If there is a single dream that is shared in common by the members of Argungu community in Kebbi State, it is the resuscitation of the once famous Argungu fishing festival. It used to be a source of excitement for fishermen, tourists and fun-seekers, both home and abroad.
Over the years, the community feasted on the shores of this river, felt its uncommon allure. But that is not all. The river and its annual festival have inspired a sprawl of economic activities and earning opportunities for the families and vendors that reside at its bank.
Then, it all seemed designed to last forever. But lately, the story changed as the festival was suspended and the river, as if inspired the suspension of the festival, also began to dry, receding for most parts of the year.
Today, the community has nothing but a sense of nostalgia. They recall the good old past, some eight or nine years ago, when the festival placed them on the map of the world as destination hub for tourists and tourism. And they shake their heads in bitterness, imagining the enormous weight of their losses.
Alhaji Bawa Tambuwal, a member of the community, has been living by the riverbank for years. In his seventies, he recalled that the fishing festival used to be a potential source of earnings for his family members: “They sell assorted foods to visitors and the organizers of the festival during the fish catching festivity and earn jumbo incomes during this season.”
According to him, in the past eight years in which the festival has not been held, their revenue as a family has dropped drastically and their farming life, too as community, has come under grave threat as there is no sufficient flow of water from the river: “We are not happy when we suddenly woke up and realized that our river is drying up. We can’t use the water for our dry season rice farming. We lost out totally to get food and tangible income from the dry season farming.
“Secondly, for the past eight years now, this festival that created jobs for our wives and children was stopped due to insecurity in Nigeria. My wives used to sell food to people and our children were always employed by the big telecommunications companies to help them sell their products during the festival, which usually last for two to three weeks. All the economic benefits are gone. We don’t know when these things would return to what they were before.”
Tambuwal admitted that they missed the annual festival while praying that one day, it would be resuscitated by its organizers and government.
A visit to the riverbank indicated that though there are some activities, economic and social, along the bank, they are largely in their reverse and in disused state, rotting away with time.
The structures used during the famous festival are now in disrepair. Pavilions at the riverbank has become shadows of their past while shades reserved for dignitaries such as the President, governors and ministers have turned to ghost outlets.
A resident told Daily Sun that since the festival was abandoned years ago, the structures too were left to the winds: “You can see it for yourself, most of the electrical poles and cables have been destroyed, the mini–restaurants have been vandalized. Almost all the four-bedroom bungalows situated here are now in the state of dilapidation. We hope that next year, both federal and state governments would do something about reviving this festival.”
A community leader, Nadir Gulma, confirmed that the discontinuation of the festival impacted negatively on the socio-economic activities of the community. He noted that many small-scale businesses that did spring up during the festival have disappeared: “There are no investors, the structures erected are decaying. We are just praying that government would do something to resuscitate this famous festival for the benefit of all Nigerians.”
Argungu Fishing Festival, also known as Matan Fada River or Argungu Dance Festival, began in 1934.
It played host to over 30,000 fishermen in Nigeria and neighboring countries at each occasion.
The gradual drying up of the river, earlier in the year, dazed observers and sparked off concerns among members of the community and stakeholders. Although the water is back with the flood of the rainy season, experts believe that it may no longer reach its previous height.
Only recently, Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu said the state government was collaborating with the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture to revive the fishing festival. Equally worried, he stressed that they would do everything possible to revive the festival.
He noted that the festival, last held in 2009, was suspended due to the challenges of Boko Haram. He added the then government feared that the insurgents might take advantage of the crowd at the festival to strike and cause damage:
“Since last year, we are confident that the situation is getting back to normal and we have been working with the ministry to revive the festival.
“But, of course you always avoid the rainy season and there are a lot of things to be put in place like the infrastructure and the accommodation that have decayed in the course of the suspension.
“We are working hard to ensure that all these are back in order and the sponsors are up to date in order to make it as international as possible to attract the widest audience.”
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Welcome the next set of MTN Scholars!
360 young Nigerians receive scholarships from MTN Foundation
MTN Foundation has awarded scholarships to 360 university students at a virtual ceremony on November 12, 2020. The scholarships were awarded under the MTNF scholarship schemes made up of the MTNF Science & Technology Scholarship (STSS) and Scholarship for the Blind Students (SBSS). In attendance were the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, represented by the Technical Assistant, Dr. Olufemi Adeluyi; Honourable Minister of Science & Technology represented by the Acting Director-General of the National Space Research and
Development Agency, Dr. Francis Chizea; former Minister of Communication Technology, Dr. Omobola Johnson amongst other notable dignitaries.
