Yola is the capital of Nigeria’s northern state of Adamawa, a state proudly known as the Land of Beauty, Sunshine and Hospitality. I visited sometime in March 2017 for two days; and I really had a good time. Now, I look forward to a return visit. Just like every other northern city I have visited, Yola has proven yet again that Nigeria is indeed as diverse as it could get. Every tribe and religion is adequately represented every where you turn.
I expected to encounter lots of Hausa and Muslim residents in the north but behold the reverse was the case. I met lots of Jeremiahs, Sarahs, and even the Tourism Commissioner the state answers Nathan. Mehnnn, I’ve never been so mesmerized and reoriented all my life. The culture shock was real – a good one at that.
So just incase you’re considering a visit to Yola, I’d like to give you a headsup: Yola is very sunny. This is why I prefer to simply refer to it as the Sunshine State. You see, I should also confess that ‘Sunny’ is only a nice word to describe the place. Actually, ‘Hot’ is the perfect synonym 😬 which is, well, not a bad thing, you know. Recall that folk song ‘All things bright and beautiful’… Exactly!
Having said that, there are two major modes of transportation to access Yola: air and road. The city has an international airport, so you can fly in from Lagos or any other connecting destination. Alternatively, you can come in by road. I arrived Yola from Jalingo by road in 3 hours. If you’re coming from Abuja, then you get ready for a 12-hour plus ride. Actually it’s best if you split the journey into bits and pieces.
From Abuja, you’ll get to Lafia-Nasarawa, then Makurdi-Benue, Jalingo-Taraba and finally Yola-Adamawa. The distance between these cities are simply mind blowing. You don’t want to be ‘road sick’ or put yourself in danger at night. This is why it is advisable to always set out in the mornings.
So when you finally arrive Yola, finding your way around wouldn’t be much of a hassle. Hausa is the lingua franca, but language is not a barrier to communication. Many folks there can relate to simple English words and gestures. For example, when trying to hail a cab or asking for the nearest ATM, you just need to be friendly and creative when communicating. In my case, I got around just fine. Those who couldn’t speak English called their English speaking colleagues to hear me out. The folks there are a friendly bunch. I’m sure you’ll be fine.
So moving on from the park, I stayed at a place called Yukuben Hotels and Tourism along the Army Barracks road, Jimeta, Yola. What piqued my interest was the name of the hotel. I was thrilled that they had ‘tourism’ as part of their name – even if they’re not living up to expectation in that regard. Well, I am mentioning the name simply because of the receptionist I met on duty that day – a smiling gentleman called Jeremiah. He was so kind. Well, you might say he’s only doing what he’s being paid to do. But you know, I have travelled enough to know the difference between when a man is simply doing his job and when it is coming from an authentic place. In short, I had a good time at Yukuben. Meanwhile, there are other nice hotels, aside Yukuben, to explore when you visit. And their prices are reasonable as well.
Finally, I must mention my visit to the folks at the state’s Ministry of Arts, Culture and Tourism. They were all nice and welcoming – well probably because, in a long while, they haven’t had someone come all the way from Lagos to see them for business. Or maybe they’re just naturally nice. Actually, I think the latter is the case, because each time I call back to followup on my discussion with them, they are as warm and polite as ever.
My stay was very brief, so I couldn’t really explore the state’s attractions. Places I wished I visited included the much talked about American University of Nigeria, Lamurde Hot Spring, Mandara Mountains, Modibbo Adams Tomb Monument, Three Sister Rocks/Hills, Kiri Sam, Koma Hills and the Sukur Cultural Landscape.
Sunny people. Sunny city. Sunny state. I love Yola, and so would you. Cheers!