The Edo State government has said it would harness the potentials of Ososo Carnival as part of its plans to boost the state’s economy through the development of 58 newly identified tourism sites across the state.

The state’s Commissioner for Arts, Culture, Tourism and Diaspora Affairs, Honorable Osaze Osemwegie-Ero, made this known in Benin City at the weekend while chairing the opening session of the 2nd Stakeholders Meeting of Ososo Carnival Initiative (OCI).

Dignitaries present at the event included Speaker of the Edo State’s House of Assembly, Rt. Honorable Kabiru Adjoto, his counterpart Hon Emmanuel Agbaje (who is also Chairman of the Trustees Board of OCI), Chairman of Calabar Carnival Commission Mr. Gabe Onah and the Managing Director of Neo Media and Marketing Ltd.Mr. Ehi Braimah.

According to the Commissioner who said he personally visited Ososo recently to verify the potentials of Ososo community as a veritable hub for economic and social development through tourism, expressed delight at the state of its preparedness towards the hosting of the forthcoming carnival which takes place every December.

“The natural potentials of Ososo community as tourism hub cannot be overemphasized. It must be highlighted and developed as part of this current administration’s deliberate policy to create employment -particularly for the youths. By doing this, we are indirectly curbing crimes as the saying goes that’ an idle mind is the devil’s workshop’.

“To this end, government has identified 58 other potentially viable tourism sites across the state which will be developed so that the state and the communities in particular can reap the benefits”, he said.

Mr. Osemwegie-Ero said the state is not relenting in this venture as efforts were on to identify and develop other hidden tourism potentials in the state such as the Aba Festival which recently held in Igarra with thousands of tourists in attendance.

Also corroborating the Commissioner, Speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Adjoto, harped on the need for governments at all levels to begin the process of de emphasizing oil as the economic mainstay of the nation by focusing on the development of other growth areas such as tourism.

He disclosed that having personally witnessed the last outing of Ososo carnival, he has no doubt that the annual event is set to take the center stage in tourism development such as the famous annual Calabar Carnival.

“We’ve got to prove to the world that Nigeria can survive without oil by shifting focus to other economic growth potentials such as tourism, and I have no doubt that the uniqueness of Ososo natural setting will become a brand that will give us a route to achieving this.

“As law makers, we are part of the government and so will not hesitate to legislate further on the need to focus more on the development of Ososo carnival and other tourism potentials in the state, if it becomes necessary.

In his presentation, Chairman of Calabar Carnival Commission, Mr. Gabe Onah who was guest speaker at the occasion disclosed that the annual Calabar Carnival which commenced about sixteen years ago has  become a world class festival which yearly attracts over 1.5 million tourists to the state with hundreds of thousands of them coming from across the world.

Through this, he said the state has not only boosted the economy of the people and providers of hospitality in particular, it has continued to serve as a veritable way of engaging the youths away from crime, particularly during the Yuletide seasons.

Mr. Onah who received an award of Appreciation for his contributions to tourism development in the country, said his commission is ready to partner with Ososo carnival in attaining greater heights and be noted in global reckoning as world tourism event.

He however advised both the state government as well as management of the Ososo Carnival Initiative not to inject politics into the event as doing so may hinder the progress and realization of its objectives.

In his remarks, Chairman(BOT) of Ososo Carnival Initiative, Hon. Emmanuel Agbaje, who is a serving legislator, noted that when he and others conceived the idea of the annual event which debuted in 2011, he was not actively involved in politics.

According to him, the idea was, and still remained the need to showcase the tourism potentials of Ososo to the world, adding that he would ensure that beyond active participation in the politics, Ososo carnival shall remain an apolitical body “with a life of its own”.

He disclosed that the need to refocus the annual event informed why partnership was sought with a foremost organization, Neo Media and Marketing Ltd headed by Mr. Ehi Braimah, to henceforth pilot its affairs in collaboration with the management team of OCI headed by Mr. Moses Ajayi.

Earlier in his address of welcome, President of Ososo Carnival, Mr. Moses Ajayi expressed delight at the turn out of dignitaries who personally graced the occasion.

“Let me say that what is happening here today is beyond any of us here, as I believe the Almighty God has a hand in it. Our quest is to grow our community by taking advantage of its natural endowment, of its hills,  conducive weather temperature all year round, as well as the hospitable characteristics of our people.

“We have a dream to become ‘another Calabar’ of tourism in Nigeria and indeed Africa. This informs why we are humble enough to invite the man behind the famous Calabar Canival who has been in the saddle under three state governors to teach us how to do it” he said.

Justice Abraham
Director of Publicity
Ososo Carnival Initiative