We hardly value what we have. Victor Uwaifo a multi-instrumentalist, with a preference for the rhythm guitar and an accomplished musician has bagged the award: ‘UNESCO’s Living Human Treasure’. Uwaifo and Fela Anikulapo-Kuti helped unite Nigerians across ethnic and political divides. Late Taiwo Olaniyi, Twin Seven Seven was a UNESCO Artiste for Peace. I.K. Dairo was recognized by the Queen of England as Member of the British Empire. Our own dear Patti Boulaye is also a Member of the British Empire. Nigerian artistes, Muraina Oyelami and Jimoh Buraimoh, artistes of international repute who were trained by famed Ulli and Georgina Beier are also living treasures. We have told them that they will not be permitted to answer the call of God in the fullness of time until they impart their knowledge to the younger generation in the visual arts sub-sector.
TIME FOR ACTION We are in an era of diversification of the economy and a period when all bureaucratic bottlenecks should be dismantled, if Nigeria is to attain the envisaged height. It is a period for re-dedication and commitment to those ideals that could hasten development, such as implementing policies for the equitable re-distribution of wealth through the creation of jobs and opportunities. It is also time to evolve and articulate policies that could empower the general populace to participate in national development. We all know that economic development ranks next to peace and security. We have the basic vast and seeming limitless endowments – human, physical and natural – to attain greatness.
OUR RESOURCES: Each time I read about the ”wonders” performed by Nigerian professionals abroad and how they are making us proud by excelling in their careers, I feel very elated; but also sad. Proud, because Nigeria is blessed with some of the best brains in the world and the global communities know this attribute; but sad, because these great Nigerians are developing the economies of other nations at the expense of our dear country. We must all share the blame for finding ourselves in this state. As pointed out by erudite scholar, Prof. Akin Mabogunje, some of the contributory factors include failure to engage in long range visioning and planning, and our love for what he called: ‘’awuff’’ or freebies. Lately, I added, as one of the causative factors, lack of respect for individual and collective conscience; described as our inner policeman. Therefore, that we have found ourselves in this mess is our collective fault; not that of government alone.
Records indicate that the University College Teaching Hospital, Ibadan was at a time rated as one of the best three specialist hospitals in Africa, with royal households from the Middle East coming down here for medical attention. Then check the names of highly proficient and tested medical practitioners of that era. The Adeoye Lambos, Oritsejolomi Thomas, the Akinkugbes, the Olurins and several other experts. The military’s unitary style of government did a great havoc, with the taking over of tertiary institutions, information organs, and even sports stadia, hitherto owned by Regional/State governments. All is not lost, provided we are prepared to tell the truth and act dispassionately. Let opinion leaders wake up to defeat the assertion of Prof. Akin Oyebode that: “those people who can call the nation to order now are very few; they don’t have the gut, and they lack the courage. ‘’Even, when they have the intellect, they are afraid to talk. ‘’We claim to be operating democracy, but we are operating it without democrats. ‘’This is the real problem”. We can reorder things through commitment, sincerity of purpose and honest evaluations and constructive criticisms.
THE DUBAI EXAMPLE: Not too long ago, the United Arab Emirates was a desert land. Today, Dubai has now become one of the toasts of fun seekers and businessmen and women all over the world. Dubai started generating US$200 million annually from tourism, generates $650 million in foreign exchange earnings, and received 1.2 million tourists in 1999. In Nigeria however, it is recorded that tourism accounted for a little less than 2% of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which, regrettably, is not encouraging. Unemployment in Nigeria has become the greatest bane which poses a great threat to peaceful and harmonious co-existence of the people. Oil and Gas exports which dominate the foreign exchange earnings of Nigeria need to be de-emphasized in favour of Entertainment, Tourism & Culture sub-sectors where we have recorded tremendous achievements in the last one decade.
