Home Tourism Ministry of Tourism: Getting rid of the Humpty Dumpty

Ministry of Tourism: Getting rid of the Humpty Dumpty

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Mrs Lola Ade-John, Minister of Tourism

By Frank Meke 
I wouldn’t know if the very popular nursery rhyme, written by Lewis Carrol, is a riddle or a parable. Carrol did cast Humpty Alexander Dumpty as an egg of a mother’s goose in the famous Rhymes in 1903, and growing up, it became one of my best nursery rhyme. 

A lot of people, in particular dictionaries, have the Humpty Dumpty interpreted as a clueless, clumsy, and short person and, at my words, irredeemable.

Jokes apart and in eternal gratitude to men of creative literature such as Carrol, it is inconceivable that an egg, even though depicted as person for the sake of ‘children education’, could fall from a wall and expected to be put back together by the king horses and his men after a disastrous slumbering. 

It is appropriate to share Humpty Dumpty lyrics with you, but only after I have shared with you certain happenings at our former goal post, the octopus failed ministry of information,  culture, and national ‘disorientation’ headed by Lai Mohammed. 

Lai Mohammed failed to deliver because there are Humpty Dumpties who broke all the eggs that would have nourished the private sector and sustainably advantaged the greater development of Nigerian tourism. 

There were two major directorates in the ex disbanded ministry, namely international tourism and domestic tourism. One Dorathy Duruaku heads the international scene, and for eight years,  frustrated both the international and domestic expectations for the sector. She also practically appropriated the domestic desk.

She broke the eggs of the industry,  living big and boisterous for nothing. I wouldn’t want to say she is clueless or clumsy as our illustrated famous Humpty Dumpty, but it is sad that she is still part of the new ministry and possibly would break our tourism egg.

Like I warned and advised Ms Lola Ade John recently, it will be disastrous to wait on the many Humpty Dumpties inherited from the failed former ministry to lead the new ministry from the rear. 

I remember one of our ex Minister of Tourism and Culture, Mr Edem Duke.  The guy is huge, a hotelier and orator, yet he fell off from the tourism wall like Humpty Dumpty and scattered our expectations. We were so troubled by his abracadabra at the corridors of power whenever he visited the villa daily where  he adorned a gallery there, and confounded the presidency that Nigeria tourism is great on posters and in video documentaries.

Edem cluelessly frustrated the industry and became the sobriquet egugun calabar, a powerful masquerade,  beautiful to behold, entertaining yet unapproachable and scary.  

There are lots of engungun calabars in our government tourism circles, and this Humpty Dumptyin charge of the international tourism desk is their striker. They bring nothing to the table of tourism engagement and collaboration except if there is a gain for them. 

I had taken time to warn the two culture and tourism ladies to beware and circumspect. There are no denying that most government appointees fail because they sheepishly follow the counsel of the clueless and clumsy civil servants in the ministries. 

In fact, some ministers regret their time outs in the service of the fatherland due to the misplaced trust of the vipers in the administrative chain of the ministries,  peopled by ignorant, hateful and self centered officers.

Though one must acknowledge the presence of a few effectual,  patriotic, and committed ministry officials, woes will betide a ministry or minister who has directors as clueless and clumsy as our  Humpty Dumpty.

For eight years,  we have had an international tourism directorate , sheepish, and sleepish to promotional activities that could help change our tourism narratives.  

We spent valuable time shouting all over the places for a stand-alone ministry because the likes of our director of international tourism slept off like  the biblical Eutychus of Troes. 

Like Eutychus, who fell from a three storey building while listening to life-saving salvation messages from Apostle Paul, our dear director of international tourism,  slept for eight years of Lai Mohammed administration, irredeemably rude, unapproachable like the calabar masquerade and to add, clumsy, a Humpty Dumpty!”.

I won’t be surprised if these type  of people, paid and trained by our tax returns,  would try again to warm their way into the heart of minister Lola Ade John. The truth, however, is that Bola Ahmed Tinubu would not tolerate a failed tourism industry testimony from Ade John. A sack hammer awaits her if she fails! 

Indeed, all right thinking industry players should be worried about the quality of manpower at the new ministry. We need  experienced tourism officers as creative game changers with huge appetites to work beyond official closing hours,  married to the tourism job, patient, and sacrificially committed to empowering the private sector to create jobs and market Nigeria.

My dream government tourism officers must be willing to be servants of the tourism economy and the private sector players, nationalistic, not quick to dismiss opinions and proposals,  and willing to learn and to share tourism knowledge with humility.

One major value chain of tourism business is its relationship building ecosystem. Over three decades reporting this sector, I have made friends who became family. I recall with pain but gratitude to God for the life of one of  our industry’s most accomplished tourism  amazon, late Ms Helen Igbene. She was a perfect tourism officer,  trained in ways of the old, humble, and brilliant.

Igbene gave life to NTDC (then NTB), mobilized the private sector, drew up the road map for South West private sector tourism meetings rotated round the catchment areas of Lagos, OYO (Osun) Ondo (Ekiti) kwara (kogi) and Ogun states. Late Igbene would sit back, take notes of meetings, and hardly influence the outcome of such meetings, and she will visit her Oga’s in Abuja  and stand with the position of the private sector.  

Her behind the rear leadership of the zone brought about tremendous growth with almost all the states, encouraged to set up tourism boards and local government tourism committees. 

Other retired but tested tourism generals such as Christopher Idu and John Adzer pumped lifeline blood into the system. Idu was at the behest of putting together the Ministry of Tourism and culture in 1999 where late Ojo Madukwe was first Minister on the beat. Though seconded from NTDC, where he was director of Administration,  Christopher Idu guided  the take-off of ministry,  boldly and fearlessly supportive of the private sector. 

At the fading signs of the tourism master plan, it was Idu who mobilized the private sector to the historic meeting at the villa where Obasanjo held sway and threw back the euro centric submissions of the committee back to the drawing table. 

John Adzer also of NTDC was a marketing guru and contributed to the growth of nihotour and its subsequent separation from the clutches of NTDC. 

Then there was a growth pattern for tourism officers, from NTDC to nihotour to the ministry. That culture is dead today because Humpty Dumpties, who don’t know the sector and its history, are now flying around like cryptic demons at night, looking for personal gains and fighting the private sector. 

I promised to share the lyrics of Humpty Dumpty and thrust me to keep my words. Are you ready?

“Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall( Hooh , Haa), sat on the wall

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall( Hooh, Haa!) had a great fall! 

All the king horses and all his men couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty together again (Hoo Haa), couldn’t put him together!)”. Bye!.

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