Waiting for the return of Team Madrid

By Frank Meke

Before I tell you about the subject matter of today, it is important we pray. Remember, if two good people are in agreement, great things, good things will happen. I know also that evil men do gather.

So we pray thus: Every arrow of shame fired against me, return back to sender. Two days ago, we wrote to let the industry know that our official tourism minders were in Spain and sneaked to fitur without anything to show about Nigeria.

The report rattled and quivered some who thought they are untouchables and are above being asked to account for the office they hold in trust for over 200 million Nigerians.

As usual, our ragtag team, possibly, thought it was going to be business as usual, and forgot this is an election year, when those entrusted with our tourism destiny must account for what they have done.

To us, we must hold all our agencies accountable and audit them. I must say, let us know what you have done. If the President, duly elected, could be bold to stand in public space, to share developmental milestones under his eight years watch, it would amount to playing to the gallery if those he appointed to man our tourism post, choose to act like a bull in a China shop.

About two thousand years ago in Athens, there was an open ground where any subject matter under the sun can be discussed. There was no fears of being asked to explain certain philosophies or sociopolitical views held. That evolved over time, to bench a call for good governance.

Though certain submissions were tough to accept, such as who made the earth and also what held it together, assumptions and strange names emerged and emanated, thus showing the limitations of the knowledge of man about the power of the ” unknown ” god( God).

It’s certain that for eight years, we didn’t fare well in tourism, not because the President didn’t appointment tourism minders but because those he choose, were in disagreement with him and us.

To few of us, that could ask questions and possibly demand for progressive impartation on all areas of the Creative cultural tourism economy, we became enemies of state actors, who rather run public office as extension of their heritage farm lands.

Some of them are so petty and ridiculous. To them, if the President have challenges, for instance on Security, why then must they risk their lives to journey to our rural communities and fund tourism related activities and interventions that could make life better for the rural poor and possibly encourage people to visit for festivals and attractions, within and around them.

True, Covid pandemic came with challenges, it however opened several opportunities to do things differently. Ask our over valued tourism minders, they only wait out for budget releases and then disappears to reappear when another allocation calls.

In 2015, we noticed the body language of Mr lai Mohammed, and instantly raised alarm. We have being around for a long time, ran one of longest and oldest tourism columns in the country and should be able to smell out deception.

From the strange sale of the National Theatre to tourism magical circuses at ntdc, Center for Black and African civilization, Gallery of Arts, and many others, we warned of the troubles for tourism. We knew it is a strange marriage to let Information drive Culture and Tourism. sadly, we have been groaning since eight years.

Threats of court actions and political intimidation were stock in trade of these unfriendly minders of our tourism space. Like apostle Paul, in name calling, we were singled out, in out right intimidation and deployment of insidious attacks, unfounded petitions to stop our columns and peddling of wicked lies and accusations of seeking non extent porridge, we stand as survivors.

These fellows are ambivalent to good tourism administration ecosystem. Crude traders and managers of our cultural tourism landscape, selfish, incontinent, unapologetic, urchins and blackmailers.

Indeed, why must anyone of them lobby to serve nation and at same time unwilling to account for time out in office? Why? If you get three kobo allocation, tell us what you did with it. If we verify and found it true, that you did well with our three kobo, we shall support that our law makers appropriate more allocations and hesitate not to deny non performers, budget requests.

That we chose to call a spade a spade rankles many of these expired brains. It is only in our tourism space that a minister or an agency head will sneak out of the country in the name of tourism expedition and expect on return, not be asked questions. It’s only on this beat, men and women at top of our industry administration, prances to regulate operations and players whom they consider undeserving of effectual environment to ease of doing business. Collaboration with them is like asking them to commit suicide because spending for private sector growth, is diverted as pocket money for night clubbing.

Truce breakers, though not all of them pretend to come to terms to the best developmental practices, they easily hire degraded robots in mould of their familiar shameful characters instead of those that can add value to their operations.

At World Travel Market in London last November, it was Travel trade professionals that put Nigeria on attendance list, and you ask, where was our Ministry and our national tourism promotion agency?

We eagerly await their return to Nigeria and if our immigration officers, who stamped out, will not ask what they went Europe to do, just few weeks to elections, then they will not sleep until the new government comes to power. This turn by turn brigand and circus show of shame in the sector must stop.

Kaduna Nzeogwu, January 15th, 1966, succinctly captured the mood of the industry. He wrote: “Our enemies are the political profiteers, the swindlers, the men in high and low places that seek bribes and demand 10 percent, those that seek to keep the country divided permanently so that they can remain in office as ministers or VIP’s( DG’S)at least, the tribalists, the nepotists, those that make the country look big for nothing before international circles, those that have corrupted our society and put the Nigerian political calendar back by their words and deeds” Time is ticking fast and we wait for the return of men in black.

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