Thursday, May 18, 2017

Omisore, others call on govt, others to fund museums



A two-time senator at the National Assembly, Iyiola Omisore and some archaeologists have called on leaders in the country to resuscitate museums by proper and regular funding to make them attraction centres for indigenous and foreign tourists.
They made the call yesterday during the international museum day at the Museum of National Unity, Ibadan.
Omisore who presented a keynote address at the event suggested that branding and increased social media presence; infusion of technology into display of artefacts, photographs and documents could attract tourists to museums across the country.
Other factors, he feels, could save the dying museums, include introduction of more flexible hours, multiple exhibition facilities; creation of inter school competitions in the museum to arouse the curiosity and research among youths would make museum enjoy good patronage.
While presenting the guest lecture entitled, " Museums and Contested histories-Saying the Unspeakable in Museums, Dr Ogunfolakan Adisa from the Natural Museum, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife underscored the importance of museums in national development.
According to him, museum plays pivotal role in national development. For instance, the artefacts of Civil War, Kiriji War involving Ijesa and Ibadan which are in our museum will constantly remind us that war is not good and that we should toe the path of peace.
He spoke further that "When I went to Igbo, I saw the technology prowess of Igbo, some war equipment they manufactured during the Civil War, if not for museum which have all these artefacts, how do we know about African technology?"
He lamented that museums across the country are not well funded.
"We have to help these people. In developed world, you see people coming out to help. Our museums in Nigeria are dying. I call on well-meaning Nigerians to come to the aid of museums so that they can perform well," he said.
The Director General of the National Commission for Museums and Monuments, Mallam Yusuf Abdallah Usman who was represented by the Deputy Director and Curator, National Museum of Unity, Ibadan, Elder Amos Olorunnipa, said, "museums as educational resource centres are veritable institutions for the promotion of creativity, innovation and inventiveness through their exhibitions and programmes".
He called on institutions that have existed for 50 years to or more to set up museums to document their histories and on schools to make visits to the museum a compulsory part of their teaching process.
This, he added would greatly assist the misunderstanding of the past, an appreciation of the preset and the planning of a better future.

Awards were given to Senator Iyiola Omisore, Mr. Toye Arulogun, Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Dr Newton Jibunoh and Dr Segun Opadeji, Senior Lecturer, Archaeology and Anthropology Department, University of Ibadan.  

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Tourism stakeholders want government to dissuade Pastor TB Joshua’s from relocating to Israel

Some stakeholders in the tourism sector on Sunday advised the Federal and Lagos State Governments to dissuade Pastor Temitope Joshua, popularly known as, TB Joshua, from relocating the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) to Israel from Nigeria.

They told the News Agency of Nigeria that Nigeria would lose billions of naira to religious tourism if Temitope Joshua and SCOAN should make the plan real.

NAN reports that TB Joshua, during one of his church services , recently said that he was planning to relocate to Israel from Ikotun, a suburb of Lagos.

It was reported that TB Joshua was in Israel recently where he held meetings with the mayors of Jerusalem, Tiberia and the Jordan Valley.

He was quoted as saying that he was offered different facilities very close to the biblical site of the Sea of Galilee where he could organise meetings for international pilgrims.

NAN also reports that SCOAN established in 1994 does not have another branch in Nigeria outside its international headquarters located in Ikotun.
Image result for tb joshua

Some heads of government from African countries had also visited SCOAN to seek spiritual restoration and advice from Pastor TB Joshua

Mrs Ime Udo, the General Secretary of the Nigerian Association of Tour Operators (NANTA) told NAN that Nigeria would lose billions of naira from religious tourism revenue if SCOAN actualised its planned relocation to Israel.

Udo said Joshua’s planned action would lead to a reduction in the human traffic of local and foreign religious tourists that normally patronised SCOAN.

Udo said, “Religious obligations have become a fashionable trend all over the world as a means of expressing beliefs and faith in the ability of God to protect and guide mankind.

“Religious practices both under the auspices of Christianity, Islam and traditional practices have in no small way contributed to the development of tourism in the world.

“Christian pilgrimages to Israel have formed an economic platform for the empowerment of the localities and contributed to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country.

“Also, Saudi Arabia has been benefitting immensely economically from many Islamic faithful who converge there twice annually on holy pilgrimage.

“With these scenarios and many others around the world, it has become valid that religious tourism has become a source of economic revival to a country and its people, “she said.

According to her, thousands of foreign religious tourists visit SCOAN monthly to worship and for other spiritual healings.

She said that these tourists would fly into Nigeria; lodge in hotels, board commercial vehicles, patronise eateries and visit other tourists’ sites around the locality.

Udo said that all these had been translating into huge revenue for the Nigeria economy.

“The local community; hotel operators, food vendors and others around SCOAN must have benefitted from tourists.


“SCOAN has, no doubt, contributed immensely to the tourism profile of Nigeria with several heads of government from various African countries that had visited there to seek spiritual restoration and advise from Pastor TB Joshua, ” she said.

