The Torn Apart Tourism Potential of Plateau State
After about 17 hours on the road from Lagos to Abuja, a stop-over for the night in Abuja with another four hours to Jos via Riyom LGA, I was greeted by the sights of beautiful hills, beautiful rock formations and a lovely weather. It is a beautiful natural artistic canvas and this is a good enough payment for all the stress. Plateau State is a very cold state due to the peculiarity of its positioning amongst the plateaus and it is one place in Nigeria that you can experience very cold weather and have the fun of dressing up in winter gears.
ABOUT PLATEAU STATE
Plateau is said to be the twelfth largest state in Nigeria, and is located approximately in the center of the country. With an area of 26,899 square kilometres, the State has an estimated population of about 3.5 million people. Plateau State is named after the picturesque Jos Plateau, a mountainous area in the north of the state with captivating rock formations. These scattered bare rocks are common sight across the grasslands covering the plateau.
With altitude ranges from around 1,200 meters (about 4000 feet) to a peak of 1,829 metres (over 6,000 feet ) above sea level in the Shere Hills range near Jos. Years of tin mining have also left the area strewn with deep gorges and lakes.
The State is bordered to the North-East by Bauchi State; North-West by Kaduna State; South-West by Nasarawa State; and to the South-East by Taraba State. It is geographically unique in Nigeria because its boundaries surround the Jos Plateau, having the entire plateau in its central and northern part. The capital is Jos.
Plateau State was once referred to as “The Home of Peace and Tourism”, an image that has been fractured in recent years by Muslim-Christian clashes in the state.
Plateau State earlier in the creation of the country was preferred by the British colonials due to the presence of high tin mining in the area. They fiercely protected the railway construction in order to guarantee safe passage of mined tin to the coast. The presence of the colonial masters is still evident from some of the named area and streets in Jos town. Names such as British America, UAC junction, Rayfield area to mention a few.
I have heard so much about the beauty of Jos especially and having read and watched the different ethnic and tribal clashed over the years, I was hoping that the tourism aspect of the state is still evident and thus I set out on a four day journey round Plateau State. Armed with a list of where I want to visit I set about on how to get to the different location. Some of the know notable tourism sites in Plateau State include: The Wildlife Safari Park; The National Museum, Jos; The Museum of Traditional Nigerian Architecture, Jos; Assop Falls; Kurra Falls; Wase Rock;The Kerang highlands; Shere Hills, Riyom Rocks; Pandam Game Reserve; and Kahwang Rock Formation, to mention a few.
The journey and the trip began. I showed my friend who is also my host the list of places I will like to visit. I was very particular about a monument of the Ten Commandment which I had seen on a friend’s IG page. I called him to ask for directions but he could not be of much help. After much driving around trying to locate the place we went back home to start out at sunrise the following day.
THE TEN COMMANDMENT TABLET
We went to the Rayfield resort which looked so deserted and empty, though it was a public holiday but from seeing the structures, and the present state it is very evident that it was once a very bubbly and active place. I took some pictures and we set off to look for the ten commandment stone. I kept calling it City of David for that was what I saw on my friends IG page as location. On our last trial entering a church called City of David, we showed the picture to one of the guys and he said it is called New Jerusalem. So apparently I had been calling it the wrong name all along and off we set to the place.
It is a structure in Rayfield but you have to go further inside, the place is filled with buildings under construction and as a result you will only get to know the place if you had passed there before. After much pleading with the security guys, we had the gate opened for us to pass through. The site is quite amazing. I am sure the tablet should be about 25 feet high if not more than. It had the whole ten commandment written on it and you will notice that the letterings are getting worn out. This is apparently an abandoned project by the past administration. Looking at the surroundings and the available structure, you will notice the open Roman Amphitheatre structures in half circle which ought to house the seats that are still in the cartons and abandoned under the stairways climbing up to the feet of the ten commandment stone. Whatever this project is, this place should be opened to the public and allow it to generate money for it’d picturesque value. (Full Story Here)
Next on the list is The Museum of Traditional Nigerian Architecture and the National Museum. We saw the first Ford car that was presented to Nigeria on its independence day in 1960 by Queen Elizabeth. This is a museum of old relics for you can see old model cars, the head of the first locomotive train in Nigeria, all that tells a different story dated back to the colonial times and its tin mining trading in Jos. I guess because we went on a public holiday we didn’t really have anyone to attend to us. Also visible were the life-size replicas of a variety of buildings, from the walls of Kano and the olden days housing structure in the Northern part. We went further in to look for the pottery hall and met a lady who was into tie and dye. This craft is quite synonymous to the Abeokuta people in the South-West part of the country but this particular adire tells a different story. When she spread out the whole cloth, you can see the picture of two elephants interwoven at the trunk struggling. It is quite obvious that this is another socio-economic value that the government need to tap into in order to empower the people.
