(Opinion) Re-enacting Presidential Council On Tourism By Frank Meke

* Onung

 

 

Sometimes, I wonder if we really know what is good for our country.  In 2006, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, took far reaching measures to give us a new tourism economy.  First, he brought and head hunted Segun Runsewe to change the fortunes Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC). That directive was a military order; it was not democratic cos no room was given or ought to explain away as excuses for failure.

Obasanjo does not suffer fools gladly and does not care a hoot if heavens falls so long as he has his way. For a truth, Obasanjo loves tourism. After the NTDC cleanup, he went and inaugurated a Tourism Masterplan Committee.  Hmmm, when Ogbuewu Franklin, Minister of Tourism and the Committee headed by Franklin Adejuwon couldn’t match Obasanjo’s zeal, the iconic Ebora of Egbaland, pulled the rugs and threatened to disband the committee.

I recall that day at the Villa and surrounded by his economic team of  Ngozi Okonjo Eweala, Pascal Dozie, and Aliko Dangote,  Obasanjo took the podium in a five hour marathon debriefing of Tourism Masterplan Committee,  with kolanut in his mouth, chewing away  the submitted documents of the committee, angry at its Eurocentric  submissions, bitter that his desires for tourism was not captured at all.

Indeed, we got to the Villa because I had provoked a report on the poor work of the committee which drove great tourism administrators such as Christopher Idu, one of the most patriotic tourism administrators ever in government then, to write the Presidency, requesting for intervention.

Though, I got roped into a civil suit through the back door by the angry vengeful powers of the Tourism Masterplan Committee, for getting Obasanjo involved in their business as usual game, the truth again,  is that Obasanjo  did his best  and the greatest of all, was  the institution of the  Presidential Council on Tourism, with all  the bridges and enablers  of tourism, coming together, to shape a new direction for the industry. Part of the deal, is to get state governors to buy into a kind of unitary agenda for tourism and I could remember Donald Duke, sitting at the right hand of Obasanjo during such meetings, to show how Cross River, wish to make a statement on tourism.

Our joy, mine particularly knew no bounds. Though persecuted for daring the mafia behind Tourism Masterplan Committee, I took to mind that the truth has come to set us free and on this, till today, am grateful to Andrew Okungbowa of then Guardian Newspapers who hinted me of the agenda of the  cabal to shut me up through that botched Court case and to Otunba Segun Runsewe, who mobilised contacts and lawyers to defend me. Runsewe indeed, threatened to bring the full weight of government to bear on the case, a kangaroo judgment against me from a Badagry, Lagos, Magistrate Court which ruled a cleanup of all that I have, even my family, without any invitation to appear in court at any time. No be today, magic dey happen in our courts!!

I was cited somewhere in Abuja, this Monday morning and news got to me that Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN), President, Mr. Nkereweum Onung, wish to see a re -enactment of PCT and stand alone Tourism Ministry. Onung is the Obasanjo and Runsewe put together of the private sector tourism leadership and is beginning to make new cabals in the Ministry of Information and Culture uncomfortable.

Even though, I fear and worry for him, his desirable focus and outburst at the very strange cross road of the industry, has my support and backing.  Our ministry for now, Information and Culture, is the most terrible disconnect to our tourism tomorrow.

I am not a friend of the Minister when it comes to tourism and for the records, he in early days of his arrival at Ministry, did threaten to drag me to the courts because I won’t buy into his largely misplaced attention on tourism. Again, the intervention of mutual friends and one of his handlers, a good pal of mine, created a valley of  ‘sit down and look,’ even though painful,  knowing,  one day na one day!

Back to FTAN President, his strident call for a new breather for the industry at the Tourism Transportation Summit, which opened in Abuja, on Monday, may not be achieved under this administration, however, it is a call that needs more push and political sagacity, knowing that he who knocks, get doors opened.

I am looking forward to the strategic visitation of tourism budget for the eight or nine agencies under the ministry and what they did with the releases in the past seven years.  We shall go through that effort methodically, forensically, where possible, cock Y”””sh go open and yawa go gas, as we say on the streets.  Let me advise, those who will take me to court on the tourism budget accountability, to go get the best lawyers ooo.

And if they hire killers after me, well, I am not afraid for my life which is in the hands of God almighty.  Nkereueum is on point and let us join him to take back our tourism from the new cabals in the Ministry of Information and Culture.

 

Frank Meke, is a Media and Tourism Consultant Based in Lagos

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