NANTA Elections 2024: In search for the children of Issacha

By Frank Meke.

I bowed my head in sorrow during the week because one of Nigeria’s best organised private sector organisation, the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies, may be engulfed in unexplainable uncertainties, which will cloud its future aspirations if the ongoing four wheel driven ferocious sentiments on its leadership character ecosystem is not banked on equity, competence and national integration.

When last I wrote on the nanta “patriots and the merchants”I pointed out that nanta may go the Sudanese way if the characteristics of electing its leadership are shrouded in mysteries, with unknown hands and the vicious soul merchants given ample room to bewitch the process.

That report didn’t go down well with lots of people who probably thought I was a privileged campaign hand for their perceived opponents.

Indeed, I was singled out for well crafted blackmail and I felt terribly sad. I just kind wondered why we can not be scientific in orientation and our thoughts, particularly in putting our foot down on the pedal of demographic analysis as nanta evolves into full adulthood and relevance.

In the past twenty years of its lifetime, NANTA membership operational ethos has shifted gradually from certain behavioural responses to issues that trouble and oxygenate anxieties for its members to systemic and deliberate search for greater opportunities for all.

Even NANTA principals, the foreign airlines, have equally shifted in their operational relationships and expectations, so vexatiously intentional and dictating terms, unwilling sometimes to negotiate.

Now, with this climate of change in view, wouldn’t it amount to pedestrian simplicity to the table the national leadership, even the zonal structure with beer palour testimonies instead of a strong well intentioned and responsive worldview solutions to situate objectively its strengths and drive nanta new footing into another decade and century.

Significant and important, no nation, group, or people can do away with experience, usually and culturally seen to domiciled with the “elders” , yet the elders, not the masquerading ones, the “me alone” bourgeoisies, should be seen to be sensitive to the yearning aspirations of the young ones.

Some people call it mentoring, but I call it the mirror technology wherein we give birth of ourselves in others without asking for reward or if you are kidnapper of collective gain,
no ransome.

I write as a journalist groomed by an association with some of the best industry experts and intellectuals. I have been privileged to see many sides of this great association, and I worry that if certain crypt demons in some of its key operatives are not deliberately cast out, the association may split through its ranks.

This is where I believe that nanta must on its own deliberately search for the children of Issachar, those who understand where nanta is going or should be,and to help wag its tail for a new direction and opportunities.

Though conspiracies are part of politics, and I should add that there are no small politicking in an association which has produced industry greats such as Dr Soji Amusan, femi Adefope, Teresa Ojo( ezeobi),. Dr Gbenga Olowo, Ahmed ojuolape, Abayomi Jones, Modupe Lawale, Aminu Agoha,.Munzali Dantata and many others.

Dayo Adeola leads the Ipack of younger ” senior advocates ” for better NANTA, Jide Saraye, Steve isokariare, Dr Chima Ihe, kabiru Maiwada, and others. There’s this young tech driven influencer in the new nanta space, though irritably arrogant, but his tenacity and determination to bring about new narratives and opportunities in trade cycles with niche technology ecosystem resonates with me and the future of nanta

So as NANTA matches into the new space in its growth process, there must be new thinking to align with the signs of the times. The signs of times can not and should not be defined by ethnicity, low barbs, and forays into yesterday’s glory and visibility but by divine inspiration to see issues ten years ahead, a decade from now what and how how nanta members can prosper and contribute to national socioeconomic development.

I read on the Facebook page of David Batur, the very young but dashing NANTA Abuja spokesperson, on his signed timeline that possibly defines the thought process of young persons in nanta. Batur wrote for his audience and said, ” Invite me to where I can learn new things, make money and grow, but don’t invite me to a place where you gossip about other people.”

When nanta members resort and respond to gossips, then there is a devil in their midst, and the demon must be cast out.