Udo advised the Federal and Lagos State Governments to encourage SCOAN o remain in Nigeria as part ways to develop our tourism sector.

A member of SCOAN, Mrs Iyabo Emmanuel, said that she was in church service when their General Overseer, Pastor TB Joshua, announced to the members on the offer given to him by the Israeli Mayors.

Mrs Emmanuel, popularly called “Iya’’( Mother) Synagogue, said that Pastor Joshua never said that he had agreed to such a proposal from the mayors.

“I have been worshipping in SCOAN since 1994 when TB Joshua established it newly in Ikotun area.

“I worked with TB Joshua for 15years before I resigned and ventured into selling of provisions. Then, I was the chef; head of canteen and bakery.

“I am still a full-time member of the church and I will continue to worship there. I am one of those that had benefitted from the church,” she said.

Emmanuel said that many residents and business owners would suffer if TB Joshua should relocate SCOAN from Ikotun.

She said that majority of business owners around the area depended solely on the visitors to the church and they used to patronise facilities around the church.

A hotel operator, Mrs Anthonia Chuks, told NAN that if the rumour that TB Joshua was relocating to Israel eventually turned to reality, the hospitality business in that area and the state would suffer and fold up.

“Ninety–five per cent of guests that lodge in hotels in the community are international and local visitors outside Lagos and they are SCOAN members.

“We have over 130 rooms and are always fully booked every weekend.

“ We usually enjoy huge patronage from Fridays to Sundays weekly; and they are mostly SCOAN members from near and far,” she said.

Similarly, Mr Solomon Oyelade, a car-hire operator, said that since the rumour of the planned relocation of the church to Israel, the patronage of cabs had reduced drastically.

Oyelade said that in the past, he used to go to the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos seven times in a day to transport international passengers down to SCOAN.
“But, since the incident of collapsed building in the church premises years back, the patronage of foreigners had reduced.

“ With this present rumour of relocation, we hardly carry passengers from Airport two times a day. The patronage has reduced beyond expectations, “he said.

Also, Mr Uche Maduako, a food vendor, appealed to TB Joshua not to accept such offer from the Israeli mayors.
He said that behind every rumour there is an iota of truth.

He also urged the Federal and the Lagos State Governments to support the continuing stay of TB Joshua in the country.
“The government should make the country worth staying for him and ensure they support him in all ramifications,” he said.
Maduako urged the government to renovate the bad roads around the church, adding that the condition of the roads was not encouraging.
He said that the contributions and impacts of TB Joshua in that community could not be overemphasis.
“The man of God has contributed immensely to the betterment of the community; employed thousands of graduates and non-graduates to work in the church and in other investments of the church.

“TB Joshua always ensures that there is constant power supply and adequate security in the area, ” he said.

OGBA ZO0 LAND GRAB: OBASEKI SHOULD ACT NOW


 
Andy Osa Ehanire is the Chief Executive of Ogba Zoo and Nature Park, Benin City, Edo State and also the National Secretary of the Nigerian Association of Zoos and Parks (NAZAP). He speaks on their efforts at resuscitating this foremost eco–tourism enclave in a bid to bring back its lost glory but all that is now being frustrated by the activities of land grabbers and poachers, with the Edo State government appearing to be looking on as if helpless, despite outcries by the zoo management.
 
Ogba Zoo and Nature Park is Edo State’s foremost conservation and tourism enclave, please tell us about the historical background and what it was meant to achieve?

The Ogba Zoo, which we manage, was designed and developed in the early seventies by then military administrator of former Bendel State, the late Brig. General Samuel O. Ogbemudia. Its concept was an extensive biological garden, with potentials for resort development. In tandem with the ambitious and iconic scale of Ogbemudia’s drive and vision for the then Midwest Region, later Bendel State, and now Edo/Delta States. Ogba Zoo was at par or even surpassed most of its kind, both far and near. 
Soon after Ogbemudia’s regime, Ogba Zoo suffered a long era of decline and eventual collapse, spanning the late eighties and nineties.  By the time of our private sector - led intervention in the year 2000, the zoo was already in the ‘mortuary’ and was like ready to be written off the books. 
Such was a far cry from the laudable vision of its founder.
 
What was the mandate given to your firm by the state government at the time of taking over the management of the zoo?

 
Family time at the Zoo
Our mandate was to reverse the rot or what was left of the decayed zoo, in order to revitalise its essential functions as an urban recreational park and field laboratory in the biological sciences, where schools and colleges in the entire sub-region derived conservation education and awareness. It must be understood that the decline and neglect of any zoo is always horrible, since without a proper winding-down procedure, the animals suffer neglect and deprivations akin to torture. 
It is instructive that the treatment of wildlife in any society can be likened to the barometer for measuring the level of its humanity, hence the circumstances of the collapse of Ogba Zoo, or any of such therefore, would amount to criminal neglect in humane or civilised societies. 
Given the chequered history of the zoo, how would you describe the effort of your company in bringing it back from the brink? 
The extent of its abandonment and decay, notwithstanding, Ogba Zoo experienced a painful rebirth through our rescue mission, which was purely self-financing, with no support from government. On the contrary, it is the nature of the lease agreement we hold that our private sector led eco-tourism outfit pays rents to the government. But as challenging as reviving a moribund zoo was, there were other hidden challenges that can hardly be imagined in a sane society.
 
