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    Tourism, beyond adversity, suffering from Anaemia

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    Eliminate insurgents at Kainji Park

    Experience is usually agreed to be the best teacher and looking back to about three decades ago, when opportunities came my way to be part of the story of this industry, it had been a bitter, sweet and cold experience.

    If you have been around, I mean within the space mentioned, you would possibly agree that the Nigerian tourism journey is hasted by the media, and I must, in particular, credit uncle Sam Amuka’s newspaper, the vanguard newspapers for this presence.

    The pictures of travel media we see today were the creative content put together by irrepressible ogbeni Tope Awe. Like Apostle Paul, I drank from that wisdom and am ready and willing to lay my life down for it.

    There were also other colleagues’ apostles, not necessarily of the vanguard family but who also joined in the crusade to write and speak well about our country. Unsung heroes!

    Indeed, and like some latter day saints, many of them couldn’t see beyond the glitz and luxury usually associated with the business and disappointingly lost steam due to lack of encouragement and support from government and even the private sector.

    Certainly, the Anaemic nature of the sector, despite our sense of knowledge and permutations, is so benubbing that only a few of us could weather the storm, so to speak.

    There are no chest beating here, and usually, I refrain from joining the noise makers and buccaneers who come to our space to prat invisibility. It’s nauseating, emetic!

    Except we shut their mouths and seek for a sense modesty, it is becoming apparent that they want to deliberately rewrit the history of tourism development and including the use of poisonous carrots to lure the innocent pedestrian bystanders to join their hellinist coven.

    Like I will always say and may history bear me witness, the Nigerian travel media has contributed immensely to where we are today, and no individual or organisation can hold absolute claim to that intervention. There are many journalists today who individually have contributed to keep the aneamic sector alive, while some selected leaders, particularly government officials, milk the sector dry and tell us all is well.

    Between 1991 and 93, vanguard tourism bore developmental pains, paid the price, and led courageously the tourism advocacy. Late Pa Ebaboji Da silva stood with us, and may his tourism soul rest in peace. Then came champion newspapers, and I still remember my good friend Ayo Arowojolu. Then followed Daily Times with Tijjani Adebisi, a polygot of immense knowledge, and even the present Olota of ota is part of the evolution.

    I won’t waste my space to join issues with ‘Buharidists’ or ‘ Jagabandists’ and/ or motor garage sycophants who want to score themselves with marks for whatever fanciful achievements. I really do not blame them, though, because some people come to the marketplace to shout to attract attention to their babalawo incantations and not to sell their all curing medicinal herbs.

    It could be irritating when an ostrich with its long neck thinks it could occupy the animal kingdom space where lions reign. I should think it’s suicidal and a disease of hormonal inbalance for anyone to think he is far better than others. It is just crazy and no wonder, Judas represents treachery and betrayal spirit.

    We are not out of the woods,in the aneamic hangover in the sector, because the industry has been betrayed by the merchants of divide and rule. To these characters, their game is to hogwash whoever comes to the system with transactional self-worth, belittling and running down others who refused to join their solo herodian team.

    No one is good except them, and as custodians of blemish and strife trajectory, they fly around like witches and wizards, intentional to lie against the truth and stab others in the back.

    We have said it in the open and secret places that our new madam in tourism will just mark time and leave like others before her because the confusionists had lured her with their bait.

    The propellers of industry set backs prants her space, cleverly using her “newness” and disposition to learn the tourism ropes to market themselves. Not Nigeria, not her people.

    Nigeria tourism is not at the centre stage of this mission, and you ask me who is beating the drum? Last week, the madam minister gathered commissioners of culture and tourism in Abuja. Behind the game is hypocrisy .

    Hypocrisy beats the drums, and the new commissioners and possibly new permanent secretaries just wondered why they must believe the deliverers at the centre who in seven years plus four couldn’t lift a finger to donate blood to the aneamic sector.

    In 2006, when Otunba Segun Runsewe came to our tourism space, he informed our numerous tourism baggage carriers that talk shows are over and birthed practical verifiable tourism deliveries.

    He killed fly by night portfolio operators and flew all the tourism and culture commissioners to South Africa for a week to practically see the transformation gains of the sector. Is seeing not believing?

    Runsewe gave the tourism media eyes to the global tourism reportage ecosystem and helped blossom the positive escalation of travel and tourism reporting in Nigeria, even birthed the industry reportage on radio and television.

    That’s deliberate collaboration with the media and not the latest divisive press releases in vogue and focal to killing tourism reportage and interpretation by government tourism agencies. Of course they can’t give what they don’t have!

    It is sad that the drummers of new dance drama in tourism today have surrounded themselves with Croynists whose only usefulness is to massage the ego of their masters.

