NIGERIA (eTN) – The Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN), the private sector umbrella body for tourism in Nigeria, has elected a new set of executives at a well-attended annual general meeting (AGM) held on Thursday, July 28, 2011.
The AGM, which was held at NANET Suites, Abuja, brought the federation into a new era, two months after the tenure of the former council led by Samuel Alabi ended on May 20, 2011.
At the Abuja AGM, attended by 10 registered tourism associations, members of the board of trustees and government officials – representatives of the honorable minister of tourism, culture, and national orientation, that of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) tourism department – all praised FTAN’s resolve to chart a new course and called for the sustenance of a new momentum created by the successful AGM that would make the body a virile and developmental federation.
In an election that saw many candidates returned unopposed, Chief Samuel Alabi was re-elected as National President alongside his former National Deputy President, Mr. Tomi Akingbogu, who was also the former president of the Hotels Owners Forum of Abuja (HOFA).
Others elected were Engr. Onofiok Ekong, Treasurer, who is the current President of Hotels Owners Forum of Abuja; Dr./Mrs. Marian Alabi, a senior lecturer appointed as Internal Auditor; Arch. P. Binga, Vice President North East; Mr. Yakpogoro Rex Eeba, Vice President South South; Chief Charles Okoroafor, Vice President South East; Mr. Ganiyu Adebiyi, Vice President South West; and Ini Akpabio, Vice President, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.
Also elected were Alh. Haruna Mohammed, Vice President North West; Chief Edom Alexander, Vice President, North Central; and yours truly, Mr. Lucky Onoriode George, Public Affairs, and eTN Ambassador, completed the elected positions.
The new executive council also included two representatives each from all member associations as stipulated by the federation’s constitution.
Speaking earlier, the Chairman of the FTAN 2011 Electoral Committee/AGM, Mr. Tar D. Orjime, formally pronounced the former executive council dissolved and all elected officers of the federation as prescribed for by the federation constitution, including all zonal vice presidents among others.
In his acceptance speech, the President asked for unity and collaboration for a new beginning and era of purposeful leadership for FTAN, positing that the federation must play its role as the tourism private sector in Nigeria by seeking to protect its members’ investments, as well as ensuring favorable policies by the government and its agencies.
Shortly after the election activities ended, the new executive, led by its President, paid a courtesy call on Edem Duke, Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, who also was a former President of the federation.
In his speech to the Minister, Samuel Alabi noted that this is indeed an interesting time for the tourism industry, particularly for the federation, saying that the federation is proud to say that tourism eventually has one of its own as a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
According to Alabi, he noted: “As a hotelier, and former president of the federation, we believe that this is the time for the private sector tourism to get all the help it needs and deserves.
“If we are not helped under your watch, then the tourism and culture sectors can never get help again.”
Alabi also briefed the Minister of the federation’s activities in the last two years, especially that the federation had written to the presidency and the Ministry for a N500 billion intervention fund for the industry as it has been done for other sectors of the economym such as textile, aviation, and banking, among others.
He reminded the minister that as a hotelier himself and someone that is deeply involved in the travel and tourism sector, he understands the very many problems of the sector and, therefore, must do something fast to salvage the deteriorating fortunes of the industry.
The re-elected President of the federation reiterated that FTAN, under his leadership, is desirous of working towards sanitizing the industry by way of professional certification; this, according to him, is to engender professionalism as it is done in other sectors of the economy.
He told the Minister that this administration is a special one, and as such, the federation charged the Minister to put tourism in the forefront of the new quest for Nigeria’s economic revival by networking across sectors.
Responding, the Minister noted that God has a purpose for positioning him as the first tourism practitioner to head the ministry, and said this indeed is a new era of warmness, sincerity, commitment, and compassion for the tourism and culture industry.
Edem Duke noted that he has come with leadership that will bring about positive change in the way things are to be done henceforth, positing that leadership is not a popularity game, but rather to serve.
Sounding very worried because of the enormity of work and repositioning to be done, the Minister said that the tourism world has left Nigeria behind, according to him, because the country cannot aggregate tourism/culture sector contributions to the national economy, as he discovered at the last presidential retreat held recently.
“Transformation of tourism/culture is now,” he said, “Time for bickering should belong to the past.”
Challenging the federation, whose President he once was, the Minister said FTAN must be strengthened and properly funded, as they do the talk, and work the work henceforth.
Fully aware of development and innovations in the travel and tourism industry around the world, Edem said tourism is global and as such, standards must be global and not local.
“Our purpose must be to grow together and be mindful of those who are envious of us, because we belong to this wonderful federation,” he told the federation executives.
As for his mission, Edem noted, he would take tourism beyond the expectation of Nigerians.