The traffic of tourists to the famous Ikogosi Warm Spring Resort in Ekiti State has reduced as a result of dilapidation of facilities put in place by the administration of former Governor Kayode Fayemi. But the Ayo Fayose administration has said it was not to blame for the alleged decay and abandonment of the resort as alleged by the people.
Residents of Ikogosi-Ekiti in Ekiti West Local Government Area of Ekiti State are angry that the Ikogosi Warm Spring, a famous tourist attraction, which attracted global attention to the community, has been allegedly abandoned by Governor Ayo Fayose, less than four years after he took over from his predecessor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi.
The resort is reputed to be the only place in the world where nature bestowed such a wonder. Streams of warm and cold water flow side-by-side to meet at a point.
Visitors, who had visited the place were surprised by such nature’s gift to man. The place which had drawn tourists from far and near needed a Midas touch to enable it to attain an international standard.
Had this tourist centre been located in places such as Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana, South Africa or Western countries, it would have been turned to a goldmine that would bring foreign exchange into the coffers of governments of those countries.
Two attempts had been made to make Ikogosi Warm Spring functional by two administrations in Ekiti State. But unfortunately, the resort had been so dilapidation due to alleged neglect by successive administrations.
The Ikogosi Warm Spring had a chequered history. American Baptist missionaries led by Reverend John McGee were the first set of people to inhabit the place.
They were astonished by such an amazing gift of nature and made the place their home as they came to evangelise the people in the early 20th Century.
They built chalets, a chapel, lawn tennis courts, a football field, fruit orchards and a swimming pool to make the place habitable and a place to have a nice rest after coming back from their evangelical outreaches each day.
The centre received government’s attention for the first time during the military government of General Olusegun Obasanjo before it was later transferred to the old Ondo State.
The military government in the old Ondo State built a zoological park to make the centre more attractive to holidaymakers.
But an unfortunate incident happened when one of the zoo keepers was devoured by lions kept in the zoological park. This was why the military government stop the maintenance of the zoo.
With the creation of Ekiti State in 1996 and the enthronement of the first civilian government of Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo in 1999, the fortunes of Ikogosi changed for better.
Adebayo renovated the centre, built more chalets and furnished all rooms to international standards. The place became bubbly again.
The ex-governor entered into partnership with the United African Company of Nigeria (UACN) then led by an Ekiti son, Mr. Ayo Ajayi for the bottling of Ikogosi natural water.
The fortunes of the Ikogosi Warm Spring allegedly dipped with the coming to power of the Ayo Fayose in 2003 as he was not bothered to continue from where the Adebayo administration stopped.
But the Kayode Fayemi’s government brought the Ikogosi Resort back to life again with a comprehensive re-development plan handled by Mantis Group, a South African firm, which began in 2011. Mantis Group runs many resorts and hotels in South Africa, Nigeria and many other countries.
The first phase of the Ikogosi re-development included the construction of new chalets, internal roads, swimming pools and new conference centres, among other facilities.
The second phase which would have seen Ikogosi linked with the nearby Arinta Waterfalls in Ipole Iloro by cable cars was not achievable because Fayemi’s regime ended after the 2014 governorship polls.
The reconstruction of Ikogosi Resort brought back local and international tourists and generated jobs for members of the community.
Ikogosi Resort hosted local, national and international conferences. The popular Nigeria National Media Merit Award for 2013 was held at the resort which further publicised it as a destination of choice.
Less than four years after the Fayemi administration left the Ekiti Government House, history is repeating itself on the alleged abandonment and decay of Ikogosi Warm Spring.
Residents are wondering why the resort, which is capable of generating revenue for government, was left to rot at a time government was yearning for cash to meet its needs.
Apparently saddened by the development, a community leader in Ikogosi-Ekiti, High Chief Ayo Ademiluwa, has criticised Governor Fayose for alleged deliberate abandonment of the Ikogosi Warm Spring Resort which he described as world-class tourist centre.
