Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Madam Florence Nwachukwu, mother and grand mother from Nigeria boarded a Lagos bound Arik Airlines flight from Port Harcourt, South - South Nigeria on a bright Sunday morning. It was all drama throughout the one hour flight. The elegantly dressed old woman was apprehensive of heights, and what is more a height of some 33,000 feet above sea level is some height to deal with. Added to height, her being encased or enclosed in a capsule like looking flying objects that is sometimes at the mercies of the vagaries of turbulence. She was rightly scared.
During the one hour flight she was tethering between fright and outright panic. In the process she nearly threw up. She complained of shortness of breath and not hearing properly, all symptoms of first time flyers. To save the day, a kind hearted lady, a younger woman stepped forward and joined mama on her seat. The sympathetic woman spent her time by mama’s side during the course of the journey. And so it was a huge relief to madam Florence Nwachukwu when the flight touched down at the local wing of the Muritala Muhammed International Airport, local wing (MMA 1).
Prior to her flight mama had experienced increased anxiety and sleepless nights at the thought of travelling by air. She had looked for every opportunity to postpone her journey, or at best travel by any other means except by air. Her fears and anxieties are justifiable, given the spate of missing aircrafts on our airways.
Dennis Bergkamp was one of the greatest football players of our time. This Dutsch soccer wizard was a European champion with his country The Netherlands (Holland), as well as a winner of the English Premiership with his club Arsenal. His football artistry was celebrated by all football lovers the world over. He scored goals from seemingly impossible angles, and created opportunities out of nothing. Such was his success and fame on the field of play that he became the toast of football fans around the globe and envy of fellow strikers, he became a nightmare to goalkeepers who knew that Bergkamp will surely score against them in 90 minutes of football action, it does not matter when, it could be at the tail end of proceedings, when they were about to heave a huge sigh of relief. Such was the fear, envy, love, admiration and praise heaped on this legend by all for his unusual out of planet earth talent and performance.
But there is something Bergkamp could not conquer. One thing that sets him eternally apart from other great soccer stars like, Marco Van Basten, Ruud Gullit, Roberto Baggio, David Beckham, Thierry Henry, Kanu Nwankwo, Austine Jay Jay Okocha, Rivaldo, Eric Cantona, Carlos Valderama, Gabriel Batistuta, Ronaldo; to mention just a few. He could not conquer the fear of flying. Dennis Bergkamp has a morbid fear of flying. Unlike mama Nwachukwu who took steps to conquer her fear of flying, Dennis Bergkamp has not done so.
When on international engagement, either for country or club, he will rather travel by road or train or any other means than risk the fear of flying. He would set out early to keep such international engagements. He never ventured into travelling by air for any reason, be it business or recreation.
Florence Nwachukwu and Dennis Bergkamp are just 2 of the numerous people with means to travel by air, but chose not to do so. They would rather travel by road or any other means. While it is true that the financial cost of travelling by air may have prevented some, in reality it is the fear of flying that prevented others. Such ones can easily relate to you all the unfortunate plane crashes that have occurred in Nigeria and beyond in the last 15 years. Such ones concluded that travelling by air is riskier than travelling by other means, while in reality and, empirically the opposite is the case. Whereas the chances of being involved in an air crash are about one in 11 million, the chances of being killed in an automobile accident are one in 5,000. Statistically, you are far at greater risk during your car ride to the airport, than when flying, you are far at lesser risk when flying, than when driving an automobile, especially with the condition of our road networks in Nigeria. What is more, annually, over 50,000 lives are lost to road crashes worldwide, compared to the few numbers of lives lost during air disasters.
