BWARI AREA COUNCIL: HOME OF TOURISM
BY: HAMID ABUBAKAR
Bwari Area Council is the Food Basket of the Federal Capital Territory and Home of Tourism. A first class investigation and a visit to the Area Council on several occasions indicate the riches in this Area Council. Courtesy also of The Ushafa Chronicle, a chronological list of the background information on the creation of the Council Area, so much can be profited from this Area Council in terms of wealth and riches, both natural and cultural resources.
The preamble on the Bwari Area Council granted autonomy on October 1 st 1996 in a National Broadcast, when the Council was created alongside Kwali Area Council, bringing the number of Area Councils within the Federal Capital Territory to six; Abuja Municipal Area Council Gwagwalada, Abaji and Kuje. Bwari Area Council is the only Council Area that has received quite a number of prominent visitors in the past. Amongst the prominent visitors are the former Vice-President of America, Mr. Dan Quayle and his wife. There are others like Mr. and like Mrs. Muburak; representatives of UNICEF. More were a host of the Mayors from all over the world. On 27 th of August 2000, the council hosted the American former President Mr. Bill Clinton at Ushafa village. The former President took particular interest at the Pottery centre where he personally bought some few pottery wares. In 2001, when Nigeria hosted a league of Mayors from all over the world; they requested to be taken to Ushafa pottery Centre. According to Mary Ishaya, the Information Officer, Ushafa was also to host the world beauty queens November 2002; before the abrupt change of venue.
Recently, the pottery centre made history again when it added another name to its long list of distinguish guests. On 9 th January, 2003,the Swiss Vice President and Minister of Justice, Mrs. Ruth Metzler also visited the Pottery centre. The little village has become a tourist haven. Bwari Area Council is inviting any investor willing to showcase the centre, in order to attract more tourists to Nigeria .
Ushafa village, with a population of about six thousand (6000), has come along way, to say the least. It is an example of a typical traditional Nigerian village. Just recently, His Excellency, Mr. Bangguo of the Chinese Republic was hosted as well as a league of African Development Bank Board of Governors’ wives were all received at the little village by the Chairman, Honourable Isah Dara Bwari.
Honorable Isah Dara Bwari is the pragmatic, dynamic, innovative and resourceful Executive Chairman and Chief Executive who is a second term Boss played host to many more prominent guests as the Area Council is expanding and having more decent facilities, road, security and accommodation. In brief the Chief Executive Chairman attended Government Teacher’s College, Suleja between 1972 and 1976 after a basic primary school education. Born in Bwari Area Council in 1958 to a noble family of the Gbagyi tribe, Honorable Isah Dara Bwari attended his academic pursuit beyond the Teachers College by attending the Kaduna Polytechnic between 1981 and 1988, where he bagged two certificates and a Diploma in Estate Management. A multiple Award Winner, Honourable Isah Dara Bwari is a second time Chairman of Bwari Area and has served on the Governing Boards of many institutions. He is married and has children. He is ably assisted by Honourable Alhaji Bello Nuhu Dogondaji, as the Deputy – Chairman of the Council. Mrs. Fidelia Onyeachonam Ebere is the Council Secretary. M.H. Ubandonma, Zanna Azara is the Council Treasurer; Barrister Nuhu Kaka is the Assistant Director (Legal), Honourable Musa Makada, who is the Councilor representing Shere ward is the leader of the House. Dasha D. Bwari is the Press Secretary to the Executive Chairman.
Comrades Tanko Shamdazhi and Ibrahim M. Bokna are Chairman and Secretary – General of the Nigerian Union of Local Government Employees respectively.
Bwari Area Council is well known for its beautiful scenery and abundant human resources. For these reasons, economic activities of the council have been increasing remarkably over the years.
The first that comes to mind in this area is the conducive business atmosphere. It is hoped that the atmosphere will attract businessmen all over. The size and standard of the market will be the first of its kind, not only in Nigeria , but also in the whole of the West Africa sub-region. The market has been a major revenue prospect for the Area Council. More are several Commercial Banks, spread over the Area Council. These banks, apart from giving loans to individuals to establish their businesses also provide consultancy services to people.
The Area Council has a number of mineral resources which when properly tapped will be a major source of income not only to the investors and local government but to the country at large. Meanwhile, minerals that have been identified in commercial quantity include clay, kaolin, columbite, tin, gemstone, tantalite, Quartz and feldspar.
In view of the good arable land and favourable weather, there are considerable number of agro-allied industries in the Council and great opportunities abound for more.
