Daily Archives: October 16, 2016

How Not To Celebrate WTD The Lai Mohammed Way

Without doubt, I know much more than Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture when it comes to the issue of World Tourism Day [WTD], and the circumstances surrounding the inauguration of that ‘sacred day’ September 27 of every year designated to commemorate it, take stocks of what has happened in the industry on the out-going year, as well as projection for the coming year.

The proponent of the day was very explicit when the idea was muted. It was a stakeholder’s day; the government, practitioners, media and the general public that consumes what the industry has to sell and offer.

So, from the very beginning, the day was always celebrated with some touch of genius and innovation around the world and Nigeria included.

However, the 2016 WTD celebrated in Lagos and hosted by Lagos State Government, was a mono event and was only attended by the federal government and its agencies, as well as some anointed private sector operator that were invincible and inconsequential in the sector.

Traditionally, states, students, media and the tourism practitioners from all the sub sectors, which include hotel owners/operators, travel agents and tour operators, normally congregate to mark this annual tourism industry OSCAR or Annual General Meeting.

Instead of the above, the minister narrowed the celebration to a single and a tour of Eko Atlantic City site that is still largely under construction.

Beautiful and a wonderful project, but negates the concept of the date and intention.

For a nation and a minister that is always preaching that tourism is a low hanging fruits for the government, it was shocking and unpardonable for the minister not to talk about figures as to how the sector has grown and doing.

In the travel and tourism industry, figures and statistics are key and very important.

Even the umbrella private sector body, Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria [FTAN] that is yet to be officially recognized by government, except on ad hoc basis, lacks the capacity and ability to even put a figure on how many hotels, hotel workers, and number of restaurants among others that such body should have at its finger tips in the country.

Also, very bad for FTAN is that when boards of travel and tourism parastatals will be constituted, the yet to be officially recognized federation will not be represented, but instead some of the associations will be represented.

Just like in the past, the Nigeria Hotel Association [NHA], Association of Tourism Practitioners of Nigeria [ATPN] and National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies [NANTA], would be because the Decrees setting up the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation [NTDC] and the National Institute for Tourism and Hospitality [NIHOTOUR] were specifically mentioned.

Should FTAN want to continue to represent the sector, it had opportunities and space to have influenced government and parliament over the years to get its status changed, more so that some of its past presidents were lawyers, and have the technical and wisdom to do so, but chose not to.

From my recent sampling of opinions in the industry, many are of the view that FTAN has not added value to the sector, and there was the need to strengthen the various associations for a more robust and active tourism activities that has evaporated over the years.

With the 2013 Supreme Court ruling that placed most of the travel and tourism activities control under states schedule, many expected the minister to follow the part of collaboration and comradeships with states as a whole, rather than the current selective altitude of the ministry.

The minister must also change the narrative of ministers in the ministry not wanting to work with the two tourism parastatals under it, because the NTDC and NIHOTOUR are as crucial as that of the ministry.

UPU Will Ensure Sustenance, Protection of Urhobo Heritage – Omene

Engineer Joe Orode Omene, President-general, Urhobo Progress Union [UPU], while speaking recently at the inauguration of the organization’s Kasoa Branch in Ghana, has reiterated his commitment to the promotion, protection and preservation of Urhobo Heritage.

UPU under his leadership according to Orode Omene, is making effort to ensuring that the body is more proactive, responsive and alive to its responsibilities to the Urhobo Nation and its people in contemporary times.
He was unanimously elected president of UPU. a pan Urhobo social and cultural umbrella body for all Urhobo worldwide) on December 19, 2014.

The President-general at the beginning of his speech put into perspective that, it was common knowledge that the UPU leadership, to some degree, was involved in the 2015 general election, a development generally known was fundamentally necessitated by the not too encouraging attitude of most Urhobo political leaders.

He noted that since the present political dispensation, that there has been a growing tendency amongst most Urhobo political leaders to pursue their personal and group interest over that of the Urhobo nation and its people.

Orode Omene berated political leaders for being responsible for the poor political showings and visibility of the Urhobo nation in the scheme of things in the country today.

“It is imperative to state here that the organization could not have done otherwise, putting the general interest and well-being of the Urhobo nation and its people into perspective, which the political class has time and again relegated to the background.

“However, while I do not find pleasure in trying to defend or justify the UPU involvement in the last general election, particularly as the UPU leadership does not intend to be involved in future elections, it is instructive to note that there is a world of difference between affiliating the UPU to a particular political party and the UPU showing interest on how politics impact Urhobo-land and development”, he said.

He also excitedly said that although the crisis that emanated from the last general election has been amicably resolved by all parties involved.

Looking into the future, the President general noted that there is no doubt that Urhobo history as a people, is synonymous with challenges of various nature and posited that since the UPU was formed in 1931, the Urhobo Nation has had to deal with one challenge or the other in its effort to cement its place in the competitive Nigerian establishment.

“While some of these challenges have disappeared through the decades on account of the nationalists’ activities of our founding fathers, some still stare at us in the face today”, he posited.

By getting more people to be involved in UPU activities the body has started inaugurating local branches in all the 24 clans that make up Urhobo Kingdom.

It is instructive to state here that plans to inaugurate UPU branches in all the 24 kingdoms, is geared towards having an effective organizational structure, that would make for easy mobilization of Urhobo nationals effort.

“Having functional UPU branches will make for positive interaction and collaboration among the various representative groups of the UPU, and which would no doubt in turn influence unity and cohesiveness among the Urhobo people”, Orode Omene noted.

He went further to say that “I’m happy to state here that we have already inaugurated the UPU branches in 14 out of the 24 Urhobo Kingdoms.

“We hope to be through with the other kingdoms within the next few months. Apparently, the inauguration of the UPU branches will not be limited to Urhobo-land; we also plan to inaugurate the branches of the organization across the country and indeed the globe”.

On the welfare of all Urhobo wherever they might be, the President-general narrated the role the UPU played and still playing on the Ese Oruru abduction saga, considering the national attention it attracted.

“It is worthy to note that the UPU National Executive has continued to stand by Ese Oruru even after her release by her assailants. The organization has paid a couple of visits to her and the parents in Bayelsa State; this is also coupled with the fact that the UPU has taken over her legal representation in court, as her legal team is presently headed by the Secretary-general of the UPU, Chief Albert Akpomudje [SAN]”, he said.

Orode Omene lamented that the Urhobo Nation cannot continue in this manner if they must take their place as strategic stakeholders in the Nigerian project. It is apparently for this reason he said that the UPU plans to make Urhobo voice heard more on major national and regional issues, particularly as such issues concern the Urhobo nation and its people.

“Beyond making our voice heard always on major national and regional issues more often, the UPU also plans to add bite to its political expressions”, he urged, while hoping that by so doing, “we believe the Urhobo Nation will gradually be recognized as a force to reckon with in the affairs of the Nigerian State”.