What were some of these challenges?

It started as a minor incursion by community land grabbers into the zoo land until it was aided by official government instruments in the form of a gazette. Even with government claiming, soon after, that it committed an error in issuing such gazette, which was attested to by two administrative panels set up to look into the problems at the initial stage, unfortunately, the errant instrument has not been repealed for more than 10 years running. This legal instrument has unwittingly served as a license for unlimited plundering of a foremost tourism heritage of the State. 
All these years of battling the encroachment on the zoo, our private-sector led management was as good as left to solely tackle the growing menace unaided. With little or no response to the dozens of memos from us crying for speedy deployment of government’s machineries to dislodge and prosecute offenders.

Andy Ehanire

Could you say exactly the amount of the zoo’s land that has been taken over by these land grabbers?
 
The land area encroached upon grew from about 10% of the zoo land that was purportedly ceded by the gazette, to more than 60% of the entire zoo. It was like a horror movie seeing bulldozers levelling priceless forestry in this pristine conservation heritage that had been a classic urban forest rarely found anywhere in the world. 
It is a sad commentary that these last three years (2014 to 2016) have seen the greatest devastation of the zoo, even when the then Comrade Governor Adams Oshiomhole, would be making pronouncements as to immediate government intervention. While not tolerating any nonsense in other areas, all the administrative machineries of his government were appearing helpless in the face of the onslaught on Ogba Zoo. With all the Forest Guards and other security agencies providing escorts for revenue drive and the protection of politicians / private businessmen, none could be spared for the patrol of the encroached sections of Ogba Zoo.
 
Besides writing memos to the state governor and other concerned interests, what other actions were taken by your firm to secure the zoo from further encroachment?
 
It eventually dawned on me that I had been encircled by a mammoth conspiracy and therefore published a series of open letters to the Comrade Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, calling for an administrative or judicial inquiry, but all to no avail. It also became evident that a cabal was bent on sharing most of the zoo land without any official government process but using the diabolical ploy of community youths and thugs as decoy. 
The sum effect was to create widespread but dangerous impression in the area that government had acquiesced to sharing the zoo land, but that we were the only one standing in the way. It was also painfully obvious that the security situation had long degenerated, with threats and suspicions of ecological terrorism becoming a constant nightmare, yet our pleas for police protection went unheeded. We expended huge resources on frequent police patrols, but in spite of all the Forestry Laws criminalizing all manners of trespass in this Reserve, the police authorities insisted that it was a civil matter and their role was only to ensure “peace”. 
It was rather intended to intimidate than merely to inform, when some government officials declared that an infamous government political appointee and other cultists were amongst those carrying on with illegal development on the zoo, but did not take any action to stem the tide of incursions. 
Fingers also pointed at the state House of Assembly committee members, who were assigned to look into the issues, but spent over three years purporting to be engaging community agents without any new position on the matter. This was after an initial committee by it had declared that the encroachment was illegal and unacceptable, as far back as 2011. Meanwhile, all these were happening at the time of the worst incursions and impunities, making it all an uncanny coincidence. Experts have even recommended that the area be declared a non-development zone, as it is prone to erosion and landslide once the vegetation cover is removed, but this warning was unheeded.    
 
It was in the public domain that at a point you opted for arbitration, tell us about the outcome this arbitration?  
 
We eventually had recourse to this arbitration process in order to encapsulate the issues in proper legal perspectives. Our reliefs were substantially granted with compensatory considerations. The arbitration Award was forwarded to the Government for it implementation since January this year and we are anxiously awaiting compliance, as there was no appeal against the ruling. The bottom-line is that Government is to protect this heritage and grant us peaceful possession for all our eco-tourism operations. Immediate delineation and survey of the Zoo land is paramount, as well as fulltime security protection. 
It is, however, disheartening that even while the arbitration was ongoing and up till the Award was published, various levels of devastations are still being unleashed on the zoo and its assets without Government’s response. For example, even after the arbitrating ruling, a six block staff quarters meant to keep critical personnel of the zoo resident in close proximity to the zoo was bulldozed and the land taken over by some well connected individuals. 
A purpose-built lion enclosure in the middle of the encroached land was also bulldozed only last month (April) and the foundation of a mansion is coming up on the site. The case of the zoo staff quarters that have now been demolished is of particular interest since it was part of the specific provisions in the arbitration award requiring it to be dedicated for the use of the zoo.

Have you in anyway made effort to draw the attention of the new state governor, Godwin Obaseki, to the plight of the zoo?
 
