Since the Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN) came to life, gatherings for election of its leadership remain significant, possibly its only unquestionable achievement. Looking back as I pen this piece, to the glory of God, one had been part of the gathering crowd, playing significant roles, selflessly putting the industry first.
At a point when Chief Goodie Ibru was to become President by the exclusive fiat of our then elders, we noised for democrat timelines and process. No doubt, the influence of the hospitality giant and then President of blue chip company chief executives, would better our lot, some of us including Paul Onyia, then the Sales manager of Sheraton Lagos, held out that if the respected hotelier (Chief Ibru) must hold fort, he should stand for election. Paul Onyia, now a traditional ruler in Anambra, held to that conviction despite open threat by powers that be to report him to boss, Ibru, who owns Sheraton hotel Lagos, under the flagship of Ikeja Hotels PLC.
As very smart negotiators, we knew that the powers that want Ibru to run the affairs of FTAN were very influential and very tactical and mean. They knew if they get Paul onyia to back down, we, the democrats and progressives would back down. Who are we? Paul Onyia, Gani Tarzan Balogun, Jimmy Alade, Segun Ola Oyedeji, Deji Adeleye, and many people I can’t recall but these are the inside rebellious team.
Paul Onyia is the salt of that team and Jimmy Alade the iconic navigator. Like his biblical name sake, Paul Onyia was ready to give up his well-paid job at Sheraton Lagos to ensure we do election.
Our elders had FCT Minister, General Jerry Useni, as backbone, and the promises of top military officers in and out of government, to help the then proposed Ibru leadership of FTAN.
The late Pa Matthew Ebaboje Dasilva was part of our dream ftan and but later joined the other side, having failed to convince us on the desirability of Ibru FTAN leadership ambition. Franklin Adejunwo was also an arrow head but I will leave his role to a memoir am putting together on my times in the industry.
And if you must know, we got Gani Tarzan Balogun as Deputy President of FTAN and the rest is history, which has stunted the full potentials of the federation. And it also amazing, that we need to go into very rigorous politicking to pick the FTAN executive secretary, then. Do you know Dr. Mubo Andrew Eniola?
He is gifted, tough, cerebral, unputdownable, urban, cultured and master of tourism business and economy. His personal and academic reputation is towering, and threatened the new “owners of FTAN.” At the keen examination to pick the best brain for ftan launch out under Ibru, Dr. Eniola was far, far ahead. Unfortunately, destiny has other ideas.
Story ahhh!! So that has been our bane, we love election and the feverishness associated with it. We engage in permutations yet don’t even understand the message, the issues and where we are going.
I kind of wonder when some people talk about ftan as if others don’t count or should be seen as strangers. I tremble at past attempts to make ftan a club of the haves only, an exclusive club of men and women wooled in the vanity of monetary or pecuniary influence. Unfortunately, there was never any record of how these over exaggerated money bags, helped anybody rather, they came to steal and use ftan as lobbying portfolio to feather their nest.
So as we go into another election next month, what are the contending issues? As a former electoral chairman of FTAN, it beats me that we are still in the mode of “dancing and forgetfulness” of what ftan is all about.
We hardly think through the kind leadership we should have and encourage. We go sentimental, sometimes tribal. We are no better than our paid politicians and their sheepish followers.
We are noisy, pedestrian and easily manipulated. We hardly learn from history, does not interrogate issues and persons, and above afraid to stand in opposition against notable oppressors in our midst.
Though it is in the past now, I resisted all attempts to frustrate me as electoral committee chairman that brought Edem Duke as then FTAN president. My open but regrettable rebuke of one of us, who thought he could use the patronage of his office then to muscle the electorial process to the advantage of his clannish anointed candidate remains instructive. Godfathers and mothers playing from behind, scheming to steal FTAN and use it as pedestal of their very oppressive and selfish agenda. The signs are with us again!
We are aware that all FTAN leaders, except Tereza Ezobi, got huge rewards for themselves, leaving federating bodies in penury and lifeless. Toda, poor financial capacity bedevil the entire body of the membership of ftan except National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies and HOFA, Abuja.
It is indeed telling that same measure of ignorance pervades the upcoming FTAN elections. Some people think that all we need to know about the presidential hopefuls is a day set aside for manifesto recitation!
What a pedestrian thought! What about integrity, capacity to sacrifice and reject lures of office for the good of all? What about attitude to find opportunity in any difficulty?
Who do we really want: oppressive, repressive, domineering or progressive leaders? What type of leadership do we want?
Dr. Daniel Olukoya, the oeneral overseer of Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministry, and my pastor, is wont to teach us and I am guided based on that template that as we go for FTAN election next month, we must all canvas and support leaders that have history of building up people, sacrificial and humble.
Charisma and prancing, without character, leads to catastrophe. Aroma without anointing leads to annoyance. Crown without sacrifice leads to weakness. Sound without sense leads to shallowness.
Dr. Olukoya reminded us that sight without vision leads to stagnation. Shadow without substance leads to reduction. Reason without revelation leads to ridicule. A successful leader that we must crave for FTAN must guide us to overcome the crisis in the industry and at the same time should not undermine the spiritual and physical wellbeing of our members represented therein in the federation. Time to prosper has come!
Certainly interesting times are here for FTAN to change its narratives. It should not be a jamboree or war by all means. Let us be wise!