It is great to have this Column share a date with Nigeria at 60 years today. I wish our people and dear country, many years in togetherness, peace and plenty blessings. It may not be Uhuru for us as a nation of diverse tongues and Culture, but God has been faithful and kept us together.
To the tourism community, we are used to making plenty noise, gloat around that we have the magic wand to transform our economy yet the road to becoming the destination of choice , the tourism nation we desire seems long way off. It is like an unending bridge or a bridge too far.
Sadly, we have given up to silence these days, probably worn out from fighting tourism enemies we can’t see, seeing the tourism business as a mirage, leading us to re- imagination.
It’s like occultism, flight into some conjures when one stops working hard and doing the right thing. We are back to the silence mode. Not that we desire to keep silent but because those we trust to lead the way have failed us.
Last week, on Jordan Radio, the Special Adviser Media to President Mohammandu Buhari, Mr Femi Adeshina told us that Nigeria tourism rightly deserve a stand alone ministry and encouraged that the desirability must be championed with new vigour.
Yes, the challenges of security will challenge tourism but our country is not the only country challenged in this regard. Yes, we shout to high heavens concerning our developmental dislocations, yet we run to the global place, selling and marketing pity filled with reimagined venom.
In the late nineties and under the military, we spoke up, confronted the military and got certain measures of support for the sector. We rightly got certain institutional structures into place, the private sector buzzing and the names we can trust pushed to the forefront.
As our people rightly say, any one who wish to make heads way must look back and learn lessons. There is something about the past, we have not mainstreamed into the expectations of the future.
We have lost our voices, with more discordant tones than ever before. We are also afraid to confront the outsiders that invaded our turf.
The politicians and their cronies in particular. They have taken advantage of our silence, cleverly divided the house of tourism and left the house just for webinar meetings.
Can we imagine where we were two to three decades ago and compared it to the village square footage and re image mantra clearly enthroned to buy our silence.
And we are proud to be silenced in face of very provocative failings and draw backs. Every man to his tent, labouring under the burden of “I know it all”.
Fortunately, I see a new dawn for our tourism, a collaboration mantra, wrapped up in self determination and patriotism. It played out Sunday last week during the celebration of World Tourism Day in Lagos.
Oh yes, the private sector players all alone, no government go slow, and joy of trusting that only God can it for us, prevailed. It is about the industry and rural development. National Association of Tour Operators took to a littoral community in lagos, explained the link between tourism and rural ecology and were gifted with palm wine and Cultural dances.
We met the Natop Lagos team led by Ime Udo and Michael Balogun and it was like we used to do it in the good old days when we were together as one, not torn apart by selflessness but selfless service to nation and people.
After the demise of Pa Matthew Ebaboje Dasilva, the lone tourism voice in the wilderness, came masters of deception. Not to dwell of the new normal tourism misadventure, would mean the powers against our tourism have won the game.
Sixty years from Nigeria Tourism AUTHORITY to NIGERIA TOURISM BOARD and now NIGERIA TOURISM DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, We must take care to factor what is wrong with us. Why other smaller and less endowed countries in Africa can point to sustainable development in tourism while we languish in silence , self pity and blame game.
That Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria flounder today, lacking in keeping with developmental expectations should make us sad. National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (nanta) has taken all the right steps and kept its date with history. Others are struggling and for the wrong reasons because we are silent.
NTDC? History can remember Otunba Segun Runsewe. His strides in Culture has our tourism tomorrow in view. Let us stop killing those God sent to show us the way. I just wonder how we have come thus far, plenty in number, yet lacking the bite that makes tourism unarguably the solution driver to job creation and rural development.
To God be the glory for those who have helped us and to those who had unsuccessfully tried to silence us. Our voices must be heard again, clear and loud as we celebrate Nigeria at sixty.
Despite the foot dragging and the failings of our tourism Herods , our tourism future is worth our time. Happy celebrations to my readers.