Hello guys, Happy new year once again! It's the beginning of a new set of 365 days and I have a good feeling about this year already. Y'all can feel the "good" vibe, yes? Yes!
Well, before the year, 2017, came to an end, I road tripped across 4 States of Nigeria. My destination was Cross River state. Nigeria’s Home of Tourism. The Travelling route was Benin to Delta to Bayelsa to Rivers to Akwaibom then finally, calabar. I spoke about my trip and the 3 days I stayed in port Harcourt, you should check details of my stay here. Furthermore, I journeyed to Uyo. Yes, the Uyo in Akwaibom state. Is there any other Uyo?? Lol… Just asking.
Note: Common misconception about uyo. People that don’t know the location think that it is in cross River State. Like calabar and uyo are in the same location. No! Calabar is in Cross River state and uyo is in akwaibom state. Like didn’t y’all memorise the State and capital rhyme when growing up??? Please, people who I’ve met that live on the other part of Nigeria, take note. A sister is tired of correcting this all the time.
Arriving the State, I noticed a lot about the State Capital which is very impressing. The Growth of tourism infrastructures across Uyo is striking. If you’ve visited the State recently, I’m sure you can attest to this. Let me elaborate more by Sharing my thoughts on the different places I visited and the entire environment at large (with my travel eye).
THE GODSWILL AKPABIO INTERNATIONAL STADIUM:
The stadium! Did you see the “international” part of the subheading? Yes! International. Located at the Goodluck Jonathan boulevard, sits this majestic construction. Opened on 7th November, 2014, the stadium has been used as a venue for both local and international matches. It is a 30,000 seater stadium that cost a whopping $96 million for total construction. Luckily, I stayed somewhere around here during my visit.
- Bulletproof VIP sitting area
- 30,000 seater capacity
- Media facilities
- Scoreboards and video facilities
- 7,500 seater Grand stand
- A Helipad
- Eight lane 400 meters standard track
- Two dressing rooms
- An ambulance bay.
- Equipped with emergency service units (to enable exit within 6 minutes)
- Closed circuit security cameras as well as crowd control steel fencing that literally spells out “SECURITY”.
The Akwa Ibom International Stadium meets the requirements of the International safety standards; There are also standby fire fighting equipments and metal detectors which have been put in place to avoid any misfortunes. The stadium hosted the AFCON qualifying series against South Africa on 17th November, 2017.
I’m sure there’ll be a live international match real soon. I’ll be sure to let you know the schedule. You can subscribe to the blog to keep up or connect with me on instagram.
Further fueled by my love for the Godswill Akpabio stadium, I decided to roam the city a little more. Next Stop:
So some 5 years back, Idara and Edima posts a picture on facebook. I ask where that is and they reply “Ibom Tropicana”. I’m like, what do they do there and they said “movies, relax, eat, games, rear kids (typical Edima and Idara’s joke) and lots more”. Me thinking to myself “Akwaibom is too dry, they can’t have those things, when did they see civilization?”.
5 years later… I visit Akwaibom and I’m like WOW! When did these guys see the light?! Since Ibom Tropicana was pre-stored in my mind, the second day saw me there. The environment was really cool, although not totally fenced. It has a vast parking lot, reception space and A 14 storey building five-star hotel with about 200 rooms! I bet you never knew this! I didn’t either…
Major interests are:
- The vast parking lot spreading over 300 hectares of land.
- The 5 star hotel with over 200 rooms.
- A shopping Mall
- A convention center with a capacity of 5000 people.
- A silver bird cinema.
- Restaurants and a sit out Area.
Although, most parts of the Ibom Tropicana is still under construction, but the Mall, cinemas and some restaurants are in full operation. I went with Idara, and we saw The Wedding Party 2 (#twp2) together. Although we felt the popcorn and drinks were a bit pricey (probably due to the festive period), but, oh well. We had no other option. After enjoying my look around, I headed off to the next destination…
When Idara mentioned the plaza, I felt it was a kind of shopping plaza or mall of some sort. On the contrary, it is just an outdoor relaxation place. Lots of stuff going on, people all over, some sitting or relaxing or chatting away with some friends over some bottles and food. Food ranging from suya to pepper soup, to local delicacies, the plaza has it all. It’s just an outdoor space with fresh air for relaxation purpose. We took a few pictures, ate little suya, said hi to Idara’s friends we met and strolled further into the city.
Just before we headed for the plaza, we stopped by what seemed like a park. I had seen it earlier on, all decorated and attractive like for a festival of some sort. It is actually the ministry of tourism (I found a signpost). Some people were dancing and I felt like joining in the fun. I asked what the occasion was and I got to find out that Akwaibom actually holds their own carnival! Like what?!!! Imagine my surprise and I’ve never heard of that. We’re all just totally consumed with the Calabar carnival. I silently wished I could attend that of akwaibom to see how it’ll be. I’m sure they didn’t disappoint as I caught up with some pictures on instagram.
The Ibibio union museum:
The ibibio museum is also located at The Ministry of Tourism. Actually, on seeing the building, it felt like a memorial of some sort. Apparently, it is in some kind of way. The Ibibio museum displays pictorial history of Nigeria and major historical patrons. Most of the pictures I could see from outside are indigenes of the state. Yes, the museum was closed. I later got to learn that the museum only opens when there’s an exhibition. I see why it has a transparent look (so you could see it from the outside).
Some other activities I indulged in during my stay:
– Evening strolls to buy fruits from the local street sellers.
– Talking about visiting some places like the Le meridian resort, the ibeno beach, the airport, (sadly, I didn’t).
– Early morning market (Edima’s mum being a typical Nigerian mother, hijacked me and Idara) to buy periwinkles and fruits.
– Taking lots of pictures with the duo (Edima and Idara).
– Even helping around the house.
– Did I forget to include that I ate a lot? OverFeeding was like our punishment for chores we couldn’t accomplish. Felt so gooooood!
By the way, you must have noticed, I stayed in Uyo with the Bassey Essien family. They are so cool. Especially their mum! Akwaibomites (as they are called) usually have these caring qualities. At least, the ones I’ve met! Contrary to the myth I’ve heard about Akwaibomites.
Did you know that on Christmas Eve, there’s a gathering of choirs in Uyo. The largest choir in Africa performs at the uyo stadium. One word, Exquisite! The occasion is graced by dignitaries around the continent, governors and even celebrities. People travel from far and near to attend. Wouldn’t you love to be a part of it?
I enjoyed every bit of my stay in Uyo, and didn’t want to leave. While exploring the city, I pondered on how tourism can be further developed there. Analysing tourism in the different locations I visit is one of the *blogs major purpose*. Check here for the *Future of tourism in uyo and factors affecting it’s growth*.
Have you been to uyo? Do you stay in uyo? What other places can I check out on my way back, because I intend to stay briefly at uyo again.
With Love – Ezi.