Fear of flying has contributed in a large measure to passenger turn out at our airports. In a nation of over 150 million populations less than 10% of the population travel by air, that is, only some 10 million people. Hence, the urgent need to step up our campaign to persuade and encourage more people to patronise our airlines. To re direct more travellers to the airports for travelling rather than by bus terminals and unsafe road networks. The more people travel by air the more a critical sector of the tourism industry, airlines will grow. Therefore, all hands must be on deck to ensure that more and more Nigerians imbibe the culture of travelling by air. Stakeholders should embark on aggressive enlightenment campaign on the many benefits of travelling by air, so that by 2011, we can clock 30 million Nigerian frequent flyers. Sure when you travel by air aside safety you also save time, when you travel by air you equally save energy. You get more done within a limited time and reach more places in a short period of time. Make it your aim to make your next journey by air.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Sometimes early this year, a Nigerian, an official of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), Lokoja zone,north central Nigeria, Mr. Lizima Ngwam made us all proud. What did he do? On that day he received a distress call and quickly responded. On arriving the scene of the accident, he found a dead man, Mr. Obioma Innocent involved in the crash. But he found more than his corpse, he also found on the dead man, the sum of fifty five thousand one hundred and twenty dollars ($55,120) which he promptly returned to the family of the deceased.
Now you may begin to wonder and say, that is unlike Nigerian, and what is more totally strange for a Nigerian government officials and security personnel. But the fact is there are thousands, if not millions of government officials and security personnel who are honest, sympathetic and cherish their integrity. Although you hardly hear about them, yet they exist. There are so many of his type, be it in Arogbo, Akpata, Kano, Kaduna, Calabar, Port Harcourt, Lagos, Akure, Brass, Oloibiri, Ibadan, Yenagoa Warri, Jos, Bauchi, you just name the place and they are there. We cherish and appreciate them, what is more they are like an oasis in a dry desert.
An honest deed like this enhances the image of of the country and projects us as a good trustworthy and hospitable people whom we truly are. What is more it endears our country to tourists as a safe tourism destination. Take it or leave it no tourist would venture into a country where his life and property cannot get a reasonable level of guaranty of safety. No tourist would come, no matter the preponderance of attractive tourism sites and promotions. Ask some nations in the Middle East, they know better. Hence the conduct of the people is crucial to the promotion of tourism. Tourists would most likely remember your kind deeds and courteous behaviour than all the facilities. It is on the basis of these points that Mr Lizima Ngwam’s deed is to be commended and encouraged.
Tourism will definitely not grow in a country where tourists and fun seekers feel insecure in the presence of security personnel. Tourism thrives and become a major foreign exchange earner when tourists read about kind deeds such as the one mentioned in the introduction of this article. It creates a feeling of stability and security.
So here is to salute Mr Lizima Ngwam and all others like him throughout the length and breadth of the country, for their honest and kind deeds that have contributed greatly in projecting our image as honest people. A friendly people, who are ready to accommodate and protect our tourists irrespective of race or religion. Furthermore, we implore all of us to emulate Mr. Lizima Ngwam. We equally urge the government to reward citizens with similar disposition. When we do as a people, Nigeria will witness exponential increase in the number of tourist, and the tourism industry will grow and our foreign earning from non oil revenue will increase.
Friday, November 6, 2009
We had to take our legs off the throttle to talk about the big one happening in Nigeria, the U17 World Cup and the immense benefit for tourism. From Lagos to Enugu, from Kano to Bauchi, the story is that of pure fun and satisfaction for those who travelled to the country, they had a swell time.
Today we are back to our unfinished business about drug and the growth of tourism; hopefully we intend to complete this piece. Let’s go.
Happily, the war against illicit drug/drug abuse is pretty intense in our country, Nigeria. This is also acknowledged by the rest of the international community. The agencies responsible are campaigning and creating awareness about the dangers of illicit drugs to our lives and property. They are also working very hard, bursting drug syndicates. These agencies and their agents are to be commended. Agency officials who have successfully carried out an operation should be rewarded; families of those who lost their lives on duty should be compensated without delay.
Knowing the threats that illicit drug pose to the future of their children, parents should take the lead in inculcating such dangers in the heart and minds of their children. Particularly vulnerable are children with creative abilities, these ones are sometimes deceived to believe that the use of illicit drugs enhance their creativity and performance. More often than not, the opposite is the case. Majek Fashek is one prime example in that category of unfortunate budding talents that drug has ruined. Our entertainment industry should desist from glorifying illicit drugs in their songs/videos/plays. When a deviant is identified, the relevant sections of the law should be applied. That does not in any way constitute stifling creative ability of our talented and dear entertainers; rather it serves to protect them from untimely death or demise of creativity.
