It has been ascertained with veracity that religion is a strong tourism tool. The examples of Saudi Arabia and the State of Israel provide confirmation to this assertion. These are countries that have not only upped their revenue profile through religious tourism with the income generated from the above central in the determination of the GDP of the said countries.
The Hajji ritual in Mecca, Saudi Arabia started nearly 1,400 years ago. It is one of the obligatory pillars which a financially and physically able must perform. The Pilgrimage which attracts Muslim faithful from all over the world to Mecca in Saudi Arabia is the country’s second most important economic activity after oil and gas. As a matter of fact, part of the diversification strategy in Saudi Arabia is to broaden pilgrimage services to reduce its dependence on falling oil revenue. Currently, about 2 million pilgrims visit the Holy City annually with the figure expected to reach 2.7 million by 2020.
Religious pilgrimages have significant growth potential and ability to stimulate economic activities. For instance, the millions who visit Mecca every year go with billions of dollars to Saudi Arabia. Mohammed Zayan, a 53-year old pilgrim from Tunisia said that he spent about $6000 on his Hajj. In Saudi Arabia, the tourism industry contributes about $22.6 billion to that country’s GDP with Hajj and Umrah providing about $12.6 billion of that. Last year alone, the 10-day event is said to have generated USD 10 billion according to the Chamber of Commerce in Mecca.
The Christian pilgrimage to Jerusalem is another defining niche in tourism occasioned by religious activity. Indeed, Jerusalem is considered as one of the most visited cities with about 3.5 million tourists arriving annually. The largest percentage of the toursits to which account for about 18% are said to come from the United States of America and followed by Russia, France, Germany in that order. The quest to be part of this tourism frenzy which is universal could be measured in the 2017 desperation by about 4,370 medical doctors of Nigeria’s origin who are jostling to work in Christians’ pilgrimage in Jerusalem. Out of the lot, very limited number is actually needed which was why they all had to be subjected to a computer based test.
The Akwa Ibom Christmas Carols Festival which upped its scale in 2008 with an assemblage of 9,300 carols singers has come to serve as one of the defining hallmarks of the State. The State which is lucky to have God fearing leaders use the platform to encourage the people to return to a benevolent God who has watched over the State and its people all through every outgoing year. And the period is carefully chosen to coincide with the birth of the most iconic figure of the Christian faith, Jesus Christ who laid down his precious life to reconcile the entire humanity to God. As the midwife of the event himself, Mr. Aniekpeno Mkpanang noted, “Akwa Ibom Christmas Carols Festival is not a mere gathering but a spiritual convocation for spiritual awakening, rejuvenation and restoration”. The Carols Night can therefore be construed as a festival of fellowship with undeniable benefits of spiritual reawakening and restoration. In the face of receding economy, the need for the restoration of the land can never be over-emphasized. This argument may be considered utopian by many who see God as illusionary. But it is difficult to controvert the fact that there is God in the affairs of men, States and country.
The institution of Akwa Ibom Christmas Carols Festival which has already gained phenomenal global acclaim is a vision that transcends even the spiritual. Every December, Uyo has a place in the calendar of Christian faithful across the world as one of the places to visit. Many look up to the annual event with excitement and make a budget for it. Those budgets are spent in the State with added positive impact to the local economy.
It is a fact that each day of the annual event witnesses increased activities in the city of Uyo and nay the State. The transport sector becomes abuzz as arrivals need transportation to various destinations. Hoteliers wear broad smiles as rooms are fully booked, translating to more revenue for the hotel. Food vendors have a field day as the one day event translates to more revenue with increased profit margin. Traders of different items are always also part of the cutting edge economy even though short lived. Photographers, videographers, shoe menders and assortments of skilled and unskilled workers always find roles to play within the spectrum provided they are willing to task their thinking faculties. However, one of the sectors that our people have failed to do much about is the area of producing souvenirs for sell during the period. Selling souvenirs that are related to the event has very lucrative potential. Caps, wristbands, small towels, batches, biro pens, etc with the logo of the event or message well inscribed would sell hugely at the Festivals. Research has proven that people spend freely at religious events, as according to the study, it provides for them spiritual relief or what we may wish to call spiritual catharsis.
