It’s becoming evident that Nigeria’s tourism future can only be secured if the practitioners take to some measured steps of political faith to save the sector from scavengers.
Today, and possibly in the nearest future, we shall carefully put on the public space certain individual or collective efforts to determine the course to which the tourism and travel multibillion-dollars sector must shape up in Nigeria.
It is said and rightly admitted that man is a political animal, and to the best that one can remember, this run rings around our perception to contribute to the development of our nation, starting from our immediate localities and environment. Tourism is about the totality of humanity, the desires, the peace and tranquility and growth potential.
This definitely finds bearing to the fact that our tourism sites, history, tradition, culture and hospitality start from our homes, villages and kindred.
Years ago, I had visited my kindred, having been born outside the environment, and wanted to study my roots. Who is where and why we speak in a tongue different from others in same geographical area yet can relate well, why same breathe in the good of other’s culture differing yet makes meaning in the collective gatherings of multi-layered culture conference and, interestingly, acceptable and welcomed by others.
It was a huge experience, fact to fact to communial development, that within those circumstances and differences the melting point remains the progressive desire to benchmark improvements in socioeconomic development of the individual and people.
The research work, birthed a process, a history of my people, not from my Diaspora understanding but fueled through deep interactions and discussions with my uncles and relations, most whom sadly have now left this earthly space.
Today, that piece of cultural and historical narrative of my people has become a living mobile library to anyone who needs to know about my kindred, our forebearers, their thoughts on economy, culture, tradition, customs and even religious beliefs.
As is wont with the republican nature of my people, the work was subjected to serious historical and cultural heritage interrogation and, in the end, became a bridge to further studies of our people.
This reminds me of what is actually playing out in tourism recently. Interestingly, there are those who are quick to join voices in issues beyond their comprehension, to subjective interpretations and analysis and at the end muddle the waters of our tourism Jordan.
About two weeks ago, Samson Akpata Nunayon, a young man who possibly may shape Lagos tourism space if he keeps his head out of unnecessary tension, sent me a message. He heads Association of Tourism Associations of Nigeria, Lagos chapter, and also runs an online radio programme on tourism.
He told me of his intention to build a coalition of tourism practitioners across board to politically measure out the industry’s strength and also audit certain tourism benefits to Lagos practitioners.
Having permitted him to give me the profiles of like minds to this conference of tourism influencers, it is positively implicative that one is supportive of the tourism political engineering that Apkata canvassed.
How this process fared and may influence tourism opinions, including the Lagos government tourism action plans, going forward, will pan out in the next administrative circle in Lagos soon.
However, the conference of Lagos-based tourism practitioners seriously deepens the importance of protecting the tourism space and ecosystem with the right people, experienced hands, thus engendering strategic growth of the sector.
No doubt, head-hunting for the best tourism heads, with capacity, credibility and professionalism has never borne the signature of industry players.
Let me make exception to certain facts which place Lagos above peer scrutiny of political leadership across Nigeria and in tourism decisions excitedly captures senior Ministry of Tourism administrators with focal intel on tourism or related activities.
Of the lot, though retired, were Ashamu Fadipe, Dr. Babatunde Mesewaku and presently Mrs. Oyinade Nathan Mash. Dr. Mesewaku retired but actively coordinates certain tourism thoughts in Lagos. Nathan Mash is another kettle of intelligent expression and a grit in wisdom and fortitude. How these influenced tourism directions in Lagos is for another day.
It must be noted that the silent revolution still in the works began with Awori festival, which held in Lagos late last year. Lagos governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, was visible at the event, attended by the Professor King of Awori land, Oba Obalenlege, the economic horsepowers of Aworiland, led by Olawale Cole, and other key influencers in Aworiland.
Omoba Femi Fadina, chairman of the hugely successful festival, took to strategic Awori community sociopolitical interventions, massively deployed it and gave Awori nation their rightful place in the history of Lagos.
At the Ikeja Police College ground, it was absolutely certain and amazing what the thought and determination of one individual could help to achieve for cultural tourism in Aworiland and in Lagos State.
Prince Fadina didn’t just bury his head in the ground because of the challenges that come with developmental milestones. At every crossroads, he thought out of the box, connected with the Awori elders of various sociopolitical leanings, aggressively husbanded their strength and leverage, quick to deploy field experience and nuggets of cultural tourism achievements across the world to break down irritations to the birth of Awori Festival.
These are cheering tourism political engineering statements and which buffet fears to the possible coalition of efforts in this regard.
My fear are legion in the sense that we harbour trepidation, anger and mistrust against the few who wish to break away from the pedestrian summation of the industry, but if a window of opportunity beckons to their selfish gains, they come in their large numbers to foul the air.
By May this year, we shall possibly be having new and returning political leaders at each stage of our political direction.
Are we ready to process opportunities, deploy same to change our tourism narratives?
What role do we play to either support or actualize the reality? Are we waiting for invitation to present long speeches and eat at high tables? To dress tourism in long beautiful robes yet quick to run down the few who are presently sticking out their necks to enthrone measures of tourism politicking?
Though I am FTAN-centric, it is cheering to note that the private sector tourism practitioners’ apex body has not called anyone out to public space for holding burgeoning interest to mobilize like minds to process tourism political reach for growth and development.
Gbenga Sumonu, Victor Kayode, Dr. Babatunde Mesewaku and many others took to political presence for tourism in Lagos, and in doing showed capacity and dedication.
Femi Fadina, beyond Awori Festival, is top material for tourism representation in Lagos State. Akpata Nunayon Samson is a lion. If you need a mobilizer in lagos tourism, then Akpata fits. But in all these, the worries of sustainability of strategic action plans, is still missing.
Ftan leadership during the last year celebration of World Tourism Day in lagos, made unforgettable statement, adopted a blue print and showcased the power of a united industry. Can the conference of lagos based tourism practitioners seriously deepen that process?
In bringing change to societal pressures and dislocations, few faces and people chicken out. It is human and their right indeed but to those who have made up their minds to process opportunities and thermotify inclusiveness to drive actuality and reality of tourism to national development, we encourage them to sing their songs. One day soon, we shall dance our tourism dance, Godwilling.