Under The Leadership of Governor Ahmed, Tourism Has Brighter Future in Kwara – Femi Adebayo
Barrister Femi Adebayo, alias Jelili who is a popular Nollywood actor, recently appointed as the Special Assistant on Arts, Culture and Tourism to the Executive Governor of Kwara State, Dr. Abdulfatah Ahmed in a recent trend experienced in other states as well, had a one-on-one chat with Kwaralefro news crew as he unveiled his aim to change the face of Tourism in Kwara State.
What was your first reaction on hearing the news of your new appointment by Governor Ahmed?
First and foremost, I want to appreciate Governor Ahmed for the opportunity reposed on me by him to serve the people of Kwara state. Well, when I was actually appointed, I saw it as an extremely challenging task. So, it was actually a mixed feeling, a feeling of high expectation from me, from people and readiness to serve, and at the same time, I see it as a path to a higher platform in my career. So, I say it is a mixed feeling, but to God be the glory, I appreciate it and am confident the open support the governor is ready to give tourism through my office will definitely go a long way in upping it.
What is your set vision for tourism industry in Kwara?
Well, I actually visualize seeing probably in the next two years, the tourism sites in Kwara be transformed into an international standard that will attract both foreign and domestic tourists and definitely, this will go a long way in developing both our culture and tourism ideas and perspective in the State.
My vision also is to promote Kwara state culture in a way that will create employment opportunities for the people and as well generate revenue for the State government.
What is your plan for the development of tourist sites in Kwara?
My intention is actually inviting partners to collaborate with the State government to develop these tourist sites. I see a major hindrance that so many people do not even know that Kwara is blessed with various tourist sites. People might want to know the tourist attractions we have here. We have Owu waterfalls, Esie museum which is the first in Nigeria.
It is interesting for anyone to know that we also have the Ningurume fish pond where we have fishes that wear beads; we have the almighty and wonderful Mungo Park Cenotaph, Imoleboja rockshelter. We have quite a lot of tourism attractions in Kwara State and people do not know. So, I intend to do a great awareness of all these tourism sites and then, bring in partners because we know that tourism is a great way of generating money for the state and no doubt about it, the moment they are aware that we have all these beautiful things in Kwara, definitely we will have great investors to partner with us.
Are you saying there are plans underway?
Yes, plans of doing a great awareness of those sites are going on right now and the moment we are done with that, we will definitely have partners because these tourism sites are mouth-watering, I tell you.
Patigi Regata, Shao Awoga Mass weddin, Ijakadi Offa, Emir’s bareke etc are some of the notable festivals in Kwara that are yet to attract international recognition. What do you think we are not doing right?
Yeah, what we are not actually doing right is creating awareness of such festivals. We also have what we call the Ilorin Durban, which can be likened to the Ojude Oba festival in Ijebu-Ode. The Durban is held a day after the beautiful Ileya festival where people come and ride well dressed horses. It is a great festival as well. What I think we need to do that I think we are not doing right presently is letting people know and be aware that these festivals are in existence. The moment we tell people that these festivals are not in any other place or state, they will come to partner and do these festivals and in that way, we will get international recognition because I haven’t heard it anywhere that the Awon mass wedding is done in any other part of the country because of its uniqueness and we will definitely get international recognition.
Some people believe your appointment might cause a distraction for you in the movie industry. Do you share that sentiment?
Oh! It will definitely cause a huge distraction for me in the movie industry, but the movie industry is not going anywhere and automatically I’m always welcome. I’m not out of the movie industry totally. I have got a call to serve my people which will take about 75% of my time and I will definitely do, but no doubt about it, there will be a distraction. So, I share their sentiment but mind you, I might be leaving acting for now but not the industry totally.
What was the last movie in which you were featured?
The last movie I featured in and directed was Cordi Ologbon Aye; it is a comedy flick (laughs) because after I did the blockbuster “Jelili”, there have been calls from my fans to actually do another comedy flick and that was why I came up with that.
There is an ongoing campaign by the Senate to encourage use of made in Nigeria products. In what ways do you hope to support this campaign in Kwara?
Well, I must tell you, that falls under my purview because looking at Kwara, one of our culture is the making of Aso-oke and I intend to support such campaign by encouraging and creating awareness of all these our local fabrics used to produce those things. So, that way I will definitely support the campaign to promote our locally made products particularly here in Kwara.
What are your final words to Kwarans?
I want to say to all Kwarans that it is high time we took advantage of all platforms available in showcasing to the world, our culture and God’s gifted tourism. We should also support the programmes and policies of the government in developing our dear state and also playing our own parts as individuals. By the grace of God, we all shall get there.