The 3rd edition of the Seven Wonders of Nigeria Zoom Conference took place on July 3, 2020. Still talking about the subject of Where to Visit in Nigeria: Issues of Access and Security, the webinar kicked off at 15:00, and it featured five tourism experts, namely: Steve Isokariari, Justina Ovat, Obinna Emelike, Olugbenga Sunday, and John Paul Eazeani.
The highlight of the conference was the unveiling of several exciting yet untapped destinations within Nigeria by some of the panellists such as John Paul Ezeani, a travel and tourism consultant from southeast Nigeria, and Olugbenga Sunday of Ibarapa Tourism Agenda. Some of the places uncovered include; the Iko Beach on an island in Akwa Ibom State, South-South Nigeria; the Iyi Nzu Waterfalls in Enugu State, South-East Nigeria, etc.
Shortly after the brisk introduction and welcome by the initiator and host of event, Amb. Ikechi Uko, the first speaker of the day, Justina Ovat of Calabar Hospitality House came on. Ms. Ovat took the audience on a virtual tour of her favourite places and her background in the hospitality industry was a strong influence in her choices which included: Kajuru Castle, Obudu Mountain Resort, Ibom Golf Resort, Yankari Game Reserve, and La Campagne Tropicana.
Some of the strong reasons for her choices include the natural and eco-friendly ambience of the destinations, with breath-taking landscapes, flora and fauna; as well as the architectural structure, and accessibility.
The second speaker was Obinna Emelike, a CNN-award winning journalist with Business-Day who began his presentation by pointing out that the famous Oguta Lake in Imo State, SE Nigeria is the second largest freshwater lake in the country. The lake is formed from the confluence of the Orasi and Njaba rivers; and it was used as a submarine base by the Biafran soldiers during the Nigerian civil war.
Emelike also highlighted Elizade Smoking Hills Golf Resort built on a 140-hectares of virgin land in Ilara-Mokin, Ondo State, SW Nigeria. The Nike Lake Resort, Abakpa Nike in Enugu State, SE Nigeria was next, and he highlighted the therapeutic effect of the waters of the lake which the natives believe has healing powers.
Besides this, the lake has a rich marine life, while the locals have very interesting festivities which visitors are encouraged to participate in.
The fifth pick of Emelike was the Ibom Golf Resort. He pointed that in spite of the fact that Le Meridien had left the management of the resort, the facility has still maintained its good standard.
He also mentioned the proximity of the Wineba River to the resort, which affords tourists the chance to enjoy some water activities.
Elder Stephen Isokariari, former Chairman of the BOT of National Association of Nigerian Travel Agents (NANTA) was up next and he brought a fresh perspective to the famous Azumini Blue River, which runs through three states: Abia, Akwa Ibom and Rivers. Isokariari who hails from South-South Nigeria, revealed several meeting points of the sea waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the fresh waters of the tributaries of River Niger in SS Nigeria.
The fourth speaker was Olugbenga Sunday from SW Nigeria who opened his presentation by clarifying the difference between Idere Hills in Oyo State and the more popular Idanre Hills in Ondo State. From there, he talked about the Iko Beach which is about 30mins from Eket and one and a half hour from Uyo, Akwa Ibom State capital.
Olugbenga was overwhelmed as he talked about the beauty of Kwa Falls in Akamkpa, Cross River State, before highlighting the famous Cocoa House, a 26-storey building in Ibadan, SW Nigeria.
He revealed that from the 26th floor houses a museum, and that one can get a breath-taking view of Ibadan. The Cocoa House also has a Hall of fame, and one of the things to see is a clip of the first TV broadcast in Nigeria.
He closed his presentation by talking about the Twins Festival in Igbo-Ora, Ibarapa in Oyo State, SW Nigeria. According to him, Igbo-Ora has the highest concentration of multiple-births in the world, which is attributed to Ilasa soup made from Okra leaves which is consumed by the locals. The Twins festival is an annual event held in December and will have its third edition in 2020.
The final presentation was made by John Paul Ezeani who started with the Ogba-Ukwu Waterfall and Cave in Orumba South LGA, Anambra State, SE Nigeria. Next on his list was the Palace of Obi Orafitie which was built in 1836. It was the first palace in Igboland, and possibly in Nigeria, according to him. Also, he talked about a house built by Ezinne Ojioka in 1907, a warrant chief for Rev Fr Benedoff who brought Catholicism to Anambra, as his home. All his materials are still inside the house.
Moving on to Ebonyi State also in SE Nigeria, John Paul talked about the Amacho Cave in Afikpo South LGA. In Abia State, he pointed out the Ujali where twins that was killed before it was abolished. The place has been kept as a national heritage site by the National Commission for Museums and Monuments.
He also mentioned the Iyi Nzu waterfalls, which is the tallest waterfall in Enugu State with three layers; before closing presentation by unveiling Lejja in Nsukka, the oldest Iron smelting site in Africa.
It was a worthwhile experience as more of our beautiful country was unveiled and it is definitely clear that the search for the Seven Wonders of Nigeria season 2 is already gathering momentum. Next week is another date to tune in to the Zoom Conference Episode 4.