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How NTDC Disgraced Nigeria In Germany …Nigerians in diaspora kick against Sally Mbanefo

If there is anything to pacify Nigerians In Diaspora Organisation, NIDO, an organization of Nigerian professional construct for the facilitating of business, trade and investment opportunities between Germany and Nigeria, they will want Barrister Sally Mbanefo, Director General of Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation sacked. Their reason was that, she does not know her mandate and Nigeria and Nigerians are lagging behind in the world tourism calendar.
According to Kenneth Gbandi, President NIDO, Germany, in a press release made available to the media he said they were totally disappointed with the planning and mobilization for the participation of Nigeria at the World Trade Extravaganza in Germany, the World’s Leading Travel Trade Show popularly known as ‘ITB’ Berlin which was  held early this month. There was virtually a total promotional and information black out on the participation of Nigeria both in the media and within the business circle. A situation they find very ridiculous, embarrassing and disgusting. All efforts made by NIDO to reach NTDC boss proved abortive apart from attempt made by well meaning individuals from Nigeria who organized a round table talk with Mbanefo during the event.
The release said that her duties are more than junketing around the globe without any meaningful result, her predecessor, Segun Runsewe was able to transform the tourism industry and projected Nigeria image to the Western World. If she cannot surpass his records then she should not portray herself as somebody who wants to deliberately brought NTDC down
According to the president last year NIDO approached NTDC in a letter dated June 4, 2013 requesting of cooperation for the NIDO Germany National Business Summit on Logistics, Trade and investment that took place from 8-9 November 2013 in collaboration with the Business department of the city of Dortmund Germany, but received no answer. Nigeria and NTDC could have maximized all the business and investment potentials had they fully mobilized the German business community (SME) and also involved the Diaspora group  to be part of this mobilization and facilitation process of German firms interested in the hospitality industries. Moreover, had a little due diligence been invested, programs to attract German hospitality industries to Nigerian stand could have been suggested.
As has always been the case, the release explaimed, just recently a visit of high powered Nigerian government delegations to Germany on trade and investment mission took place without involving the diaspora population.  Ironically the same Nigerian professionals were invited thereafter by their German partners, employees and institutions to make a professional assessment of such visitation and eventual participation in such project in Nigeria. A classic example of this disconnect is a case of the Nigerian delegation from National Planning Commission Abuja led by Mr. Bassey Okon Akpanyung, from the Ministry of Planning on the invitation of one of Germany´s leading Stiftung (NGOs).
Mbanefo should appreciate the fact that Nigerians in Diaspora can defend their interests more than the Germans when the pro and contra of such visit finds their way to the media and public discourse. We are stakeholders, and our contributions to National development are also very important. There is no doubt that something is seriously going wrong somewhere, especially with such institutions responsible for a flow of such vital investment information.
On one hand the Nigerian government expects patriotism and the promotion of a better image for Nigeria by Nigerians in Diaspora but on the other hand the Government and its officials wantonly displays a total disregard for the same policy they work so hard to establish.
When therefore in November last year Nigeria exhibited at the World Travel Market in London, her first official international outing, many people applauded her for keeping fate with the tradition.
The first international exhibition this year was FITUR held in Madrid, Spain in January. The country was expected to be represented at the event but just at the last minutes, the DG cancelled and pulled out of the event without any official explanation for such an act although reports emanating from the Abuja office attributed the withdrawal to lack of fund.
Many of the operators and even staffers of NTDC were shocked by this development as this event was captured in its budget. Therefore to many, the excuse of lack of fund was untenable as she was berated for what some observers say was her lack of understanding of the importance of global exposure for the development of a destination, particularly that of Nigeria; Which is still struggling for attention.
If many thought that what happened with FITUR in January would not repeat itself again, then they were utterly proved wrong when Ms. Mbanefo again cancelled and pulled out of the ITB Berlin event, which held between March 5 and 9. Again, reports from the Abuja office blamed lack of funds for this action.