Singapore’s economy is ranked as the most open in the world and thrives chiefly because of the country’s pro-business environment and political stability. This is why it is important for all Nigerians to resolve by conducts that our political system must be stable and endure. We can turn Nigeria into the major hub of economic activities in Africa.We have the large market and population, among others to make this happen. We are capable of inviting the attention of the whole world to rich heritage of Nigeria such that every black person in the world will want to visit Nigeria, and turn the country into a major tourists’ destination. For this to happen, we need to realize the fact that the quality of service delivery is an important factor that aids development. And this is where real attitudinal changes in service delivery in both the public and private sectors become imperative.
EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES: Today, tourism is big business because of the sheer number of tourists across the globe and the huge amount they spend every year. Unemployment in Nigeria has become the greatest bane which poses a great threat to peaceful and harmonious co-existence of the people. Conscious efforts are being made to reduce over-dependence on oil and gas exports that dominate foreign exchange earnings. Instead, we must focus more on the development of tourism and entertainment as major foreign exchange earners. Recreation that includes entertainment is a huge sub-sector on its own. There are business tourism, medical tourism, sports tourism, ecotourism, agri-tourism, garden tourism, literary tourism, heritage tourism, and cultural tourism. In many cases, tourists often save up for their tours and spend the bulk of the money on purchasing goods and services from the tourists’ destination for immediate or delayed consumption.
MANILA DECLARATION: As noted in the Manila Declaration on World Tourism in 1980, ‘’Tourism is an activity that is essential to the life of nations because of its direct and indirect effects on the social, cultural, educational and economic sectors of a nation. Tourism is highly regarded as the world’s biggest economic force today because it circulates more money and causes more investment and social contact than any other economic factor. ‘’Tourism contributions or impact spans through employment creation, poverty reduction, infrastructure investment and development, among so many others. ‘’It can generate jobs directly through hotels, restaurants, night clubs, taxis and souvenir sales and indirectly through the supply of goods and services needed by tourism-related businesses.’’ With its enormous economic power and high potential for employment creation, its capacity to spread its socio-economic benefits to all levels of society and to all parts of developing and least developed, tourism can be a leading sector in the fight against poverty
GAINS OF PROPER ATTENTION: According to the World Tourism Organization, international tourist arrivals at border posts across the globe crossed the one billion mark in 2012. In 2014, the 10 most visited countries, measured by the number of international travellers are: France, 84 million; the United States, 75 million; Spain, 65 million; China, 56 million; Italy, 49 million; Turkey, 40 million; Germany, 33 million; the United Kingdom, 33 million; Russia, 30 million, and Mexico, 29 million. However, the US leads the top 10 tourism earners for 2014, by grossing a whopping $177.2bn, representing both domestic and international tourism earnings. Others are Spain, $65.2bn; China, $56.9bn; France, $55.4bn; Italy, $45.5bn; the UK, $45.3bn; Thailand, $38.4bn; Australia, $32bn; and Turkey, $29.5bn. Macau and Hong Kong, both in Asia made $50.8bn and $38.4bn respectively from tourism. Nigeria too has the inherent capacity to emerge Africa’s foremost tourists’ destination.
TOURISM AS THE MOST EMERGING GLOBAL REVENUE EARNER: Today, tourism stands tall as one of the most emerging top foreign exchange spinner for countries, which the World Tourism Organization describes as one of its important indicators. Tourism is one of the top five export resource categories for 83% of world countries and the number one export earner for 38% of countries. This, indeed, places tourism at vantage position as a foreign exchange spinner for a good number of countries which explains why so many other countries yet to explore its potentials are fast getting into tourism activities. It is against the above backgrounds that tourism’s entertainment sub-sector must be re-positioned in Nigeria as one of the viable alternatives to petroleum This position is further supported by the 1999 IMF Reports which gave $504 billion as the global trade receipts from tourism which, it says, makes it the highest revenue earning sector in the world. Provide, preserve and store resource materials about the contributions of Nigerians and Africans to the development of their societies for generations yet unborn.
