Farin Ruwa Waterfalls: Tourist attraction seeking global attention
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed recently visited one of Nigeria’s amazing natural sites – the Farin Ruwa Waterfalls in Nasarawa State. The Waterfalls is found in Wamba Local Government Area, about 120 kilometers away from Lafia, the State Capital.
The beauty of the water falls is magnificent and one of its kind due to its towering 450-metre height
Although the water force appears less forceful in dry season, its gushing water during rainy season is so torrential that it could be mistaken for a white smoke.
According to the host state, the white smoke earned it the name, Farin Ruwa, meaning “White Water.”
The Minister led by the Deputy Governor of the State, Dr. Emmanuel Akabe and Commissioner for Works, Philip Dada, was also accompanied by chief executives of Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Fololorunso Coker and National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism (NIHOTOUR), Nura Kaginwa.
There were two Special Advisers to President Muhammadu Buhari on Culture and Tourism, Mr. Segun Adeniyi and Mr. Williams Adeleye.
The two-day visit allowed the federal and state government an opportunity to brainstorm on how to develop the destination. Although it holds huge potentials for the state, lots are still required to make the product attractive to tourists.
But with the excitement of the host community members who came out to chair the Minister and his men as they took the long walk to the falls, apprehension over likely hostility was assuaged.
At the interactive session, the state governor, Engineer Abdullahi Sule, stated that the potentials of Farin Ruwa Waterfalls go beyond tourism as it also holds capacity for over 40megawatts of electricity and 40,000 acres of irrigation land for agriculture.
He added that when he visited the destination and discovered that access road was the biggest challenge, the state immediately awarded a N3billion contract for road infrastructure.
According to him, a film village resort is equally in the pipeline at the falls as one of the destinations that could place the state on the world tourism map.
“The government of Nasarawa State believed that to reap the gains of tourism, there is need to develop basic infrastructures in different destinations and sites.”
Typical example is construction of the Sisimbaki-Kwara road and the Farin Ruwa Hydro Electricity project which the state and the federal government are handling together.
“These are targeted at boosting investment in the state with tourism at the front burner”, Gov. Sule stated.
He noted that tourism is one of the key sectors identified for development by the state to diversify its economy. Consequently, the state has identified 15 tourism projects as having prospects for investors.
The governor pledged its readiness to set the enabling environment for willing investors into any of the identified opportunities.
The Minister in his response equally highlighted the huge potentials of Nasarawa State in tourism, stressing that the governor got it right with the realization that the major obstacle to tourism is infrastructure deficit.
“With this road project, the governor has rediscovered the potentials in the site and it will soon become another Nollywood village giving the scenic beauty of the waterfall, the hydro power dam and the beautiful vegetation.
“I have no doubt in my mind that with proper promotion, we will turn it around and make it the hub for film and music producers as well as a resort for holiday makers.
“The vision of the governor to see that tourism is promoted in earnest is laudable because tourism involves many endeavours and provides so many jobs for people”, the Minister stated.
Meanwhile, the Director General, NIHOTOUR has offered to train 13 people from the state (one from each Local Council) as tour guides.
Before the visit to the waterfalls, the Minister was conducted round the state’s cargo airport, which the Commissioner for Works, Mr. Philip Dada, said was about 85 percent completed, having received the maiden aircraft in 2019. The airport has 2.2 kilometer runway.
Dada explained that the airport was aimed at business but there is plan to upgrade it to domestic and international status.
“The airport was conceived to be cargo because of the predominantly agriculture nature of the economy of the state and the solid mineral endowment the state has.
“The thinking was that a cargo airport will enable investors and businessmen evacuate their produce to markets outside the state and also to make it available for other schedules particularly domestic purpose and we are hoping that it will be upgraded in due course for even international schedule.”
At the Waterfalls, the deputy governor announced that the state has plans to turn it to tourists’ haven for all.
“We believe that there are lots of potentials here to be harnessed and sometime last year, on behalf of the Governor I paid a visit to the minister and told him about this falls and he promised to come personally with his crew to promote it.
“We believe that what you have seen is exciting and intriguing and that we need to put resources together to turn it around to a tourists’ haven.
“The Minister having come here will take it up and together, the state and federal government will bring the best out of this place.”
The deputy governor is optimistic that in another five years, the project would have been ready for tourists. But considering the distance from the major road, he expressed the possibility of having helipad to bring in tourists.
“This is also beautiful for Nollywood to take advantage of. We are also planning to have festivals here very soon”, he said.
For Minister Mohammed however, it was imperative for government to invest in infrastructure so that “this wonders of the world will be made available to everyone.”
Emphasizing that the government cannot do it alone, he beckoned on the private sector to invest in building infrastructure around the destination.
“It might be very heavy infrastructure at the beginning but at the end of the day, such infrastructure will be worthwhile.
“I also want to call on the private sector to look at how they can make use of the funds they have for corporate social responsibility on infrastructure such as roads that will lead to this place.
“Nasarawa is not just a state for agriculture but a state with huge potential for mining and I want to call on the big businessmen that are into agriculture and mining. The society will be kind to them if they can plough back some of their profits to open up tourists attractions such as the Farin Ruwa Falls.
“It will not take too much from them and they will make back their money in terms of concession and adverts. It is fair for them to give back something to the community.”
The Minister warned that without infrastructure, such destinations would remain a waste.
He also tasked legislators from the state to invest on the project and be remembered for it, and on behalf of the federal government, the Minister pledged to explore any available funds such as those from the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) under the rural tourism to support the project.
“Clearly, what we need now is road infrastructure leading to this place and the private sector should not join the race when we are almost there.
“This is the time to come because from this location, it will be almost impossible to make a day trip, meaning that if you bring your family here, you will likely want to keep the night. Therefore, motels and recreation centres will be very viable here.
“We are all glad we have come and have seen the wonders of the world. In other parts of the world where there are good roads and electricity, this place will be 24-hour alive.
“Unfortunately, from what we have seen, this place is not frequented and that is because of the infrastructure lapse.
“We will do our part from the level of government to international organizations to ensure that we put the Farin Ruwa Waterfalls on the world map”, the Minister said.