By Sade Williams
The Umbrella body of tourism writers in the country, the Association of Nigerian Journalists and Writers of Tourism (ANJET), has advised the Federal government to be guided by professionalism in its selection process to fill the vacant position of director general for the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC).
The body in a statement issued on Thursday in Lagos, said the call had become imperative following the seeming unhealthy jostling and lobbying among politicians and others in the country all aimed at winning government’s favour.
According to ANJET, appointing the right candidate would not only fast-track growth of the industry but also improve private and public sector relations, which it further noted in particular, had remained the bane of the sector for years now.
It would be recalled that following the sack of Mrs. Sally Uwechue – Mbanefo, last month by the federal government, the position had remained vacant prompting the ongoing unhealthy rivalries among Nigerians of diverse interests, to occupy the position.
“We are aware of ongoing jostling for the job by people of diverse backgrounds, including politicians. We caution that the federal government should not base the appointment of the new DG on political patronage but instead on professionalism, with the right acumen, background and experience should be considered for the job.
“Appointing the right person for the job at this time is a litmus test for the government as it would underscore how serious the government is with focusing on tourism as one of the economic platforms for the diversification of the economy.
“With not having a ministry for tourism a disadvantage and a wrong signal from the government, the only way Nigerians and the international community can take the government serious on tourism is for it to appoint a DG who is a thoroughbred professional and who also understands the whole gamut of the tourism industry and the chain value.
“The era of appointing an NTDC boss from a particular geo-political zone of the country as a mere tokenism to appease the people of that region should be discarded, as tourism is a serious business as demonstrated by international examples and a number of countries in Africa who are reaping the huge benefits of the industry.
“For Nigeria to make stride in tourism, the new chief executive must be a tested and cerebral person who understands the issues and undercurrents surrounding tourism development and promotion. A chief executive who understands marketing communication mix and well abreast of the new trends in tourism and the fact that tourism is a money spinning industry and needs to galvanise all resources and players within the industry and allied sectors to achieve the goal of tourism.
“We further advice that the new boss must have a clear understanding of the mandate of NTDC, which essentially is that of promoting and marketing Nigeria tourism and not that of self aggrandisement or promotion of mere self – driven slogan as witnessed in the past,” the group stated.
Continuing, the travel and tourism advocacy body insisted that the candidate ‘must have a clear vision of what it means to promote Nigeria tourism both within and outside the shores of Nigeria, as tourism is a two – way traffic (Foreign and domestic) and not a closed door affair.’
While it maintains it is not pitching its tents with any of the lobbying candidates, the group, however, advised that the candidate ‘must have to see the entire Nigeria as his or her constituency, particularly the stakeholders and other professionals and work with them to create a Nigerian tourism model, products and source markets as Nigeria tourism presently lacks direction in terms of a tourism matrix, product and market, whether domestic or foreign.’