We have sent letters to Governor Obaseki on the extant matters and maintained contacts with the Solicitor General and the SSG of the State. We equally sought and have been promised audience with the Governor, but it is on record that he recently told a visiting FRIN delegation that he would move swiftly to deal with the encroachment issues concerning the Zoo. We are, therefore, hopeful that the new governor will take a decisive approach to save the zoo from the grips of brigandage and looters. We are also anxious as to when specific government interventions would commence to save the zoo, before all that needs to be saved are totally destroyed. 
However, to be compelled to resort to a costly arbitration process as a last resort in demanding appropriate interventions to save the Zoo, is perhaps a callous burden to be imposed on a struggling zoo seeking a second lease of life. 
We do pray that the forces of light will prevail over those of darkness in this nascent and very promising administration of Governor Godwin Obaseki.  My role in the rescue and resuscitation of Ogba Zoo has evolved from just its management, to that of an activist, since the Nigerian Association of Zoos and Parks (NAZAP), of which I am the national secretary, is aimed at the pioneering mission of bringing sanity to all the zoos across Nigeria.  
 

Sunday, May 7, 2017

NTDC DG, Folarin – Coker, woos ANJET for destination branding


The Newly-appointed Director General of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Folorunsho Folarin - Coker, has pledged the commitment of the corporation in working with the Association of Nigerian Journalists and Writers of Travel (ANJET) as he new technologies in the marketing of Nigeria tourism just as ANJET offered the support of its platform in the pursuit of the aspirations of the DG and Nigeria tourism.
Folarin – Coker, who was reacting to a 13-point agenda presented to him by ANJET, which is the umbrella body of tourism and travel writers in the country, during a courtesy visit to his office in Abuja, further noted that modalities of marketing Nigerian destinations has gone beyond traditional brochures, flyers, leaflets to the online technology.
According to him, the marketing of Nigerian tourism is better driven via the platform of new technologies provided by the social media, which he posited, has the capacity of reaching millions in one single message, hence his resolve to leverage on it to promote and market the country’s attractions.


NTDC DG, Folarin – Coker, woos ANJET for destination branding

“We have to accept that the dynamics of tourism marketing has changed and then proceed to embrace it. In the same manner, we also need to identify our key products in comparative terms now. What do we have that others don’t have? That is what we have to identify and market.
Folarin - Coker also revealed parts of his blueprint for the industry which included prioritizing the growth and development of the domestic industry. “Right now our entertainment and hospitality have become our selling point, and with that we identity our niche market and age bracket of that market.
‘‘Our fashion and film industries under the entertainment are already known all over the world. We need to key into these markets and indentify the segment of the society shopping in that market.
”My focus for now will be the development of the domestic industry which I believe is much more sustainable and which if properly done will drive the international market for us. If we are able to get it right then the international segment will naturally take care of itself. We have to start from home,” said Coker.
The DG, who promised to study with his management team the 13 point agenda presented to him by ANJET, described the journalists as ambassadors of Nigeria tourism who have the capacity to make or mar any attempt at repositioning the industry.
“For you the journalist, you are the ambassadors of Nigeria tourism, so for that we must reach a pact to safeguard our products and objectively point out the way forward. This is so because in this digital age, your words carry effect and reach to influence opinions and viewpoints around the world,” adding that himself and NTDC are now corporate members of the travel journalists body in order to strengthen the bond of relationship for the mutual benefits of all.
Earlier, the writers in the presentation read by the leader of the delegation, Andrew Okungbowa, had charged the DG to among other things, restructure the corporation, create a model for Nigeria tourism, restructure and repackage some of the country’s tourism products, evolve a tourism plan of action, improve on data collection, produce a workable tourism calendar, liaise with relevant stakeholders and governments at all levels to grow the domestic brand, as well as restructure domestic tourism.

The five-member ANJET delegation was received by the entire Management Board of the NTDC.

NCAC DG, Runsewe, seeks partnership with ANJET in culture promotion


Director-General of the National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), Otunba Segun Runsewe has stated that his recent appointment into the agency was intended by the Federal Government to reposition the culture sector for more meaningful contribution to the national economy even as he pledged to work with the Association of Nigerian Journalists and Writers of Tourism (ANJET) in the pursuit of this goal.
According to Runsewe, government’s policy towards leveraging on the culture sector in its quest to diversify the economy and empower its stakeholders also informs the new mantra at the agency which is ‘culture is the new oil.’
Receiving a delegation from the Association of Nigerian Journalists and Writers of Tourism (ANJET), the umbrella body of travel and tourism writers, in his office in Abuja, he said NCAC under his stewardship will be refocused to ‘take control of the culture sector in the country.’
“My appointment was intended by the Federal Government as a move to reposition the culture sector of which the NCAC is the biggest agency and make the people not just here but also the private operators see it as the new oil. And as we say here, crude oil will eventually dry up but our culture will always be there. Culture will soon be our new cash cow for the Nigerian economy,” said Runsewe who had previously served as Director General of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC).