But those who ceaselessly criticize the event overlook this benefit analysis. They are always wont to pop the simplistic and obviously warped question, how much did government spend to host the event? Again, they ignore the fact that government was not from when it was conceived designed for profit making but to ameliorate the sufferings of the people and bring the greatest good to the greatest number. So, when people analyse government policies from the perspective of cost benefit analysis, they lose sight of the original essence of government. There is on their part, a dimmed appreciation of the role of government and the fact that if government deploys resources to serve a cause that is central to the majority of Akwa Ibom, then it has acquitted itself as responsible and sensitive provided such cause is not frivolous, egoistic, selfish or intended to serve a narrow interest. If government therefore wishes to support materially in the spiritual fulfillment of the people of a State where every single household professes the same faith, such government rather than be discountenanced with abrasive criticism should be applauded. After all, religion, especially Christianity, is the best mentor of morality.
When people throw tantrums at the Carols Festival, they fail to see that driver at the airport who has a field day conveying more people to and fro into town with more money in his pocket to meet the needs of his family. Such people refuse to see the taxi driver in the city whose take home for the day can at least change the meal of the children. They ignore the gains that have gone the way of the keke rider which he can plough into another venture for a new stream of income that would most likely reduce his desperation. They overlook the hotelier who has hardly had fully booked rooms to bring succor to the cost of diesel with something reasonable left to change beddings and take care of the home front. They do not see the food vendor who has exhausted what he/she cooked; a departure from the tradition of throwing away unconsumed food and losing revenue.
Tourism as provided by the Carols Festival is akin to what is called enabling environment. When government creates it, private initiatives thrive and the private sector receives a fillip. Government is not a Father Christmas to throw money on the street. And being a human contrivance, it cannot reach out to every individually. But it can touch lives collectively through public utilities and infrastructure as well as programmes that can stimulate the economy and create opportunities for direct and ancillary services. The Akwa Ibom Christmas Carols Festival is one of such initiatives with soul lifting impact and obvious economic boom. As we prepare to converge again on December 22, 2017 at Uyo Township Stadium for this great spiritual fellowship, let our people look keenly at the spectrum and identify areas they can hew out a measure of fulfillment from the spiritual and economic exercise.
Joe Iniodu is a public affairs analyst
Amaechi Vows To Release Names Of Those Sabotaging Security
Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi has said that cabals are frustrating the recently approved $198m maritime security contract.
Amaechi vowed to publicly mention names of saboteurs while speaking at a Maritime Stakeholders’ Interactive Forum held in Warri, Delta State on Thursday.
He said “Reason, why vessels will not come to the Eastern ports, is because there is war insurance due to insecurity in the ports here.
“The war insurance means if the goods cost N10,000 in Lagos, it will cost N20,000 here because there is an extra cost on it due to Insecurity issues. Even as a minister, I can’t enter a boat ride from Warri to Port Harcourt due to insecurity issues, but I can move around Lagos at any time of the day.
“I once asked a former Governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi, why people from Anambra don’t import from Port Harcourt port, and he said it cost less to import from Lagos and move to Onitsha even with the price they pay on the road. It is cheaper to import from Lagos to Aba, yet Aba to Port Harcourt is a 30-minute drive.
“For shipowners, you need to do a petition to Mr President. The President approved a contract of $195m for maritime security, but there are people in the system sabotaging the contract because it will restore security in the water. I won’t say who they are until it gets out of control. We are still battling for the contract to take place, but if it gets out of place, we will name them publicly, including the security people involved.
“There are people who make billions of Dollars from the insecurity on the water, so they don’t want security on the water because if we secure the water, all their rubbish will go.
“There are businesses which provide the vessel for oil companies in the name of providing security. The moment we secure the water, they are out of jobs?
Prison Officer Brutalizes Son, Injures Him For Playing Football (Graphic)
According to a photographer who shared photos of a teenage boy brutalized by his father, almost went into coma after he sustained a deep injury on his head, just for playing football.
The Nigerian Prisons staff beats his son from 7:00pm till 2:30 am, says report.
See what the photographer/Instagram user wrote..