Ademiluwa, who is a member of the community’s traditional cabinet, the Onikogosi-in-Council, under the leadership of the Onikogosi, Oba Elijah Olorunnisola, said the abandonment of the tourist centre has ruined it.
The Asaoye of Ikogosi-Ekiti spoke against the background of the impending liquidation of Warm Spring Waters Limited, producers of the famous Gossy Water, over alleged government’s abandonment.
Ademiluwa, in an open letter to Fayose, a copy of which was made available to Southwest Report , wondered why Fayose should play politics with a venture that generates income for the state and employment for its people.
He recalled that the administration of Adebayo revived the resort by renovating its facilities and facilitating arrangement with UACN to bottle the natural spring water which gave rise to Gossy Water.
Ademiluwa noted that Fayose’s first coming sounded the death knell for the resort with the alleged looting of furniture, furnishings and other equipment.
According to him, the Fayemi administration carried out a comprehensive re-development of the resort through a partnership with a foreign consortium which made the centre to attract tourists from all over the world.
Nearly four years after Fayemi left office, Ademiluwa said the resort had decayed; blaming the development on “moving the centre to the bureaucratic hands of civil servants to pillage the entre once again.”
Ademiluwa said: “Termites and cobwebs began the macabre dance once again. Ikogosi-Ekiti was thrown into darkness as the town was cut off from the national grid.
“Gossy Waters and the Centre started the unprofitable romance with diesel and power generating sets. The state government’s patronage of Gossy Waters stopped.
“My brothers and sisters lost their jobs and got thrown into the unemployment market. Ceilings, roofs and walkways started collapsing without any repair or concern at the centre.
“The youth of my town made several peaceful protests for the Fayose government to step into the electricity issue all to no avail.
“The Onikogosi-in-Council made several efforts to meet with the governor but was denied audience. The few cases of false promises by the government agents to intimate the governor were just mere gimmicks to nip youth’s protests in the bud.
“The Obanla of Ikogosi led me and many other chiefs to Ado-Ekiti sometime in 2016. But Fayose did not grant us audience.
“He tactfully directed us to the local government chairman who would brief later him. My town has been in darkness-no electricity in Ikogosi, Ipole-Iloro and Erijiyan since the inception of Fayose’s regime, yet they say we have a government in Ekiti. My heart bleeds.
“This government will wind up in October, this year and this is just February. I know we have made several attempts collectively and individually to present our plight to you, Governor Fayose. This is another plea.
“We are a town known for peace; we are not at war with the government of the day. You still have till October to rewrite your name in gold.
“Rescue Gossy Waters from winding up, halt the decay at the warm spring centre, step into the electricity and water crises in my hometown and save the few private ventures from experiencing the plight of Gossy Waters.
“Look into the claims of marginalisation by my people, treat my town and, in fact, all Ekiti towns with love like you treat Afao-Ekiti, your hometown and you would have successfully rescued my poor heart from bleeding.”
But the Fayose government absolved itself of any blame in the alleged mismanagement of the Ikogosi Warm Spring Resort and the impending liquidation of the Gossy Water Company.
Commissioner for Information, Youth and Sports Development, Mr. Lanre Ogunsuyi, accused the Fayemi administration of not fully utilising the Bond money used to finance the re-development of the resort.
Ogunsuyi said power supply was the major problem that crippled activities at Ikogosi and that the resort and its subsidiary (Gossy Water) is a private enterprise devoid of government’s interference.
He said: “If the community has been complaining about the neglect of the town, it would have been a different story but the company has the right to approach the government if it sees the need for the government to do anything.
“Concerning the complaint raised by the community, I want to urge the Ikogosi community to look into the White Paper recently released and look at the money released from the Bond sourced by the past government.
“They will discover that the money from the Bond for Ikogosi was not fully utilised. N1 billion was obtained as loan and we are paying back the loan.
“It is unfair to blame the government but if the Ikogosi community has any peculiar problem, they should approach the government and the government will respond appropriately.”