INTERNATIONAL RECOGNITION: Nigeria’s Entertainment sector has moved with rapid growth such that it is now acknowledged as one of the ”gold mines” waiting to be fully tapped. This sub-sector of our national life would elicit positive reactions and support from the international community and multilateral organizations, particularly agencies of the United Nations, given the declaration of Years 2015-2024 as the ‘Decade of People of African Descent’ by the United Nations; a project which is very dear to the heart of UNESCO. The right people with vast knowledge of the industry, who are really dedicated and committed need to be given the encouragement and opportunity to make inputs and guide the leadership. Some departments of government have fine officers who are institutional memories. It takes dedication, commitment to chosen goals and patriotism to make a success of any endeavour.
NIGERIA’S ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY WORTH BILLIONS OF DOLLARS: The Oxford English Dictionary describes entertainment as: ‘’A form of activity that holds the attention and interest of an audience, or gives pleasure and delight. It can be an idea or a task, but is more likely to be one of the activities or events that have developed over thousands of years specifically for the purpose of keeping an audience’s attention. Although people’s attention is held by different things, because individuals have different preferences in entertainment, most forms are recognisable and familiar. Entertainment includes, but is not limited to: ‘’Storytelling, music, drama, dance, and different kinds of performance exist in all cultures. Entertainment eases tension and aids relaxation through activities that promote leisure, and amusement.
Decades ago, entertainers were viewed as unserious people who were dregs of the society. Soon, notable personalities like dramatist and singer, Hubert Ogunde, Kola Ogunmola, Duro Ladipo, Oyin Adejobi, Biodun Ladipo, Akin Ogungbe, Ishola Ogunsola, Jimoh Aliu and others came on the scene to dominate the drama sub-section for decades. Moses Olaiya Adejumo’s appearance on the stage, marked the period of the jesters and later, stand up comedians like Ali Baba. Then came musicians I.K. Dairo, Olagunju aka Fatai Rolling Dollar, Tunde Nightingale, Haruna Isola, Yusuf Olatunji, Adeolu Akinsanya, Dan Maraya Jos, Fela Ransome-Kuti, Oliver de Coque, Victor Uwaifo, Eddy Okonta, S.F Olowookere, Osita Osadebey and others that preceded names like Ebenezer Obey Fabiyi, Sunny Ade, and Dele Abiodun who dominated the scene for a long period.
VISUAL ARTS: We hardly value what we have. Victor Uwaifo a multi-instrumentalist, with a preference for the rhythm guitar and accomplished has bagged the award UNESCO’s Living Human Treasure. Uwaifo and Fela Anikulapo-Kuti helped unite Nigerians across ethnic and political divides. Late Taiwo Olaniyi, Twin Seven Seven was a UNESCO Artiste for Peace. I.K. Dairo was recognized by the Queen of England as Member of the British Empire. Our own dear Patti Boulaye is also a Member of the British Empire. Nigerian artistes, Muraina Oyelami and Jimoh Buraimoh, artistes of international repute who were trained by famed Ulli and Georgina Beier are also living treasures. Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola has told them that they will not be permitted to answer the call of God in the fullness of time until they impart their knowledge to the younger generation in the visual arts sub-sector.
EXPANSION & PROSPECTS: Reports say the Entertainment industry in Nigeria is currently worth about US$5 billion and is still growing with very bright prospects of more rapid expansion. It is significant that The Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria (PMAN) is the largest black musicians union in the world. PMAN was founded by lady of songs, Christy Essien-Igbokwe and Sunny Okosun in 1984, to guide, protect and promote the interests of musicians in the west African nation of Nigeria. For years, it was bogged down by unnecessary crises. Its one-time president Tee Mac Omatshola asserts that: ‘’Hollywood, in 2016, generated US$11.6 billion; making it the most profitable film industry in the world. After Hollywood and Bollywood, Nigeria’s Nollywood is next, meaning we have the 3rd largest film industry in the world. Nigeria films are hot cakes all over Africa, Europe, American and lately all over the Caribbean Islands.”
