Argungu Int’l Fishing Festival hosts over 50,000 fishermen despite COVID-19
•Winners’ prizes triple past years’ events
The Argungu International Fishing and Cultural Festival, a four-day socio-economic fiesta of the people of Argungu, came alive with display of novelty events that attracted droves of festival lovers, tourists and visitors to the historic town of Argungu, from March 11 to 14, 2020.
The festival was not only enthralling but also timely in telling the world that Kebbi State is tourists friendly and committed to once again open the domestic tourism hub to both local, national and foreign visitors.
Again, it is opposite to say that the festival is a testimony that the government of President Muhammadu Buhari has yielded positively to many media reports on the need to give tourism a fair hearing as not only an economic game changer, but also as a low hanging fruit that will drive job opportunities and revenue generation.
The crowd at the 2020 festival is also a show of confidence that tourism is a crowd puller with the mammoth crowd at the venue of the fishing competition (Mathan Fada river) tripling the size of past events while the fishermen were over 50, 000.
With this large crowd even when the fishing festival was returning after 10 years of suspension, it has once again shown that the festival can only strive with the people fully attached and connected to it through practical participation.
With this success, the government can start with this return of the Argungu International Fishing and Cultural festival to start to make amends by identifying and channelling more attention to activities that will continue to encourage people and drive more interest in tourism.
How people see the fishing festival
There is an age-long misconception that the over 30,000 fishermen that dive into the Mathan Fada river for the grand fishing are in competition; but this was proved wrong by many of the fishermen who spoke with Travelpulse andMICE.
Some the fishermen who saw the fishing festival as a welcome development were thankful for the festival, describing it as a yearly income -driven avenue for them, while a section said they were not there to compete but to make a catch that they could sell afterwards.
Also one of the fishermen who gave his name as Sani told Nigeria Tribune “ We are actually not here to get the biggest catch but we come in groups to do a communual fishing, gather everything together and sell to vistors at a good price, and the proceed will later be shared among us. “We had been doing this for years before the suspension of the festival, and now that is it back, we are happy. As you can see, this year’s catch by our group was awesome and we are enjoying the dividend of the return of the festival.”
Another group of five fishermen said “We are here to win, but luck has not been on our side. But there is no hope lost because we still made something reasonable from the good catch we made today. As at this moment, we have made over N10,000 and we still have a lot more (fishes) on ground to sell.”
Abubakar, a fisherman who said he came From Sokoto State on the eve of the grand fishing, was enthusiastic that one day it would be his turn to get the prize for the biggest catch. He said “This little gift Allah has destined me to catch, but one of the happiest moments for me was when I heard that someone from Sokoto is part of this year’s winners. That alone is something to celebrate.”
Also, Mohammed Aliu, who said that he wished to be a winner in the future, commended the organizers for also recognising other winners, up to 100, who fell into the categories that were not in the winning range of numbers one to six, saying it was an incentive to encourage those who had not been opportune to fall within the categories of the biggest catch.
COVID-19 and safety measures
Also, the COVID-19 safety campaign was not left out at the fishing arena as there were precautionary measures put in place. The organisers, with the support of the sponsors, were at strategic points administering sanitisers to participants at the fishing venue, while the VIP areas of the venue were also given handy instant hand sanitisers for self-administering. Also, there were many people seen wearing face masks while face mask vendors were positioned at the venue for those who wished to buy.
This was also a welcome development for Nigeria going by the government and intension sponsors’ approach at adhering to the global safety procedure even when Nigeria is one of the lowest risk countries with just 13 persons out of over 190 million having the COVID-19.
If the submissions by some global authorities on the efficacy of heat in reducing the life spam of the virus are anything to go by, then Nigeria’s hot weather and also that of the northern part of the country, especially those that attended the fishing festival in Kebbi, were safe. But even with that, the organisers did not take chances as adequate preventive measures were made to everyone at the venue of the fishing festival.
Winners of grand fishing competition
The prizes for this year’s fishing festival exceeded those of the past as guests at the event who were filled with great enthusiasm donated more cash prizes to the winners and other participants who did not make it to the winning categories.
Abubakar Ya’u from Augie Local Government Area of Kebbi on Saturday got N10 million, two new cars and two Hajj seats for catching the biggest fish weighing 78 kilogrammes at the 2020 Argungu fishing festival.
Bala Yahaya-Bagaye clinched the second position with his fish that weighed 75 kilogrammes, while Maiwake Sani came third for catching a fish weighing 70 kilogrammes.
The chairman, Northern Governors’ Forum, Governor Simon Lalong, donated N3 million to the first position, N2 million to the second position, and N1 million to the third position winners.
Hassan Bello, Executive Secretary, Nigeria Shippers Council, presented N1 million to the first position, N750,000 to the second position, and N500,000 to the third respectively.
Governor Aminu Tambuwal donated N3 million, N2 million and N1 million to the first, second and third positions respectively.
West African Cotton Company Limited (WACOT) donated a new car, N1 million and Hajj seat to first position, while Zainab Bagudu, wife of Kebbi State governor, also donated a brand new car to him.
While congratulating the winners, the Senate president urged those who did not win not to be discouraged, urging them to redouble efforts for a more competitive challenge in subsequent edition.
He announced a donation of N5 million to be shared among all participants to give all a sense of belonging.