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NIPSS declares Osun tourism sites potential gold mine

By Tunji Omofoye, Osogbo
18 November 2017   |   4:23 am
Tourism has become a worldwide industry, which is recognised as one of the top three constituents of world trade, ranking third after petroleum and the vehicle industries.

The NIPSS team members during the tour of Osun

Tourism has become a worldwide industry, which is recognised as one of the top three constituents of world trade, ranking third after petroleum and the vehicle industries.

Osun State, which is said to be cultural and traditional centre of Yorubaland, is blessed with attractive, natural and world-class tourist sites. In the Yoruba nation, no state has the numerous eye-catching natural tourist sites like Osun. The state has not less than 60 tourism sites. Some of them are historical, while others are spiritual. Tourist centres like Osun Osogbo Sacred Groove, Osogbo, Oduduwa Groove, Oranmiyan staff (both in Ile-Ife), Kiriji war site in Imesi-Il an Igbajo, Oluminrin waterfall in Erin-Ijesa, Ayinkunugba waterfalls in Oke-Ila, Imesi Mysterious Caves and movement rocks are major tourist sites, which can alone turn around the economy of the state.

The economic potentials of tourist centres in Osun have attracted the attention of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru, Jos, which is understudying the economic values and fortunes of tourist sites, with a view to develop a strategic framework and policy for the Federal Government to explore the tourism potentials in the state for national and state economic development.

However, NIPSS did not just pick Osun for examination and analysis. Findings revealed that a participant of the Policy Strategy and Leadership Course (PSLC), Mr Tor Gowon Yaro, who is the Executive Director of Foundation for Ethnic and Religious Tolerance, drew the attention of NIPSS to Osun tourism potentials. Yaro, who was sponsored by the Lagos State House of Assembly, passionately raised the issue of the tourism potentials of Osun.

According to a letter dated September 27, 2017 written to Governor Rauf Aregbesola by NIPSS, the issue generated a lot of intellectual engagement among course participants. The letter signed by the Managing Consultant, NIPSS, Mr Asipita Umar reads: “Participants agreed that Osun is a state whose history, rich heritage and mesmerizing attraction (Olumirin waterfalls, Osun Osogbo Sacred Grove, Oran,iyan Staff, Ife Bronze, Osogbo Arts and Metals and Great Food, etc) make it a fascinating, unique and outstanding tourism destination.

“In view of the foregoing and within the context of the mandate of the National Institute, we have resolved to engage the state government on a project to do a detailed study of the tourism potentials of Osun state with a view to crafting a medium-to-long term state strategy for transforming that sector.

“The project will involve a programme of packaging each tourist site for greater local and international attraction, crafting a funding plan and a programme of marketing the tourism attractions of osun globally.”

On Monday November 11, NIPSS sent down a team to Osun to go round major tourist centres in the state for critical evaluation of the natural endowment. The team, which was led by Umar had Professor Sola Adeyanju, Mrs Zandra Agbor and Tor Gowon Yaro (the mover of Osun tourism development at NIPSS) as members. Part of the tourist sites visited by the team was Oluminrin Waterfall at Erin-Ijesa in Oriade Local Government of the state. Towering high, the cliff can be found within the community axis of Erin-Oke, Erin-Ijesha, and Erinmo. Akinla, a granddaughter of Oduduwa, discovered the fall in 1140 AD when the people of Ife were migrating to Erin-Ijesha.

Also, the NIPSS team visited the ancient Kiriji war site at Imesi-Ile, in Obokun Local Government and Igbajo in Boluwaduo local government. The site is the place where the 16-year-old war between Ibadan and the combined forces of Ekiti and Ijesha took place. ‘Kiriji’ was an onomatopoeic name given to the war from the thunderous sound of the cannons the Ekitis and Ijeshas, under the command of Ogedengbe, purchased and used in abundance during the war.

The NIPSS team also visited Ayinkunnugba waterfall at Oke-Ila in Ifedayo Local Government. Ayinkunugba is a waterfall of over 80m high with 236 staircases. The water falls is in the thick forest people will descend to discover the wonderful work of nature, that is in the beautiful landscape of mountains, caves and trees.

The United Nation Education, Scientific, Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) designated Osun Osogbo groove was another site visited by the team. The Grove was first declared a National Monument in 1965. The grove covers 75 hectares of land. Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove is also part of National Tourism development Master Plan that was established with World Tourism Organisation (WTO) and United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

The leader of the team, Mr Asipita Umar, said, “We are here to form partner with the state government on ways and means to improve the tourism development situation on the natural occurring tourist attractions in the state. Osun State is blessed with more than a dozen world recognised tourist centres and sites international known. But as it is, the state government has not taken the full advantage of the potentials in terms of economic activities, cultural promotion that the tourism sites in Osun state could offer.

“The National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies is the apex Nigerian institution that concentrates on analysing and looking at policy and strategy with relation to critical development issues in Nigeria. Tourism is the second largest contributor to global GDP and the second largest employer of labour worldwide. If Osun state has these potentials and we have not taken advantage of exploring it to highest possibilities, NIPSS feel like giving the current trend of diversifying the economy, we have to start looking at areas that have potentials for generating employment, foreign exchange earnings and many other things.

In her address, a member of the team, Mrs Zandra Agbor, who is a chief consultant in the institute said, “What we have seen so far is quite interesting, if we did not come to this place, we would not know what Osun has on ground. It is an eye opener to us and I know that if proper investment is done, I am so sure this will open up Osun state and it will generate lots of revenue and serve as great potentials for the state.”

In his remarks, a member of the team, Prof. Sola Adeyanju said, “There are lots of sites in Osun that should actually be used to build the economy of the state and that of the country in general. Tourism is a sure way to boost and diversify our economy.”

The Chairman, Osun Board of Tourism, Engineer Abimbola Daniyan, who took the team round said, “This is our single largest opportunity for economic expansion and diversification of our revenue sources.

“These places give unpaid publicity for Nigeria and Osun state; go to anywhere on the net; you will find Olumirin waterfalls, Ayinkunugba waterfalls, Kiriji war sites and so many others. It is our duty to ride on the already mileage and build a big leverage out of it. We can do that by driving marketing in more systematic and promotional manner, improving the facilities to enhance the ecstatic value of these assets and providing support services and product which can turn this place to a destination in the proper sense.”