If you are a dedicated follower of tourism development in Nigeria, you will probably know that there are plenty institutions set up by government to intervene and keep various visions and policies on culture and tourism in focus. Looking back, and right from the military era, I should really wish to praise government policy markers for giving us windows and opportunities to change cultural tourism narratives in Nigeria.
And if that is so, what then is the problem and why are we still at the lowest rung of the business in Africa?. Let us not be eurocentric at all when analysing our development in this Area, we are yet to get to their level of creativity,products segmentation, marketing communication, research and development and even budget and investment.
We hardly engage in peer review mechanism and when we try to engage, the demons behind our lack of public and self assessment agenda, will furiously wake up from slumber. Let me put you in perspective over the agencies we take for granted and possibly never interrogated their values to a new tourism dawn in Nigeria. Let me hint you also that the House of Representatives and Senate Committees on Culture and Tourism, are usually befouled by our numbers and wonder why we still go about as weaklings. We hide in shame and experts in embezzling government tourism funds.
Now, apart from Alfa grade agencies such as National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC) and Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation ( NTDC), others under the belt of oxygenating the” self made orphaned” sector, are National Theatre, National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism (NIHOTOUR), National Commission for Museums and Monuments, Films and Censors Board, National Gallery of Arts ( NGA) and Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilisation( CEBAAC).
Nine good agencies, clearly designed and empowered to advance the value chain in the industry and position their catchment expectations in order to open flood gates of tourism revenue generation, create culture and tourism jobs and above all, partner with the private sector to build a bankable culture tourism economy.
And of the whole lot above, Otunba Segun Runsewe DG NCAC, remains an exemplary leader, an administrator to emulate and to his credit, NTDC and NCAC, found a refreshing beginning. Again, today is not about this man who has done so great to encourage government to keep faith with these agencies and the practitioners,in our march across River Jordan to the tourism promised land.
So, Last week, I took on the General Manager, Of National Theatre, Professor Sunday Enessi Ododo and reviewed his very disappointing near one year in office and requested he go wash himself in the River Jordan and make iconic cultural edifice whole again. Professor Ododo is among the” eaglet” industry administrators President Muhammadu Buhari, gave a” youthful push” into government cultural tourism business on September 1, 2020.
I had last week also flagged Nura Kangiwa, Director General, National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism (NIHOTOUR) and the bats of the industry suddenly woke up. Remember, this nocturnal beings sees perfectly in the night but goes to sleep in day time, a period desirable to get jobs done.
Let me also state here, that I am loyal and focal to the growth of our country through cultural tourism engagements and no apologies for taking positions on issues concerning cultural tourism. Mallam Ado Yahuza, DG National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO) to whom I had used as fulcrum of setting this conversation in focus, has shown capacity to lift that institution as deserving interest by practitioners and our nation, particularly at this time when we seem to have relegated to the gutters, the very importance of our culture to reinvent national unity and cohesion and sadly, the consequences, bestride us through tribalism and divisiveness. Another day for a focal attention on Ado Yahuza and his approach to national assignment.
Today, Nura Kangiwa makes a debut on this column not because some noisy neighbors got jittery about my intention to focus on his near one year call in NIHOTOUR, badly run down and mismanaged before his coming. There is something, we must however understand, a leader owes it to the led, opportunities to mingle and understand challenges of leadership and encourage stakeholders resolve to share in that burden. President Buhari did not appoint anyone to become an all knowing Pharaoh to rule Nigeria and Nigerians, just as we had seen in NTDC in the last five years.
So, what has Nura Kangiwa done differently. Let me share what I know! Though it’s difficult to separate your emotions on issues concerning persons you know intimately when doing assessment like this but I have learnt over years as a reporter to leave a window on how power may change persons you once know, meaning, we stay focused on the Job delivery and the person counted as a seed sower who must be accountable to the industry and nation.
Nura Kangiwa came on strong immediately he was appointed and was in Lagos, the Centre of hospitality business and flagship of private sector creativity in the octopus cultural tourism economy. He appeared like a man on a mission and have his vision clearly spelt out
He was wise to meet the travel and culture press. He was forthright and promised not to disappoint the industry to which he has associated with both in public and private space for the past three decades.