Very visible is the archway with ‘100 steps to Afizere settlement (IgbeKusok Nyak) which is definitely a 100 steps to the top of the rocks. From here you can see an aerial view of some part of Jos, and at the top you will find two small hut which represents how the people were living in those days. On climbing down we went to in search of the Naraguta Leatherworks which apparently is at the back of University of Jos Permanent site.
If you are familiar with Jos crisis you will have a knowledge of how the people co-habit in the State. The Hausa’s, who are predominantly Muslims live in Jos North and if you are a Christian you will tend to have your heart in your mouth to pass through the place. I was informed by my friend who was unsettled as we passed through the throngs of Hausa clad Muslims on the way to the mosque for it was a Muslim holiday and they are out celebrating. We were so careful not to hit or be hit by anyone and we did try to get out of the territory on time.
After much asking we did find the Naraguta Leatherworks, you have to get in to the Permanent site gate and ask for the Naraguta hostel, park your car in front two brick barricades that has space for a bike to pass through. We found the place which is presently run by the grandson. This is another source of revenue generation for the State if they can really look inward.
We then set out to look for the other sites on my list. On talking to a friend that had achieved this feat I realized that I do need security in order to go to these places, and thus we set out to get security guys. We chose to go with the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and went about locating their office the next prior to a discussion and connection with a friend that now works in the Abuja Office. Arrangement was made for the next day with vehicle to take us around.
TOURING ROUND PLATEAU STATE
First point of call is the Shere Hills, a beautiful sight to behold. Different beautiful natural rock formation with the beautiful skyline to add to the attraction. Shere Hills has some of the Plateau’s highest peaks with highest peak to be above 6,001 feet above sea levels, from where you can get a clear overview of Jos town. One has to be very careful if one wants to hike or climb the main hill for it has many corners and deep unseen paths. It is a thrill and delight for hikers and mountain climbers. Next stop is the Lamingo lake which is a natural lake that supplies the majority of Jos Metropolitan with water.
Then is the Kerang highlands located about 88 kilometres from Jos. These volcanic hills are the source of natural mountain springs, which supply the popular spring water company (SWAN) which is opposite the mountains. We went on to look for the source which is located in a settlement a bit farther from the mountains. We met the women and children washing at the stream that was formed by the water and were told that the next time we come the source is likely to have shifted. The pressure from the SWAN factory do shift where the water will be coming from under the rocks. It was a beautiful sight to behold.
then travelled for almost an hour to Kurra Falls, which is an area in
the southeast of Jos in Mangu Local Government. This is the location of
the state’s first hydroelectric power station which is very obvious on
your way to the fall. You will have to pass through NESCO which is the
second electricity company asides Jos Electricity. Kurra falls has a dam
which shows that NESCO runs a hydroelectric project. We passed through
at least seven army blockades with beautiful picturesque view on both
sides. This is due to the area been one of the most volatile part in
Plateau State due to its high number of Fulani Residents.
The major crisis in Plateau state is based on two factors (religion) between the Christians and the Muslims and (Tribe) between the Hausas and the Fulanis. We got to the end of the road where there are houses and we asked for direction to the fall, we were given a young resident of the place to take us and we end up with six little guards to the place. Due to the fact that we came during the dry season, the fall is at one of its lowest and as a result we could see the rock formations through which the water passes. It is a very beautiful sight of brown rocks.
A resort around this place will boost the economic activities around there for it is a lovely place with a lot of potentials, but instead they chose to fight over frivolous issues. We went another hour and a half to Assop falls which is another beautiful water fall and the most natural of all that is very good for picnics and party. This waterfall is about 40mins from Jos Town. We spend almost eleven hours on the road to get to these places, and we did not finish covering some places.
Plateau State is a lovely place with a very good weather, lovely views and wonderful tourist’s sites. Instead we have a State that even the residents are scared to go out and as a result do not know most of the beautiful places in the State. Fear has grown inside people’s heart and when you mention going out the first thing they ask is how Safe is that, this should not be the case. With the issue of recession in Nigeria, it is time we start looking inward and start exploring the beautiful places we have in Nigeria, this will serve as a form of education for the children. Also this will boost the internal economy and make the government to build the Tourism corridor in the North with security and easy accessibility. Nigeria is a blessed country and it’s time for us to appreciate what we have and patronize places in Nigeria. God bless Nigeria.