By Ado Hassan, Sokoto
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has advised on the need for Nigeria to explore the potentials in conference tourism facilities to generate revenue for the advancement of the economy.
Obasanjo spoke in Sokoto at the inauguration of a multi million naira International Conference Centre edifice completed by the administration of Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal.
The former President who noted that there were far reaching and competing demands and requirements in terms of infrastructure and social ameneties, pointed out that in many parts of the world, conference tourism was a significant and major source of revenue.
According to Obasanjo, ” there is no reason why it should not thrive in Sokoto and Nigeria as an important tool of sustaining the economy .”
He described Sokoto as a historic hub with uniqueness and speciality, hence deserved to attract such project of economic value.
” No one can dispute this landmark fact. You have what will attract tourists to Sokoto for learning and understanding the its uniqueness as a caliphate”, he said.
The former President who is also in Sokoto on a two day visit to Chair the ‘Zero Hunger Strategic Forum’ initiative further commended Governor Tambuwal for his foresight and commitment to actualising the befitting project and ancillary facilities for local, national, Africa and International tourists to benefit from.
Obasanjo is also expected to visit and inspect no fewer than five other projects and programme sites across the state.
Speaking, Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal said the project was 100% executed by his administration while recalling that it was contracted out by the immediate past administration without mobilising the contractor.
He described the centre as a viable economic facility that would generate revenue for the state while urging those responsible for the maintenance to ensure good management.
Tambuwal further disclosed that the 1,500 capacity facility would be supported with a 4-Star hotel and a Golf Course with enough parking space.
The Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar described the conference centre as the biggest in the part of the country.
“It will attract events and tourists. We can now proudly host bigger activities.”
The reverred monarch also thanked former President Obasanjo for graciously honouring the invitation to inaugurate the edifice.
” We recall your bond of friendship and understanding with Sokoto state since your days as head of state. You had good understanding and respect for late Sultan Abubakar and Sokoto people.
” We thank both the immediate past and present government of the state for starting and completing the project.”
Earlier, the state Commissioner for Religious Affairs, Hon. Abdullahi Maigwandu said the project which was started in 2015 got completed at the cost of N705 million.
” It was initially billed to cost N428 million but to make it more elegant with adjourning facilities, we decided to review it up. It has access roads, 250 KVA transformer with modern computerised cyber cafe that can accommodate delegates for conference”, he outlined.
However, those in attendance included Ebonyi state Governor, Dave Umahi represented by the state assembly Speaker, former governor Murtala Nyako, top government functionaries among others.