(Opinion) Adedayo Adeola: Leading With Humility By Frank Meke

This column is about people who make things happen in tourism. Over the years, we have learnt to be circumspect about certain convictions on tourism policies and action plans, not excluding persons who may or have brought uncommon changes in one way or the other.

In doing this for over three decades, running and counting, we knew that our hearts could not be so smart to overcome some sense of reasoning beyond the facades put up by the pretentious, neither do we fail to admit that we are wrong to have placed a burden of trust on those undeserving.

There were examples of those who failed our trust and we do not count them as enemies but would rather chose to recalibrate our thought process, wait on upon time to expose them and leave the rest to God and history.

Indeed, over the years, we have become a billboard of measuring institutional expectations and where we were allowed to contribute objectively, no doubt we did beyond measure and pecuniary boisterous.

Significantly, there are many fake tourism and travel prophets. They come in various shades and colours, some pretending they more placed or accepted in the society than others, while others both in the public and private sector, want us to worship them.

In a lot of ways, I see them as comedians, entertainers and noise makers. Beyond their world, there are nothing that could be related to impacting others, that you can see or feel.

Like the east wind, they come in furious happenstance and before you know it, they have gone with same wind.

Oh dear, today is not about sermon on the mountain of tourism but on Adedayo Adeola, Chairman, TouchDown Travels and also (Chairman) Board of Trustees, National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies(NANTA).

In the Nigerian travel business, there are those who truly in words and deed, could be called industry influencers and have worked assiduously to groom and assist others, and as we have also seen in ages past and even unto now, there are others so pedestrian such that every opportunity, is to showcase invitation cards extended to them to attend a child naming ceremony. So vain, they come in plenty.

I have Known Dayo for over two decades, been to his office on invitation for about three times, and visited him in company of others about two or three times. In this span of time, I have come to see him as an industry player with a heart for the good of others. He makes you a promise, thrust Dayo to keep it and if you leave your expectations in the realm of assumption, don’t spread rumours about him.

As President of nanta, about 10 years ago, Dayo was initially at loss at how to revive the fortunes of the association then. You know, there are people meant to build and there those who destroys, and in nanta in the past forty six years of its blissful existence, had them in equal measures.

In nanta, exist nests of tribalistic champions, so also of nationalists, saints and demons, gossipers and progressives, and like everywhere. And with God, the good ones with feet of achievement in the sands of time, adorns our heart and history of national development.

Dayo Adeola fits here. NANTA’s corporate three floors office, on Ikorodu Road, was his dream baby. He is known to have run the race of redefining how travel trade business is done in the past two decades. As a new era general of the travel trade, he has always led from the front, unassuming, intelligent and a good interpreter of the times.

An encounter with Dayo at the international airport on our way to Dubai, when that Arab Emirates was trying to emerge as must see destination, suffices here.

He was at loss where to head hunt a good hand to run NANTA Secretariat. Dayo knew I have been around and believed, I could help him. From the 90’s and to the glory of God, I have stayed faithful to nanta and knew closely most its foundation leaders and as a developmental reporter, have a library of who is who in NANTA.

Sorry, I digressed.! We can’t talk about Dayo Adeola, without taking time out to recollect certain measurements of leadership profile of the association. True to my promise to assist, Dayo have found my candidate worthy and successfully, ran the Olympic race of turning around the fortunes of nanta.

Though he is yet to fulfill the promise he made to me on that account, that failing however was not his fault, but mine, for not following up on my diadem. In trust and truth, Dayo still reminds me of this encounter.

You may wonder where this is leading us to. It is Dayo Adeola’ s day because he has held nanta together in the past two years with uncommon wisdom and grit. He is not vain, neither brash nor asking to worshipped. Dayo will only rise and roar like lion, a gentle one at that whenever centrifugal forces are their most mischief manifestation.

He would appear at nanta elections to ensure electoral process were not circumvented, and when the excos, hits the border line of wisdom, Dayo will pour in the waters of reasoning.

Severally, I have heard him confess, the BOT, to which he is first among equal, is not not an extension of the executive council of NANTA, yet he would cancel appointments and even trips, to help whenever requests are brought to his notice on nanta issues.

Dayo is the unknown live wire of support for the Susan Akporiaye led NANTA of today and he is graceful about it. He would leave his office and walk down the President of the association to her car, would willingly vacate his chairman “seat” and usher her to sit before he takes his seat and would mobilize support for nanta projects and events.

At the hosting of media hall of Fame inductees, Dayo Adeola was the first to arrive and last leave the venue. Dayo is coded and cryptic, yet has shown leadership that has brought attention to the bearings of the BOT of nanta.

Under his watch, there is now unprecedented desire by many to join nanta and its hallowed chambers of elders.

In the business, Dayo gave eyes and voice to the weak and struggling. He mentors with care and love, a signpost of meekness, Dayo also specializes in disarming opponents, far or near.

In Kano, Dayo’ s unputdownable influence played out in most dramatic fashion. Fronting constitutional amendments, his diehard opponents went to the market of ideas to remove him as chairman. It was a long night of knives and the Brutus’s failed flat down, like Humpty Dumpty!!

The Kano coup against Dayo caught many unawares but a strategic wall of defense led by progressive blocs from the eastern zone, in particular, north and Abuja braced to drown the voice call.

It was a telling moment, a victory for the Democratic ethos that kept nanta together for the past four decades plus. It is a sign that people appreciates those puts down their gifts and contacts to grow a nation and people.

Germany rebounded from the second war to a place of global influence because the people stood behind their leaders. Singapore, a poor third world nation in the 70′ now rides tall among nations because they have leaders who are selfless. Watch Ukraine, it will rise beyond global expectations because the people are resolute.

Dayo Adeola is coming and may God keep him for nanta and the industry. I have my records and we know the true champions of tomorrow’s NANTA.

* Frank Meke, a Tourism and Media Consultant based in Lagos.

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