Runsewe, who used the platform provided by the visit of the ANJET delegation, said his agency will be retooled and effectively equipped to ‘take charge of the culture sector of the country’ so as to better the lives and businesses of the practitioners in terms of exploiting the sector’s business potential, even as the NCAC boss thanked the visiting journalists for their support.
“Thank you for finding time to visit my agency. You are part of my success story at my various duty posts in the course of my national call to service. I will always carry you along even in my new assignment because of my belief in the importance of the media.
Earlier, head of the five-man ANJET delegation, Andrew Okungbowa, had presented a five-point agenda to the NCAC boss in which he tasked him on the need to bridge the yawning gap and dichotomy between tourism and culture in the country, as well as growing the Nigerian culture industry, among others.

The ANJET delegation was received by the entire Management Board of the NCAC led by Otunba Runsewe.

12 Chinese tourists to visit historical, cultural sites in Nigeria


Mr Ladi Jemi-Alade, the Chief Executive Officer of Jemi Alade Tours, says 12 Chinese tourists will be taken on a tour-trip round the country within two weeks by his agency.

Jemi-Alade told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)  in Lagos that these tourists were interested in acquiring knowledge of Nigeria’s ethnic cultures.

He said that they would visit: Bida, Minna, Ilorin, Zungeru, Abuja and other places that depict Nigeria’s authentic ethnic cultures between May 4 and May 18, 2017.

Jemi-Alade said that the curators of those sites that would be visited would provide the history and stories behind their existence to the tourists.

The tour operator said that he had been able to woo these foreign tourists into the country for them to attract more of their nationals to the country, thereby, encouraging in-bound tourism.

“These tourists will take pictures and video clips of the sites they will visit so that they can show them to their people when they return to their country.

“We believe more of their indigenes will indicate interests in visiting Nigeria again; this will boost in-bound tourism.

Jemi-Alade urged other tour operators to look out for more foreign tourists they could invite to the country to have a feel of the Nigerian rich tourism potential.

He said that the Nigerian tourist sites still needed to be properly marketed to the international tourists; allay their fears about insecurity and encourage them from time to time.


“We are in the best position to groom the nation’s tourism, because tourism is the business of the private investors and not of the government,” he said.  

Nigeria To Partner With UN Tourism Agency, CNN To Promote Tourism



The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed Mohammed, has announced a tripartite partnership involving the Ministry, UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and global news leader CNN to leverage on Nollywood to promote tourism in Nigeria.

The Minister, who announced the plan at the Annual General Meeting of the Nigerian Association of Tour Operators (NATOP) in Lagos on Tuesday, said that talks are at an advanced stage to forge a ''very strong and effective partnership to use our comparative advantage in film production, through Nollywood, to promote tourism in Nigeria''.

''This is a path we have not trodden before, but which we are sure will go a long way in making it possible for us to push tourism from the back-burner to the mainstream of the economy,'' Alhaji Mohammed said, adding that more details of the partnership will be provided in the days ahead.

He appealed to tourism stakeholders to work with the Federal Government to ensure the success of the 2018 UNWTO CAF Meeting, the hosting right of which Nigeria won at the last edition of the meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, last month.

''As many of you are aware, Nigeria recently won the right to host the annual UNWTO CAF Meeting in Abuja in 2018. Yes, this is not the first time Nigeria will be hosting this meeting, but this time we must leverage on the meeting as a platform to promote Nigeria as a preferred tourism destination,'' the Minister said.

He urged the private sector to partner with the government to grow the tourism industry and provide the necessary skills, competencies and ingredients for growth and progress.

''Stakeholders are also invited to package and promote Nigerian destinations, goods and services. This will create direct and indirect employment through tourism, grow the economy, increase the national GDP, position Nigeria as an all-year-round tourism destination and establish a worthwhile, acceptable and recognizable image of the country among tourists. Let us all tour Nigeria, let us all consume more of made in Nigeria, let us all know more of our heritage. Let us all celebrate Nigeria,'' Alhaji Mohammed said.

He said as part of efforts to improve Nigeria's ranking on the Tourism Competitive Index of the World Travel and Tourism Council, the government has set up a Presidential Council on the Ease of Doing Business, and disclosed that the Council has completed, in 60 days, 31 reforms across its eight priority indicators in areas such as the Simplified Visa on Arrival Process, Infrastructural improvements at the Abuja Airport and the new Immigration Regulation 2017.


FG mustering political will to develop tourism, says Lai Mohammed


The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, on Tuesday said that the Federal Government was irrevocably committed to the development of the tourism sector.

The minister said this while speaking at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Nigeria Association of Tour Operators (NATOP) in Lagos.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the conference has: “Positioning Tourism Within Nigerian Economic space”, as its theme.

He said the government was mustering the right political will and taking some result-oriented steps to develop and reposition the sector.

Mohammed described tourism as “the oil that never dries”, saying that the government would harness the potential of the sector to boost the revenue profit of the country.

“This government is committed to the development of the tourism sector and we are mustering the political will to reposition the sector.

“We recognise the potential of tourism to propel the growth of the economy and we will do everything possible to develop this sector and make it a major revenue earner for the country,” he said.

The minister said that the government was focusing on the development of domestic tourism while putting in place the right infrastructure to attract foreign tourism.

He said domestic tourism was not fully explored in view of its enormous potential to the economy of the country.

