This column is about People and Tourism. In sum, it’s pedestaled on the power of community of persons, nations as the fulcrum of tourism development. In the discharge of our tourism watchtower expectations, we endervour not only to question processes and policies on tourism economy and related enterprises, but also to hold our leaders accountable.
No doubt, democracy tends to get better flavoured if accountability in words and actions are properly presented to all concerned with justice and fairness mainstreamed even in evaluation of democratic deliveries.
As a tourism and natural resources developmental journalist and stakeholder, I deny not the orchestration of the failings in Nigerian tourism architecture, particularly at Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) in recent times.
It did not begin today, will never end tomorrow as long as l live, breathe and write. History is the master of mankind for it holds in its soul, the library of the living and the dead, documentations of our actions, words the marble and legacies of performance or failings.
Indeed, there are those who does not care about what they do and what happens when they leave the stage. However, many people came to the limelight, leaving weights and the many temptations of power, to change the narratives of humanity, enriching circles and opinions of leadership value system.
The values inherent in the leadership ecosystem are certainly similar all over the world. It is not guided by culture or tradition but extantely coded for personal and business relationship. This four way test adopted by the Rotarians worldwide, unarguably transcends boundaries of nations and peoples, tribes and tongues.
And what are these values? Very interesting but simple moral code lines; Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build good will and foster friendship? Is it beneficial to all?
These are my parameters to engage Ayo Olumoko, vice-president, South West, Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN) on certain statements he made on the very poor state of leadership of NTDC under Folarunsho Coker in the past four years.
I will situate Olumoko’ s unexplainable position based on four core areas he swore in good conscience in an interview he granted a news medium last week.
Those areas that do not resonate with me and on which we had a very heated and bitter argument were his endorsements and defense of the ongoing systematic bankruptcy of the apex federal tourism agency.
His edited position (by me for lack of space) cleverly flavoured in innuendos and deep doublespeak include the vendetta of all calls for accountability in NTDC in the past four years; the submissions and categorization of all visits to the office of NTDC, by certain groups or persons as “stakeholders’ meeting”, the purpurted handover to a senior officer in NTDC by Coker at the expiration of his first engagement as “achievement unprecedented” in the history of NTDC and, finally, the colourations of Coker’s corporate governance vision as statements of “facts of wholesome performance and achievement.”
These are the parameters of my engagement with Olumoko. Funnily enough, Olumoko sounds faint in the minds of most people who actually and sincerely follow the issues of tourism development in Nigeria for over three decades. And since I don’t have a “history of pulling people down” which had become Olumoko’s defensive walls against those who are courageous to question the dirty and unwholesome management of Nigeria’s tourism economy under Coker, Ayo, who told me about a month ago that NTDC was a walking corpse, actually is not a founding team of any revolutionary tourism engagement or on the calendar of notable tourism performers in Nigeria.
We agree that Olumoko told us he once consulted to bring “money sense” to Osun Oshogbo Festival but, in truth, he was never one of us. In our tourism family, we have over the years courted, accepted and given long bend of hospitality to those who wish to join us and, sadly, our naivety left us exposed.
Olumoko enjoyed this gesture, starting from the Lagos branch of FTAN, hopping to the national frontier and back to the South-West organic of the private sector body and on this position he reviewed the Coker administration in the past four years and offended my perception of a failed institution, critical to Nigeria’ tourism tomorrow and the full actualization of diversification of badly battered economy through tourism.
Is it true?
Mr. Olumoko described as vindictive all the calls for accountability from Coker and his misplaced conclave, had nothing to show as evidence other than the very stringent opposition to the misapplication and manipulation mechanism of which I am the campaigner-in-chief. What is the vendetta in asking a public servant to account for the opportunity and funds received to service the public good? Is it true that Coker is a public servant and, if it true, is it not sycophantic for anyone to jump to the train of guerilla tactics to blackmail those who want the leadership in NTDC to come clean on what was supposedly done in the interest of Nigerian tourism? Olumoko cannot claim ignorance of the delibrate acts by the leadership of NTDC to frustrate openings of engagement with the private sector, not excluding local investors who wish to partner with NTDC to change the national tourism iniative. Maybe we overrated the intelligence of Olumoko, who in four years complained about the darkness in NTDC, and in less than a week after government re-appointed Coker for whatever political perception suddenly woke up to thumb up a leadership he roundly pelted with eggs. To say I am vindictive for standing on the higher ground of accountability as the norm for leadership, Ayo must be a devil’s advocate and a betrayer of the collective expectations to enthrone strong tourism institutions that can take us out of the woods of tourism misadventure.
