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Tourism: Gurara Waterfalls: Nature’s Clear, Sparkling Wonder

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By Ajibade Morakinyo

Exploring Nigeria’s tourism potentials with family and friends is actually ‘a tip of iceberg’ without visiting the Gurara Waterfalls; a place where mother nature used water to display its sophistication with the natural waterfalls. No doubt, the beauty will be a breath-taking spectacle of mother-nature for family and friends.

Located in Bonu in the Gurara Local Government area of Niger State, Gurara Falls originally had its source from Kachia Local Government Area of Kaduna State and joined River Niger at Dare near Abuja-Lokoja Bridge.

Gurara Lodge

The Gurara Water Falls lies on a demarcated land of about 1,105.37 hectares of land with fun facilitating environment. For decades, the tourist site has never for once experience low turnout of foreign and local tourists. Nevertheless, it can still accommodate your foot print in its natural vegetation.

Holiday makers at the waterfalls

It is arguably Nigeria’s premier falls as the nature’s glamour has remained a pride for the people of Bonu, Niger State since 1745 even before modern day Nigeria was founded in 1914. About 69 km from the Abuja, the waterfall spans about 300 meters across and cascade 50 meters below the sea level to the admiration of tourists, birds and wildlife.

To aid relaxation and viewing, a chalet; a viewing podium for good view of the water falls is on the site, and it is safe for tourists across ages. There are seats donated by the Sports Fisherman Club of Abuja, a German fishing group from Julius Berger Nigeria on the site as well.

Without exaggeration, Gurara Waterfalls is one of the nine wonders in Nigeria with the potential to generate millions in revenue for the state. The Falls got the name, Gurara, from the ancient Gwari people of the territory, through their god named Gura and Rara. Before the Europeans discovered it in 1925, the people of Bonu used to worship the falls, as well pray and make sacrifices to it.

The Europeans saw the recreational value of the water falls, and discouraged the traditional worshiping activities for tourism. Ever since, the waterfall has been at peak of its beauty between April and November, and at its lowest between January and March. The water is free of mud and swimming can be attempted at the base.

There are restaurants, hotel and sports businesses within tourists’ reach and the current gate fees to access this natural wonder is N500 per person.

 

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Environment

Wilds Of Igbo Olodumare

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Igbo Olodumare is a lush and pristine rain forest tucked away in southwest Nigeria. Its name translates to ‘The Forest of the Almighty’ and it is simply mystifying.  The forest was first brought to light by two novels, Ògbójú ode nínú Igbó írúnmolè and Igbó Olódùmarè written by one of Nigeria’s most excellent story tellers, D. O. Fagunwa. These two novels were later translated to English language by the Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, and describes a forest of witches, wizards, giant snails, crabs and other mysterious things. He wrote of creatures that makes one wonder and spark the fire of wanderlust in the belly of anyone who attempts to read the book. This mystical forest exists in Fagunwa’s native village of Oke-Igbo within Ile Oluji-Oke Igbo local government area, Ondo State in south west Nigeria.

The forest is a two-hour journey from the state capital of Akure and about twenty minutes to the forest entrance is a small, sleepy village regarded as the age-old ‘guard’ of the ancient forest. Igbo-Olodumare has a rugged terrain, densely dotted with beautiful granitic inselbergs soaring high and above the tree canopies.

The first attraction of the forest is the picturesque Ògèrìwèsé stream. The people believe the stream possesses the spiritual ability to prevent evil creatures from entering into the village and also has the power to neutralize any form of magical power in an evil-minded person.

Beyond the Ògèrìwèsé stream, deeper into the forest are two paths to Òkè-Lángbòdò and Ìsálú Òrun. It is said that Ìsálú Òrun is not a place for visitors because it is believed to be the residence of the spirits. The entrance to Òkè-Lángbòdò is marked by a small opening beneath a large granite rock where prayers are made before proceeding. Also at the entrance is a sculptured figure of an ancient hunter which Faguwa described in his novel as being magically turned into statue. Upon exploration, the terrain is hilly and hiking is often challenging due to its steep and slippery slopes. However, a visit to the forest will not be completely gratifying without an ascent of the hill to take in the panoramic views of the entire forest and enchanting landscapes. There you will find ewé àkokòa, a rare plant typically used for the coronation of a new king in the land.

Another important attraction is the forest of absolute silence, Aginjù Ìdákéróró. It is said that the silence is so palpable that even a whisper is fearfully loud.  Another popular attraction at Igbo-Olodumare forest is the mythic ‘Bottomless Hole’, which has contradicting beliefs that the hole is filled with mysterious creatures. Nevertheless, a visit to Igbo Olodumare, the forest of a thousand demons, keeps you craving for more adventure, breaking the limits of fear and wonder.

Credit: The Project

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Environment

Blood Donation: Nigeria Requires 2million Units Of Blood Per Annum

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The Federal  Ministry of Health ( FMoH) said on Friday that Nigeria required an estimated two 2 million units of blood per annum to adequately meet the blood requirements of the populace.

The Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Abdullahi Mashi, said this in Abuja at a news conference to commemorate: “World Blood Donor Day” marked on June 14 with the theme: “Safe blood for all”.

He said that less blood was currently being donated thereby leading to avoidable deaths, morbidity or ill health, particularly among the women folk, new-born and children, victims of road traffic accidents and insurgencies.

Mashi specifically noted that as long as the demand out strips the supply, touting and racketeering of blood and blood products would continue to thrive.

He emphasised that the situation could only be improved “If only one per cent of the country’s adult population commit themselves to voluntary non-remunerated blood donation on a regular basis”.

