Come November, and few days after Nigeria, will draw curtains on its greatest and biggest cultural tourism festival, the iconic National festival of Arts and Culture, a signature brand from the Otunba Segun Runsewe led National Council for Arts and Culture, some locusts from across the ocean will invade, Lagos, Nigeria, for two days to sweep our streets.
To prepare for the invasion, the Unwto locusts advance team were in Lagos over the weekend, hosted and padded, by, Nigeria’s ministry of Information which sadly oversees whatever remains about tourism misadventure.
Like these guys had done over seven times in about 17 years of Nigeria’s uninspiring presence as a member of this body, they came to Nigeria, with nothing in their bags, no emergency services support, , no tourism Retraining engagements, no startups funding assistance, no sustainable industry Rethinking strategies, no collaboration blueprint, nothing, just an empty portfolio, no doubt, they travelled light.
Wait ooo! Like the smart deceptive colonial merchants and invaders, looters of the ancient Benin artifacts did in 1860, these mummified international tourism cult group, had magic mirrors and plates in their tourism priestly over flowing gowns.
With the magic mirrors, they will capture all the dirt’s and cobwebs in our tourism cupboards and honestly, we have them plenty. The magic mirrors will send to their Madrid headquarters, all the pictorial evidence of our cultural tourism economy, strangulated and left to fallow by government, pictures of the ongoing refurbishment of the National Theatre, hurriedly and poorly whitewashed to host tourism coven meeting, gather Intel on our suffering and smiling hospitality concerns, our road networks, with signature stretch of bullish hold ups and smiling faces ministry collaborators.
And with their plates, these tourism mafia from Madrid, knew Nigeria is a father Xmas, willing always to splash cash and kind, to showcase, emptiness as something. The Madrid tourism gang, knew Nigeria tourism players are suffering, needed help to stay focused and create jobs, but are led by a ministry which has long abandoned its tourism community but saved up enough cash to prepare jollof rice, Amala and ewedu soup and nonsensical continental abracadabra for a taste and takeaway by strategically generated 16 nations expected arrivals for the Nigerian tourism Unwto party in November.
Believe me, these Unwto advance team were lucky. With their plate full and treated to a red carpet after the usual ministry banal press conference in Lagos, the Unwto team gave us a pass mark and we clapped for the tourism imperialists.
Now, you ask what is even this United Nations World Tourism Organisation all about? They confuse African nations that they are a specialized arm of the United Nations and promoting responsible, sustainable and globally accepted tourism road maps.
Let me share with you an encounter with this Madrid based agency many years ago. There a was a conference on West and Central Africa Tourism consciousness put together by the agency as sidelines of future tourism exhibition in Spain.
Nigeria, represented at the global tourism market Exhibition by the then Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation, (Ntdc) led by irrepressible Otunba Segun Runsewe, took turns with the Nigerian travel press to interrogate the unwto support for Africa’s biggest black economy.
Strategically factored to put down the then globally acknowledged Nigerian tourism presence, the scared unwto officials cleverly and ingeniously directed the conference official communication profile be conducted in French, admist a full house with more English speaking attendees. No interpreters in sight.
Trust Runsewe, he politely requested the conference adopt English language alongside French, nothing that tourism should unite west and central Africa and not divide it. The hall broke into a long historic applause from both representatives of African regions and to the shame of divisive unwto officials.
And after that incident, Runsewe, as a response to such colonisation of African tourism, inaugurated a pan African tourism collaboration group which he became the President, assisted by the DG, Zimbabwe tourism as vice president.
I took to recap this sad episode because of same approach to which the ministry of Information, has in active collaboration with unwto, disregarded the involvement of the Nigerian private sector tourism leadership.
There was nothing concrete in terms of Rethinking Tourism that unwto has brought to the table for the November party. The ministry of Information claims that the Creative cultural tourism sector creates over 30 million jobs for youths and women while every ten jobs anywhere is tourism inspired and we ask by whom?
This conference from beginning, is laced in political bitterness, with committees peopled by strange faces and fly by night, portfolio operators and agencies third eleven teams.
Apart from usual deceptive statistical data, over used, and baked from the oven of goggle questionable submissions on Nigeria true practical tourism ranking, nothing is sure as a benefit to Nigeria after the locusts have done with helping us spend our borrowed funds.
As we are all aware, Nigeria remains the only country in tourism Africa, did not provide a bailout fund for tourism industry operators. We were deceived into spending the little left on us after the pandemic in a fruitless pursuits of a bail fund, which never happened or was put to use elsewhere. Today, the ministry of Information goes about the issue like men in black.
It is equally on record that Nigeria’s Nollywood is dead, in fact living on past glory as other African countries, have become wise, shut down the borders against export of Nigerian films, inaugurated strange trade practices, and locally, strangulated by poor purchasing powers of impoverished 200 million people, with insecurity scaling down production opportunities.
YouTube, the video streaming giants, though giving new lease of life to young huzzeling creative youngsters, has equally contributed to snuffing lives out the creative sector.
You ask the information ministry about the true state of the Creative cultural tourism landscape, and all you get are jaundiced academic response, which fuels industry disconnect with President Muhammadu Buhari government.
It is sad that various and possible gains of this sector have not effectively, and patriotically deployed to change the narrative of this government relationship with the private sector.
Instead, the fiendish and pedestrian political decisions have been deliberately allowed to set the government of President Muhammadu Buhari against the private sector tourism leadership, thus poisonous to the unwto conference in November.
Honestly, one have been around for a while but is yet to see such chameleonic, sadistic, hateful and resentful militant disregard to the best of Nigeria cultural tourism administration in the past seven years by the federal ministry of Information.
No doubt, the November party will hold, the locusts will feast and Nigeria, as usual will clap for its failed opportunities.