By Frank Meke
Dear Honourable Minister, it is with heavy heart that I write to bring to your notice the near collapse of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC). Indeed, I must commend your proactive initiative to salvage NPD about two years ago, when the cracks of poor leadership began to rear up its head.
That timely intervention and response from your office was a masterstroke, cleverly and diplomatically putting the horse before the cart. As Federal government spokesman, and the supervisory minder of Culture and Tourism ministry, you spoke truth to then emerging Pharaoh of NTDC. The spirit of Pharaoh is usually stubborn, oppressive and manipulative.
You did not only lecture the mayor of NTDC on the basic expectations of the federal government from the agency, assumed as arrowhead of tourism initiatives, you admonished to see a better public and private sector sustainable relationship.
Honourable Minister, you were not Ziggy on the welfare of NTDC workforce, clearly marginalized, brutalised and manipulated by the Herod like leadership which has turned the once harmonious agency labour environment into a militarised zone, but stressed the need for a inspiring and conflict free administration that should bring out the best of brains and deploy same to glory of Nigerian tourism.
No doubt sir, some of us can still hear and recall your very stringent, but determined voice then, promising to support the progressive turn around of an agency of government in charge of tourism matters, to the best that we can be proud of.
Inside you, dear sir, I could perceive you knew that NTDC under Folarin Coker is far gone out of the way. His leadership of this institution to which he lobbied beyond measure to occupy, lacked traction and inspiration. You knew him more than all of us, who jubilates and waved Olive leaf that a game changer in the mould of Otunba Segun Runsewe has come. Sadly, we only could see as men and not God who cannot be deceived pretenders. Am ashamed to say I lost the bet on Coker as a tourism game changer.
On the other hand,We remembered Olusegun Matthew Runsewe, the very inspiring and record breaking forerunner in NTDC. We checked his records and aggressive presence and transformational tourism breakthroughs, he brought to NTDC and Nigeria in general, and had throught the “Eko for Show” new man, a scion of the legendary Jagaban political family, would do great and possibly better. There’s no measuring scale, both were poles apart, Runsewe, a legend.
Coker outrightly failed. Mr Minister, your political prodigy failed and has brought disgrace to the industry and the nation in the community of tourism nations, not only in Africa but the world.
Dear Honourable Minister, am sure you are aware that Coker’s unbecoming presence and leadership failings has not only scandalized your ministry, but has exposed you as a witness to the deliberate acts of subterfuge to national tourism activism. He cannot even measure up and learn from your doggedness and dedication to nation building.
Dear sir, to keep silence in view of the alleged gross misapplication, manipulation and misappropriation of materials and manpower resources ongoing at NTDC in the past four years, is certainly a disservice to the reformative agenda of the government of President Mohammandu Buhari.
Ideally sir, your very massive presence and promotion of the gains of this administration, making you one of the most visible and passionate administrator in this government, would have served as an inspiration to the clearly confused NTDC Sole Administrator, but he chose the ways of those who have ears but chose to be deaf.
As a tourism journalist and key player in the industry, my ears are full of various administrative summersaults from the very brash, unbelievable and temerity of the current maximum leader in NTDC, which directly and indirectly questions the power of the President to ask and demand accountability and report card for those appointed to hold Office in the name of the president. Coker’s only report card is fume behind close doors and windows, roaring in swan songs of being blackmailed for not parting with opportunities he could not create. The usual Amala joint talks of failed politicians.
The shenanigans ongoing in NTDC certainly does not affirm the very high ideal of true governance to nation and over 200 million Nigerians crying out loud for tourism salvation in terms of jobs openings and rural development. Even the creative openings pushed forth for domesticating tourism by the coronavirus pandemic, exposed the weakness of the leadership team at agency.
In the past three weeks and many a times in the past four years, I had evangelically brought to public space the very misplaced and weaknesses of the NTDC perilous leadership and to which I must appreciate your intervention two years ago. But sir, the scenerio and situation in the agency today deserves more than a mere sermon on the mount. NTDC needs a surgery, the type that will remove the poisonous lump of the present leadership and scale up its recovery effort before we go the way of lamentation.
To wait and pray that the failed administration in NTDC would ever bear fruit, is to deny that the devil does not operate through the many unreasonable human complexities. There is no goodly national tourism advocacy going on in tourism organization, but a horrendous show of force by a suicidal taskmaster.
In other realms, the visible and deliberate destruction, waste of human resources and unethical managerial practices in NTDC, would have been visited with instant judgement and sack.
And dear sir, to allow, pretend and ignore the mischievous narratives in NTDC to go on without response , clearly suggests a weakness to premodial relationship far above and against the allegence to nation and people of Nigeria.
In Nigeria, we accept that most political decisions tends to head hunt the best brains to help the nation find its feet out of socio-economic forest, but the reverse is the case in NTDC since Runsewe left the place about eight years ago. It’s has been red flags for the agency since 2013 till date.
Sadly, the southern elements that were selected for NTDC appointment after the very glorious era of Otunba Segun Runsewe who’s now doing same transformational magic with our Cultural heritage economy in NCAC, gave industry players goose pimples, many of us, wondering if it would not be better to try tourism professionals from our northern frontiers.
Though, we have not come to that sir, but there are no doubt that Folarin Coker has failed the nation and the people of Lagos whom he represents at the center. While Lagos State governor, Babajide SANWO-OLU is making waves building solid relationships with the organised tourism private sector, same cannot be said about the” Lagos boy” who is afraid of a day with history.
Dear sir, having presented our anxieties and burden to you, I pray you will rise to the occasion and ask all the heads of parastatals under your ministry to share their score cards, thus giving us the opportunity to mark their papers and make recommendations to sack them or retain them if need be .
As you are aware sir, the government appears deficient in aggregating best hands to deliver on its various mandates and programs, and sadly to which NTDC under Coker has failed beyond measure. President Mohammadu Buhari cannot be made to defend this set back neither shall we in clear conscience blame you for the four uneventful and wasted tourism years in NTDC.
As our tourism leader and father, I respectfully request for a change in baton at NTDC. Am aware of a possible certain political pressures to sustain this dark spot in the history of NTDC, but, the God we serve, will judge our position and to which no powers can stop or manipulate the decision. we boldly challenge Coker to show us his score card at the University of NTDC.
Thank you sir and I look forward to hearing from you.