The Ministry of Culture and Tourism was created on August, 1010 from the former Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism. As depicted in its organogram, the Ministry has a Five-departmental framework consisting of two core departments (Culture and Tourism) and three pool departments (Administration, Finance, and Planning, Research & Statistics).
To boost Abia Tourism and to increase the share of internally Generated
Revenue (1GR) of the State through Tourism, the new Ministry sought the
approval of the State budget Committee (SBC) to create he under listed three
new departments into the Ministry:
(i) Department of Historical. Documentation,
(ii) Department of Museum and Monument 8,
(ill) Department of International tourism.
However, on the advice of the SBC, the Ministry forwarded a written request for the creation of the at ore-mentioned departments to the State Civil Service Commission 1CSC). Unfortunately, this request is yet to be granted to the detriment of Tourism development in Abia State.
The statutory functions of the Ministry lie in the general administration of cultural tourism in Abia State. Specifically the .Ministry is responsible for the following activities:
• Cultural affairs.
Museum and Monument,
Development & preservation of Traditional Arts and Handicrafts,
Promotion, Development and Regulation of Tourism and Hospitality Industry.
Furthermore, the Ministry performs among others the following programme on culture:
• Set out a day for “Igbo day” celebration in the State where permanent sons and scholars of Igbo descents both at home and in Diaspora are invited to deliver papers, lectures and speeches on Igbo History, Arts Crafts, Culture and existence. The Igbo day celebration is expected to help revive the Igbo spirit of Ibo Union Days as well as promote the use of Igbo language and manner of dressing.
• Organize, at regular intervals, colourful arts, crafts, Cultural exhibitions, Festivals, songs and dances in various communities of the State. This activity helps in attracting people and tourists to the State.
• To establish a State Museum of History, out and Monuments which will house research works, survey & documentation of historical and cultural sites, artifact, practical gallery and genera! antiquities of historical importance.
• Recommend the establishment of Abia State cultural complex.
• To organize, at Intervals cultural seminars, workshops, symposia and colloquium on Igbo history, art & culture.
• To encourage research on various aspects of Igbo arts and Culture and to document same.
The blue print of Ministry of Culture & Tourism is better captured through the mission statement as well as the main thrust.
• To reposition the Ministry as a major player in the development of Art, Culture, Tourism and Hospitality industry in the quest for human development and economic growth.
• To encourage cultural and ethical orientation of the citizen in order to build an orderly, Civilized, responsible and disciplined society where core values of hardwork, honesty, integrity, patriotism, human right and justice are upheld.
• To promote the State rich and divers cultural heritage and tourism potentials through the identification, documentation, preservation, Development, marketing and the provision of enabling environment for private sector participation in the State’s tourism Industry, with a view to diversifying the State economy and placing Abia State on the path of sustainable economic growth and development within the shortest possible time.
MAIN THRUST OF THE BLUE-PRINT
The main thrust of the blue print include:
• To encourage community, private and public partnership in the development of culture, tourism and hospitality industry.
• To generate Revenue, create wealth, provide employment and alleviate poverty in Abia State. *
• In line with Africa’s Cultural re-awaking to promote Abia State as a desirable arts, Culture and Tourism destination in Nigeria with a view to attracting international Tourists especially Africans in the Diaspora.
• To re-orientate the public and to foster socio-cultural unity among the various individuals and communities through the promotion of domestic. National and International exhibitions, festivals and carnivals of arts and culture.
• To identify, asses and document our arts, Cultural heritage, tourism sites and attractions for preservation, development, investment and marketing.
• To educate the public on the importance of arts and Culture as tools for economic development, Social integration, reconciliation, Peace and security.
Abia State is blessed with some highly attractive tourists sites which have the potentials of generating, on a continuous basis, the required revenue needed for the socio-cultural and economic development of the State. These include:
(a) The Azumini Blue River in Ukwa East LGA.
(b) The Famous long juju of Arochukwu
(c) The Amakama Wooden cave
(d) The Akwette weaving Centre in Ukwa East LGA.
(e) The Uloitiri (slave cell) at Bende.
(f) The isi Imo Tourist site in Umunneochi L.G.A
(g) Umunneochi Cave in Ahaba Imenyi in Isuikwuato LGA.
(h) The Ngodo Cave in Isuochi, Umunneochi, LGA.
(i) The Eke igbere sacred forest.
(j) The slave Market at Eluama Uzuuakoli
(k) The Eziofri Cave at Amaekpu Ohafia.
It is imperative to note that the above tourist sites need to be preserved, documented, developed and sold to the outside world as a way of promoting international tourism in Abia State.
MDGs PROJECTS IN THE STATE
The following are MDGs projects mapped out for execution in the Ministry of Culture and Tourism for the growth and development of Abia tourism. Undoubtedly, the successful execution of these projects will be of immense benefit to the State and its populace:
1. DEVELOPMENT AND MANAGEMENT OF AZUMINI BLUE RIVER TOURIST CENTRE
This project is only realizable through public private partnership initiative. The State has signed a “MOD” with an Italian firm known as C.E.M. 2000. The Agreement specifies that the Italian Investors will develop the site to an internationally accepted standard, manage it for 35 years and, after wards, hand it over to the State Government.
On its own part, the State government is responsible for provision of survey plan of the site, provision of access road to the site as well as ensuring that adequate security of the lives and properties of these investors is guaranteed.
2. DEVELOPMENT OF LONG JUJU OF AROCHUKWU
The State had initiated, via the Ministry, that UNESCO should declare the site “a world Heritage Site”. To achieve this purpose, there is the need that the State embarks on some preliminarily activities like landscaping, construction and recreation of some structures in the site. The essence is for the site to be preserved, maintained and documented for the purpose of advertising these sites in the world media.
3. THE DEVELOPMENT OF AMAKAMA CAVE IN UMUAHIA SOUTH
This project also requires the partnership between the public and the private sector. A London-based company is currently showing interest in the site. The onus is on the Ministry to liaise with the community that owns the site to ensure that this potential tourist attraction is developed. It has also been intelligently suggested that Amakama be made a Tourist village through the same collaboration.
4. INTERNATIONALLY PACKAGED TOUR
This is a sure source of high-revenue generation for the State. Under this arrangement, the Ministry makes the necessary arrangement and takes intending tourists to renowned tourism attractions outside the country with the approval of the State Government.
5. The Development of Uzuakoli Slave Market
6. The Development of Ngodo Cave
OTHER IMPORTANT PROJECTS THAT DESERVE ATTENTION INCLUDE:
(i) Development of Museum of colonial history (Uloitiri) at Bende. This is a
new project. The Ministry made a projection of N10 million in 2011
(ii) Development of Isi Imo tourism site at Umunneochi. It is also a new
project with a 2011 budgetary allocation of N7million.
(iii) The construction of Archival complex in Umuahia. A new project with a
budgetary provision of N10 million in 2011 estimate.
(iv) Construction of a befitting cultural complex in Umuahia.
(v) Ugwuabia Cultural festival ; an annual project realizable only through
PPP initiative. N1Q million was allocated for this annual event in 2011
estimate. In addition, this project enjoys the approval of His Excellency,
the Executive Governor of Abia State.