Today, I would like to open the books on recent happenings at the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) with the thoughtful and significant remark of Apostle Paul to the Romans on the rejection of Christ by the people of Israel. He wrote: “I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart.”
Like the great apostle, I also feel deep sadness at what has become a strange narrative in our tourism history as NTDC has suddenly transformed into Sodom, a place of tourism prostitution instead of the homestead of tourism glory.
I am not lying, my conscience bears me witness that NTDC was conceived to give Nigeria and Nigerians a direction, a path to tread in our tourism journey. NTDC was not meant to be Gomorrah but an institution to establish tourism business as the backbone of our economy, create jobs for the young, speed up and create access to rural development and empowerment of our hospitable people.
I have great sorrow and grief in my heart that the mistakes of leadership in NTDC, which began in 2013 are yet to be solved today and, indeed, there is no end to this quest in sight. It is sad to go back in history and open the books of remembrance to call forth our late fathers in tourism, our late tourism prophets who died in active service in the calling for a change on how to manage the NTDC for effective tourism development in Nigeria.
From the grave, our rebellious Saul, leaders who have no respect for divine direction, have made us today to recall the departed souls of Pa Ignatius Atigbi, Ebaboje Matthew Da’Silva and Kingsley Onuoha to ask where we have got it wrong with the NTDC.
No doubt, like Prophet Samuel, our late tourism prophets must be weeping now in their graves at our shame and inability to sustain the tourism administrative templates of 2006 to 2013 under the watch of Otunba Segun Runsewe at the NTDC.
Today, I weep for our late prophets whose tourism voice forewarned us of having leaders like Saul at NTDC. Our old tourism prophets told us that such leaders would take away our liberty, our tourism dreams and aspirations, enslaving us instead of giving us opportunities to bring changes to our tourism tomorrow.
It was this same NTDC that killed our tourism prophets, not with guns but through deadness of the hearts of men and women who were privileged to mismanage the place. Maybe our prophets cursed the NTDC, I would not know, but to have leaders who have eyes but refuse to see and ears that cannot hear and generate anything good to run the NTDC effectively can only be as a result of a generational curse.
This development now threatens to also kill the workers of NTDC, young men and women, Nigerians who joined the service of the fatherland to help Nigeria become a tourism destination of note. It is sad for Nigerians and NTDC workers to cry and lament in their own country, to be enslaved, to be made to worship ignorance and rascality.
Instead of empowering the workers to hunger for a fresh and enduring tourism narrative, the NTDC has become a factory of zombies, a platform on which tourism would never bud and the tourism seed grafted on dry soil. I am grieved that tourism professionals and their associate groups now watch in stupor at rampaging leadership nightmare at the NTDC without even a voice of dissent or righteous caution. Dear God, please, help!
Where is the Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN)? Does the National Association of Tour Operators still exist? Where is the National Association of Nigerian Travel Agencies (NANTA) of the Association Tourism Practitioners of Nigeria (ATPN)? Have they gone to sleep or are they by the bush path to whisper over the ongoing regrets at the NTDC like cowards? O, great tourism associations, who has bewitched you all into silence?
Two weeks ago, the Nigerian Senate was held spell-bound as distinguished Senator Ovie Omo-Agege catalogued to the House alleged sadistic gross abuse of power by the immediate past leadership of NTDC. This is a story for another day, but the tale bears the same trademark of administrative incompetence presently on show and championed at the NTDC today. This place has become the generator house of tourism shame per second per day.
Nigerians are indeed a special bred. We keep mute in the face of terrible mistakes in the administration of our country; no wonder young Nigerians are now slaves in Libya and in most European nations.
What is happening at the NTDC is another face of slavery, a regrettable mental torture of the soul of Nigerian tourism, a window of administrative ignominy and a dangerous trend that we all must confront or perish.
End note: The truth can’t be killed
Last week, I visited a friend in his office and he took time to lecture me on how not tell tourism truth to power. I listened to him with peace in my heart because I have seen God bring down powers, men and women who think they will never be brought down. Again, he touched on the possible efforts by the powers that be in Abuja to engage fifth columnists to attack my person, just to prove how government resources can be put to useless ventures.
Well, we dressed the masquerade and, if it now resorts to hiring praise-singers against us, so be it. I have a covenant with God to speak tourism truth to power in Nigeria and, therefore, I am not afraid of the ranting of tourism apprentices. Whoever is after me will have to kill God first, then Jesus Christ before touching me. Conspiracies against truth come with damning consequences. Nigerian tourism must overcome this challenge, victory is at the corner.