From Olanrewaju Lawal, Birnin Kebbi
Federal Government has accused foreign nations, who are producing COVID-19 vaccines of holding on the drugs to punish and frustrating the developing nations.
The government insisted that, there must be equal distribution of the vaccines without restrictions in order not to kill tourism sectors which are collapsing because of social distances and restrictions on mass gathering.
The Minister of Information and Culture,Alhaji Lai Muhammed stated this in Birnin Kebbi on Monday during the 44th edition of United Nation Tourism Organization (UNWTO) tourism day celebration, entitled; “tourism for inclusive growth”.
“The COVID-19 pandemic had a colossal social and economic impact on the world, and both developed and developing economies were not spared. Marginalized groups and the most vulnerable have been hit hardest of all. It is however envisioned that the restart of the sector will facilitate global recovery and growth that will be widely and fairly felt. In order for tourism to restart and to ensure that growth is inclusive, Member States of the UNWTO are encouraged to focus on certain priorities such as partnerships with key stakeholders and international organizations, as well as engage in advocacy to promote the role of tourism in inclusive growth.
“Apart from these priorities, however, there is the challenge posed to restarting tourism globally by ”vaccine nationalism”, which has heightened the inequality and inequity in the global vaccine distribution system.
“Today, rich countries are able to procure vaccines for their own citizens through direct agreements with pharmaceutical companies; while low and middle income countries are lagging, unable to act as speedily as rich
countries in securing the quantity of vaccines they need or unable to afford to pay for any at all. Whereas some rich countries are already talking of third booster shots, many low and middle-income countries have not even given one shot to their citizens.
“Added to this is the restriction placed on the citizens from certain countries by the rich nations. These restrictions, made possible by the use of ”vaccine passports”, as well as the low level of vaccination in the low and middle income countries due to ‘vaccine nationalism’ that has seen the rich ones mop up available vaccines,
are capable of thwarting the efforts to restart tourism. It is therefore imperative for the rich countries of the world to retrace their steps and embrace a collective and equitable global strategy for. COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing, procurement, and distribution.
“They must also stop ineffective nationalistic disposition in COVID-19 responses. And COVID-19 response should be science driven, with experts in epidemiology, virology, and the social sciences (not politicians) taking the lead in devising and implementing science-based strategies to reduce the risks that the pandemic poses to the most vulnerable across the globe and to reduce transmission of this novel virus.”
Muhammed also explained that, the opportunities in the tourism sector are enormous and it is best sector that could creates large number of employment for citizens.
According to him, ” the tourism sector is not just a leading source of employment for the skilled, unskilled and semi-skilled, it also promotes territorial cohesion and socio-economic inclusion for the most vulnerable and helps communities to hold onto their unique natural and cultural heritage, support conservation, safeguard endangered species and keep traditions alive.
“Tourism is one of the most important pillars of the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Goals 1, 5,
8 and 10 which deal with ‘No Poverty’, ‘Gender Equality’ ‘Decent Work and Economic Growth’ as well as ‘Reduced Inequalities’. The role of tourism in inclusive growth is also demonstrated in the second principle of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals, with the pledge by Member States to ‘Leave No One Behind’.”
In his remark,Kebbi State Governor, Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu,represented by the Deputy Governor, Col.(rtd) Samaila Yombe Dabai said that his adminisyration would introduce and sustain agricultural tourism capable of producing enough rice and staples to feed the country and encourage other states to do the same.
“This we have achieved as delegations upon-delegations from west African countries and many states in Nigeria have visited the State and interacted with experts with a view to replicating our modest experiments in their areas.
“Today, we are proud to say that these visits have cumulated into the establishment of many agro allied industries in the state, some even international such as the WACOT rice mill, Gafara Tomato Puree, Dangote rice Mill and several other small and Medium mills and enterprises across the state. Coming back to culture and tourism, our numerous historical sites and monuments can be expanded to serve as a haven for all year round tourism. From our ruins, water falls, rocks, caves, swamps, statues and countless others, we have what it takes to turn the tourism industry around. I wish to invite the federal Ministry of Information and culture to partner with the State Government in this regard.”
He assured the Federal Government and the people of the state that his administration will not rest on its oars in the promotion of tourism and culture.
He said: ” already the Argungu International Fishing and Cultural Festival has assumed an international status but there are three other festivals, Hutungo Fulani festival usually held in Dakingari in Suru Local Government Boat Rigata and water sports in Yauri and Uhola in Zuru that we are craving to uplift their status.