• Sunday, July 14, 2024
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Sailing on the blue lake

Sailing on the blue lake

If you are looking for a quality unwinding with nature in a domestic yet alluring destination, there are many breathtaking places to explore.

One of such local destinations is Oguta, the hometown of Chukwudifu Akune Oputa (late retired justice of the Supreme Court) and chairman of the famous Human Rights Abuse Investigation Panel (Oputa Panel), Arthur Nzeribe, Charley Boy, among other prominent sons.

About 45 minutes drive from Owerri, the Imo State capital, and 27 kilometers on the ever-busy Owerri-Onitsha Expressway from Mgbidi junction, takes one far into the heart of Oguta.

The town is full of history, prominence and nature. The first impression that strikes first-time visitors is the sprawling mansions along the major roads that speak volume of the wealth in the land.

But beyond the beautiful mansions, ‘Oguide’, the Oguta Wonder Lake is a reason to visit.

Spanning over 18 kilometres of shoreline, the lake is the second largest freshwater lake in the country after Lake Chad.

Void of brine, smarting in the eyes and harmful creatures, the lake caresses visitors’ eyes with its pleasing view, while the evergreen environs ooze out fresh breeze that continuously purify the atmosphere within. There is a confluence of sorts to explore at the lake. A boat cruise to the natural confluence of Oguta Lake and Urashi River, offers a mini River Niger and River Benue experience at the lake. The locals and commercial boat services are always on hand to offer you a ride to the confluence point. But when you get to the link point, the lake still maintains its distinct nature and colouration.

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No doubt, the huge size, distinct nature, the serenity of the environment and the tropics within stands the lake out as the premiere tourist attraction in Imo State.

However, the lake is more lively with visitors during weekends when a whole lot of people from Owerri and Onitsha come around for outings. From swimming, cruise boat ride, fishing to many other water sport activities, visitors always find fun to indulge and enjoy.

Sadly the 3-star Oguta Lake Motel established in 1977 by the Imo State government and the 18-golf holes that would have long explored the tourism potential of the town are still not working. The worse is that past governors of the state have all paid lip service to the resuscitation of the lake complex that would have been yielding enormous revenue from tourists, especially now that the monthly Federal Allocation is dwindling due to the fall in oil price, the mainstay of the Nigerian economy. “It has been promised without action”, Okemiri Ugboma, an indigene says while doubting the sincerity of the present administration at delivering on the Film Village and hospitality facilities it promised the town.

Beside the lake itself, history left relics that visitors also throng to behold.

In the 1900s, the town was a commercial centre and home to the Royal Niger Company, G.B. Ollivant, SCOA Group, John Holt and the Miller Brothers, among others. Then the lake was a port for the evacuation of palm products.

Though the commercial success now belongs to history, the relics of the jetties used by some of the colonial companies still exist today.

But one part of history that is alive at the lake is a bunker with a tunnel that runs under the lake connecting both banks of the lake that was built during the Nigeria-Biafra civil war of 1967-1970 by the Biafran Navy who used the lake as a marine base.

Despite dividing the town into two along the natural boundary of the water, the lake actually defines the essence of the people as many pay respect to it. It is quite peculiar in nature. It is still the source of livelihood, transportation and fun for many residents of the town.

But before you leave Oguta, there is still one breathtaking sight to see. It is the very imposing iconic mansion or rather empire of Arthur Nzeribe, located atop of a hilly landscape and far away from the preening eyes in the layout.

It reminds one of the heydays of the maverick politicians, who seems to be unheard of these days.

Why not keep a date with the town and its attractions. You will definitely see Oguta from a bird’s eye view.