    It’s difficult to owe any tourism obligation to our nation and people when the government, in its wisdom, will force down our throat ministers and agency heads whose mission and vision are at variance to the good of our cultural tourism advantages.

    A minister or agency head who deliberately roll out its hosted buyers ecosystem to the media with intent to mute their suggestions or observations can only breed zombie reporters.

    There’s nothing new in terms of culture and tourism policy collaboration and interpretation that Otunba Segun Runsewe has not done. Before he left the culture sector, hurried out by misfit minister of culture, Runsewe brought all the culture and tourism commissioners to Abuja to deliberate on a new path for sector. Is our madam minister apping him? Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria president Nkereweum Onung has been on the same ecosystem, almost on his knees, to bring the government and private sectors together. Did the white lions in ntda and nihotour listen?

    Why is the industry still playing adversity games, or supposedly so beats the imagination. Unfortunately, the attempt to tarnish the image of travel and tourism media will fail flat.

    Tourism reportage is a spiritual thing. You can’t put it down, not even with the Internet playing a huge role. Even the traditional media has upped its games, and except there is a strategic agenda to put the media first in national tourism marketing and promotion, just as Runsewe has shown, then Nigeria can only breed of the reportage of the worst in its underbelly. The people are what they read!

    I won’t end without mentioning the capacity and presence that the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies has brought to the Nigerian tourism space in recent times. It’s unprecedented, from intra Africa to Africa Tourism market agenda, to a twice solo run at the World Travel Market( for Nigeria) and a practical guide to gains to centric African cultural tourism development in South Africa in collaboration with Ghana Tour Operators Association supported with open hands by South Africa government and its creative vibrant tourism agency, nanta sure cannot be ignored.

    Nanta’s first strategic foray in an exclusive Air transportation and Sundry industry suppliers expo during its avant-garde Annual General Meeting is certainly futuristic to what a well organised private sector organisation can do to advance tourism in Nigeria and to the world. It’s futile to pretend to celebrate World Tourism Day in Nigeria when we know where shoes pinches.

    Na which government dey bid to host wtd in Nigeria if not to milk the governors of the little resources which can be used to buy rice for their hungry poor. Bid koo, bid nii!

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    Opinion

    FAAN: Improvement of Passenger Facilitation, Security Gave Boost to Tourism

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    FAAN: Improvement of Passenger Facilitation, Security Gave Boost to Tourism

    The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) said that its improvement of airport facilities, passenger facilitation and security has encouraged tourism in Nigeria.

    The agency said that the drastic action taken by the Managing Director, Mrs. Olubunmi Kuku against touting at the airports has brought sanity and orderliness to the satisfaction of travellers.

    Kuku identified some of these achievements when she spoke at the Wings of Change Focus Africa Conference (WOCFA) overseen by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) last week; held in Johannesburg, South Africa.

    A statement signed by the Director, Public Affairs & Consumer Protection, Obiageli Orah, said FAAN has recently taken steps to make Nigeria’s airports safe and accessible by genuine tourists and travellers and has also made efforts to eliminate touting and other forms of criminal conducts around the airports.

    FAAN boss also spoke on the recent creation of a dedicated Department for Cargo Services in the agency, as stakeholders emphasized the need for improvement of trade facilitation, including air cargo facilities and infrastructure, cargo compliance, closer collaboration amongst African countries and Stakeholders as well as Cargo Specialized Training for stakeholders.

    There was emphasis on digitalization of passenger processing and how the embrace of robotics technology by airports in Africa would help to give customers further experience of speed, efficiency and excellence. The use of technology to drive efficiency has been part of FAAN’s priority agenda under the present dispensation.

    Making his input on the first day of the conference, the Minister of Aviation & Aerospace Development, Mr. Festus Keyamo, emphasised the need for removal of visa restrictions to enable free movement of people and goods across the continent, stating that to achieve this, there is need to work with Foreign Affairs Ministers across Africa.

    The Minister equally made a case for adequate funding of air transport in Africa.

    Also speaking at the event, IATA,s Regional Vice President, Africa & Middle East, Kamil Alawadhi called for pursuit of net zero carbon emissions by 2050, which constitutes part of FAAN’s recent programmes.

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    Opinion

    Ekiti is safe for tourists’ traffic-Ojo-Lanre

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    Ekiti is safe for tourists’ traffic-Ojo-Lanre

    Following the Ekiti State renewed effort to attract tourist’s influx to the numerous wonder sites scattered around the state and especially the flag destination, Ikogosi Warm and Cold Springs Resort, the Director-General of Ekiti State Bureau of Tourism Development, Ambassador Wale Ojo-Lanre, has said that the state is safe with the level of security architecture put in by the government.