Investors are invited and encouraged to take advantage of these investment opportunities in the Area Council. Specifically, particularly Bwari Area Council represents an investors’ delight in the area of tourism. Various studies on tourism development in Nigeria have always placed the Area Council as the area with the greatest potentials of tourism development in Nigeria . The Government in recognition of the important position of tourism in the territory has equally accorded it a maximum attention to enable it grow through private sector participation.
This is done through partnership or the outright acquisition of existing sites by entrepreneurs. Investing in this sector would be a rewarding experience to the investors especially in the development of resorts; holiday homes; camps; restaurants, amusement centres, webs etc.
Government provides further incentives for private sector participation through the acquisition of lands, with tourism retraining and subleasing such land, to prospective investors. Due to the availability of tourism sites and sceneries, the Council attracts more tourists than any other council in the FCT. The good climatic conditions; The Ushafa Chronicle: added is an advantage. No wonder the Area Council is described as The Food Basket of FCT and Home of Tourism.
The Ushafa village has remained a national and international tourism centre, an enviable position bestowed on it by nature and the hospitable people. Bwari is already well – developed and enjoys the presence of several Hotels, which offer selected services that meet international standard. There are also tourist attractions like ancient dye pits, the beautiful caves, Usuma Dam and the beautiful terrain, historical monuments and cultural festivals. These are of immense interest to tourists.
The Area Council has been promoting different types of tours and special tourism activities for holiday makers in the area of Water Sports and Navigation, entertainment (culture and conventional musical shows) fishing, fairs and exhibitions, shopping and sight-seeing.
Apart from the development of Hotels and Tourism sites, the Area Council is willing to accept and encourage the development of tourism beyond the present level. Opportunities are open to investors in this very viable sector of the Area Council economy.
In the Area of commerce and industry, the economy of Bwari Area Council is largely agrarian, commercial and industrial activities are prominent. In fact, down to the smallest hamlet, are form of commercial activity or cottage/micro business operate.
Bwari Area Council and its environs can boast of various large, medium, small and micro industries, which are involved in the processing of agricultural and material produce, as well as finished goods. As a commercial city; Bwari Area Council houses are of the largest satellite town markets in West Africa called Kubwa.
More are other satellite markets and shopping complexes in the Bwari Area Council. To meet the various financial needs of investors, the council as earlier mentioned has several Banks with corresponding overseas linkages. The Council is also connected to other states by road network. Most of the roads linking the local Government in the area are tarred. The government has done a lot in promoting commerce through the provision of facilities and information for commercial activities to thrive.
Commerce is fast growing at Bwari Area Council level with the development of special markets in some towns like Mpape, Kubwa and Dutse, where agricultural goods like yams, cassava and maize are traded.
More is the animal market at Dei–dei junction. The major market of Bwari tourism holds every other four days of the week. This market is already known and attracts traders from far and near including neighboring states.
Sectoral investment opportunities are fertilizer blending, ceramic and sanitary wares, refrigerating and gassing, starch and glucose, glass tableware and glass container, gemstone, granite and marble and polished transformation/processing of available raw materials in the Council to finished products, cottage industries, foundry plants, agro-allied, integrated animal feed mill, cattle, sheep, goats, fish farm, domestic pets, and Zoos. In the field of Agriculture still are fish farms, livestock mechanized farming while in the sector of Environment and Ecology are land reclamation water, recycling and purification and waste disposal and management. Now, the graphic details of tourism and culture is the full utilization of council resources and structuring of modalities with tourist operators in developing this sector to international standard and welfare exchange programme. The urban design and town planning compose of cultural sewage, drainage system and construction, all in Bwari Area Council, have reached standard appreciation. Mary Ishaya and Dasha D. Bwari, Information Officer and Press Secretary of the Council Area and to the Executive Chairman respectively say it is the beauty of Africa .
If you take the agricultural resources one by one again, you can count cereal, legume, tubers of yam and cassava; oil seed, vegetables, tree crops; and animals. Fishermen and Beverages are present on a glowing level just like maize, guinea corn, millet, rice and Accha. From the legumes are groundnut and soyabeans. From the oil seed are sun flower, melon, guinea feed; while somewhere else are tomatoes, melons, carrots and from tree crops, are citrus fruits, guava, paw-paw, mangoes and oranges.