MORE INVESTMENTS REQUIRED: Omatshola who has championed an expansion programme for entertainment believes that African culture must develop and there must be evolution in it. Omatshola wishes that investors in music and high quality movies would come into Nigeria in huge numbers to participate in the thriving industry with prospects. He is investing his time and energy into helping develop the Nigerian entertainment industry. In 2009 Omatshola was appointed the Nigerian director of the Motherland Group, that is building a historical slave museum in Badagry. In 2011 he was elected chairman of FAME Corp, owned by top Nigerian Musicians and Nollywood stars, to build cinema houses and concert halls all over Nigeria.
Nigeria is the catalyst of African Renaissance and a tourist haven, whose resources need to be further explored. It is against the above backgrounds that tourism must be re-positioned in Nigeria as one of the alternatives to petroleum, especially in the face of the dip in oil prices and the pressure on the government to diversify the economy. Tourism is one of the top five export resource categories for 83% of world countries. Today, tourism is regarded as the world’s biggest economic force because it circulates more money, and causes more investment and social contact than any other economic factor. Tourism contributions or impact spans through employment creation, poverty reduction, infrastructure investment and development, among so many others.
QUALITY OF SERVICE DELIVERY: For the foregoing to happen, the right people with vast knowledge of the industry, or who are really dedicated and committed are there in the public service, in some cases unused; but are waiting for the green light in some departments of government. I once made a comparison. I told a friend that do you know it is possible for a Minister/Commissioner for Lands & Housing to get hold of a Master Plan and fail to sight a vacant plot or house; only for the Director of Lands to pull it out within 30 seconds? Public office holders may not succeed if they are always at loggerheads with civil servants or deny them their entitlements. This is the importance of constructive approach to human resources management and cordial; not arrogant and bossy relationships. Once governments change, knowledgeable civil servants who are institutional memories are usually shoved aside. Outsiders are brought in. There is nothing wrong with this provided such outsiders know the workings of the establishment into which they have been called to serve. But it is wrong to shove aside bureaucrats totally as a result of professional socialization.
OPPORTUNITIES: Nigeria savours the appellation of ‘’richness in diversity’’ as a result of its varied cultural sources that make Nigeria a fascinating and engaging entity. With about 300 long-existing ethnic groups each often with its own distinct language and culture, Nigeria is the place to be by tourists who plan to visit Africa. An African Development Bank Report that challenges the continent indicates that: ‘’the potential of Africa’s tourism is untapped. “While Africa accounts for 15% of the world population, it receives only about 3% of world tourism. Africa is home to some of the fastest-growing economies, and revenues from tourism in Africa already represent more than double the amount of donor aid. Tremendous opportunities exist to further expand tourism across the African continent.’’ For this reason, the AfDB aims to promote tourism through the development of cross-border infrastructure and regional transport corridors, which will facilitate the movement of people and goods on the continent.
MOVING FORWARD: Nigeria is a tourist haven whose resources are still under explored, underutilized and under exploited. What remains to be done is the application of the political will and dedication to goals. It takes dedication, commitment to chosen goals and patriotism to make a success of any endeavour. We can record greater resounding success that would reverberate across the world in some sub-sectors, particularly tourism, culture and entertainment, where we have excelled in the past two decades. There are issues within the system that might sometimes make things difficult on account of poor reasoning. Thrice in the last five years, I have also been a victim of the workings of a very terrible system. It is important to correct some anomalies. The first time in 2014, two of my proposals were ‘’stolen’’ and adapted. I visited an office to which the proposals were sent by the big boss about ten times and never had the opportunity of meeting or discussing with the official who was directed to take action on the matter.
