A few years ago, Argungu, in the state of Kebbi, found other economic activities to occupy the community outside tourism. It used to be a destination where top African leaders, government officials and tourists from different parts of the world were looking. Its annual fishing festival, the Argungu Fishing Festival, was a major draw for tourists from all over the world.
The only other tourist product that had so much influence in the north so far was the grand durbar in the Kano Emirate, state of Kano. However, lack of political will, security challenges and consistency hindered Argungu when the festival was suspended.
Argungu's last festival was held ten years ago under former state governor Alhaji Sai & # 39; du Dakingari.
Ten years after the edition, the festival made a great return to the ancient city of Argungu last week. This year's edition was received with such enthusiasm by thousands of participants who gathered in Argungu in search of fame and fortune through participation.
There was a party atmosphere all over Argungu. The main streets of the city were full of people. Some participants attended the grand finale for almost a week. The busiest areas, such as the Matan Fada Roundabout, through Kofar Tudu, thousands of fishermen from different states gathered for the festival.
The Argungu International Fishing Festival is a traditional fishing festival involving thousands of fishermen who jump on the Matan Fada river in search of the biggest catch.
For many, it is a lifelong opportunity of fame and fortune and would go the extra mile to ensure success. Some are ready to risk their lives, traveling hundreds of kilometers to participate. Ladan Manu came from Gomawa to participate.
He talked about the preparation: “I came yesterday, it's Friday. I came to look for fish to feed my family and possibly sell some. "Asked about the type of preparation for the festival before arrival, he said:" What you need to do is buy the net and the gourd.
You will come and wait. Between 8 am and 9 am, you will prepare and move to the river bank. “You will get a seat and wait. When the time came, the trumpet sounded three times. After hearing the first trumpet, you get up and prepare.
You will still wait after the second trumpet, but as soon as you hear the third trumpet, you will run as fast as possible to reach the river. You will start fishing. It is only God who gives. "
Manu said that this edition was his fourth participation and had the opportunity to capture different species of fish. Before leaving home for Argungu, I will get clean water and a bath, pray to God and tell him that I am on my way and that he must help me. I do not practice any other unpleasant practice.
Before, during his welcome speech at the agricultural show before the grand final, Emir de Argungu, Alhaji Samaila Mera, said: “This festival has been going on for 86 years. His presence at this meeting today is of enormous importance, as it fills the gap that has remained open since his first departure as military head of state.
“All the heads of the Federal Republic of Nigeria have already witnessed the festival, except you and the late General Murtala Muhammed. It has been ten years since this festival was held for the last time because of countless challenges that are too known to be mentioned here. With the help of the federal and state governments, all stakeholders, all of these challenges have been overcome.
"The festival has become a symbol of the culture, tradition, aspiration and solidarity of different people".
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, praised the festival for its richness and diversity. He said: “Yesterday, we saw this innovation, a water bike. This is technology. Mr. President came and we saw pyramid rice fields, this is agriculture.
But one area that did not occur to me was the area of the environment. I didn't know that the people of Kebbi long before anyone started thinking about conservation, about the environment, practiced conservation and environmental well-being. Unknown to many of us, you can't just jump in that river and go fishing. You are protected. You can only fish on them at any given time.
The crowd of both visitors at this year's event may pass as one of the largest that the organizers may have seen. It was Herculean to take a position about a kilometer away from the river, behind the rice farms. The speaker was not loud enough to reach them.
This led the participants to jump the gun to run into the river before the main signal. The organizers expected all of their VIP guests to arrive before the fishing competition, but participants hit the gun and ran into the river at around 10:30 am.
That was the small hiccup, but nonetheless, it was all exciting, as thousands probably around 30,000 fishermen rushed into the water in search of the biggest catch.
After hours in the cold water, three people managed to catch 78 kg (Abubakar Yau), 75 kg (Bala Yahaya-Bagaye) and 70 kg (Maiwake Sani Salami) to emerge winners of this year's event.
Many participants and visitors praised the Kebbi state government for bringing the festival back after 10 years. However, they believe that many areas need improvement.
For a popular festival that attracts thousands to the old city, it is quite surprising that there are no commercial accommodation facilities in Argungu. There are government chalets and guest houses. The fishing village also has some substandard housing facilities.
The government must make a conscious effort to encourage investors to invest in hospitality. This has become important, as the hotels will serve the agricultural factories that are now emerging in Argungu.
Organizers need to come up with a better plan for managing crowds and traffic inside and outside the venue. Many people crowded the place, making movement difficult. The security personnel who accompanied the invited VIPs, while trying to help control the crowd, made things worse.