Sometimes, two years ago, I had taken some group of industry professionals to the Presidency, National assembly, and ended up at the office of Director General National Council for Art and Culture, Otunba Segun Runsewe. I also believed that knowledge is critical to the development of man particularly for those of us in the tourism industry, who must invest in knowledge and also drive the process of engagement in the sector through a vertible and verifying platform to expand the horizon of who and what and where on issues of tourism in Nigeria. Indeed, my comment today on the many battles of Runsewe to right the wrongs in the sector possibly began with that encounter in his office. The visitors having settled down with many of them wondering how Runsewe has continued to deliver on set goals, ignoring the many haters of his efforts and the preying mantis, whose wish is to see him fall. In response, Runsewe turned around in his chair and looked at them pointedly in the eyes and answered,” Since creation, God has always brought forth individuals with a call to change situations, like the Northern star, it takes the discerning eye to witness the appearance of the star, persons or personality”. Runsewe continued in his brimstone voice and advised the entourage not to forsake those who contributed to their struggle or success.
And talking about success, Otunba Runsewe has taken to the front of changing the Nigerian tourism history. In 2006, when he was first appointed to transform Nigerian tourism as D.G, Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) he left no one in doubt that it is not going to be business as usual as foreseen in the sector in the past and also that the history of tourism will begin with his vision and time out while he is at NTDC. He indeed left many records, visible turnarounds and achievable programs and target for Nigerian tourism but the enemies were also plenty. At each point in time, he took to reawaken the minds of Nigerians to the many advantages and profitable windows that could help Nigeria as a tourism destination, the Jews in our mist raged. Some even came to encourage and laugh with him only to go back to their coven to report him to the devil, and to re-strategies on how to pull him down, and project satanic creative imaginations all in the attempt to make him a liar. As a good soldier and patriotic Nigerian, Otunba Runsewe soldiers on believing that Nigeria will be great and structuring the needed environment for the Nigerians yet on unborn to find a Nigeria that they can be proud of.
In the past two weeks, yours sincerely, has had to take a more spiritual and holistic overview of what it takes to serve Nigeria. In view of many stone- throwing citizens who never believed that Nigeria in this time and hour still has a government official who will defend the people, the country from internal and external cultural pollution. And possibly due to the mandate of his office to advance and protect Nigerian culture, there is no denying the fact that Segun Runsewe will step on toes, also there are no doubt that the heathen must rage but their rage must come to nothing.
As Nigeria’s tourism Nostradamus, I submit that in 2020 greater than what Runsewe has done in the outgone year will shock many and bring cultural glory to Nigeria. I predict a glorious cultural blessed 2020, a knowledge based engagement and a strategic international marketing and promotion of Nigeria culture. God bless Nigeria.
Tourism and States Governments in Nigeria
I foresee the usual noise making raves across the land. Tourism will assume the octopus status in many states but will deliver as a church rat at the end of the day. States like Lagos, Kebbi, Imo, Edo, Rivers, Plateau and Cross River, will continue to show some rainbow colours as regards tourism promotion but at the end of 2020, there might not any visible change in terms of Job creation and impacting the local communities as long as tourism is concerned. Lagos will struggle, to reenact and sustain certain achievements of the past government in the state, which may lead to the removal of certain appointees in government or change of some portfolio before the middle of the year. Indeed all related structures to drive tourism in the state will be tasked to deliver not only from the governor but also from the people of the state.
If the governor of Kebbi state get the famous but moribund Argungu festival back on stream within March or April that may lead to some revival of cultural tourism festivals across northern states, and to which most international visitors will want to experience despite security challenges.
Plateau state may rebound as Nigeria foremost destination, if the governor choose to put his weight behind the hosting of Nigeria Festival of Culture. There will also be high traffic to plateau due to a lot of factors but the need for infrastructure to handle visitor’s traffic will remain a challenge. I see the plateau Governor bringing in more hands to assist in this area.
IMO state governor, Emeka Ihediora, if he survives the Supreme Court judgment, will continue to thinker with managerial structure already identified to run tourism in the state. The IMO state tourism board will be the enemies of its own vision as inter power struggle may rubbish any gains expected for tourism in the state.
In River state, where the governor has just appointed a Director General for the State Tourism Board, the tourism team in the state may take some feeble steps to refocus tourism in Rivers but a success hungry governor Wike will not be satisfied with their efforts.
In Cross river state, the dance of the emperor will overshadow the gains of the sector, so the need to address infrastructural expectation may not be met or advanced.
In other states in Nigeria, the cloud over tourism will still be misty with many dancing in the sun, yet cold at night.
Our Universities and our Heritage.
There is no doubt that our tertiary institutions holds the key to a prosperous cultural heritage, particularly in its marketing and promotion. Some of the universities have artistic product prototypes that could generate a lot of money for the country but are so discouraged to take the needed steps at a time. I am of the firm believe that any department of fine art could survive on its own, funds his own academic research and create jobs and benefit communities where heritage sites are located. In 2020, I can see one or two universities taken to this effort but again may fall back to their humiliating level of inaction.
Industry Subsector Associations.
The year will witness sparks and barks, but no fury to push the industry forward. The associations will still behave like orphans, grumbling about poor government attention while many will only showcase hosting of AGM and meetings as achievements. Many individuals and members tired of this drawback, will form small cells of network but again will be afraid to put all on the table for others to benefit. 2020, will be the year Sennacherib and many who boast about themselves shall fall.