Tourism: We are tired of clapping hands

By Frank Meke

At most kindergarten schools, the first lesson the young minds are made to go through, is to learn to clap. Even as toddlers, our mothers will struggle to make us clap hands even when we are not in the mood.

This clapping mantra, had become the face of nursing and caring of humanity that it suddenly became the feature of the very affairs of man. Trust us in Africa, particularly Nigeria, we have scientifically programmed the act of plaudits, ordinarily meant to encourage scholarship and accountability to a mockery of sort.

If our leaders fail at the smallest and insignificant effort, we clap for them instead of encouraging them to visit their failings and vomit in regret. If our leaders, build a toilet not worthy for the use of monkeys, we apply and fall over ourselves to be part of the jest party, clapping so hard to the shame of the shameless.

Last week, certain events, arranged high dramatic tourism shows, call it cinematic orchestra or concert took place in Jos and Nasarawa states. It is being long we have seen the likes of such high level deception in our floundering tourism Industry.

Before I come to this well scripted tourism concerts, particularly the one held in the Plateau state capital by Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), I will like to share with us, how the industry got to the level of being miserably mislead and left for jesters.

Do you know that our own people, so called Practitioners we know, were the ones who brought odium to the tourism house, dividing into fractions operators and leaving the industry in irreparable situation. We grope in day time as in darkness because we were made to clap hands when we should have shouted to shame our leaders.

See the list of our failed tourism Pharaohs. Edem Duke, was our first ever known Tourism minister, he failed and we clapped. Munzali Dantata, a former President of National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA) and Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria ( FTAN), slept at his desk at the National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism (NIHOTOUR) for eight solid years and I wish to leave you to grade the situation of the six geopolitical zones located school.

Chika Balogun, highly enterprising and brain box business development specialist, was ambushed and mislead by our ” experts” who offered to help her navigate the hospitality vocational training expectations. Same hands clappers are still at the corridors of NIHOTOURs today, waiting to milk it to death. I just pity our situation.

At NTDC, after Segun Runsewe left in 2013, with the most enviable record unbeaten and unreachable by any Nigerian, living or dead who passed through the federal government tourism agency, one dramatic and Nigerian flag fashionate, took over and cleared out the cemetery road for the demise of NTDC. Her case was even applauded by the industry players who cherished her cat walk across our tourism land scape.

She was never part of us, yes, Sally Mbanefo was never part of us and we can only but excuse her very nauseating and horrible time in tourism. NTDC suffered, indeed, the walk of NTDC to Gethesmane began under her watch.

Then came the sweeping broom of President Buhari in 2015 and we thought to bribe him with our clapping mantra. Buhari has no patience to score us, he was encouraged to deny us our kindergarten process of engagement in tourism because the men we trusted failed in all the indices of tourism enterprenual development and accountability. Our people, our experts betrayed us and got our stand alone status, subsumed under Information ministry.

Two years later and 2017, the President had mercy on us. He approved and appointed Olusegun Runsewe, to revive and turn around the dead National Council for Arts and Culture ( NCAC). To NTDC, he sent Folarunsho Coker and we clapped and praised the President to high heavens.

In four years down the line, the difference is clear. As won’t with Segun Runsewe, there was no room for clapping in NCAC or the Culture economy for that matter. He systematically and deliberately drew up a new business plan for Nigerian Culture, did away with its fanciful and wasteful interventions through doggy workshops and daycare conferences, mainstreaming an organised presence, attracting local and International attention.

Runsewe ignored the hand clapping community and ran them out of praise singing business as he did in his days as the missionary and tourism revivalist at NTDC. What must interest us in Runsewe is his unbelievable energy to serve this administration, taking headlong all the jesters and their sponsors who sat and converted federal government’s many uncharted investment in Culture to personal use.

Runsewe knew his call in Culture and interpreted it beyond measure not only to the admiration of President Buhari and the supervising minister, Lai Mohammed, but in strategic partnership to all the members of diplomatic community in Nigeria. These diplomats joined to salute the courage of this examplary and dogged public Officer.

Today, our culture economy has taken shape and investors need not grope in darkness. At on set of covid 19 pandemic, Runsewe in defense of the industry, took to practical Cultural response, gifting the front lines workers, the police, and media , hand sanitizers and nose masks made from local fabrics, thus empowering our tailors and fashion designers, creating jobs even before the Presidential Task force came into being.

His proactiviness, not plaudits driven, though deserving our appreciation and commendation, is incomparable. Runsewe handling of the federal government Committee on palliatives for Creative tourism and Culture sector indeed revealed the gift of a man with divine call and relevance to the uncommon desire to change the Nigerian Cultural narrative under this administration.

Now let us go NTDC. In same measure of report card bearing, nothing near, not close what took place in NCAC happened in NTDC and yet we are told we must clap for failure. At kindergarten class, failures are booed and their names written in the books of the absurd, but here in Nigeria tourism environment, failures bump elbows with governors and feed bewitched Stakeholders with food of sorrow.

Now, back to the clapping tourism mission to Jos two weeks ago, one just wonder at our very disturbing simplicity and naivety. Here is an NTDC leadership, that has failed on all fronts, allegedly withheld all manner of support and intervention to Stakeholders in four years, suddenly waking to share breads of sorrow.

That has been our bane, unfortunate scenerio and to which our federating association, cannot do anything about but genuflect. Rabo Saleh, our sole representative on the board of NTDC, and President of FTAN, had only a “nice” retort to the organised syndicate pictures from the table of Jos NTDC concert made to confuse the industry.

We are just tired of the deception and poor management of our tourism. Those looking for government jobs, should apply to minister Lai Mohammed for a date at NTDC. Incidentally, our people as usual are mouth strapped. They see the failings but to chose to clap and eat the food of sorrow. Who did this to us ? Just tell me one achievement in tourism in NTDC in past four years and I will show you thousands of verifiable transformation and Cultural breakthroughs in NCAC under Otunba Segun Runsewe.

I won’t waste, my time on the Nasarawa outing of the minister last week, other than to say that pictorial tourism show piece to Farin Ruwa waterfall, will never get the practical developmental and promotional interpretations as long as NTDC is in the hands of jaded managers. For about four years, it only took Lai Mohammed visit to that tourism endowment for NTDC to tag along. It also took the minister a lecture visit to the Abuja Office of NTDC before the managers knew that they have gone far off the tourism radar. I weep for Nigerian tourism, for NTDC and the clapping practitioners.

When shall we see a new down for NTDC?, why have we failed to hold managers of NTDC to accountability? . Why do we love to clap for failures and want to eat their vomit with them, while praying that our very best be replaced.?

It’s a shame and I would rather put my hands to surgical blades than use it to clap for the worst manifestation at NTDC since formation.

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