Mohammed said that the government was giving those areas like entertainment, fashion in which the country had comparative advantage over some other countries, priority attentions in its tourism development agenda.

The minister, while highlighting some of the steps being taken by government to develop the sector, said that the Presidential Council on Tourism was being revived.

He said the resuscitation of the committee would engender the rapid development of the sector through policy directions and other enablement.

He said the issuance of tourist visas was being simplified and issuance time reduced to 48 hours to attract foreign tourists.

The minister added that a committee to implement the tourism roadmap had been set up and that a task force on creative economy had been put in place.

Alhaji Lai Mohammed said the government had designed a festival calendar for the country to stimulate internal tourism and attract foreign tourists.

The minister, however, said the government could not develop tourism alone.

He appealed for the partnership of private sector and other stakeholders to develop the sector.

A former governor of Cross River State,Dr Liyel Imoke, in his speech at the conference said the state’s success story was a proof that tourism could be a big mover of the economy.

He said with the right policy; vision, infrastructure and attitude, the country could make tourism as its major revenue earner.

Imoke , however, said that the greatest problem hindering the development of the sector was the misrepresentation of Nigeria by its citizens to the outside world.

He advised Nigerians to stop the practice if tourism must grow.

“The greatest problem facing the development of tourism in the country is what I call, ‘Naija Bashing’

“ Nigerians running Nigeria down, especially, some of our people abroad.

“This is not good for our tourism as foreigners will have wrong perceptions about us. We need to believe in the country for our tourism to grow.

“We need to speak well of the country everywhere we go. It is when we stop writing those negative headlines that the perception will change and people will visit our country,” Imoke said.

He urged the country to focus more on domestic tourism as a strategy to develop external tourism.

Imoke canvassed harmonisation of festivals in the country to stimulate patronage and reduce confusion associated with simultaneous holding of festivals.

Also speaking, the Director-General Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation, Mr Folarin Coker, said the agency was working hard to retain every dollar spent abroad on tourism in Nigeria.

He said the agency was partnering with stakeholders to promote domestic tourism; while developing the right template for the attraction of foreign tourists


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

LASG plans to establish university of tourism to train tour guides


Mrs Adebimpe Akinsola, Special Adviser and Acting Commissioner, Lagos Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, on Tuesday said the state government had plans to establish a University of Tourism to train tour guides.

Akinsola spoke on Tuesday in Ikeja, at the 2017 ministerial press briefing of the Ministry to mark two years in office of Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode in Lagos.

She said that when established, the university would assist in developing tourism in the state and ensure tourists’ satisfaction.

“Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode-led administration is investing heavily on the tourism sector to cause an increase in economic activities with a direct bearing on hospitality, entertainment and job creation.

“It is also aimed at making make Lagos a preferred destination for cultural, business and leisure tourism in Africa.

“We have been upgrading tourist sites and constructing new infrastructures, and it will require experienced personnel to promote and maintain that sector.

“We are working on modalities to establish a school –University of Tourism, to train individuals who will be able to show and interpret the cultural and natural heritage of the state to tourists.

“Although, it is not accommodated in the current budget, but perhaps, it might be considered in the next year’s budget,’’ she said.

Akinsola said the ongoing renovation at Badagry Heritage Museum, which serves as a veritable source of information about the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, was at 60 per cent completion.

She also disclosed that the government would soon start the construction on six new theatres which would provide the platform for young artistes to develop and showcase their talents.

According to her, the preservation and promotion of the state’s rich and diverse culture will always be accorded top priority in the government’s economic development agenda.

Akinsola said that the Ministry, through its agency, Films and Video Censors Board, burnt some pirated and unclassified local and international movies to discourage piracy.

She said the movies and duplicating machines burnt were worth N10 million.

“The board apprehended 12 suspects actively engaged in acts prohibited by the Law in 2016.

“Eight of the suspects were prosecuted and sentenced to six months imprisonment without option of fine while four were given the option of fines of N10, 000 on each count.

“On film censorship, which is to determine the likely impact of a movie on the audience, 82 films were censored and classified between May 2016 and February 2017 meant for exhibition within the state,’’ she said.

Akinsola listed other achievements of the Ministry in the last two years to include the official launch of the One Lagos Logo, One Lagos Fiesta, participation in Toronto Film Festival and hosting of All African Movie Awards.

