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By Norbert Chiazor
Eleonor Gilburd,once idealized the French capital in her elegant book “To see Paris and die”.
But then,no one ever saw Paris and even fainted.I saw Paris in 2013,the much -talked about finest city and was completely charmed by its wondrous landscapes and romantic boulevards.
Eleonor was actually ennobling what artists call aesthetics exaltation.
The American historian depicted Paris as the “ultimate fulfillment of life’s“ scenic beauty “with nothing else left to experience.”
Today I chose Paris to paint a poignant picture.Governor Ifeanyi Okowa’s Asaba.
Okay.Asaba may never win a beauty contest with Paris but it is a place “to see”.
It has come of age.
Even after 100 years of British colonialism with a historical fortune,as Nigeria ‘s first colonial capital under the Royal Niger company in the 1880s,Asaba had remained less transformative.
In 1992,I did a TV documentary on Asaba,shortly after state creation and saw a rustic,though peaceful town in the woods.Government impact,especially civilian, would change the city in the latter years,culminating in the coming of Okowa in 2015.
Today the Delta capital is an impressive panorama of social infrastructure,with urbanization and peace unprecedented in history. Now the rush for a piece of Asaba by all manners of Nigerians has been more desperate than the white man’s scramble for Africa.
Okowa’s signature on Asaba is indelible,magnetic.
Kissing the skyline of Asaba,is the tallest secretariat in the Niger Delta.At opening in November 2021, it dominated the headlines and caught my fancy, thus:
“Viewed from its vintage location on ultra-modern Maryam Babangida way,it sits in delicate elegance like a colourful Peacock displaying its feathers in a pampered sanctuary”
Now,as I write,there is much more to see at the state capital.
See the brand new Koka inter-change,ferrying cars in smooth sail.Welcome to the Film Village and Leisure park Asaba.Those familiar with Walt Disney in California,enchanting London eye ,Versailles Palace grand spectacle in Paris,Dubai ‘s Miracle Garden and Sun city,South Africa to mention a few can recreate vividly in their mind’s eyes the evolving Asaba entertainment complex.
A modern wonderland,it is the improved and brighter model of Apapa amusement park.
The Nigerian entertainment sector with particular reference to the Film Industry or Nollywood is one of the biggest non-oil sectors of the economy. Its annual revenue is estimated at about $7 billion dollars by IMF records.
Nollywood ranks second to America’s Hollywood and ahead of Indian Bollywood in the global film industry.
The Nigerian film industry provides job opportunities to numerous talents like actors, screenwriters, directors, make-up artists, cinematographers and audio-visual editors among others.
A world class film village and leisure park,first of its kind among the 36 states of Nigeria. Asaba surely is dressing up to assume another enviable status as the Nollywood capital of Nigeria.
Strategically located at Ugbolu-Illah road,less than 20 minutes from the Asaba international Airport, the Film Village and Leisure Park,as legacy projects of the Okowa administration would serve as sustainable entertainment hub.
Tourism destinations in foreign climes could be less attractive and unnecessary waste of funds with the offerings of Asaba film village and Leisure park.
There is an “Arthur” at work in Asaba.That sounds like the inspiration for the funky tune- Asabamaka