Saturday, 2 January 2016

Okpunodike Valley: A Tourist Centre in Anambra Begging for Exploitation

 By Okechukwu Onuegbu

Tourism is travel for pleasure, and also includes the business of attracting, accommodating, entertaining tourists, and the business of operating tours. It may be domestic or international, depending on the tourist or traveler’s place of resident and destination or where he/she is traveling to.

As a result of its numerous contributions on social, cultural, educational, and economic sectors of national societies and international relations, today, tourism has become a major source of income to many countries, as it affects the economy of both the source and host countries, in some cases being of vital importance. This is because people travel for a variety of reasons namely; to escape, rest or holiday, explore, understand, and participate. But at the core of the experience lies the destination — the place that hands something to the traveler to keep forever and share with others.

Recent research shows that tourism brings in large amounts of income into a local economy in the form of payment for goods and services needed by tourists, accounting for 30% of the world's trade of services, and 6% of overall exports of goods and services, creates opportunities for employment in the service sector of the economy associated with tourism.

These service sectors in tourism include commerce and industries such as markets, airlines, cruise ships, commercial motorcyclists (okada) and motorists, wheelbarrow/truck pushers, estate managers/house agents, motels, hotels and resorts; and entertainment venues, namely amusement parks, casinos, shopping malls, music venues, and theatres.

In Nigeria, Anambra State is one of the states with so many tourists’ attraction centers. Apart from its renowned Ogbunike Cave, Igboukwu museum, and Rojenny Tourists Garden Oba, almost the 179 communities in the state can boast of a tourist center, at least.

The sleepy Umudike community in Ihiala Local Government Area, specifically, has an expanse land and a valley which is believed to be the fifth biggest valley in the world. The yet to be explored Okpunodike valley which cut across Akabuze, Akabuke, and Akabuozi stretches from Umudike to Okija, and contains four natural springs namely Ugoloma, Agbaobu, Okpu and Owereokweonye.
Rural dwellers claimed that the gorge was formally inhibited by River Niger before the gods of their forefathers angrily chased the river out of the land for swallowing the children of Dike; a great warrior and founder of Uzoakwa, the host of the valley, and progenitor of ten villages such as Umudike, Umuduru, Umumeri, Umuegro, Okpanugbo, Umuosobe, Umudumbili, Umuarubi, Umuezeotutu, and Umuogbulefo.

According to the host community, the natural spring in the valley has some healing virtue, and the sick normally resort to bathing with its water to be healed of diseases and infirmities, although this writer witnessed no such claims during his visit.
However, well sanitized entrance gate and footpaths down the valley as observed by this writer during his visit, indicate that people still frequent the place either to fetch water or healing despite its rugged and sloppy terrain which makes it 1.30 minutes journey for every healthy individual to walk to and fro.

A story was also told of caring eke-ogba (python), and other animals and beasts dwelling in the enclave, but perhaps, a unique attribute that makes Okpunodike valley a must developed tourist center are ever green African vegetations of distinct species and sizes beclouding its environment.

Hence a clarion call on Nigeria’s government from federal to local government level, the local and foreign investors to liaise with the host of Okpunodike valley with a view to developing it to a befitting tourists attraction center of international repute.

Analysts believed that the tourist attraction center, when properly developed, could lead to discovery of some natural resources, assist in diversifying the economy of the country; creating employment to her teeming unemployed youths, providing housing or accommodation, etc to people, as well as increase the internally generated revenue of its host communities, Council Area and Anambra State.



Etiam at libero iaculis, mollis justo non, blandit augue. Vestibulum sit amet sodales est, a lacinia ex. Suspendisse vel enim sagittis, volutpat sem eget, condimentum sem.