Tourism expert has said Nigeria not doing enough to enhance domestic tourism such that will make the country one of the choice destination.
Although, Nigeria is richly endowed with a variety of natural resources, but they need to address state of insecurity has become imperative, as no nation can be a tourist destination without first paying attention to security.
This was the view of the Managing Director of Jhalobia Recreation Park and Gardens, Mrs. Veronica Adepoju, who specializes in horticulture and gardens’ management.
Tourism Industry and Infrastructures
She said that, “I would not say tourism is doing well in Nigeria because of the propaganda of insecurity of the country. They do not know that Lagos is quite far from the north. They just bunch things together. S,o not too many foreigners, except those people who really understand that Lagos is quite far distance from the northeast, could easily understand this.
And some of our domestic tourist sites are not destinations because, the roads are really not good enough. We are lucky that the international airport road directly in front of us.”
She said, “Electricity, if you do not have your own generators, you cannot really make it. Public power is nothing to drive home about. With everything in place, tourism remains the best alternative choice to drive the economy, hence the sales in oil has drastically nosedived.”
Adepoju, who is also a barrister, was speaking to the Daily Times correspondent on Wednesday at the Jhlobia Recreational Parks and Gardens located along Murtala Mohammed International Airport Road in Lagos.
According to her, initially, she had no intention of setting up any garden. What she had in mind was to set up a Non Governmental Organisation and use the platform to empower women. But through fate, today, she sits atop one of the most reputable and famous gardens in Lagos.
She said,”Initially, the location of the gardens was a dumpsite and a hideout for criminals, but it has all changed to a perfect and an excellent relaxation centre, which is popularly known as Jhalobia Recreation Park and Gardens, located along Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Road in Lagos.”
Currently, she said,the gardens, which began in 1980, has become a centre for guests, who come from far and wide just for fun catching, sight seeing, conferences, seminars, weddings, birthday, marriages and other social functions.
Non- governmental organization
“It is people who made it to become business. In 1981, all I wanted to achieved was to held an exhibition to tell people what the therapeutic effect of gardening on the mind is.”
She said that, because she found out that “most women spent a lot of time groaning over what the men are doing to the women. Instead of daily meetings, complaining of what their husbands are doing, which I thought could get them mentally imbalance if they spend much time on gardening, beautifying their homes not only would they have joy, their husbands were very pleased to the extent that they wanted me to become somebody to give talks to women on a programme called, “Feminine Fancies” at the only Televission station; they had then in Benin; and it was Nigerian Television Authority as appreciation. The commissioner of Agriculture then chaired the exhibition. The exhibition was such a huge success; and some people were asking me to sell plants.”
She said, “I did not intend to sell plants, but because of this demands, I expanded the planting I was doing at the back of my house and started selling plants. So, Jhalobia, as ugly as it was, became commercialized as a result of the request of the people to buy plants.
According to her, “When I left teaching, I taught for 35 years; and 10 years a school principal. Although, during my teaching career, I saw a lot and I wondered about the origin of decadence in the society; because it was not so while I was young. But as a teacher, also with my exposure to the complaints and murmuring from those women, I decided to hold an exhibition. I came to understand that family fabric had been so weakened; and I decided to create a beautiful place, because in those days, I was very particular about husbands and wives’ issues.”
She said her intention was to establish a Non Governmental Organization(NGO), an umbrella body where those women would be re-oriented , adding that it was strictly on that focus, not until some Lagosians started coming to say can we hold our events there.
According to her, she started in Benin in 1980; and finally moved to Lagos after 13 years.
Origin of Jhalobia Recreation Park and Gardens
“I set up this garden for the propagation of those ideals. How to build, retain a happy home and how our children who have gone astray could be rescued by finding out or making them known to ourselves what is responsible for youth decadence, adult decadence in the society. So, I actually set up this place for the revival of the lost values and virtues of the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s; and once the place became beautiful, Lagos people with all their love for parties, came to find if they could have party here,” she said.
She added, “I became tired. Everything in the society was going downwards in terms of values. I started teaching as a grade 2 teacher
in 1962; and values was very high at that time, the profession was held in high esteem; and teachers knew what they were doing. By 1980s, I was not pleased with what I was seeing; and I decided to read law. I decided to move that nursery at the back of my house to Lagos. Then, the nursery was beautiful that people would asked me, ” could we bring our children to come and play here?”
The two-acre park of Jhalobia Recreation Park and Gardens is a tapestry of beautiful and functional garden features, such as, the ever-green lawns, walk ways, topiary of different shapes, sculpture, water -falls, fountains, ponds, rock gardens, gazebos of different sizes.
There are exotic trees, palms and flowers. It also has a children’s play ground equipped with play toys. The park is known for its expansive space for guests and it’s beauty.
Lagos residents, in particular, due to their love for parties and nostalgia for pre-independence parks, discovered Jhalobia Parks as a place suitable for running social programmes.
The garden also offers as an event centre for weddings, ceremonies, parties, product launches, seminars, religious retreats, picnics, school visits, children’s play centre, among other facilities.
“When we started in 1998, it was with #80,000. Later, because of the change in the economy, we increased it to #300,000. Now, it is #980,000. if you are to rent the whole place, you could pay as little as #550,000 and 750 one can do your wedding too.
With event centres springing up everywhere. In a street, you could have about six event centres as if people do not know what to do before Jhalobia came into being. As soon as Jhalobia came into being, people started setting up event centres everywhere.”
According to her, “Car garages in Lagos Island and everywhere, and even those of them with money who had empty spaces, have turned them to event centres. So, that had reduced our monopoly for occasional parties here. We had a monopoly of field events, but I can still boast that all the event centres available in Lagos, none has our kind of garden landscape; and we still have our own clients who insist on garden wedding; and it has drastically reduced to about 30 per cent.”
What Stands out Jhalobia Recreation Park and Gardens
She said the gardens and the landscaping features, the tranquil atmosphere make it unique.