ATTITUDINAL CHANGES: MY WITNESS: On two other occasions, I submitted proposals that I considered excellent ideas. They were defended and the appropriate officials made recommendations thereon, and forwarded the file for the attention of the bosses. My foreign partners made inputs. The first time, the file got missing in transit in 2015. I represented in 2016. Again, favourable recommendations were made on the proposal in file, as the civil servants were excited about the project and Feasibility Report that I submitted. After that, nobody volunteered any information on what was happening! It was much later when the top boss had left the system that I was informed that I was suspected of owing allegiance to a political party, and so he would not allow me to come near him; not to talk about calling me for a defence! I requested to know if that official appointment was done by any political party and if he was appointed to champion the cause of political parties. Civil servants are expected to the apolitical.
IGNORANCE: Funny enough, the political party for which my proposal was axed also accused me of belonging to the opposition government that also axed my proposal! But such accusations don’t bother me because I expect people to be mature in playing politics. Individual and political party considerations must surely NOT override national interest and I expected a serious mind to know this.That will not be the end of life. I reasoned that even if I owe allegiance to any political party, should public officers act in a manner that suggested that they don’t value or place national interest above all other considerations? Was I aiming at discussing political party matters or issues that could assist our nation? That idea has the capacity of creating tens of thousands of jobs.
The boss was such a terror that nobody could disclose the reason why he never wanted to see me until his exit. I was informed that his human relations was so poor that if he dared visit his former office, members of staff would attempt to ridicule him openly. This is the type of system we operate. MERIT and INHERENT CAPABILITIES must be respected if our nation must grow, I thought the fate of our nation shouldn’t have been entrusted into that type of hand for any reason at all.
GENIUSES: Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931) an American inventor (also known as the Wizard of Menlo Park) whose many inventions revolutionized the world, and patented 1,093 inventions, when he visited the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, and was marvelled by the structure, was quoted as saying that: “Genius is one percent inspiration, and 99 percent perspiration.” Nigerian performers and artistes are proving their worth as world class entertainers. Playwrights Wole Soyinka, Adebayo Faleti, Baba Odunjo, Daniel Fagunwa, Bayo Oduneye, Tunji Oyelana, Laolu Ogunniyi, Kola Oyewo, Taiwo Ajai-Lycet have trained several professionals. Younger musicians have also excelled. They include Onyeka Onwenu, Sade Adu and Tee Mac Omatshola. Those who have performed with incredible optimism are Ebenezer Obey Fabiyi, Sunny Ade, Dele Abiodun, Sylva, and Sikiru Ayinde Barrister. Nigerian stars have burst forth with incredible energy.
We hardly value what we have. Victor Uwaifo a multi-instrumentalist, with a preference for the rhythm guitar and accomplished has bagged the award UNESCO’s Living Human Treasure. Uwaifo and Fela Anikulapo-Kuti helped unite Nigerians across ethnic and political divides. Late Taiwo Olaniyi, Twin Seven Seven was a UNESCO Artiste for Peace. I.K. Dairo was recognized by the Queen of England as Member of the British Empire. Our own dear Patti Boulaye is also a Member of the British Empire. Nigerian artistes, Muraina Oyelami and Jimoh Buraimoh, artistes of international repute who were trained by famed Ulli and Georgina Beier are also living treasures. We have told them that they will not be permitted to answer the call of God in the fullness of time until they impart their knowledge to the younger generation in the visual arts sub-sector.
There are people like Patricia Ngozi Ebigwei (Patty Boulaye) was for 29 years the face of Lux Soap in that beautiful television advertisement. Many of them like Sade Adu, Joke Silva, Mo Abudu, Tunde and Wumi Obe, Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde, and Funke Akindele have carved their names in gold. You too could join them by being committed, dedicated, and resilient to whichever goal you decide to pursue. You don’t have to run abroad before you could succeed in life. Africa’s future looks bright given the huge growth in adventure and entertainment tourism, coupled with the continent’s rich cultural heritage and natural beauty.
The scene is hosting merging champions like Ali Baba, Mo. Abudu, Tunde & Wumi Obe, Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde, Funke Akindele, and several other hip-hop starts who are carving their names in gold.
Nigeria’s dry bones shall surely rise again.