Just a week ago, Nigeria’s Information and Culture Minister, Alhaji Lai Muhammed was in Madrid, playing his own tourism script. Back home and in his state of Kwara, Muhammad was politically amputated and his cell in jeopardy. I am an ardent follower of the minister and his political interest(s).
Why, you are entitled to ask? Well, he is constitutionally mandated to tend our cultural tourism nest, and that is of a great concern to me and his political trajectory, allegdly over rated as a master political propagandist, a job in all honesty, he is well admired and hated at same time.
In Madrid, Lai Muhammed, ensured our President, Muhammad Buhari visited the office the United Nations World Tourism Organisation ( UNWTO). The President said right things about our indigenous tongues and culture, the investment opportunities and cheap labour, assuring the world and member states of the organisation, that Nigeria has all it takes to host them in November.
It was strategic to get our President who was a guest of the Spanish government, to help validate our preparedness to host the conference. Smart move by Lai Muhammed.
If you ask me though, I really don’t know what we truly stand to gain from the UNWTO visit. Would it improve our image ranking? Would Unwto help us in improving our tourism products and services?
What again oooo, will this visit expected to gulp almost all the funding expectations of over eleven agencies under the ministry bring to our table? Nigeria, one of most culturally diverse nation in world, with over nine hundred indigenous tongues, rich culture and tradition, yet very unfortunate in making the best of these gifts.
Already, the November Unwto game is on and our very most deviant genius at our Tourism agency. has suddenly sent a Goliath notice. “We shall give it our best and support our minister” the enfant terrible of our seven years fruitless tourism journey of this administration sang!
I just dey laugh! Now to the issue at stake and telling. The United Nations World Tourism Organisation, conceived the Best Tourism Villages as strategic plans to highlight how tourism helps safeguard rural areas, local gastronomy, values, landscape, natural and cultural diversity.
In 2021, a total of such villages from 32 countries were granted attestation and our dear Nigeria, didn’t even get “waka pass’mention.
Ok, let me take you back to 2010, during the World Cup in South Africa. What I intend to reveal does not make the Unwto effort, a” lifted effort” or “stolen idea” but it smells of a Nigerian effort, showcased to the world in South Africa and while the World celebrated soccer, Nigeria showcased tourism Villages, the difference between the two, tine line though, is that Nigeria came to the Sport tourism game with its 36 cultural Villages, each of them, a one stop cultural tourism gallery, proudly the best of our nation while unwto to best of its intentions, years later, one village, one nation.
Otunba Segun Runsewe ( this man again!) was the tourism prophet behind Nigerian effort, showing the world, a lession in rural communities empowerment and promotion. To doubting Thomas’s, please search the tourism scriptures and am sure Unwto should have it in its archives that a Nigerian plying his well tested cultural tourism effort, did give the world, an eye to the future. Otunba Segun Runsewe, we won’t forget!
So if we could set the pace in South Africa, even though exclusively showcasing our diverse cultural magnificence about eleven years ago to the world, why has lai Muhammed failed to get at least one of our very unique Villages numbered as one a global exemplary best?
Now, if you juxtaposition this intent with the proposed untwo meeting in November, what are we really up to? Did I tell you the hawks at ntdc, wish to fly the kite of the National Theatre ( Entertainment city) owned by the Bankers Committee as its sole tourism product at the November meet? Well, the cookies are about to crumble again.
So, our President has endorsed the Unwto visit and we wait to see
how many countries that may consider us serious to honour our invitation.
Na doubt, free hotel, feeding and all luxurious vintage opportunities will be thrown at the member states to lure them here but we know that we are not yet there, indeed far from meeting the tourism scale of preference.
Come November, another wasteful tourism jamboree beckons and at the end of the day,, the civil servants in the ministry, will smile to banks and Nigeria tourism still at the rung of the ladder.
Next week , I shall endeavour to explain why cultural tourism Villages in Morocco, Rwanda, Mauritius, Ethiopia and Kenya made the list for 2022, out of the 44 destinations celebrated at 24th assembly held in Madrid, Spain and what Nigeria could only bbring home under lai Muhammed is a certificate to host and fête those driving to best tourism nations in the world. well, Let us clap for us, great hospitable people, and with nothing to show for it.
* Frank Meke,a Media and Tourism Consultant writes from Lagos.