Honestly, I took a pity on him because NIHOTOUR, where he was posted is like a dead horse. We engaged day night and as wont with me, gave my words encouragement and support . If you go to Nura’s Abuja headquarters office, which am privileged to visit with Wale Olapade of Nigerian Tribune at Nura’s invite,( these days, I visit some places with witnesses) you will possibly notice, he wants to register the Runsewe winning ways in NIHOTOUR.
I recall during that visit in Lagos, he prophetically assessed his opportunities and challenges, made some very telling changes, brought out his personal fund and prayed to have Lagos office of NIHOTOUR, looking like a worthy and notable training institution.
Indeed, we wept at what should not be an office befitting an agency in the forefront of hospitality and tourism trade training in Nigeria. Nura Kangiwa knew that infrastructure challenges in NIHOTOUR is an albatross that must be sorted out. He visited key stakeholders on that meeting to Lagos and each time, he gets back to the hotel to rest, the decay he met on ground nagged him.
In his mental state to rebrand NIHOTOUR and do away with its aged and obsolete teaching and administrative infrastructure, he sought to offload the very shameful caricature in the agency, particularly at the lagos Centre, and elsewhere in the federation.
His appointment of a new team to run Lagos office, fits and the results open for all to see. The lady in Lagos, Mrs Chinyere Ibe, has brought faith and glory back the Lagos outreach centre, credit to Nura Kangiwa administrative vision. Kangiwa toured the zonal offices, went to Benue and got the state government to give out a new office space to NIHOTOUR North Central field office. He has also shown capacity to network across government institutions to refocus a bleeding NIHOTOUR, with avalanche of training and retraining programmes across the six geopolitical zones, though I am yet to see anything for the Eastern and Mid Western Zones ? Certainly, NIHOTOUR is beginning to shore up its lost glory, day by day.
In Jos last week, I tried again to engage him and to let him know that the industry will not forgive him if he disappoint us just like Munzali Dantata did before him at NIHOTOUR and Edem Duke at our then stand alone Ministry of Tourism. Significantly, I must confess turning around NIHOTOUR is a huge burden on the youthful shoulders of Nura Kangiwa. And that the industry, FTAN and our tourism media expects and prays that he makes us proud, gift us another Runsewe, in action and performance, cannot be overemphasised.
I am aware that many people, had not slept since last week, conspiring to give interpretations to the mere mention, that Nura Kangiwa, will grace this page. The voices of Jacob did same to Dantata, Chika Balogun and we know the results. No doubt It’s not uhuru yet for NIHOTOUR but the signs are there for a better tomorrow for the hospitality trainers colony.
One thing that made me happy is that most dispassionate readers of my column who responded to my flag off of peer review of agencies under the Culture Ministry, is the unanimity that time has come to hold these servant leaders accountable. They have been left alone to bestride the sector as lords of the minor, untouchables, unteachable, almighty gods. And that frame of mind, most of them, including those before them, became self serving, conceited.
Across board, we want to see leaders, who are not afraid to partner with FTAN and the media to change the near ugly face of the sector. Nura Kangiwa must leverage on his contacts and relationship with the media and FTAN to rebuild and rekindle hope in NIHOTOUR. It is achievable and not a pipe dream.
He told me and I am aware he is working on certain aspects of legislation to empower NIHOTOUR to be relevant and be at the forefront of arresting the the confusing black market certification by private hospitality and tourism trade institutions in Nigeria.
Yes, the vocational training mandate of NIHOTOUR needs proper interpretations and acceptance and that also includes empowering his staff and faculty. On my path, I will not relent and if and when he goes overboard, will send a WhatsApp memo, and follow up with public position to register whatever misgivings that may ambush his dreams and our dreams for NIHOTOUR. It’s a long bridge far off though!
That is my style and culturally, it takes someone who loves you tell you the truth. Nura Kangiwa is of little words, we( me) looks forward to greater visible achievements. Nura Kangiwa must be guided on this higher office, which makes it imperative that he must engage the practitioners beyond the official call hours. Effective communication is the game changer and a listening ear, the survival tonic. Nothing is hidden that shall not be made open one day. We are convinced that he has all it takes to bring changes to this NIHOTOUR and we watch in trust. Next week, Can anything good come out of NTDC?
* Frank Make, a Media and Tourism Consultant writes from Lagos.