Farin Ruwa Waterfall: Harnessing Nature’s Gift In Nasarawa
FARIN Ruwa (translated: ‘white water’) is a beautiful and magnificent waterfall at Mahwa Forest Reserve in Mamba Local Government Area of Nasarawa state.
The roads to the waterfall, however, are literally impassable and the surrounding villages are locked in communal clashes with Fulani herdsmen over grazing rights.
The first democratically elected governor of Nasarawa State, Abdullahi Adamu, had sought to harness the potentials of the waterfall through electricity generation and tourism. In year 2000, he awarded contract for the construction of choice guest chalets with the hope of establishing a state-of-the-art tourist site. His dream was never actualized until he left office.
The next administration of Governor Akwe Doma tried to resuscitate the project. The effort, however, was unsuccessful, as a result of the Mahwa village flood scandal. The settlement, at the foot of Farin Ruwa, had been flooded and the compensation exercise for the victims had resulted in bitter squabbles.
Travel experts say the present administration in the state seems ignorant of the enormous potentials of the revenue spinner.
Rakiya Damdam, an indigene of Nasarawa state, laments: “I am very surprised that up till now, this administration has not been able to harness the proximity of Abuja to generate revenue by developing this beautiful waterfall as a tourist attraction.
“The annoying thing is that they keep saying Nasarawa is a poor state. But look at this natural attraction lying redundant. Poachers and loggers, instead, are taking possession of what rightly belongs to the state.”
A government official, who did not wish to be named, told The Guardian that some Chinese investors who saw Farin Ruwa on the Internet visited the site, but that after expressions of interest and negotiations with the Al-Makura-led government, agreement could not be reached.
“Today, the state government in a strange turnaround is proposing a Public Private Partnership for an upgrade of the well-endowed waterfall. But without political will by the administration, this is like having gold, yet seeking pennies. Even a single rail line from the site to Abuja will generate millions,” the source explained.
The Guardian learnt that Nasarawa with a monthly federal allocation of about N3bn is one of the poorly funded states. An insider in the cabinet of Al-Makura explained that of the allocation, about N2.4bn is used to pay salaries and emoluments of workers, while about 400 million naira goes into servicing part of the N38bn debt inherited from past governments.
Critics, however, say this must not be used as an excuse for underdevelopment. Jato Istifanus, an indigene of the state, notes: “The government should stop complaining about the small federal allocation it receives and concentrate on improving numerous tourists’ attractions like Farin Ruwa. After all, Israel and other countries have shown that tourism can be one of the greatest revenue sources.”
The village head of Marhi, at the foot of the waterfall, expresses hope that a day will come when tourism potentials in the area will be utilized to attract economic and social development to the state.