Nigeria: Akwa Ibom Christmas Village, its acceptability, tourism and economic contribution to the state

22
Dec

Have you been to the Akwa Ibom State Christmas Village? Have you experienced the glow, hype and hive of activities within the vicinity this period? If no, this piece is a must-read for you. Like every other predominantly Christian state in Nigeria, Akwa Ibom is one place to be during the yuletide; not because of anything than the tourist appeal its Christmas Village has on people of the state and visitors alike.

Prior to the advent of the Christmas Village, many Nigerians, including the people of Akwa Ibom travelled distances to witness yuletide celebrations in other states.
It soon came to be that an event which equates with, and even surpasses the glee, wonder, excitement, fun and entertainment which other states events are known for, came to be in Akwa Ibom.

So thrilling and amazing is the Akwa Ibom Christmas period that the influx of foreigners and disaporans in the state every December triples road congestion and increases the state population. It is therefore safe to say that Akwa Ibom becomes a tourist centre in times like this. Since the Akwa Ibom Christmas Carols Festival broke the Guinness World Records, the event has gained considerable weight in the eyes of the international community so, the present government thought it wise to sustain the laudable initiative.

Despite the cost of organizing such capitally demanding project, the state government has rather than diminish its appeal, upgraded it features to give the religious event an economic face. The epochal event now has the Christmas village as a plus to it. The village, located at the Ibibio Unity Museum Park, Udo Udoma Avenue in Uyo, is a haven for entertainers of the state and others, to display their enormous talents to the world.

A place for the best of Akwa Ibom’s culinary, the Christmas village accommodates all small-scale entrepreneur cooks specializing in snacks, small chops, pastries, to delicacies such as ‘EkpangNkukwo’, ‘Afang’, ‘EdikangIkong’, ‘Editan’, ‘Atama’, ‘AfiaEfereEbot’, Fisherman soup, Pepper soup, Isi-ewu and what have you. Beyond eating, the village also allows one to be soul-thrilled through various renditions at various spots of the arena. From blues to reggae, highlife, afro, jazz, classical, fuji, the entire village comes alive with glamour.

Also is the presence of health practitioners and security operatives to attend to health emergencies and ensure safety respectively. Notably, there have been scores of birthday celebrations, get-togethers and receptions at the Christmas Village courtesy of the water-tight security and serenity it avails, all thanks to His Excellency, the Governor. The Commissioner for Tourism, Orman Esin has even ensured a more organized structure to enable pedestrian and vehicular movement within and around the business environment to avoid congestions and discomforts.

Like a village, there are vast social amenities within the area such as toilets for the convenience of patronizers. The village fun is heightened by a plethora of recreational and sporting activities available for all age groups such that one would record no dull moment if they decide to stay all day. The effect of this new addition is the boost of small-scale businesses and the projection of their owners who enjoy the patronage of buyers in no small measure. As big, medium and small business owners mingle at the Village converge, business communication sets in and strong business relationships are developed. Subsequently, contacts are exchanged for future deals and collaboration.

Thus, a visiting indigene or foreigner is made to have a feel of what Akwa Ibom has to offer in terms of business ideas, creativity and excellence. Locals are not also left out in this thread of commerce. By providing the raw materials for the preparation of the aforementioned delicacies, subsistent farmers, the palm wine tapper and local dry gin preparers can be sure of smiling home with monies in their waist bags in preparation for Christmas.

The result, like a cascade is the onward projection of Akwa Ibom farther and further. This is as the event has continued to receive acceptance from people of the state and tourists, some of whom have registered their impressions at the entire makeup of the initiative, as well as the quality of entertainment and leisure made available for consumption.

It is perhaps, for this projection that the state Governor at the 2016 edition of the state Carol night promised to “sustain and improve upon it for the good of Akwa Ibom State”. Unarguably, Governor Udom Emmanuel’s thoughts for his people are of good and not of evil to bring them to an expected good end; a good end which seeks to satisfy their pleasure appetite while making them economically vibrant at the same time.

With his Commissioner for Tourism at the helm of affairs, the Christmas Village has been made to birth vast uncountable potentials. The people of Akwa Ibom State could not have had it more better at a time when the doors of festivities and celebrations have been shut worldwide. Governor Emmanuel in his consciousness of his people’s economic and social needs, enabled the Christmas Village to allow people unwind and ease-off the tension, stress and anxiety of the lockdown, to maintain the spirit and joy of Christmas thus, upholding the ambience of yuletide.

Even more, the Governor’s sensitivity to the needs of the people extends to the creation of employment opportunities to locals working within the village. The security guards mentioned earlier are paid, and so are the cleaners and carpenters who constructed the kiosks. In all, the Christmas Village is a centre for the exhibition of Akwa Ibom’s finest creative excellence. People of the State should therefore embrace the opportunities embedded as an advantage for economic yield.

by Richard Peters