There is something about Fridays as the beginning of the weekend that gives me some tonic to look to the brighter side of life. To me, Fridays are joyful days, days to cheer others up and be a blessing.
And because I must present tourism economy news and development to Nigerians far and wide through Jordan Radio, an entrepreneurial station devoted to supporting small and medium enterprises (SME), one must be cheerful and so I was and will always be every Friday.
So? Last Friday, after the rundown of industry developments on Jordan Radio with Segun Ola Oyedeji, an Association of Tourism Practitioners of Nigeria (ATPN) and industry veteran, I was inaugurated with other great tourism minds into one of the biggest tourism associations in Nigeria. Acting president, Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN), Mr. Nkerewuem Onung, had at one of our meetings described ATPN as the “dreamliner and stronghold” of all shades of opinions and associations in the tourism industry.
In truth and in deed, the FTAN boss was right. Segun Ola Oyedeji says ATPN is the “blood and breath” of the industry. True. I can’t agree less. I grew up in the sector to meet great souls who sacrificed to birth this noble association, Pa Mike Amachree, Sam Oresajo, Jimi Alade, the late Hajia Bintu, Gani Tarzan Balogun, Deji Adeleye and many other people, space constrains me to mention.
As a tourism journalist, it was considered noble and expectant that the affairs of ATPN get mentioned every week and its very frequent meetings covered.
Pa Amachree did gave ATPN all his youthful days, so did Oresajo, a gentleman with the most peaceful voice I ever heard. Like everything associated with men, ATPN ran into the murky waters of irritations and unbridled ambitions.
ATPN as the spirit and soul of the industry went down, was abandoned, not because it was no longer relevant but due to claims and counter-claims of proprietorship. “Na me get am, na me dey spend all the money.”
As the industry’s first all-embracing sectorial body, open to everyone but without defined democratic boundaries, its octopus and sudden sundry presence, particularly within government circles, brought up challenges that threw logs on the great strides achieved in the early 1990s, which clobbered it to the backyard of history.
Kabir Malan, chairman of the second generation board of trustees of ATPN, held up to the little of what was left after the accident of history in ATPN.
Ironically, the same Kabir was once a special assistant to Alhaji Tukur Mani, former acting DG of NTDC, ex-minister of commerce and minister of health, who helped broker peace and way forward for ATPN, a process that led to the formation of FTAN.
Tukur, in his well considered opinion, had suggested that ATPN be left in the care of Chief Amachree and be seen as one of the groups in the emerging sector while FTAN would aggregate the collective, originally the expected architecture of ATPN.
Gani Tarzan Balogun, Jimi Alade, Victoria Soluade, Deji Adeleye and my humble self sat with Alhaji Tukur Mani on the solution table. Indeed, I was mandated to reach Tukur Mani who is a very good friend of mine and encourager. And despite the peace brokered in Abuja to give FTAN a new bite and which NANTA’s first female president, Mrs. Teresa Ezeobi, gave her all, the spirit and soul of ATPN refused to die completely.
At several times and meetings in the past 20 years, attempts, very aggressive and robust ones for that matter, have always been made to pull up the the spirit and soul of ATPN out of the graveyard.
John likite Best, Gani Tarzan Balogun, Kabir Malan, Andrew Ehanire, and my humble self had met severally and tried to pull ATPN out of dustbin of history. Each time we met, there was this presence of spiritual introspection and connectivity to the true ideals of ATPN. It was like magic.
Kabir Malan was particularly pained. Kabir Malan is wool and socks about this association. He held forte, he sought collaboration and revival. He knew ATPN was at the behest the industry’s future and won’t let go. We shared in this pain and futuristic expectations and yet our efforts couldn’t find the legs and hands to drive the recalibration of ATPN, and with FTAN at certain point floundering, we wondered.
Four years ago, the breath of life came upon the dry bones of ATPN. This time, we teamed up with other tourism progressives to free FTAN from clutches of ineptitude and confusion. We, Kabir Malan, Andrew Ehanire, Ganiyu Tarzan Balogun, John Best, Nkerewuem Onung, Bankole Bernard, Ikechi Uko and my humble self, paid the price of saving FTAN from going down to the dustbin of history and the rest is left for the latter-day saints in tourism to watch their ways, particularly in their clandestine efforts to appropriate the collective dream of the FTAN. So much untold!!!
Today, it not about FTAN but ATPN, resurging out of the brinks of the graveyard of history into prominence. I must not fail to mention the spirited efforts of Hazzan Zakari. He was bullish and took our dreams to the marketplace and gave direction and everyone noticed. Twice, he was my guest at Jordan Radio and he didn’t know I was on the watchout for selflessness and dedication. He didn’t fail me and I am sure others too.
At a recent meeting in Calabar, hosted by Mr. Onung, the new ATPN standard-bearers, were prompted to take an oath, no rituals, just a revalidation to the dream, that ATPN must rise again.
The mandate to set the process on track fell on me and for the first time in my life I was set to pee before making a speech. And when I eventually got my groove back, the then members the protem Board of Trustees, knew it was a question of time for ATPN to rise again. I want to thank all the members of the Board of Trustees and in particular the chairman, Kabir Malan, who nominated me to this great assembly of tourism greats. During our affirmation at inauguration, I was again called to lead the groundswell of testimonies.
I had described ATPN as a “Spirit” and as we know, a spirit can be made to lose power, arrested and made powerless but cannot die. ATPN is back on the block and with these gentlemen, Honourable Adbulmumin Mapindi, Ganiyu Tarzan Balogun, Andrew Ehanire, John Best, my humble self, led by Kabir Malan, surely more surprises are in the works now and in the nearest future.