Former Director General of the Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation, NTDC, Mrs. Omotayo Omotosho assumed the position at a when Nigeria was tagged a pariah state and tourists did not want to visit for leisure. Through a combination of entrepreneurship, grit and stubborn will to succeed, she was able to bring about a turnaround at the agency. In an interview with Sunday Sun, she reminisces about her days at the agency and much more.
You have been a bit quiet since you left office. Could you give us a snapshot of what you have been doing?
As soon as I finished my tenure as Director General, Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), went into running my media company – Pacesetters Communications Limited. I also reconnected with my TV fans that missed my presence, while I was on the national assignment.
If you were to head the NTDC again, what positive changes would you love to make?
Recall back? No way! I served as DG 20 years ago from August 2000 to be precise. Amazing! It looked like yesterday. I did my best as chief tourism regulator for Nigeria at that time and I have moved on. Having done my best, in spite of paucity of funds to execute our projects my corporate friends in the private sector, mostly captains of industry who believed in me, sponsored most of my tourism projects. I did not wait for government funds, yet projects were executed successfully.
At that time with no cash backing for most of our projects, we had to think outside the box. It’s all about using our initiative to execute our mandate. As DG, my management team and I initiated the Corporate Partners for Tourism Development (CPTD). This composed of stakeholders in both the public and private sectors of our economy.
Today, if most of the projects we embarked on during my tenure at NTDC were continued and built upon, tourism would have gone far as a major contributor to our national economy. Unfortunately, looking at most sectors of our economy in Nigeria, there is no continuity. By now, tourism should have become one of our major revenue earners.
What would you say are the highpoints of the personal programmes you embarked on?
Of course, in any endeavour one embarks on, one must be prepared to face challenges. Nothing good comes easy; it requires hard work, innovation, strong determination and focus. When I resumed headship of my company, I needed to reposition the firm for greater exploits. We recruited young, dynamic graduates and trained them in the art of effective communication, television presentation, editing, graphics and script writing etc. I ensured the same reforms were done in my other firms.
Hence, human capital development plays a vital role to us. In fact, two of the subsidiaries – Pacesetters Training and Wealthstreams Consulting are solely capacity development firms. Here, we render training and retraining of staff in both the private and public sectors of our economy.
We have several faculties of trainers who are core professionals in their various fields, cutting across all sectors of our economy – from Oil & Gas, Finance & Accounts, Taxation, Education, Commerce & Industry, Culture to Tourism & Environment, to mention a few. Am glad to let you know that sitting a-top these firms has been very demanding, keeps me on my toes, mentally alert and am enjoying it!
In the intervening time since I left office as DG, we have expanded the scope of ‘Towards a Greater Nigeria’ from being a current affairs programme on television to a full-fledged foundation, focusing on youth and women empowerment, entrepreneurship, girl-child education, gender issues vocation and skills acquisition. A crop of professionals in the education sector and the social sciences manage the foundation. Meanwhile, the sectors aforementioned are not loud.
With the rapid alarming increase in rape, is there still a safe place for women in Nigeria?
A man that rapes doesn’t deserve to be called a man but a beast!! I lend my voice to billions of others to say a capital no to rape. Yes, the rate is getting higher by the day and it is alarming! I wonder why our lawmakers are dragging their feet from making a law that will serve as deterrent to men, from committing such this crime. Why can’t an rapist be sentenced to death? Rapists have ended the lives of so many young girls and ladies, not only in Nigeria but globally. So, such men deserve death sentence. Those who live by the sword should die by the sword!
Please paint a picture of what it was like when you were growing up?
In the early 60s, Nigeria was such a safe haven to everyone! At the age of six or so, my older sister and I would hold each other’s hand and stroll down our street in Moor- Plantation, walking to the home of our friends, near the agricultural and dairy farm, to see Motunde, Ranti and Rotimi. My parents did not have to fret or worry about our safety! Safety was taken for granted.
We would spend several hours with our friends and schoolmates; they would take us into their father’s large poultry farm. It was such a lovely experience! We watched the chickens lay their eggs, live. We watched chickens being fed by men at the poultry, I mean real men, not rapists. They never molested us as ladies, they would call us to have a look at how chickens are raised and fed. We watched together, we joked and laughed together, mimicking the sound of the chickens. And when it was time to go, our friends would walk with us the same street we came on, playing together happily without the fear that anybody would molest or rape us. Indeed, growing up was fun, our streets were safe, our parents and neighbours trusted one another, we the children did the same and Nigeria was very safe.
We were happy exploring the beautiful nation called Nigeria. Our roads were good, our streets were clean, trees adorned our homes and lanes, we enjoyed beautiful weather all year through; our culture was rich and well regarded and I cannot recall any incident of rape. In those days, Nigeria was at its best. Women and men, girls and boys had mutual respect for one another.
How have you managed the home front as a wife, mother given that a top executive that is always on the move?
Managing the home front as a lady has not been easy; it has been quite tasking and daunting, but from my youth, I learnt to plan and be organized. In the hierarchy of priorities, I draw my “must-do” list of assignments, ignore invitations to social events that clash with my family-bonding time, spend quality time with my husband and children while training my children on household chores and cooking. I secured the assistance and support of my mother-in-law to help at home when duty calls. Thank God for a very loving and understanding husband. We complement each other so well. Without his love and support, the combined tasks would not have been fun!
What would you love to be remembered for?
I would love to be remembered as a lady that did her best when she was given a national assignment by the Federal Government, and despite paucity of funds during my tenure, I thought outside the box, used my initiative to promote Nigeria tourism. I pioneered public-private sector collaboration for tourism development. I fought the good fight and kept the faith. After a successful tenure in office, the Federal Government conferred on me a national honour – Member of the Federal Republic (MFR). Through the Towards a Greater Nigeria Foundation, we have given grants for the education of so many brilliant but indigent children in our society, especially the girl-child. My foundation has also provided platforms for a cross- section of Nigerian youths in the areas of vocational training and skills acquisition.