There is no denying the fact that our security agencies are over-stretched and need new thinking to arrest the dark clouds hovering over the country. Indeed, discussing domestic tourism under this very unfriendly atmosphere should be done in measured tones, considering the fact that the lives of Nigerians and friends of Nigeria are of most importance.
At the last count, Nigeria has become the largest and biggest factory of armed robbery, kidnapping, cultism, terrorism and many other dangerous seeds of social dislocation in West Africa. Lagos State, Nigeria’s former federal capital and fastest growing economy on the west coast, has been brought to its knees by bloodsucking demons in human flesh, while Edo, Ondo, Kogi and Kaduna highways have become dangerous dens of robbers and kidnappers.
These hounds kill for pleasure and if Odua Peoples Congress (OPC) leader, Gani Adams, should be taken seriously, blood soaked handkerchiefs are sold for millions of naira by these jackals in witchcraft night markets. Our roads are not only death traps due to deliberate neglect, poor construction and repairs, trips to any part of the country could land any road user in kidnappers’ dens.
From Kaduna to Abuja, Calabar to Benin, Nigerians and foreigners who dare the wolves on our highways have many ordeals to recount, that is, if they live to share their pains and regrettable adventure into the devil’s terrain that Nigeria has become.
It is sad to hear Nigerians cancel trips to most parts of the country on account of these negative developments and, more worrisome to the mind is what appears as the helpless acceptance of this scenario as part of our new way of life by security agencies and our traumatised people.
Except for the Nigerian Army that has taken it upon itself to fight this growing culture of satanic manifestation, the Nigerian police seems over-burdened by the daily occurrence of robberies in city centres and highways, kidnappings of all shades and the growing population of cultists that no longer hide in dark places and now operate openly with impunity.
In Nigeria today, our deliverers need deliverance, as each man is for himself and family alone. Significantly, our leaders who go around with police protection or Army escorts are no longer safe. We are now forced to wear identification badges or, in other words, bear the devil’s mark and keep machetes in our homes for protection.
When last did we see any of our frontline political leaders travel our highways? When last did they holiday at our Obudu Ranch or take a weekend rest in Ghashaka National Park or sail a boat on our waterways? When last did our latter-day tourism apostles do a train round trip of the country or visit the Enugu milking hill? Our leaders find pleasure in police escort from our local airports to their city destinations and parade the best security architecture around their homes where they pay lip service to tour Nigeria and pretentiously console victims of the vipers on our highways.
Obviously, the missing gap is the absence of a strong bridge that can factor our needs into a solution frontier. The Minister of Culture and Tourism is waiting for the official inauguration of a Presidential Council on Tourism (PCT) to drive an initiative to which the government has ignored and responded with approved platform for ease of doing business that should be engineered to speak and address the fears of robberies on our highways and the depopulation of kidnappers in Nigeria.
In our tourism world, pride rules the road map of supposed domestic tourism efforts, which may lead to our projected failings as all hands are not on the deck. Nigerian tourism authorities are on their own; rolling out blueprints cleverly designed to fail but projected as a solution to reinvent tourism, culture and attendant benefits.
If Nigerians must visit Nigeria, our minds must be primed to accept and find solutions to the listed negative challenges facing the nation. Except for soccer, is there any event or national celebration that brings us together as a people? Are we proudly Nigerian in fashion, gastronomy, dance and songs? There is no denying that we are divided on so many lines and one wonders at the very poor attempt to clean us up and bring us together.
In fact, there is no holistic national movement presently that is worth a buy-in by Nigerians. Nigerian tourism products are in a shambles, begging for a touch of renewal and repackaging predicated on the lines of our famed hospitality and celebration of the very essence of mankind.
We do not mock the poor in our midst neither do true Nigerians blackmail those who come to them for help or task their best for the collective good. Our culture abhors crime and criminality and sits in judgment in the marketplace of our communal moonlight dance to stamp out brigands, acts inimical to our growth, discussions on tribal lines that fuel poisons of separation and disunity.
The winning ways of consensus and deliberate sensitiveness to the thin lines in our diverse cultural attributes are not a nightclub affair that intoxicates patrons to juvenile pronouncements but a clear dosage of medicinal reality that opens the mind, soul and body of Nigerians to the various gifts, to binds us together as a nation.
It will be Uhuru, therefore, to see well-thought-out tourism initiatives and policies, and not slogans that cannot generate jobs, pay bills and develop our rural communities. There must be sincere efforts to harmonise the various segments of the octopus tourism and culture sectors to breathe back seamless travels across Nigeria on sea, land and air.
The drumbeats of the moment are so feeble, lacking rhythm to generate the powerful vibrations that could gladden the hearts of depressed Nigerians from the fear of a nation once so proudly loved but now swimming in blood and sorrow.
What we desire now is a deliberate campaign to bring back the Nigerian spirit of love for the strength and respect of the weaknesses of our diverse culture.
To rebrand Nigeria is to bring all stakeholders together to redefine the process of our new tourism engagements and mark milestones that will hasten the delivery. Attempts in whatever disguise to drive a one-man train in this quest will crash our dreams and leave behind orphans in delusion and apostles of tourism haters.
Nigerians, particularly the Nigerian tourism press, must wake up and challenge our leaders in public and private endeavours to live up to expectation and make Nigeria a proud destination. We must resist leaders who cannot measure up and be bold to call for their removal. Those who sponsor division among the tourism press will ever live to regret their foolish action.