    Ojo-Lanre disclosed this to tourism writers, on ground to see the new face of Ikogosi Warm and Cold Spring Resort and noted that Ikogosi, which is the new pride of the state, is perfectly safe and welcoming to tourists.

    Clearing the air on anxieties of insecurity in the state, Ojo-Lanre said the recounted bouts happened on the suburbs of Ekiti, maintaining that the tourism zones like Ikogosi community and its environ are safe.

    He said there were cautious efforts by the state government to secure tourists. “I don’t want to expose our security strategy, but I can tell you that we are the only state that has a homeland security as a parastatal under my agency. We know what is going on. When the road is not safe, tourism is in danger,” he stated.

    Meanwhile the Ekiti State government is fine-tuning plans to develop a tourism master plan, a working blueprint to practically explore and develop products and services to create and drive the economy of the state.

    Ojo-Lanre explained that for any serious state to enhance its tourism potentialities to the expected capacity, it must first develop a tourism master plan.

    “A tourism development master plan is a necessity for any state that wants to develop and the state governor, Biodun Abayomi Oyebanji, emphasised that the first thing we have to do is to develop a tourism master plan for Ekiti and we started.

    “We have started drafting our tourism policy and we have identified the consultants to work on our tourism master plan. It would be delivered between August and October this year,” Ojo-Lanre added.

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    Opinion

    Eliminate insurgents at Kainji Park

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    Eliminate insurgents at Kainji Park

    KAINJI National Park, an expansive natural reserve in Niger State covering an area of about 5,341 square kilometres, and known for its biodiversity and rich cultural heritage, has unfortunately garnered attention for a much more sinister reason. A recent report revealed that the park has become a haven for terrorists. This alarming development calls for urgent and decisive action to reclaim the park and ensure the safety of the wildlife and the surrounding communities.

    The Clingendael Institute, a Dutch think-tank, in a new report, said there is ample evidence Islamic terrorists from the Sahel have crossed into Nigeria through the Benin Republic border. The jihadis believed to be of the ISWAP sect, were said to have settled in Kebbi State and the KNP, turning the facility into their base.

    In reaction, the Director, Defence Media Operations, Edward Buba said the military was conducting operations in terrorist enclaves in the North-Central, which includes the KNP. A targeted military assault to root out the terrorists should not be delayed.

    The presence of terrorists in Kainji is a stark reminder of the broader security challenges that Nigeria faces. These groups exploit the remote and dense forest areas as strategic hideouts, using the park as a base for planning and executing attacks.

    The insurgents are engaged in poaching, logging, and mining, weakening the park’s protection, and further endangering the flora and fauna. The local communities have deserted their homes for IDP camps while several kidnapped persons are being held captive by the criminals.

    The park, part of Nigeria’s first and largest protected area, is home to wildlife, including elephants, lions, and numerous bird species. The park encompasses Kainji Lake, a critical resource. The terrorists’ invasion poses significant national security implications for Nigeria.

    Kainji Dam, which plays a crucial role in Nigeria’s hydroelectric power generation and irrigation systems, is located near the KNP. The dam’s presence within the park means that any security threats to the park, such as terrorist occupation, directly impact the safety and functionality of this critical infrastructure.

    Any attack on the dam or other facilities could disrupt electricity generation, affecting millions of Nigerians and causing significant economic and social upheaval.

    The seizure of the park by the insurgents has severe humanitarian implications. Local communities, who depend on the park for their livelihoods through fishing, farming, and tourism, live in fear. The terrorists’ activities disrupt economic activities, displace families, and create an environment of instability.

    Nigeria has suffered huge losses to Boko Haram and ISWAP rebels since 2009 when the militants started fighting the state. Human losses and displacements, especially in the North-East epicentre, are horrendous.

    To reclaim the park from the insurgents, an immediate and well-coordinated military action is essential. This intervention should be precise to avoid collateral damage to the park’s ecosystem and local communities. Empowering local security forces with training and resources can help maintain security once the initial military operations are completed. Establishing a permanent security presence in and around the park will prevent the terrorists from reoccupying it.

    Leveraging international support and expertise in counterterrorism and conservation can enhance Nigeria’s efforts. Partnerships with global conservation organisations can also help restore and protect the park’s biodiversity post-conflict. Implementing advanced monitoring and surveillance technologies, such as drones and satellite imagery, can provide real-time information on illegal activities and movement within the park, enabling quicker and more effective responses.

    Restoring the park to its rightful status as a sanctuary for wildlife and a resource for sustainable development is not only a national imperative but a global one. The world is watching, and President Bola Tinubu must rise to this challenge, demonstrating resilience and determination in adversity.

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