Opinion: Reviving Patigi Regatta for tourist attraction. By Alhassan Aminu
In the olden days, people settled along or around water areas (Lakes, Seas, Oceans, and big rivers), for many reasons, out of those reasons are water for religious and domestic uses. Some bodies of water, like the River Gazun in Gbafu use to detect a thief from Kusogi market in Patigi which the canoe refuses to move across to the other side when it is in the middle of the river also River Osun (Osogbo in Nigeria) and River Nile in Egypt were worshipped as gods due to the Rivers meeting the spiritual needs to the worshippers.
The fore fathers that found the river in Nupe Communities along the River Niger, River Kaduna and River Kampe in the present Kwara, Niger and Kogi States had different motives for settling down along those rivers especially the big river. For instance the Nupes in Muregi, Sunlati, Nupeko in Niger State and those in Pang Ellah, Sunkuso in Kwara State and also those in around Kogi State and all the surrounding communities, took an alliance of mutual understanding and coordinated cordial working (Fishing) relationship which lead to welcome an august visitor. It is always combined with Dubar (Riding on a horse).
The Regatta festival is the festival that features swimming competition, the diver that gets the biggest fish, boat and cannoe padding competition all these competitions are rewarded to motivate the participants.
The annual observance of this social cultural festival gave birth to understanding among the Nupe language and this lead to generation of economic prosperity. River transport was made easier because of the common Nupe languge and facial tribal marks. With all these, it helps the Nupe people to be united and become stronger than ever.
After the independence from our colonial masters, and with the creation of states in the country, then, Patigi Regatta received a boost by being given official recognition and was given acceptance as a Tourist Centre. Some structures were constructed, like the Regatta Motel, cultural centre, and Regatta Pavilion.
It dates back long time ago which mark the celebration of the Regatta in 1957, 1958, 1962, 1965.1970.
In 1982 when the last Patigi regatta was celebrated in the state, the celebration then became an annual cultural festival. It has been a most potential tourists' attraction and a much desired Local National Unity with all the spirited efforts to host the festival again in 1989, 1991 and 1997 failed virtually.
On Thursday May 27, 2004 during the democratic dispensation the charismatic leadership of former Governor, Dr. Abuakar Bukola Saraki implements a new Patigi Regatta implementation committee set to rekindle the dying Regatta which is unique in Nigeria festivals. The preparation was confirmed and Patigi Regatta was revived and was promised to be staged annually by the government of the day.
The present government of Alhaji (Dr.) Abdulfatahi Ahmed has re-ignited the festival which was merged at the time of the anniversary of the present Etsu Patigi Alhaji Ibrahim Chatta Umar (OON). The last one was hosted in 2012 when the Etus celebrated his anniversary on the throne.
I wish to commend the present administration for its spirited efforts at revamping the Patigi Regatta by merging it up with the Etsu Patigi anniversary almost twice. There are more still to be done in making it an annual celebration.
The State Government needs to act more decisively by involving the federal government in the hosting of the annual festival. This will help to give the festival the much international recognition it deserves.
This will enhance peaceful co-existence in the State and economic development.
Aminu is the Press Secretary, Information Division Ilorin.