Tourism Ministry: Is Coker the type of Saul?

By Frank Meke

My good friend, Wale Ojo lanre, is not dramatic in his single-minded advocacy for a stand-alone Ministry of Tourism. As we say on the streets, no be today. Wale Ojo lanre has been consistent, possibly irritating many people who don’t understand why Nigeria tourism must progress beyond I feel alright.

On my count, there are other industry stakeholders and journalists on this all-important campaign train. At some point, we wonder if the country, the political cabals that decide the fate our country ever take us seriously, I mean very seriously.

We also have some supposedly unknown tourism influencers. Unknown in the sense that these guys don’t speak up on issues as under discus. They usually want us to beg them for a statement on where they stand on tourism issues, and when there are certain open doors, they file out ahead, soak in the vanities of recognition and appropriate the benefits.

Two of such developments call to mind. Munzali Dantata was once our tourism federation president. He took over from Goddy ibru and honestly did try his best. Dantata is my friend, but on several occasions, I had felt he wasn’t bullish enough. Dantata, as president of nanta years back, critically turned around the fortunes of nanta. He is a prominent travel trade operator with his agency solely in charge of SaudiAir, the national carrier of oil rich Saudi Arabia.

So Dantata stood ahead, tried his hands on resort investment around Zuma Rock in Abuja, and many other long stories.

As ftan president, he took to lobbying the system. At the height of PDP, Munzali Dantata once led its campaign funding activities. He is known in kano. In fact, he came from one most influential family in kano.

Though he did not throw his weight around as scion of Dantata family, that great name of his father’s stood him apart. Some people say he was stingy, but Munzali is generous to his friends.

A lawyer, Munzali Dantata, is brilliant and well travelled but on appointment as Director General, National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism ( NIHOTOUR), by fani kayode as minister of Tourism, Munzali failed.

Enter the orator and oracle of calabar hospitality space, our own Edem Duke. His Mirage Hotel in calabar used to be the address of the industry, at least in that region then.

We elected him ftan President. Munzali Dantata didn’t want him to take charge after him. I was then chairman of the ftan election committee and stood up against the powers of pecuniary and sentimental persuasions.


Looking back at those times and the roles the travel media played to stabilise the industry, it pains when some elements in fancy flight of self glorification tend to rub the travel media of its measurable contributions.

The only person in and out of government that has honoured, supported, and has stood with the Nigerian tourism press like the rock of Gibraltar is the indefatigable otunba Segun Runsewe

Edem Duke as minister was so disappointing, so pedestrian to the extent that we held up our faces in shame. He did nothing to advance the sector, and neither did he assist any individual practitioner. I was so pained at the wilful loss of tourism opportunities by the ministry under Edem Duke that I dubbed him ” egugun calabar.”

Edem Duke, while as ftan president, enjoyed effectual support, indeed unprecedented support from ntdc under otunba Segun Runsewe but failed to reciprocate same to the agencies under his administration, even to the private sector which he once led.

I took to these narratives so as to guide us when we fail to notice deceitful slogans on our quest for a stand-alone Ministry of Tourism. Though my bible teaches me that whoever confesses Jesus as Lord in whatever mode should be seen to advance the cause of salvation. The devil even confessed the word of God and trembled..

I remember the confession of Saul, who once persecuted the church and later became one of the greatest servants of the gospel. So people do change, yes people can trade places,ambitions and positions on issues depending on their encounter with the truth, the light that shines and to which darkness cannot comprehend.

There were, however, two bible characters bearing the name Saul. One was the first king of Israel, and the other Saul became apostle Paul on encounter with God.

King Saul once prophesied and beguiled people with his divine encounter with the prophets. As was said of him two thousand years ago, the refrain of the people about that encounter still echoes today. Is Saul now among the prophets?

Recently, the Director General of Nigeria Tourism Development Authority ( NTDA) took to the media to join in the advocacy for a stand-alone Ministry of Tourism. The industry buzzed because for eight years, he never lifted up his voice for Nigerian tourism. He held the yam and knife of the industry and reenacted the famous pilate drama.

Indeed, he was confrontational instead of being a unifer of the industry. He introduced the divide and ” use” in the tourism sector, targeting some of us who stood with him in his times of his Jacob troubles.

Two months to go out of eight years of nothingness, Mr Saul of tourism suddenly woke up to join the tourism stand-alone Ministry campaign . Wonders shall never end.

I am pleased with his turn-around acceptance of the reality that tourism is a game changer even though he persecuted and failed the industry.

Like Saul turned Paul, folarin Coker deserved to be heard, to be forgiven, but will he stand with the campaign to end?. Is he grandstanding and eying the appointment as a minister of tourism? Is his sudden confession reflecting a deep desire to speak and make sacrifice for a sector he failed to bring about any notable change?

Is the politician in Coker at play, or is he being clever by half? “Those who know him closely are usually wary when Coker sweet talks. Is this campaign for a stand-alone ministry part of Coker unknown to simplistic persons?

There are others like Coker in our industry. I won’t mention their names, but I am on a watch out for them. I am vindicated by the confession of Coker that tourism is serious business even though he didn’t take his opportunity to serve our nation well in this regard.

Nothing spoil as our people would say. Thank you mr coker for being bold to identify with our cause. Go beyond the campaign, you know the way, the process, and help facilitate the reality.

Though you may have failed us at NTDA, there are still two months left of your tenure to make amends. We shall forgive your tourism failings and to which you are not the only red flag bearer.

Like apostle Paul, go out and put on your girdle of sacrifice even of self and preach the tourism economy and its ministry. May history remember you for good if you have truly repented and supportive of the calls for a stand-alone ministry. Be rest assured that we are praying for you and will not hesitate to noise your tourism stand-alone Ministry evangelism. Time is ticking

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