By Chukwudi Nweje The Nigerian Third Force Movement has rolled out its action plan for the 2019 general elections. Prominent members of the group include former Cross River State governor, Donald Duke, former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Charles Soludo, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Olisa Agbakoba, Tafawa Balewa, and Prof. Pat Utomi….
The random thoughts of governor Akinwunmi Ambode published on back pages of the Sun newspapers on August 28/9 was very interesting and huge change to my perception of the governor as a politician and a patriot. Indeed since his coming to office over two years ago, Ambode has struck me as a philosopher leader and a politician with good intentions to make Lagos a proudly Nigerian tourism destination.
Significantly, his approach to build a new tourism Lagos propelled through Sports Entertainment and Culture revived my long held position that Lagos may never rebound and re-engaged as Nigeria’s foremost destination of choice where people from all nations and colours can mingle and experience a touch of seamless bliss of aquatic offerings garnished with authentic cultural drum beats.
Ambode’s one Lagos tourism brand which falls within the parameters of his philosophical approach to engage the youths and the rural communities to trend in self discovery and exposure of a new local economy through culture, tourism and entertainment remains a challenge which must be driven to fulfill the desired marketable and bankable tourism dream.
The governor’s thoughts on the impact of population of Lagos and the challenges it possess to infrastructural expectations can only be addressed through a creative approach by engaging this huge expected human growth reality into money making ventures and to which tourism is the true fulcrum.
Notably, tourism is about people and their way of life but its worthy poverty alleviation test case can be championed through undivided financial attention and the right political will to which our dear governor seems too careful to confront with gusto.
Honestly, Ambode is right on target to wish that other states governors join in the developmental bandwagon which could recreate “another” prosperous Lagos” elsewhere in Nigeria, the truth however remains that such dream can only be achieved if these governors have patriotic intentions to leave tourism legacies for their people and other Nigerians.
As much as one is on same page with the governor of Lagos on this lofty dream and expectation for the speedy development of our dear country, and as often said, a people gets the kind of leader(s) they want or desire, therefore we should not cry that we lack quality leadership in Nigeria.
To further share Ambode’s thoughts on this score, one may ask what is wrong with Abia, Kano, Anambra, Taraba, Benue, Plateau, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Enugu and Delta states from becoming viable tourism destinations in Nigeria. If anyone ever contemplates or wishes to tour Nigeria, our diversities in culture and very many un-spoilt ecological tourism offerings forms a huge basket of “unprocessed”, undiscovered and revenue generator goldmines on the face of mother earth.
The missing link lays with the absence of political and entrepreneur leaders who can brace the odds and give Nigeria an alternative economic resource. It is sad to say and inform that Nigeria as a nation and a people despite our huge gift of population and blessings of Mother Nature are not ready for the tourism age.
Tell me, where are the sustainable benchmarks and enduring policies to show that Calabar is a tourism destination? Are we yet to see the self acclaimed “cannan land” as a place for 24 hours tourism and culture encounter despite rabid one tourism product of Calabar carnival? Can Lagos also with its “giant” strides in infrastructural renewal and the “one touch” Lagos fiasta truly claim any refreshing break through?
Even though one admires governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s determination to make a mark in Lagos, his tourism policies if it must leave an enduring legacy and possibly influence his peers in governance in Nigeria, must be seen to embrace the people-road transport workers, market women, the silk and the educated high flyers and all Lagosians to behold, believe and encourage visitors to Lagos. The government and the people are not on the same page on this score and are poles apart. Something touristic must bring them together.
Tourism development is a deliberately conceived and driven business and usually not left to political permutations but hallowed within the chambers of scientific research and implementation with goals of job creation, tax and revenues generation, environmental correctness and preservation of best cultural practices and products as key gains in sight.
I believe and wish the governor should see the huge documented and undocumented population of Lagos as an asset rather than a burden. There must be a policy shift in Lagos to put this huge human presence and their love for Lagos to work for today’s Lagos and future sustained prosperity.
Late Fidel Castro of Cuba turned that country’s image around through tourism with determined political will that built its beaches into famous and prime beachfront properties closely supported with its cultural and entertainment offerings distinct from other Latino nations. Interestingly, I want to see and read more of governor Ambode’s random thoughts, particularly on how we can get the best brains in Lagos nay Nigeria to make this city of aquatic splendour the desired tourism destination in Africa and place worth living.