According to him, transfusion of blood and blood products save millions of lives every year and in fact, every few seconds, someone, somewhere needs blood.

“The use of blood and blood products has become an integral part of modern medical practice.

“Access to safe blood and blood products is a key component of an effective health system and a significant building block for the successful achievement of health-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“With a population of over 180 million, Nigeria’s estimated blood need is about two million units per annum. Unfortunately, much less is currently donated leading to avoidable deaths, morbidity or ill health,” he noted.

The permanent secretary noted that the National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS) has been established to coordinate blood safety activities in Nigeria, adding that the the enormous task required the support of all and sundry toward the attainment of its set goal.

The NBTS according to him strives in line with its mandate to provide adequate supply of screened and safe blood, using a minimum standard of semi-automated enzyme linked immune-sorbent assay technology.

He noted that the service last year collected about 20,503 units of screened blood  from voluntary blood donors through its network of 17 centres, while 16,098 units of blood were issued to various hospitals nationwide for transfusion purposes.

Mashi emphasised that universal access to safe blood transfusion required innovative strategies to ensure safe and sufficient blood supply, which included 100 per cent of voluntary blood donation as well as ensuring 100 per cent testing of donated blood.

He assured that the service would continue to work hard to increase its annual blood collection, adding that efforts were being made toward expanding the reach of NBTS.

“NBTS is set to migrate its blood screening platform from a semi-automated system to a fully automated system at its centres in Abuja and Jos.

“One Architect 1000SR equipment has been installed at these two centres.

“This equipment has a shorter turn-around time and will ensure the availability of blood units screened for the mandatory four transfusion transmissible infections (HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and Syphilis) within twenty-four hours.

“Considerable progress has also been made in institutionalising a Blood Rotation Scheme through linkages established with hospitals in both urban and rural communities.

“Therefore, I make a special appeal to our tertiary and secondary hospitals to embrace the Hospital Linkage Programme designed by the NBTS in order to ensure increased access to safe blood and improvement of our maternal and child health indices.

Mashi noted that the theme for the year was adopted to emphasise the vital need for safe blood in the delivery of health care and the crucial role that voluntary blood donations play in achieving the goal of universal health coverage.

According to him, the day was set aside to raise awareness on the need for safe blood and blood products world-wide and also to appreciate voluntary unpaid donors for their life-saving gift of blood among others.

 

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Environment

From Gloom To Glory: The Amazing Story Of Oshodi Transport Interchange

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It is one of the highlights of a four-year effort to transform Lagos. The awe-inspiring structure of steel and glass, rose from the rubble, gleaming and straddling highway, adding a spectacular perspective to the otherwise jaded skyline. The Oshodi Transport Interchange, the latest in the series of the monumental structures that grace public spaces in an evolving Lagos, is its own league.

In the runup to the celebration of the Lagos at 50 epoch, the city has been witnessing the appearance of a slew of roundabouts, laybys, walkways, bridges and bus stops. In the matrix of artistic and avant-garde projects spawned in the past four years, the Oshodi Interchange stands out as a construction magnum opus.

From the beginning of its construction to its completion (soon), the structure has perpetually wowed the public. In the first few months of its construction, the steel contraption jutting into the sky was astounding to the multitude that daily passed through the axis––not many could comprehend what was coming to Oshodi; now, in its state of near completion, the edifice leaves many in raw awe; their wonderment, rooted in the magnitude of transformation––both aesthetic and utility––that has become of the Oshodi of old.

A few years back, Oshodi used to be a vortex of untamable traffic, a metaphor for Lagos’ burgeoning population, a stark reminder of the need for a comprehensive transport system that meets the demand of the city’s over 20 million citizens, a nightmare for those caught in the web of its underbelly.  In its dark, dangerous, nerve-wracking heyday, Oshodi was an apt byword for traffic chaos and confusion.

The Oshodi Transport Interchange is not a standalone project.  Rather it is part of the Bus Reform Initiative of the administration of Governor Akinwumi Ambode. New bus terminals daily spring up in the city, bringing order and beauty to the landscape of Lagos. Of them all, the Oshodi interchange is the biggest and the most iconic so far. The reason behind the government constructions of terminals– Ikeja Bus Terminal, Berger Bus Terminal, Yaba Bus Terminal, Oyigbo Bus Terminal and Race Cross Bus Terminal–was the desire to make Lagos function like other megacities in the developed world.

Governor Ambode himself has also affirmed as much. “If I say Lagos is going to be globally competitive, I must do things that work towards Lagos being competitive,” he says, “so that it becomes the best destination that anybody would like to visit, nobody who is a tourist in Lagos would enter danfo; it is not going to happen. So, we need to intervene and make the system work the way we really want it to work.”

Terminal Three of the facility became functional on May 2, 2019, after President Muhammadu Buhari commissioned it on May 1. Terminal One and Two are billed to become operational by the end of the month. Terminal Three can handle 4, 000 passengers at a go. At full capacity, the interchange is expected to process an estimated three million passengers per day. While terminal One handles inter-city transportation, Terminal Two focuses exclusively on the Bus Rapid Transit, BRT scheme, and services commuters from Oshodi to Abule Egba, Okokomaiko, LASU and other far-flung areas. The third terminal is for buses plying between  Oshodi and the Islands––Ikoyi Victoria, Lagos––and places adjacent to the routes, like Surulere and Ikorodu. Collectively, the three terminals will serve 1,000 modern buses.

This West Africa’s busiest Transport Interchange is constructed purely by Planet Project Limited, an indigenous construction firm.

It has been a long effort to tame and transform Oshodi. Eventually, it has been achieved.

 

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