Speaking at the ceremony, the representative of the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Olufemi Adeluyi said: “We are here with the MTN Foundation to celebrate scholars that have excelled in school. MTN is also supporting people with disabilities by funding their education and this is very commendable. The Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy is constantly working towards elevating skills over degrees. We are also committed to ensuring that individuals are empowered with the right tools and skills.”
Also speaking, Honourable Minister of Science & Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu represented by Dr. Francis Chizea said: “I am glad that MTN, in giving back to the society through its foundation, set up a scholarship scheme to empower the youths and as well, drive science and technology. This is a welcome development and a commendable effort that other organizations need to emulate.”
A major highlight of the ceremony was a fireside chat themed “Insight. Influence. Impact” with thought leaders sharing inspiring insights with the scholars. Nigeria’s former Minister for Communication Technology, Dr. Omobola Johnson reiterated the role MTN continues to play in the ICT space and its impact on the country. “We need to get a workforce that is very comfortable with technology. We are in a state where we need world-class educational institutions and interventions such as this that will enable students to be very vast in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics,” Johnson said.
Leading to the ceremony, this year’s graduating students from the scholarship programme were hosted to a career incubation boot camp facilitated by experts from Google, Oracle, Cisco and Jobberman. Facilitators shared insights on various opportunities amongst other vital employability tips.
Speaking on the scholarship award ceremony and workshop for graduands, Executive Secretary, MTN Foundation, Nonny Ugboma said, “Providing access to quality education is the first step to a world of opportunity for the youth of our nation. We know it does not stop there. We need to also ensure that they are adequately prepared for the
workplace. We hope that the fireside chat at the award ceremony will inspire the students to reach for greatness and innovation. Furthermore, it is our belief that the employability workshop held earlier will enrich the career path of the graduating students. The MTNF scholarship scheme is more than just funds; it is a commitment to
build the capacity of our youth. We wish all our graduating scholars success as they set out to take on the world and congratulate all awardees as the next set of young nation builders in the making.”
The newly awarded scholars will each enjoy a scholarship grant worth N200,000 annually till graduation as long as they maintain a CGPA of 3.5 or its equivalent. The scholarship covers tuition, book allowance and stipend. Till date, MTN Foundation has awarded scholarships to 3,829 students valued at over NGN 2.1Billion.
The MTNF annual scholarships are awarded to high performing students in Nigerian public tertiary institutions.
Illegal Abortions Responsible For Mysterious Deaths In Bauchi: State Govt
Bauchi State Government has revealed that the mysterious deaths recorded in the State has been as a result of illegal abortions.
An investigation carried out by the Bauchi State Primary Healthcare Development Agency has revealed that illegal abortion by unqualified medical practitioners is the cause of mysterious deaths in Azare and other local government areas in the northern part of the state.
According to reports, no fewer than 200 women have died in Bauchi as a result of this and there are projections that the number could be more at the end of the investigation.
The Executive Chairman of the agency, Dr Rilwanu Mohammed, disclosed this Friday, May 29, at an interactive session organized by the Bauchi State Public Health Media Network.
Mohammed said the deaths resulted from unwanted and unplanned pregnancies by both married and unmarried women of childbearing ages who, after becoming pregnant, visited quack health workers to terminate the pregnancies.
He said the lack of understanding of the importance of child spacing as well as ignorance of what to do with such pregnancies had become a major problem to family health in the state.
He emphasized the need for adequate sex education for the girl-child by parents, particularly mothers, to reduce unwanted pregnancies, thereby reducing deaths from complications.
Ondo Govt Arraigns Suspected Killers Of Funke Olakunrin
The Ondo State Government has arraigned four men suspected to have killed Mrs Funke Olakunrin, the daughter of the National Leader of Afenifere, Pa Reuben Fasoranti.
Recall that it was earlier reported that the Nigeria Police Force handed over the suspects to the State Government.
They are Lawal Mazaje from the Felele area of Kogi State, Adamu Adamu from Jada area of Adamawa State, Mohammed Usman from Illela area of Sokoto State, and Auwal Abubakar from Shinkafi area of Zamfara State.
The suspects were arraigned on Friday by the government at a Chief Magistrate Court sitting in Akure.
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