Minting new travel journalists for questionable interest

Posted on: June 10, 2024, by :

In Nigeria, political appointment is sweet; it is even sweeter, when one is appointed into the tourism ministry, or one of its two agencies.  To many, such appointment is akin to being thrown into the backwaters of government, but to those who know, it is the best position to get.

The position of the director general in any of the two agencies of the tourism ministry, the Nigerian Tourism Development Authority (NTDA) and the National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism (NIHOTOUR), imbues one with a kind superhuman attributes that elevated the person to the position of an all-knowing-god who has enough resources to throw out crumbs, grandstand, muscle and starve the federation or any association that dared to raise her head the resources of government. Most importantly, the new found positions gives the director generals the power to play the game of divide and rule.

The reason for this superhuman power is that the government pays little attention to this sector, appointments here are more like a sinecure; the number of parastatals is so few that players, no matter how much they disagree with a director generals, are forced to go on their knees, cap in hand to beg for morsels to function, and so the heads always play the tin gods.  They are magisterial, combative, all knowing, and sometimes out rightly rude and disrespectful.   Unfortunately, some of their aides understand this power and throw it about by proxy.

However, their only antidote has been mother time.  Four years, or eight years initially seems a long time that would never end, but it would finally come to an end. Many, towards the end,try to make amends for lost time, but too late. Many while at the helms in these parastatals were so abysmal in their actions that they found it difficult to return back to the industry after their pseudo-godly facade had been stripped off them.

However foolhardy these all-powerful director generals have been in the past, none had tried to create a new set of travel journalists simply because the established ones didn’t kowtow to them. They stayed clear of that, pursue dialogue, and build better understanding.

 Unfortunately, currently we have a situation whereby an all-powerful director general, to promote his interest, not national interest,  is being egged on by aides and hangers-on to do just that.  In his superhuman temporal, but gradually varnishing power, he wants to create his own set of travel journalists that would pander to his selfish interest.  The irony is that this is a director general that is a creation of God and travel journalism.  

As a director general, trying to create a new set of travel journalists simply because the ones he know and who had helped him to rise,  would not allow him dictate to them is unfortunate. A situation an agency head tries to desecrate and dilute travel journalists’ association with fly-by-night emergency journalists is rather condemn-able. It is counterproductive in the long run, even if the action scores cheap, temporal point.  

Travel journalism is a calling. One can only become a travel journalist when one has the calling and passion for tourism. It looks glamorous but lonely. It is not something to venture into if it is all about the desire is to make money, not even the glamour of local and international travelling can keep one on it if the passion is not there. That is why it is only a few in Nigeria that have endured the test of time.

 Travel journalists make destinations, travel industry personalities and build industry brands. Unfortunately, most of those built, especially personalities turned round to fight them when they believe the journalists are not doing their bidding.

What these people with negative tactics failed to understand is that they are not the first, others have tried it in the past, and how did they end up? The travel writers are still there to tell their stories years after they are gone. This is because a hardcore travel journalist is not a political office holder. He is a professional, not bound be statutory time limit. He is only bound by the Mother Nature.  

One could only advise caution and hope reason will prevail over ego. An African proverb advises against pulling down the ladder one used to climb up, because one might just need the ladder while climbing down.

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