I ran into one of nanta’s most charming and delectable spokesperson ever, Mrs Modupe Lawale, last week on the island. Auntie Dupe is fearless and courageous. She is female opposites of Soji Amusan and Dr Gbenga Olowo in comedy. Though age is telling on her but she’s still ravishingly beautiful. Beyond travel trade, Lawale is a corporate giant. Do you also know Uloma Egbuna? I think we should ask Femi. Adefope‚Ķuloma brought beauty, grace, and inspiration to managing nanta image as a spokesperson during her time. There used to be a Mrs Cornellia Lewis and gangling beauty and ex Nigeria Airways turned travel trade owner, Mrs Soluade of Soltan travels based now in canada.

Honestly, nanta has produced great women and beautiful women, and we thank God that these beautiful women didn’t break the hearts of men in nanta, and certainly their homes too.

So what did lawale discuss with me? I am not the issue in nanta elections and would never be. I am unapologetically nanta centric, repeated for emphasis, and that should be understood in the context that I have a job to report this industry and the association aright. Having cleared that , It is important we deal with issues of pecuniary insinuation, topical with those who trade in blackmailing others.

A day shall come when I shall unveil inside details experience as a strategic media and industry lobbyist advisor to Bankole Bernard. I recall Femi Adefope asked me at the foyer of Sheraton Hotel Ikeja, lagos, about six years ago how I fared while serving nanta under Bankole Bernard, ditto Auntie Dupe lawale

This is nanta election year, so I would hold my peace on revealing interesting excepts from my upcoming book on ” MY NANTA Years, and the Burden of a Journalist “, chronicling inside details of the administration of those I was privileged to work with or shared nanta concerns.

I assure you, it’s going to be an explosive narrative that will make you roll on the floor in laughter and also reveal the bogus facade to which some people bring to the table of nanta.

Is Susan Akporiaye the issue?

Throw back to World Travel Market November last year in London and before it, the South African training exposure put together for nanta and Ghana Tour Operators Association by South Africa Tourism.

I recall with joy in my heart the testimony by Nigerian ambassador to South Africa who drove for about four hours from Pretoria to Sandhurst, Johannesburg, to celebrate nanta pan African tourism agenda.

Those two developments clearly reflect certain futuristic thinking geared towards opening more opportunities for NANTA members and which resonates with the upcoming nanta trade professionals.

So those two templates and others are issues on the table to further recalibrating NANTA, or it dies on the alter of old ways of doing business.

That is one answer to many people who wish to shoe issues to the dustbin and regale nanta with tales of a promised moonlight.

It will amount to diversionary tactics to make the outgoing president, Mrs Susan Akporiaye, the election issue based on certain assumed promises that are not issues based.

It would have been more important and desirable to excite the nanta leadership elections based on the impact and deliveries to which she brought to bear on the growth and influence of nanta.

No doubt, Mrs Susan Akporiaye will leave behind a big shoe for anyone coming behind her to wear. I could sense that the young persons in nanta would use her achievements as a measuring rubric to decide who gets their votes in the April elections.

Now, to further answer, Auntie Dupe lawale interrogation, I will want to ask if Bankole Bernard did keep his promises to support Susan Akporiaye presidency based on her full commitment and dedication to the success of Bankole Bernard administration?

If promises are hard currency in nanta elections in the past, it ought to have been the turn of Dr Chima Ihe to be president of nanta, all things being equal. Things can be equal if we are righteous and equitable. Unfortunately, broken promises are the face of global politics

But again, there are factors that clearly marked out politics and power in the most brazen show of interest and availability. In fact, power is not given but taken, and in the case of nanta, South West/ lagos Zones have always dominated other zones on each run down to nanta presidency. No, be today !

The idea to bring the eastern zone into the heartbeat of nanta began during the Bankole Bernard era and was a process, to which Susan Akporiaye, kabiru Maiwada, and zack Abdullahi agreed to see through.

Unknown to many nanta members, one of the reasons the second tenure elections of Bankole Bernard took place in Portharcourt about six years ago was to vent and birth the very progressive thought of mobilising the eastern zone to brace for the nanta presidency.

It must be noted that the only eastern zone presence on the national leadership profile then was that of Dr Chima Ihe, who was the internal auditor and lately second deputy national president.