Now, honestly anything animal feeds, flour mills, corn flakes, oil mills, soyabeans, protein production, starch, flour, garri, yam industry, vegetable processing, canning, packaging, storage, meat industry, tannery; leather industry blood/bone, chilling freezing smoked and dried fish and beverages industry can be established in collaboration with the Isah Dara Bwari Administration without qualms. Cheap labour is available. The end products of all these are animal and poultry multiplication; flakes for breakfast, vegetable production, industrial starch, processed garri, yam chips/flakes, vegetable oil canning of vegetables, tomato puree production, canning of vegetables and juices and polish products. Bwari Area Council is rich in all these and land is available for setting up such industries.
Ushafa village particularly have a good mention because of its remarkable historical importance. On the Northern plains of Abuja , about 40 kilometres from the city centre of Abuja is the ancient village of Ushafa squeezed amongst some hills, covered with beautiful vegetable lying majestically beside the lower Usuma Dam in Bwari Area Council.
The people are content with the having comfort of their rich traditional culture values. A proud hospitable people with room in their hearts large enough to welcome any visitor. The Ushafa people who are predominantly the Gbagyi tribe settled in the present day Ushafa at about the 18 th century. Oral tradition has it that, they migrated from North Africa to Kano where they later moved to Borno.
As an adventurous set of people, they later took off to Zaria . This was not without the internecine wars that constantly plagued the traditional African societies then.
The people who were and are still hunters and farmers, regained themselves and took off for expedition which eventually took them to a place called “Kateyin” South of present Zaria . As restless migrants, filled with the urge for adventure daring into the unknown and the need for adequate farm land, the group led by a certain farmer and his wife left and settled at “Yaupe”. The leader who was also a good hunter eventually moved to this Ushafa. Ushafa is a pseudo name from the original name of Ushafa which the visitors to the village could not pronounce. In Gbagyi language the word “Ushafa” literally means “show how to tie”. The Ushafa people are also known for their traditional hand women dyed fabrics. To this day, the art of weaving and pottery making is a cherished occupation amongst the women. Wells containing deep blue dye as well as traditional tools for pot making can be found within the village. Mats and hats are women for local use as well as for commercial use. Pottery is a formidable industry amongst the Ushafa women – where Women Skill Acquisition Centre, had since been established. It is significant both as a source of income and a medium of expression of the creative potentials.
Various tattoos and designs expressed on the ceramic items and symbols of love beauty and sometimes of sober reflection are inscribed.
In recognition of the sterling performance of Ushafa potters, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Commission for women conceived a monumental legacy: The Ushafa Pottery Centre.
The Ushafa people until the 20 th century had their traditional African religion. Today with the advent of Christianity and Islam, many have opted for either of the two religions; with a handful still practising the African Traditional Religion. Tradition has it that a man was considered rich in those days by the number of yams he harvested, his children, wives and barn of grains. Ladies could display their feminine prowess by piling a long stock of wood in their homes. With modernity, these valves are fast disappearing giving way to a more ostentations way of living. In the past, men sat with gourds of palm wine after a hard day’s work to listen to panegyric poets and folktales of great men of valour. Ladies also danced under the moon light to the delight of the men. Such times make the cripple hungry for a walk. By the lower Usman Dam, one could see the panoramic view of this village. A vast expanse of land with luscious vegetation exists; which have an assorted specie of tropical animals and birds. It is the sincere prayer of the Ushafa people that investors would help develop it to a safari or a game resource. Traditional methods of dyeing hand woven materials using pits which are called Asumbo are still being used. This could be of great interest to tourists. The famous Ushafa cave which served as a beautiful fortress for the villagers during the internecine wars still exists. With the fine clay available for pot making, the Ushafa women continue to dazzle people with their creativity, unfortunately, very few women are exposed to modern techniques of pot making. This industry could be developed for tourism. A natural spring called “Kuchidna” runs through Ushafa village. It is believed that the water oozing out of the ground is spiritually cleansed thus medicinal. The water is also very cold all the year round and infested with fish which no one touches. Women who go with their earthen pots fetch water of the spring water talk of how friendly the fish are.
The traditionalists have an annual festival known as the “Zhibaje” where sacrifices are offered to the ancestors.
This takes place between October and December and it attracts a lot of people. The festivals are accompanied with frenzied dances, amongst which are the “Akakeyi” dance, the “Amadawada” dance, the “Amoaknu”, (only for the Royal) and the Asukwonya”. These and many more are some of the aspects that make Bwari Area Council a Home of Tourism, distinct from others.
By: Hamdu Abubakar,
8 Pilgrims Roundabout,
Gwagwalada Area Council,