Barricade prevents tourists from first government house

The Curator of Calabar Museum, Mrs Evelyn Osuagwu, says barricade by the Cross River government at the entrance of the museum has reduced traffic of tourists.

Osuagwu told News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Calabar, that the museum is situated close to the state Deputy Governor’s official residence and the state government lodge in Calabar.

The armed security as well as the barricade in the area has restricted the normal flow of tourists to the historic site.

According to her, people were afraid to visit the museum due to the steady presence of armed men in front of the deputy governor’s lodge that leads into the museum.

She told NAN that during the 2018 Calabar carnival that had thousands of participants from over 28 countries, no individual visited the museum.

“The barricade in front of the museum has really affected the number of people coming into the museum. Hardly do you see people coming here again because the belief in Calabar is that the museum has been closed.

“The security men don’t prevent people from entering the museum, but for the fact that the barricade is there, when people are passing and see the security men at the barricade, they won’t like to come.

“No tourists will want to come to a place where they will want to be asked too many questions. So, this situation has really affected the number of tourists into the museum.

“We charge a little token here to keep the museum moving. An adult pays N200 and children pay N100. But, we don’t have that patronage anymore,’’ she said.

The curator told NAN that the museum building was the first government house in Nigeria, made in Britain in 1884 and shipped down to Calabar same year.

She added that the building was brought to Nigeria by the Royal Niger Company.

She said that during the Nigeria’s Civil War, the British government used the building as their administrative headquarters.

Osuagwu explained that due to the historical importance of the building, the National Commission for Museum and Monument declared it a national monument in Aug. 1959.

She also lamented that the federal and state governments were not doing enough in funding the tourism sector in Nigeria.

“Government look at the tourism and culture sector as a place that cannot generate revenue, hence they don’t pay attention to the sector. Meanwhile, tourism and culture is the main revenue source in other countries.

“Some of our leaders do not even visit the museum, but when they travel to American and other countries, their first point of call is to visit museums in those countries.

“I urge the Cross River government to use this museum and complement the state tourism drive because this building is the first tourist site in Cross River.

“I wish to appeal to the federal and state governments to look inward and explore ways of supporting the growth of the museum,’’ she said.

She called on parents to invest in the knowledge of their children by carrying them on visits to the museum regularly.

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