Even though he is a boater, Benjamin Adinoyi, who is the media manager of Jabi Boat Club, Abuja has a phobia for water. He speaks to SUCCESS NWOGU about his boating experience
How long have you worked at the Jabi Boat Club?
I am a member of the Jabi Boat Club and I have worked there for about two and a half years. I have been boating for that long as well.
What do you love most about boating?
The wind. When one is boating, there is a kind of wind that goes with it; it is an awesome experience. I also love the view of land from the waterside.
How do you feel when you’re boating?
Though I’m a boater, I have a phobia for water. Whenever I’m boating, I always have the thought of ‘what if this boat capsizes’? I wonder if I would just die that way.
What’s your most memorable boating experience?
That was when some entertainers including Tonto Dikeh, Falz and Jim Ikye came here to shoot a movie. I was privileged to be part of them as they shot at the waterside. It was a wonderful experience. I drove the boat that they were on.
I recall that we cruised from Jabi Boat Club to Shoprite and across the bridge to the other side.
Did they enjoy the boating experience?
Yes, they did. Since then, we have been having celebrities come to Jabi Boat Club for video and photo shoots. They love this place.
Have you had any boating experience outside Nigeria?
No, I have not had any boating experience outside the country.
How do you think boating can be developed in Nigeria?
Boating can be developed in Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt and other parts of the country where there are large bodies of water. The only challenge we have here in Abuja is that what we have is a lake and not the sea. The lake is only about seven kilometers; we don’t have the luxury of space.
It would be helpful if the government could extend the lake from Abuja to perhaps, Kogi State.
Do you think there is boating awareness in Nigeria?
The boating awareness is not much. We have not exposed what we have in the country such as our boating potential. The relevant tourism agency or ministry has not been able to capture what we have and expose them to tourists and the world at large.
How safe is boating, compared to other forms of transportation and sports?
Boating is quite safe. The danger is if there is a storm and the captain cannot control his boat. In that case, one may fear that the boat may capsize and people may lose their lives. However, the life jackets we have these days help to prevent people from sinking. They would just float on the water till the rescue team picks them out of the water.
What are the precautionary measures that are taken before people start boating at Jabi Boat Club?
We do not allow our customers to get drunk before boating. We insist that before they start boating, they should drink only water. We also insist that they must put on their life jackets and listen to the captain’s instructions. If the captain instructs them to dance during boating, it means that where they are at the moment is safe and they can stand and dance. And when the captain instructs them to sit down, they should comply as it means that the environment where they are is not quite good.
How many people are allowed on a boat?
Our boats convey about 13 people, plus the life guard and the captain.
Has there ever been an accident at the club?
There has never been an accident.
When boating, where’s your favourite destination?
Our favourite destinations are Shoprite at Jabi and Jabi Lake Mall.
In what ways can boating be used to drive tourism growth and attract tourists to Nigeria?
The Federal Government should partner with private organisations that have boating resources. They should be given the privilege to use facilities without paying.
How can the Federal Government promote boating in the country?
The Federal Government should mount an awareness campaign about boating, using the media and other publicity strategies. The government should, through its public enlightenment team, publicise the boating potential in Nigeria.
What are the necessary factors to have a good boating experience?
The Inland Waterways Authority should come around and check the water because most times, when it rains, the flood pushes mud to the water. So, there is a need to dredge the water after raining season to ensure that the water is deep enough for boating to continue because when the water’s depth is reduced, it would not be easy for the captain to sail. Otherwise, the boat might get stuck somewhere with the passengers until the life guard or the rescue team arrives to remove them from the area.
Given the prevailing insecurity in some areas, how can the safety of boaters be guaranteed?
It depends on the location. There are no water pirates on Jabi Lake. But in places such as the Niger Delta, where there are pirates, the Federal Government should beef up security. For instance, the Navy could use their helicopters to mount surveillance on the activities on water while people are boating.
What advice do you have for new boaters?
They should visit other countries and see what is done in those places. Developed countries that have more advanced boating systems operate new boats and new systems. So, up-and-coming boaters should travel around. That was what I did. I travelled to some countries and got myself acquainted with what they were doing before I started boating.
What are some of the challenges you face as a boater?
One of the challenges is our passengers. Not all the passengers take to instructions. There are instances when passengers are told to sit down but some of them would say they want to dance. Imagine a captain telling them what to do and they are not listening. They may not know that by disobeying the captain, there may be an accident.
Is it necessary for boaters to join boat clubs?
No, it is not. For instance, at our club, everybody is welcome. You don’t need to be a member to boat with us.
It is believed that boating is an elitist pastime. What’s your take on that?
At our boat club, we do not discriminate. Everybody is welcome.
Have you participated in any boating competition?
We have not but we plan to do that soon.
Source: Sunday PUNCH