Even though observers are beginning to notice-an emerging partner with her handling of tourism affairs, especially with international events, what many of the operators find so worrisome and disturbing was the fact that two days into the Berlin event NTDC DG flew to Berlin with about 10 persons made of a member of the board of NTDC, her staff, pressmen and a member of the Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN).
Not as exhibitors as the allocated stand for Nigeria (Stand 21/118) at the Africa hall, was empty as the country has recorded ‘no show’ but as ‘observers.’ Many wonder why she would show up as an observer to an event that the country has exhibited in at least in the last one decade without fail.
Reports from the event pointed out that attempt by the Nigerian team led by her to hoist a solitary flag of the country at the empty stand or stay around was re­buffed by the organizers who were miffed by the ‘no show’ act of Nigeria after the space booked for by NTDC was reserved.
This development has been described as a show of shame and a big drawback for the tourism industry given the fact that Nigeria’s position in the global market is not a solid one. The implication of this is that Nigeria may never gain back the momentum it has succeeded in acquiring over the years. Nearly everyone in the team to ITB Berlin expressed sadness over the event as they described their journey as a jamboree and great loss to the country and themselves.
With just less than two months to the ATM event in Dubai, no one is sure if the-country will not again record a no show. The silence at the home front is a deafening one already and people are beginning to question what happened to the almost flawless vision and programmes she presented to the stakeholders in Lagos during her first public event in September?
In a related development a two-storey building housing NTDC has been sealed up. A situation that has paralysed activities in Mbanefo led corporation. The building is situated on Obafemi Awolowo Way adjacent Lagos Television (LTV) Ikeja.
The gist is that the property owner increased the rent by over 100%. A situation Mbanefo and her management team find ridiculous and outrageous. All emissaries sent to the landlord did not yield any positive result as it was determined to collect the new rate or the corporation quit his property.
When he does not see any seriousness on the side of Mbanefo to pay or vacate the building, he then sent his men to forcefully seal up the building with staff and visitors inside.
When News of the People visited the office stern looking mobile policemen were stationed at the entrance while NTDC staffs were kept indoor. A staff of the corporation who pleaded anonymity had to move down stairs to attend to this reporter, on the excuse that the office was busy at the time of the visit. According to a source, “the man has legal backing to seal up the place, because NTDC have refused to pay him since last year when their tenancy expired. Their argument was that they can pay the new rate the man was asking for, and if you cannot pay, then you park out”.
The lawyer turned politician always fish in troubled waters, it would be recalled that she once hired one Kunle Adeshola a fake police officer  as Special Adviser cum Chief Security Officer, (CSO), before he was arrested by Economic and Financial Crime Commission, (EFCC), for impersonation and standing trial in an Abuja court. While Adeshola was in EFCC custody Mbanefo ran helter skelter to exonerate her name from the scandal but she could not as the picture she took with the fake cop had gone viral in the media.
All attempts made by News of the People to speak with the NTDC DG proved abortive as all e mails and phone calls were unsuccessful.

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2 Comments

  1. This story is a fraud.. . I was in Berlin . I saw the Nigerian Delegate . i met four Nigerian journalists. Guardian , two from the Nation . The NTA , Tribune and Thisday . They have written their report .Kenneth Ghandi is lying . Let him confront me . I was there.

  2. This are some Quotable quotes of Sally Mbanefo @ ITB Berlin , 2014
    On not hoisting a Stand in Berlin
    She said that “gone were the days when Nigeria would be attending fair for attending sake or mounting a stand for mounting sake without achieving any concrete goals. Not again. For every fair or tourism market we henceforth attend, there must be a measurable goal and an assessment of the objective at the end of the day. Every penny spent on a trade fair or tourism market must worth the salt”
    It is a country immensely blessed by God and stocked with numerous tourism potentialities some of which have been developed while some are still in their pristine stage waiting to be developed. We are here not only to sell our country to you as a tourism sites, but most importantly as an investment haven.”

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