Analysis: Argungu Festival 2020-An X-Ray
By Abubakar Kalgo
This year’s Argungu International Fishing and Cultural Festival has come and gone but left beautiful and everlasting memories.
Recapping the entire package : it was remarkable, very rich, superb and aweresomely commendable. The Kebbi State Government under Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu really deserves accolades for restoring the festival after more than a decade since it took place.
Argungu Emirate Council as custodian of the heritage played pivotal role in ensuring that everything went well with the Emir Alh Sama’ila Muhammad Mera on top of situations at all times.
The festival has once again lived up to its foundation based on peace building, unity and brotherhood. It was a gathering that brought all Nigerians from all Ethnic, Cultural, Faith, Political and Social backgrounds together enjoying the aroma of hospitality,, smiling in unison and admiring the beautifully, artistical displays embedded in the festival.
The Nigerian political legislative and Cultural leaderships at the highest level were there to share our joy and happiness in Argungu. It was all smiles for President Muhammadu Buhari at the Agricultural Show where he harvested Rice Pyramids and Multi Billion Naira Rice Mills from the seed he officially sowed at the launching of Anchor Borrowers Program in November 2015. It was indeed spectacular and fulfilling.
Senate President Ahmed Lawan led an array of Senators and members of the National Assembly there, Many Governors namely Rt Hon Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, Simon Lalong, Abubakar Sani Bello, Abubakar Badaru witnessed the show too.
His Eminence the Sultan, Emir of Gwandu, His Royal Majesty the Ooni of Ife as well as Kings, Emirs, Mais from Borno, Yobe,, Plateau, Bauchi, Kaduna, Zamfara States the Neighboring Niger and Benin Republics came in large number in solidarity with their host Alh Sama’ila Muhammad Mera. Infact Argungu Township was overstretched. The economic benefits are in billions.
Despite few hitches ; the festival was generally successful, started well and ended peacefully to the glory and mercy of Allah SWT. Hitherto gatherings of this magnitude couldn’t have been possible.
However, the festival might not have it’s shortcomings notably in areas of crowd control, accommodation, revenue management and sustainability. Therefore it is pertinent for the Kebbi State Government to start thinking out of the box in order to move the festival to International Standard so that it will be self sustaining venture that can survive the storm of unforseen economic fluctuations as well as become a source in income to the State.
Gradual privatisation of some components of the festival to private investors and sponsors.
- Agricultural Show can be sponsored fully by Agricultural Services and Commodity Processing Companies.
- Polo Tournament can be self sustaining too.
- Motor Rally can be fully sponsored too.
- Bicycle Rally can be self sustaining too
- Kabanci Display too can attract full sponsorship.
- Archery, Catapult, local boxing and Wrestling can also be privately funded by sponsors too.
- Durbar, Seminar and Quiz programs can be retained by the Government with Argungu Emirate Council and Festival Committe as Implenting Organizations respectively. (Cultural and ritual components inclusive)
- The Grand Fishing event can go to the highest bidder amongst Competing Sponsors but under the supervision of the Emirate Council,Ministry of Commerce, NTDC and UNESCO.
- Fishing Village Complex can be leased out to private Investements Managers for proper management and income generation. Current practice in which the village is left at the mercy of public is not healthy as the facilities are subject to misuse, vandalisation, theft and dilapidation forcing the Government to replace everything whenever the festival approaches. It is not Investement wise and feasible to be spending hundreds of millions Naira and allowed it to waste.
A.Global trends do not favour Government’s Management of Business Venture of this magnitude due to sustainability bottlenecks therefore gradual privatisation is recommended.
B. Fishing Festival Management Committee drawn from the Governments, Emirate Council, Private Sector and Other Stakeholders be permanently established to start planning for the next edition to avoid hustles of deadlines as characterised by previous editions.
- That Bio-data forms should be printed and distributed to all local Government Areas, to all District Heads for intending participants in the fishing Festival to fill ahead of next edition. This will provide reasonable data and documentation.
- To allow for proper conservation at Matan Fada and stimulate continued interests of fishing communities, sponsors and international tourism Enthusiasts : the festival can be held biannually ; like the African Cup of Nations in football. This will give room for proper planning, quality execution and stimulate enthusiasm.
This ambitious proposal can see the light of the day only if we can see the need to join the global community by utilising the available digital space to market the festival so as to compete with the likes of Grand Canyon, Great Barrier Reef, Great Wall of China, Pyramids of Giza, the Taj Mahal of Agra, Status of liberty, Cannes Film festival,, Scotland’s Cultural Show, Marrakesh Motor Show, the Annual Dubai Bazaar and several others that attract millions spectators and visitors from across the Globe.