Is it fair to all concerned?
Honestly, I was in total shock and stupor on the definition and pronunciation by Ayo that those persons and organisations who visited and took pictures with the DG of NTDC during his first catastrophic four years in as evidence of “stakeholders’ meeting”.
It is a wacky position, clearly not fair to many people in the industry who visited to caution and call Coker’s attention to the need to make the Practitioners and people of Nigeria the center point of Ntdc tourism action plans. The Honourable Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed also visited and cautioned for a change of attitude and direction in the management of Ntdc and for the south West leader of our Federation, Mr. Ayo olumoko to expect me to clap for his new “doctrine of necessity “for tourism stakeholders meeting, beats me hollow,. Haba, this is not fair to all of us at all. Ayo Olumoko is certainly alone is this his latest crocodile dance.
Will it build goodwill and friendship?
When the process of hand over has in a public or private Office, became parameters to measure achievement(s)? It is to the credit of Ayo Olumoko, our new teacher of laughable expections, that a mere hand over of administration in Ntdc and or, in any public office, is an achievement. I threw up twice at this street talk and I wondered what happens to people when the spirit of desperation visits them. As much as our focus is not on the politics behind the handover process” held in trust” for the “ messianic’ return of Coker to Ntdc, Ayo Olumoko by that statement, shows he was on self preservation mission and not for the good of all concerned. He had shown that he lacked the capacity to mediate and restore peace and forgiveness in an agency torn by internal strife occasioned by poor leadership. No doubt, there’s hunger in the land, it is not out place to see sane persons turn the truth upside down. To call people who oppose the mayor and maximum ruler of Ntdc as “contractor journalists’. Speaks Volume of the depth of reasoning of those who want us to clap for them as failed politicians. We know that, any journalist or activist of any course, who has never been so labeled by deviant elements and deceitful tongues, must be a rookie or in the wrong profession. Ayo certainly dangles on the walls of fringe delusion. We need persons with capacity to mediate, create atmosphere of friendship and collaboration, not new apostles of divisiveness and tribal evangelists.
On the performance sheet presented and circulated by Folarunsho Coker after his return from the political anointing, Ayo Olumoko clearly as the south West leader of ftan, endorsed the document without presenting his position to his followers. Ayo Olumoko proudly told us the mayor of NTDC performed and it’s final. He didn’t interrogate the cleverly flavoured deliveries, the location of deliveries and projects, the beneficiaries and the sustainable impact. His new friend at Ntdc said so and Ayo Olumoko stated as the new head master of mischief that is well at Ntdc. That can’t be beneficial to all, it can’t hold as baseline of new engagement we pray to see at Ntdc and for those who cares to know, Ntdc is no banana republic. A lot people have passed through that Institution and I can’t ever remember witnessing such manipulative administrative rascality in the history of Ntdc, and somebody is out there, speaking through his nose. I think, we have come to the bend, the rubicon of reality and change on how we must engage those entrusted to implement government tourism interventions.
What I see, going forward, is need for proper recourse by both government and private sector leadership in our sector as servants of the Nigerian people. There’s no pharaoh for me anywhere, not in tourism. We shall support only servant leaders and whoever is not willing to be accountable, must quit henceforth. At Ntdc and elsewhere, the norms of democracy must prevail and drive our new engagement, and anymore too big to work and deliver on the mandate, should go back to his or father’s tent. . I want to trust and deal with leaders who are always aware of the limits of their activities and interventions, with the hindsight to know if their position Will ever be beneficial to all. Judas Iscariot failed on this moral assessment and he hung himself for betraying a just course and his mentor. Let us not betray our industry, for leaders come and go! Money and materials things does not consist of all that is good and beneficial to all.