Other achievements she cited are, COPA Africa, Tourism summit, Arts and Culture Stakeholders meeting, construction of new monuments and renovation of existing ones, as well as unveiling of the design for a new museum,


She said the ministry was also making a mark with the ongoing activities to celebrate Lagos at 50, which will climax on May 27.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Federal government to engage 6000 youths in agricultural enterprises under FADAMA


‎About 6000 youths are to be engaged in agricultural enterprises by the Federal Government and the World Bank under the FADAMA III Project under the Graduate Unemployment Youths Support Scheme known as FADAMA GUYSS.
The Fadama National Project Coordinator (NPC), Mr Tayo Adewumi said this in Akure, Ondo State capital during the meeting with the Ondo State Federated Fadama Community Association (FFCA) .
Adewunmi said under the scheme, about 300 youths from ages 18 to 35 would be encouraged to go into agriculture as a profession and business in about 20 states.
He said in subsequent programmes, between 500 and 1,000 youths would be accommodated under the scheme.
According to him "The programme, named GUYS, is to encourage youths from the ages of 18 to 35 and maximum of 40 years to go into agriculture as a profession and business. By study, real farmers are aging away, some dead and old. To start with, 15 to 20 states, including Ondo, will be among the first phase of 200 to 300 youths per state.
"By end of June, starter packs should be given to the youths based on different enterprise of interest like aquaculture, or poultry.
"My coming to Ondo State is at right time because we have a lot to anchor this year for our youths in the country”, he said.
The Coordinator said a good number of youths can be taken away from social vices and restiveness through agriculture adding that there was a plan for Sunshine rice in Ondo State before the end of the year.
"We want to make sure that the rice we are producing, we bring it out publicly and give it a name and brand.
"What the World Bank want us to do is to test run the project in about 10 states, but we are able to convince our minister and the World Bank country director to allow us to do it at least in 20 states.

"The project design to give money or equipment to allow them start business on different agricultural enterprises on their own.

The NPC said that the program would engaged 200 to 300 youths in each state for starting,adding that 500 to 1000 youths would be engaging in subsequent program.

He called on the youths to endeavour to register their names online this week when the programing that the programmes would be broadcast on radio, television and other media organisations.

Adewumi also noted that the Federal and state government were working on modalities to continue to create awareness and sensitisation for both farmers and the herdsmen to live in peace across the country.

Speaking earlier, the Ondo State FFCA Chairman, Mr Akin Olotu appreciated the NPC of the FADAMA Project for its land mark achievement across the nooks and crannies of the nation.

Olotu noted that efforts by the FFCA to secure a friendly credit portfolio for members to revive their projects have not bene easy and had become a great source of discouragement to the members.

According to him, FFCA was able to secure some hectares of land from the Benin-Owena River Basin Development Authority for use by members for cluster farming but were constrained because of lack of tractors.

Olotu said "We only have 13 tractors in whole of the state and the tractors are not in good condition and we have been told that it will take over N1million to repair them”.END.








300,000 farmers benefit from BOA loan schemes in North Central zone



The Bank of Agriculture (BOA) says no fewer than 300,000 farmers in the North Central geopolitical zone of the country have benefited from its various loan schemes in the past years .
Mr Ibrahim Alamba, the Zonal Manager (North Central) of the bank, said this in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Monday.
He said that the farmers from Benue, Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Niger and Plateau states benefited from the bank’s micro-credit loans, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) loans, and the BOA/Central Bank of Nigeria’s Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP).
Alamba said the loan schemes were initiated to boost agricultural production in the country and complement the Federal Government’s economic diversification efforts.
The zonal manager said that many beneficiaries of the bank’s loan schemes were currently employers of labour in their different agricultural fields.
Alamba said the bank sourced its funds via different collaborations with the African Development Bank (AfDB), donor agencies and international Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs)
“There are people who have become employers of labour through our loan schemes.
“For every loan we give, seven to 10 persons are being employed. This has aided efforts to reduce unemployment, while impacting positively on the national economy,’’ he said.
He commended the BOA/CBN’s ABP, saying that it had particularly assisted the bank in disbursing loans to farmers in 19 states across the country.
Alamba, who listed some challenges of the bank as inadequate funding and poor loan recovery, nonetheless said that the ongoing restructuring of the bank by the Federal Government’s would boost its funding and loan disbursement capacity.


Agriculturist urges Benue govt. to provide more tractors for mechanised farming


An Agriculturist, Mr Joseph Kuku, has appealed to the Benue Government to acquire more tractors to cater to the growing needs of farmers who intend to engage in large-scale farming.
Kuku made the call in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Makurdi.
He underscored the need to discourage farmers from practising the traditional methods of farming, so as to boost the government’s efforts to achieve food security.
Kuku said that the Benue Tractor Hiring Agency should be repositioned and well-equipped to provide quality tractor hiring services for farmers, particularly now when the government was striving to diversify the economy.
“Agriculture is the major option in the new arrangement because agriculture was the mainstay of the country’s economy, prior to the discovery of oil.
“Groundnut, cocoa and rubber, among other agricultural produce, were then sustaining the country’s economy.
“The current potential of agriculture is enormous because modern farming techniques have made faming less tedious,’’ he said.
Kuku said that agriculture had the capacity to turn the nation’s economic fortunes around, if the government decided to give it priority attention to the development of the sector.


2,550 Plateau farmers get loan to improve food production


Jos - 2,550 farmers registered with the Plateau State Chapter of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria, AFAN are to benefit from the over N2bn loan under the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN anchor borrowers' programme to cultivate maize and soya beans in this farming season so that the food security can be achieved in the State.