This happened at Oluwatedo area of Ibadan, Mr Adepoju Biodun is married with three kids,he works with Nigerian prison service Agodi,ibadan.his eldest child is Israel, On 16th February 2018 Israel went to play football and after the football his father beat him from 7:00pm till 2:30am in the early hours of Saturday till he sustained a deep cut on his head with blood everywhere in the house.his the appropriate way to correct or chastise our child. This is beyond chastisement. Israel was beaten to coma before he was later rushed to Don Bosco specialist hospital Ogungbade. I will soon upload the surface area of the deep cut as soon as they open it.his siblings also tolu and praise served severe punishment, they were relieved as soon as Israel was rushed to the hospital. Please share until the appropriate authorities sees this especially Nigerian prisons, UNICEF. #UNICEF #law #crazyfather #ibadan #opayemioludayo
#tolanialli #bayoomoboriowo #michaelomoboriowophotography #ajimobi #florenceajimobi #lawyer #nigerianprison #nigerianprison #freshfm #splashfm #inspirationfm
Beating for your son for playing football? My God.
Someone please remind him how much Neymar is worth per week!!! Kaii
There is another angle to look at this… No father in his right mind would do this to his own son!!! This is a clear case MENTAL ILLNESS/TRUMA probably due to the nature of his work. I am not a psychologist but I know in that in Nigeria we lack the culture of looking out for the signs of mental fatigue amongst our workers in all sector. Military /Paramilitary have no proper way of been evaluated for any form of work trauma. This man could be having or experiencing trauma as the result of the nature of his job. May God help him and his family.
UYO STATE LAWMAKER RESCUES PUPILS AGAIN …DONATES DESKS TO SCHOOL
The member representing Uyo State Constituency in the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Monday Eyo Okon, on Friday, donated 120 desks to the pupils of Government Primary School, Aka Offot, Uyo Local Government Area.
Hon. Monday Eyo who described Education as a bedrock of any society, and for any society to make progress, stated that when the foundation that is the primary level of education is well laid, motivated and properly activated, the child who is at the centre of learning is well prepared, informed and sharpened for the future both mentally and physically.
Headmaster of the School, Mr. Simon Edet Eyo, alongside the Village Head of Aka 1, Eteidung Francis, Hon. Kufre Mendi, while receiving the Lawmaker, commended him for his kind gesture and rapid response to the plight of the pupils within the short notice of time.
PDP RESPONSIBLE FOR FUEL HIKE- Don Etiebet …BLAMES OBJ,JONATHAN FOR OIL SPILLS IN NIGER DELTA
Former Petroleum Minister Chief Don Etiebet says the current fuel crisis in Nigeria is caused by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party.
Speaking in an interview in Uyo, Chief Etiebet the APC leader in Akwa Ibom explained that the petroleum distribution in Nigeria is controlled by PDP members who are causing the fuel hike to project President Muhammadu Buhari as a failure.
Buhari is the substantive Ministet of Petroleum in Nigeria.
“Who are still controlling the petroleum distribution in Nigeria; it is still the original PDP marketers.”
He attributed the fuel hike to the impending elections in the country, saying it is an attempt by the PDP marketers to discredit APC.
“Election time is coming and they are doing all kinds of thing for petrol not to be available, and what do they want? They want increase I petrol price so that they can use that against APC”
Etiebet, who was minister of petroleum under Gen. Sani Abacha attributed all oil spill in the South-South Zone to illegal bunkering.
He said illegal bunkering in Nigeria where sponsored by the previous Government OF Chief Olusegu Obasanjo and Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.
“Many Government in the past even up to the last Government have been supporting illegal bunkering; please quote me, I am the former minister for petroleum and I know the details”
On the proposed reintroduction of onshore/offshore oil dichotomy by the APC restructuring Committee, Dr. Etiebet said there was nothing wrong with the committee report.
“ I believe what the committee meant maybe oil discovered or produced outside that isoba boundary.”
He assured that president buhari has done well for Akwa Ibom with the development programme been seen in all part Akwa Ibom state and urged Akwa Ibom people to rally round him for the re-election of President Buhari in 2019
The NANS JCC Chairman Comrade. Ekanem Utibe seeks for partnership with wema bank
By Our Source