Birnin-Kebbi, March 7, 2018 (NAN) Gov. Abubakar Bagudu of Kebbi says the state and the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture are collaborating to revive the Argungu fishing festival in the state.
The Governor disclosed this in Birnin Kebbi whike interacting with a team of journalists on facts finding mission on the agricultural revolution and other developments in the state.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed had led the newsmen to Kebbi to showcase and assess the agricultural revolution being championed in the state through the Federal Government Anchor Borrower Scheme.
Bagudu said that the Argungu fishing festival, which was last held in 2009, was suspended due to challenges of Boko Haram insurgency.
He said the then government found it expedient to suspend the annual festival due to its susceptibility to insurgents attack because of the huge crowd it attracted.
“The government suspended the festival until we are confident that the situation is back to normal, even though Kebbi state was not all that affected by the insurgency.
“Since last year, we are confident that the situations are back to normal and we have been working with the ministry to revive the festival.
“But, of course you always avoid the rainy season and there are a lot of things to be put in place like the infrastructure and the accommodation that have decayed in the course of the suspension.
“We are working hard to ensure that all these are back in order and the sponsors are up to date in order to make it as international as possible to attract the widest audience,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Federal Government identified the cultural, tourism and creative industry as one of the major sectors to diversify the economy.
The Federal Government has been formulating policies and taking actions to unlock the huge potentials in the sector.
The Argungu fishing festival is one of Nigeria’s internationally recognised cultural and tourism attractions.
The festival, which has been inscribed in the World Heritage list, was said to have originated in the 16th century.
Argungu festival, which has undergone several changes and modifications, was celebrated in 1934 to mark the end of the centuries-old hostility between the Sokoto caliphate region and the Kebbi kingdom.
The four day event is marked by pomp and pageantry and draws national and international attention.
At the beginning of the major event, over 5,000 fishermen and women gather close to the river and at the sound of a gunshot, they all dive into the river to fish.
The fishing equipment used are the traditional nets and the gourds made from calabash.
They are joined by canoes filled with drummers, plus men rattling huge seed-filled gourds to drive the fish to shallow waters.
Vast nets are cast and shoals of fish are harvested.
The person who catches the largest fish is awarded a prize money of about 7,500 US dollars.
In the year 2005, the winner caught a fish weighing 75kg, the biggest fish that have been caught in the festival till date.
The festival also include canoe racing, wild duck hunting, barehanded fishing, diving competitions and swimming.
The festival usually marks the end of the growing season and the harvest.
After the annual event, the 1.6 kilometre stretch of the Argungu River is protected throughout the year. (NAN)