Indeed, it will amount to a study in keeping nanta together in the future if the Board of Trustees could insert in its constitution a zone by zone presidential affirmation because the unconventional turn by turn ecosystem has collapsed due to the certain ambitioous and divisive interest in the lagos and South West nanta to out run other zones.

How you may ask? If you take a cursory look at the membership of the current leadership of nanta, and indeed before this one, the first and second deputy are held by the North and East, while the finance, publicity, Tressurer, and internal auditor are held by elements from lagos and South West. It’s may also shock you why the northern zone has refused to have a go at the presidency, monopolising the position of the first national deputy.

At any voting opportunity, it is clear that a president outside this structure is a lame duck who can easily be ambushed. Though such a brazen show of power is an abuse of office by the perceived perpetrators but there are no laws checking such crude politicking advantage and which is the new sore point as nanta evolves.

I witnessed the most senseless abuse of office during the Bankole Bernard era when the financial secretary of the association threw caution overboard to literally stop nanta under Bankole from moving forward. In fact, the bitter infractions and acrimony, which became the face of the nanta administration under Bankole, forced Susan Akporiaye to give her support and total commitment to Bankole leadership and its success.

Did that abuse of office end there? No! It was employed full scale in a brazen abuse of office to water than Susan Akporiaye leadership, too, and unfortunately, those she supported during their time sanctioned the irritable politicking.

If there is any zone that should be made to truly belong in the future of nanta, it’s the eastern zone. However, if you lead a horse to the stream, you wonder if it is also out of kindness to force it to drink from the stream.

I speak and write as someone who is trying to understand those who wish to give the eastern zone opportunity to lead nanta yet would turn one hundred degrees backwards to frustrate that ambition. These persons know themselves.

So if the Board of Trustees of nanta does not find a way to let each zone have a run at nanta presidency without the clever power hungry hawks in the system scuttling it, there won’t be any surprise to the emergence of breakaway zones sooner than we could imagine, particularly if such zones produce a charismatic leader with critical industry contacts and financial muscles to gain advantages for its local membership.

This again is an issue that should worry contestants for the office of nanta presidency in April, apart from the needful intervention of the BOT.

To add, since the BOT also oversees the national elections, it is important and imperative that this group of privileged umpires should mobilize and sensitise all the members, from zone to zone on the need to present their best candidates for national leadership.

Unfortunately, that critical general mobilization ecosystem is lacking and has generally contributed to a lack of interest and excitement by members to present themselves for national elections. Even the same setback is clearly the problem at zonal levels where some people take advantage of such gaps to play the Jagaban of nanta politics.

So it will be novel, responsive, and timely for the nanta national BOT to Marshall out a sensitization and mobilization initiative to inform nanta members and its various publics about the elections. Nanta is no longer a mushroom body. It is big and unarguably influential in the matter and issues on Nigerian travel and tourism trade economy, so to continue in subjecting its affairs to village square meetings, is clearly out of sync with its future aspirations and growth.

Nigerians, including the federal government, not just travel trade professionals, look up to nanta for guidance on the dynamics of the global travel market, a major critical and crucial role of nanta to which many who even aspire to manage its affairs find very difficult to understand.

Hence, such persons find it hard to support initiatives that the association should spearhead and spend its funds on public advocacy to rid the industry of ills befallen it and the welfare of the Nigerian travelling public and nanta members.

It is such ignorance that pervades the stringent opposition to nanta global exposure of its members to new offerings and businesses by certain financial officers who would prefer nanta spend her savings on liquor and gyration at its AGMs than investing in the search for greater opportunities for the members.

I should, in all honesty, suggest that persons with free lifestyle orientations be advised to join the skal club where fun is served al carte.

NANTA is generally an advocacy non-governmental organisation and should be run by those who have attained the industry professional status. Are all travel trade operators professionals? I have asked Ahmed Ojuolape and Dr. Soji Amusan to help answer this question, and until today, both of them have been dodging me.

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