We are equally using this medium to highlight the drawbacks, the devastating effects or threats that illicit drug could pose to our tourism industry if we allow it to take root. We all have the responsibility to prevent this trade from flourishing in our country. Hence all hands must be on deck to check this menace. Tourists gravitate like bees to flower, to a relatively peaceful and stable country, excessive violence scares them. When a potential tourist is constantly inundated with stories of drug related crimes in a country of interest, he becomes hesitant. He being a rational person may be forced to look elsewhere for another tourism destination. Furthermore, he may not stop at that, in fact he may discourage other family members and friends who intend to visit. Therefore, every hand must be on deck, we all must cooperate; the various government agencies must collaborate to effectively check this menace. When we do, crime will reduce and that automatically translate to less negative report about our country, then more tourists will come, thus expanding tourism as an alternative source of national income. This would also create more employment opportunities, thus translating to less poverty; more stability. Ultimately more funds would translate to improved standard of living.
Good people. Great nation!
Just because pictures tell the story, we include just a few shots to tell the story of the soccer fiesta going on in Nigeria.
We want to say thank you to FIFA for keeping faith in us, and for ignoring the antics of our detractors, by awarding the hosting right to us. We especially want to thank FIFA for ignoring our foibles and inability to get our house in order in a timely fashion. We thank them for giving us added time to sort ourselves out. While some sceptics lost faith, FIFA never did, while our detractors even suggested other countries to replace Nigeria, FIFA never bought those suggestions, instead they kept urging us to get it right, and it has all paid off handsomely.
At this point, congratulation is in order for the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), the country’s football governing body. The Presidency and the good people of Nigeria without whom, this tournament will not be. Despite all the challenges and distractions that ensued, we are hosting the world once again at last. Let someone pop the champagne and shout hurray! Especially should the residence of the hosting cities congratulate themselves, if nothing, this event is a veritable opportunity for the upgrade of some essential social infrastructures, for the benefit of the masses.
It is not only the football community that benefits from this event, but all of us. As a matter of fact, my constituency, tourism is the biggest gainer. And why not? All our guests will be hosted somewhere; do I hear you say, the hotels, and exotic resorts? Sure. And, after we have all shouted ourselves hoarse, and drain our emotions supporting our countries on the pitch, we definitely need somewhere to unwind, relax and refresh. The host nation has made adequate arrangement to cater to all our needs in this critical area. Opportunities abound for us to unwind, all the hosting cities have a vibrant night life to enable us catch some healthy fun.
In Lagos, the commercial capital of Nigeria, there are numerous places to unwind. Night life in this city of aquatic splendour, which is also known as the centre of excellence is thrilling to night crawlers. Your night life may not be complete without a visit to the African Shrine in Ikeja. Neither will your stay complete without your exploring the long stretch of unpolluted beaches along the Lagos Epe corridor and Badagry.
Night life in Calabar and Abuja is quite vibrant; there are clubs and other fun spots that serve this very important purpose. There are good foods. Local delicacies and intercontinental dishes are there to make ones palate and visit pleasant and memorable. Trust Calabar, it has all that and even more in abundance. Abuja too is not left behind in this area, given its’ status as the capital of Nigeria, Abuja the centre of unity boasts of beautiful relaxation spots and hotels to cater to any taste. Other hosting cities such as Bauchi, Kaduna, and Kano in northern Nigeria have a lot to thrill our visitors. A stay in Bauchi will not be complete without a visit to the Yankari Games Reserve.
Enugu fans are something else, they are unique, they are special, and they are the best. Why? Enugu fans make you feel the world cup fever months before the event kicked off. No doubt, any visitor to Enugu will be treated to a memorable football festival that will not be forgotten in a hurry. They love soccer in this hosting city, and it is obvious in their interactions.
For those who will be in Ijebu Ode, a visit to the famous Olumo Rock, Abeokuta will further enrich your stay. The good people of Ijebu Ode, a city in Ogun state, south west Nigeria, are very friendly. A memorable tour awaits any tourist who does so. Lastly, whatever World Cup hosting city you may find yourself, the joy of the world cup will not be complete, unless you take time to sample our culture. Sample our foods, drinks, dance, language, and what have you. Welcome, welcome to my land.