelming’. He said, “The environment, the undulating hills, the smoking hills and indeed the experience is completely overwhelming. I think this is a programme and a project, which not only the Federal Government of Nigeria will provide the support in terms of infrastructure, working with the state government, but we will do our utmost to ensure that, that is possible.
“When I see the opportunities here for tourism, hospitality and cultural development, I see the synergy not only of this golf course but also a synergy and a circuit that can be built around most of the tourist sites in Ondo State and neigbouring states like the Ikogosi Warm Spring which is not too far away from here. And I see the various towns and communities around here providing the source for the development of local cuisine and the service industry that will bring value. I also see the university providing the opportunity for young people to grow into golf and the potential of having an inter-university circuit.
“I see a great opportunity in this resort, not only to grow championship golf tournament and golfers but also an opportunity for professional retreats by organizations that will like to develop strategy sessions and then go out to play a game of golf and enrich their own experiences”.
Duke also envisaged the possibility of other events in the state that could run into days so that tourists could experience the warmth and splendour of the golf course and resort. According to him, “I see the opportunity of the Mare Festival held annually here in Ondo growing into a week-long festival, where after being a part of the festival, you can come to the golf resort and even drive to the Ikogosi Warm Spring and enjoy some of the other offerings around Ondo State”.
The minister commended Ojo for his interest in the promotion of education, tourism and culture. He acknowledged Ojo’s support for the annual Ondo Mare Festival and his support for the production of Kunle Afolayan’s big budget movie October 1, which was shot on location in Ilara Mokin.
According to the Minister, “I want to most especially commend Chief Ade Ojo, who has truly stood out as one of the leading lights in Nigerian business community. And I have always said to people that no matter what kind of business you are in the most enjoyable retirement is in leisure and entertainment. So, it is a great opportunity to be here at Ilara Mokin”.
Ojo thanked the minister for the visit and expressed the hope that with the visit a lot of support would be extended to the tourism resort and to the community as a whole.