Nkereweum Onung: why tourism votes must count

By Frank Meke.

Nigerian Tourism remains the most talked about sector before and after any dinner outing. Check through the social media and within organised and unofficial quarters, the heavy dosage of lip and eye service devoted to what and how this sector, can play,rightly roles of socioeconomic engagement is legendary.

During the military era, it was the most “Preferred sector” and every conference, has it brochured in the most glossy print and the talking goes on.

At the advent of Democratic experience under President Obasanjo, a near focal agenda, failed in interpretation and not in will power. Determined to give the sector a practical certification, Obasanjo gave Franklin ogbuewu, the needed support to grow the sector but the fine dashing diplomat from ebonyi state, has other ideas.

And with Masterplan plan seemingly doctored eurocentrically by some of egg heads sadled with the responsibility, Obasanjo galled at the effontry and requested a creative indigenous response.

By time President Muhammadu Buhari came with Olympic size broom, sweeping away sixteen years of political near miss intervention for the sector, it was back again to a night life for the industry.

Indeed, there was even no moon light story for the industry under the APC government, no stand alone ministry, meaning the industry do not enjoy ministerial attention, but a mere departmental profile.

If we go by civil service roles, issues and concerns of the state under “a table”, department, cannot receive ” ministerial” attention but must be routed through frustrating innocuous time wasting tape rules, ending up at the dustbin.

This has been our story since 2015. All the permutations and make believes that fine handsome, Alhaji lai Muhammed is our minister, cannot truly survive scrutiny under this telling scenario.

Now, I don’t want to dwell or argue with anyone on this matter of Alhaji lai Muhammed being our Minister or not . Okay, let us go by the nomenclature of which he is known and addressed in this government and am not afraid to be corrected.

WHO is our Minister of Information, Culture and National Orientation? ALHAJI Lai Muhammed, simple! This confirms however we do not have a full fledged Ministry of Tourism.

Semantics, if you argue in that realm, Culture does give us access to engage in tourism trade, yet it will be failing to navigate and negotiate a full grown policy overview for the sector.

I would have asked what Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation, should bring to bear in the absence of a Minister or Ministry exclusively devoted to tourism planning and development, but again, wisdom failed us as a nation when we appointed an all round failure to hold the strategic institution in trust for us.

This is however is an issue for another day since we recently noticed ntdc just woke from slumber, requesting us to queue up and register for a unwto conference slated to hold in Nigeria in November.

Since it sounds like a clarion call out and invitation to the industry, I was wondering if ntdc, could have done same to reawaken our political consciousness and conversation in the emerging political ” market ” for the tourism correctness.

Interestingly, it was the President of the Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria ( ftan) that has thrown a challenge to us to wake up and use our votes to decide who our next President and possibly our minister of Tourism, will be.

Hate or love Nkereweum Onung, he is not pretentious about our precarious tourism political situation and is determined to stamp the interest of the sector in the socioeconomic and political equation among the parties heading to elections.

NOW, at the last count of industry players ( active) population, we certainly can garner over thirty million voters, and could well drive a tourism “obedient ” advocacy campaign to win another one hundred million voters across the geographical zones, who must be made to see the job creation and employment opportunities, rural development and youth and women empowerment value chain inherent in a full fledged tourism industry .

Honestly, I don’t know what Nkereweum Onung is thinking about, but this progressive and selfless industry front line investor and President of ftan, may trigger off a tourism political revolution that will force the hands of professional political think tanks to reach out to ftan and the industry for collaboration.

No doubt, I have taken to keenly watch this development, suffice to say, that each and every one of us, must go get our PVC, and even join political parties to bring about a sustainable change for the sector.

And back to our strength and figures, it is certainly not doubtful that during the quest for post pandemic bail out fund, the ground work done to interrogate and upscale industry sub groups and population, under the watch of Otunba Segun Runsewe, cannot be lost on us.

Let those who may want to fly another flag on this score, revisit the list and interpret it’s huge political position. Numbers, they say in politics, matters and I join Nkereweum Onung, to say , let us go get our PVC, and vote any party, willing beyond semantics and political sweet talks, to accommodate our desire for a Ministry of Tourism and an industry best hand ( s) as Minister.

Red Post: Is it beneficial for Nigeria to invite unwto in our current situation of unbelievable insecurity, jobs losses and poor financial position to which government now borrowe money to argument payment of workers salaries? Zamfara, a state in Nigeria, says its citizens and including visitors should arm themselves in self defence. Is this unwto conference truly for us or” them them”. Abeg, na corn I throw oo, I no call fowl( chicken) ooo. . No look me, go get your PVC and let Nkereweum Onung know.

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