There are so many good things about the Niger Delta nations and people that are not properly explained and this mixed bag of negative emotions and narratives paint a wrong picture of the region.
I also strongly hold the view that the people and governments in the delta region have not done enough to counter this organised spleen of hatred against the rich and enduring history, culture and hospitality of the Niger Delta people.
Though the picture of the region keeps growing large due to the discovery and politics of oil, the original Niger Delta economic architecture strategically supplants the oil wells and provides a sustainable future for tourism and culture.
Let us bring the sound bites of the various tongues and culture of the delta areas in Nigeria under one roof and one would marvel at the colourful interplay and exposure of some of Nigeria’s most hidden and virgin culture and tourism export products. From dances, fashion, food, flora, fauna and marine ecology sites, the Delta area is one big pot unbelievable natural offerings waiting to be discovered but sadly and strangely presented as a hateful environment.
Under this negative cover and narrative, the people and their natural resources, not excluding tourism and cultural offerings, have been systematically stolen and exported, with the tragic consequence of nature rage and youth restiveness grounding meaningful development. The notorious oil well dealers, and their cohorts in government circles smile and dine on the people’s wealth while their foot soldiers within the same Delta areas paint us a picture of deprived nations and people who have no positive story to tell the world.
Sadly, this offensive narrative has stuck in the minds of foreigners and Nigerians alike, but the window of history is still open to patriotic Nigerians to tell the true story of our Delta region as against the violent Eurocentric and neo-colonial exploitation-driven historical narratives.
The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) might have played certain roles in the past through various structural and livable platform interventions to mitigate consequences of the generational lies and disjointed historical denials of the Delta’s socio-economic importance, the new strategic evangelical approach by Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba to bring NDDC into the desired and timely search for Niger Delta militants of development, particularly through cultural and tourism engagements, is worthy of careful attention and support.
Though I am not a fan of Nigerian senators, those who have served or are serving, but Senator Ndoma-Egba is an exception due to some of his strategic interventions while in the Senate. His humility and measured words of wisdom still reverberate today. This is one senator who, through his various interventions for his people and Nigerians at large, built legacies that speak for him and, to add, I find his strident call for new militants for Niger Delta development as key to reversing years of neglect of this region and presenting the delta region as new culture and tourism destination.
The cookies that may crumble here are the agents of darkness who have kept the true Delta story in captivity and which the Ndoma-Egba revolutionary call to service and development may unmask. My take is that the delta region is not only rich in black gold but richer in tourism and cultural endowments that may this time around benefit the real people of region and galvanise them as agents of development and investors of rural socio-economic change.
The political mileage of this change of attitude and orientation cannot be overemphasised and to marry that premise to Senator Egba’s dream Delta region remains a task that must be overcome.
Tomorrow, Friday, in the city of Port Harcourt, the NDDC chairman would most likely tell the gathering of travel and tourism facilitators to key into his vision of self-discovery for the Delta area and jettison worn-out negative narratives of the Niger Delta’s cultural tourism offerings Senator Egba’s home-grown search effort for these militants of development for the Niger Delta may engage Nigerian travel trade operators, their foreign friends, and Nigerian tourism journalists who would be looking at the symbiotic relationship between aviation and tourism, deliberately driven to wean Nigeria from the dependence on oil for many years on end.
At a recent visit to the NDDC office by National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA), Senator Egba, who received the NANTA president, Mr. Bankole Bernard, and his team, assured them that a new dawn of development was about to take place in the Niger Delta region, where the best of its culinary, fashion and cultural offerings would form a strategic engagement to reverse long-held wrong perceptions by visitors interested to come to the delta region to eat, wine and dance with the most hospitable people on the face of Mother Earth. Henceforth, we shall keep our eyes on Senator Egba and his dream for new militants for tourism development for the Niger Delta.