The Association which has gotten approval for the said loan is to give it to 150 registered farmers from the 17 local government area of the State totalling 2,550 even as it has also secured improved seedlings, fertilizer and other farm inputs which would help the beneficiaries in making profit so that they can repay the loan.

Disclosing these during a press briefing held at the weekend in Jos, the state chairman of the Association, John Jiller added that intensive meetings are ongoing with herdsmen and security agencies to ensure farmers are safe in their farms as only such collaboration would ensure food security and improved income and livelihood of farmers in the state.

His words, "AFAN has sought and gotten approval for a loan of N2,128,125,000.00 under the CBN anchor borrowers' programme for on lending to its members for maize and soya beans farming in this farming season. We are targeting 150 farmers per local government area, we are discussing with ASTC towards accessing their tractors and other allied services, there are seedlings and fertilisers and other inputs.

" The Association is preparing towards leading the role in the state government's proposed schools feeding programme so we are liaising with security agencies and building business relationships with herdsmen, traders and marketers association towards sustaining peace in the state as we are focused in ensuring food security, increase and improve quantity and quality of agricultural products in the state as well as improve income and livelihood of Plateau farmers. "

End.

NGO secures N10 bn loan for young farmers from FCMB


United Young Farmers Forum (UYFF) has secured a loan of N10 billion from First City Monument Bank (FCMB) to empower 10,000 young farmers in the country.

President of the association, Mr Orimadegun Wilson, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Abuja that a pilot phase of the scheme with farmers fron the from the North West and North East geo politicaal zones during this farming season..

Wilson, who said the loan was derived from FCMB, said the pilot phase was started from the two regions because theof the enthusiasm shown by the prospective participants in the region.

He added that 75 per cent of the loan guarantee would be covered by Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), while 25 per cent of the risk would be borne by UYFF.

According to him, beneficiaries are expected to deposit one per cent of whatever was collected to NIRSAL to serve as collateral, adding that the repayment period was one year from the time the beneficiary’s crops mature.

He also said that the organisation will make a presentation on Bio Organic fertilizer at a joint Federal Government of Nigeria and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) mission from May 1 to May 12.

He said that the presentation, which would hold in Katsina, was in line with the Climate Change Adaptation and Agribusiness Support Programme (CASP).

“UYFF, a Non Governmental Organisation (NGO) is a coalition of young farmers in Nigeria, focused on building the capacity of young people interested in agribusiness.

“We believe agribusiness is the future for Nigeria, our vision is to create a new generation of farmers who will create wealth, jobs and ensure food and nutrition security in Nigeria.’’


Wilson also said that the organisation was in partnership with other organisations to build the capacity of the youth in Nigeria.

Farmer wants govt. subsidy on animal feeds


Sir Lucky Ikukaiwe, a poultry farmer and Chairman, Sparrow Agro-Vet Services, Warri, Delta, has called for government subsidy on animal feeds to boost production of poultry products in the Niger Delta.

He made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Asaba on Sunday.

He said government needed to also subsidise piggery feeds to enable the people of the region, especially the youths, to participate more in agriculture.

The chairman said increased participation in poultry production and piggery would create jobs and ensure adequate supply of protein needs of the people.

According to him, the Niger Delta region has more comparative advantages over other zones in the country in poultry farming, piggery and fish farming.

He added that “in this region, we have very good weather for poultry. ”

Ikukaiwe said that the people of the region, especially the youths, had been distracted for a very long time such that their focus had been misdirected.

He said that except for the oil spillage in the region, the Niger Delta environment was suitable for fish farming.

He noted that “the problem we are having in the Niger Delta is that we are looking at where we should not be looking.

“We do not have the comparative advantage for maize cultivation like the northern part of the country with its vast land mass but we have good weather for poultry, fish farming and piggery.”

The farmer said that for the youths to be properly engaged, states in the region should concentrate on areas they had comparative advantage.

“This region can produce all the poultry products, fish and pork needed in this country because our environment is suitable for it.

“What obtained in the past was a situation where government acquired and gave day old chicks to some ‘political farmers’ in the name of empowerment and leaving the real farmers.


“With subsidy, the true farmers will buy more birds and feeds and produce more,” Ikukaiwe said.  

Edo AFAN calls for provision of tractors, other implements


The All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Edo chapter, has called on the state government to provide tractors, bulldozers, graders and other farm implements for farmers in the state to hire.

The state Chairman of AFAN, Chief Emmanuel Odigie, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Benin on Sunday.

Odigie said the association was willing to pay an agreed amount to the state government on a monthly basis for the use of the equipment if provided.

He said “the idea is to enable our members to hire them at affordable rates to prepare farmlands and construct roads leading to the farms.

”Our investigation revealed that farm produce waste away in the farms due to inaccessible and deplorable state of our farm roads.

“If the roads were graded, farmers would evacuate their produce and avoid the waste,” he said.

The chairman further said that the lack of the equipment and irrigation, as well as poor state of roads posed very serious challenge to farmers in the state.

Odigie explained that the use of the equipment would promote large scale farming and make farming easier in the state.


He however commended the efforts the state and Federal Governments toward improving agriculture through various programmes.