In the past months, movement around Asaba, the Delta State capital, has been systematically regulated to minimize commuters discomfort as they move from one end of the metropolis to the other.
Thanks to the comprehensive drainage project being carried out by the state government and indeed the top flight preparations for the African Senior Athletics Championship holding in Asaba, the proud capital of Delta State, this August.
In my opinion, despite the challenges we have faced, it is a welcome development, as it advances our discussions on sports tourism as well as galvanizing a big boost for the local economy to thrive, in addition to a ‘gift’ of a brand new stadium to Asaba and the Anioma nation.
Of course a drainage infrastructure that supports better life is birthing and that is a very exciting prospect indeed. This legacy project, complemented with a brand new, state-of-the-art, qualitative stadium infrastructure, will definitely contribute greatly towards elevating Asaba to its deserved status as the befitting state capital of an oil producing state, which it has been yearning for, since the creation of Delta state.
I am equally very impressed with the excitement and enthusiasm shown by the government of Delta under the able and dynamic leadership of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa in the last three years, and particularly in the preparations for this historic continental sports showpiece event coming to the shores of the state.
Hosting 52 African nations is no small deal, especially as it concerns security, guest relations, hospitality, brand and human management. There is absolutely no doubts whatsoever, that the African Senior Athletics Championship brings with it, huge opportunities for manpower development in the areas mentioned above. I do hope the government and Deltans learn the needed lessons which this monumental event will offer, build up on it and further advance on the path of excellence, which I am sure Governor Okowa is quite capable of achieving.
Interestingly, this event also offers huge tourism capital, that can help transform the Delta Brand into an iconic brand that is so long overdue. Yes, Delta is so long overdue for fresh and authentic perceptions.
Asabamaka- as it is properly addressed because of its fun loving and very welcoming residents, is ripe for a new hype and the Athletics championship offers that opportunity.
I am also expecting that the government will galvanize the people to own the Marketing of the city during this event. The social media should be viral with ‘everything Asaba’.
A simple question is this; at the end of the event what kind of stories do we want on the social media? What do we want Africa to say about Asaba, Delta State and Nigeria?
From the arrivals, through the Athletics event and other attendant ceremonies, to the departures, the state and it’s people must “Speak, Show, and Sell” (SSS) hospitality at it’s peak. That’s why the press release on road diversions, apt as it is desgned to prepare the folks for the days ahead, becomes a bit worrisome especially as it equally has the potent capability of deepening some of the frustrations of the people commuting through and within Asaba.
Government must ensure that the pains of the people are reduced. These ‘new’ accesses and areas designated as parking lots must be in good shape and well manned by trained professional traffic officers.
The DESTMA and FRSC and other ad-Hoc or recognized agencies to be engaged during this period must be properly advised not to turn these new opportunities into a competition for ‘authority/power show’ or money making extortionist ventures. They should be aware Africa will be on hand to see Nigeria through the lens of Asaba.
Angry communities don’t promote the good sides of a nation. Therefore, road diversions should be carefully managed. There is limit to tolerance and patience.
This is not time for blames, arguments over funds or crumbs. This is time to work together for success..
Lest I forget, the Tourism Board and the Ministry of Tourism must explore and make proper attempts to exploit this event to the maximum. Africa is massive and sports tourism is indeed a brand disruptor.
Africa is coming to Asaba. Let’s open our arms and welcome the continent with love and hospitality.
© Chibuikem Diala, a
Social Entrepreneur & Hospitality Consultant, is the founder, International Hospitality & Tourism Forum.