Friday, November 19, 2010

All hail NTDC

Igbo king, Labour applaud Runsewe’s reappointment
‘New guidelines for FCT parks out soon’
The reappointment of Otunba Olusegun Runsewe as Director General of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) has been roundly hailed by Nigerians from all walks of life. People of all strata; ex-president, sovereigns, nobles, the working class, labour activists and so on; have praised President Goodluck Jonathan for the retention of Runsewe as chief of Nigeria’s apex tourism body.
It could be recalled that former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, at this year’s Akwaaba Africa Travel Market (AfTM) held at Eko Hotel and Suites from 23 to the 25th October lauded Otunba Runsewe for tangible revolutionary improvements recorded in Nigeria’s tourism sector since he assumed duty as NTDC Director General.
From Anambra State to Kaduna State in the South East and North Central geopolitical zones respectively, through Abuja in Federal Capital Territory (FCT); President Jonathan has similarly been widely commended for reappointing Runsewe to a second term as DG of the NTDC. The maxim, “You don’t change a winning team”, seems an apt way of summarizing the comments made by countless respondents, when news of Runsewe’s reappointment hit town.
In deed, the “Igwe” (King) of Igbo Ukwu, HRH Martin Nwafor Ezeh, had sent this writer a text message in which he expressed joy at Runsewe’s reappointment, shortly after it was announced a few weeks ago. During a telephone conversation, which followed the monarch’s SMS; this Igwe or “Idu” II, had described government’s decision to allow Runsewe to continue in his current office as “an indication of President Goodluck Jonathan’s wisdom, and evidence of his sincere resolve to get Nigeria out of the woods”.
Apparently alluding to the tourism industry’s capability to enhance social and economic growth, Idu II remarked: “Where tourism thrives, it creates more jobs; and, when jobs opportunities are not scarce, the crime rate goes down. You know that the man (Otunba Runsewe) has brought about many positive changes in Nigeria’s tourism industry.
“Look at the number of hotels, festivals and fairs springing up all over the country now, and the large number of Nigerians for whom these enterprises and events provide a source of livelihood; who could have imagined that Nigeria would have so many thriving festivals before Runsewe assumed the saddle as NTDC director general”, the Igwe asked. Concluding, Idu II remarked; “It is a result of competence, devotion to duty and equitable allocation of values. In fact, people like Otunba Runsewe are the type of people we need at the apex of every sector for our long-awaited change; I hope other highly placed Nigerians will emulate him”.
Labour too
In a related development, members of the Amalgamated Union of Public and Civil Service Technical and Recreational Employee (AUPCTRE) have also hailed Runsewe’s reappointment, which they described “as a deserved one”. Executive members of the labour union made this declaration during a courtesy call on the NTDC DG at the Tourism Village, Abuja.
Vice Chairman, Federal Capital Territory chapter of the union; Comrade Stephen Mbon, was head of AUPCTRE’s delegation, which during its visit to Runsewe, paid glowing tributes on the NTDC helmsman. Mbon intoned that Runsewe’s renewed tenure is not a surprise to him and members of the union. Hear him: “You deserve it; and, it is to your credit that we now know more about tourism”.
The labour activist, who seized the moment to thank Otunba Runsewe “for the welfare packages, he has been delivering to NTDC staff since assuming office in 2006, added that the visit was necessitated by the need for a platform for the Union to officially congratulate him on his reappointment as the NTDC helmsman”. Recalling that the Otunba Runsewe-led NTDC Management had succeeded in “bringing the long-standing issue of promotion to a resounding conclusion”, the visiting labour executives, through Comrade Mbon went on to thank Runsewe, even as they asserted that, like “Oliver Twist (we) would always ask for more”. Therefore, the NTDC Management should not be surprised because as activists; “we the Union will continue to make demands”, Mbon submitted.
In his response, the NTDC chief; who thanked the visitors for their encomiums, ascribed his reappointment to the handiwork of God. Corroborating the observations of the visiting labour executives, the NTDC DG said that staff welfare has always been a priority to him, and that it was to the credit of the incumbent NTDC administration that more staff now travel abroad as part of their education and exposure, which the job demands.
Otunba Runsewe subsequently went on to highlight some of the facilities that NTDC workers now enjoy. These include the procurement of staff buses, which facilitate shuttles at great rebates; a highly subsidized cooperative shop located within the Tourism Village, where staff can purchase various items and pay in instalments, and the opening of a coiffeur (Idiri) Shop, where staffs enjoy indigenous hairdos.
Moreover, the Tourism Village also boasts a chain of restaurants, set up by his administration, which offer a wide variety of Nigerian dishes at affordable rates. Apart from the welcome services these enterprises offer to NTDC workers and personnel of other agencies, who patronise these shops; the marts also translate as business opportunities for the operators as well as employment for dozens of people that would otherwise have been jobless.
Concluding, Otunba Runsewe, who enthused that government was now seriously considering the economic prospects of tourism, courtesy NTDC’s efforts; also pointed out the presence of a clinic in the tourism village, where staff that feel indisposed can go and receive medical attention. Furthermore, he promised that the reviewed condition of service for staff, which the Union clamours for, is underway but serious consultations were necessary to ensure efficient implementation of the proposed reviewed condition of service.
‘New guidelines for FCT parks out soon’
Meanwhile, the NTDC DG, who doubles as the Chairman of the Ministerial Committee on Operation and Management of Parks in the Federal Capital Territory; has reassured that new guidelines for the operation of Parks within the FCT will soon emerge. Runsewe made this known, while addressing stakeholders during a recent meeting; where he also stressed that the committee, which was inaugurated at the instance of the incumbent FCT Minister, Senator Bala Mohammed, would do a thorough job.
At that interactive forum, organized by the Committee to create a platform for Park Owners and the Committee to rub minds and identify problematic areas, which include encroachment and allegations of illegal occupancy, among others; Otunba Runsewe had observed that every decision taken on relevant issues, which include application for reallocation, erection of masts by telecommunication services operators at some park sites, security, erosion, sewage management and its attendant health hazard amongst others; shall be based on merit and competence.
The DG, who revealed that the Committee was working in earnest; added that such efforts include visit to several parks around the FCT, even at night, to ascertain the true state of affairs. As soon as such investigations were concluded, the Committee, he said; would waste no time in issuing a blue-print to regulate activities of parks within the FCT.
At the meeting, Runsewe had also commended the park owners, observing that through their enterprise, which translate into job creation for people, who would otherwise have been idle; these entrepreneurs were helping to reduce crime. “The essence of this meeting is to know where the shoe pinches park owners and to find solutions to your problems”, the NTDC DG had said; while assuring that the present FCT administration is committed to providing solutions to the problems FCT park owners face.
The NTDC chief also advised parks’ owners to diversify in terms of the services they render in order to fully explore the commercial benefits that ownership confer on them. He suggested specialization; for example, that some parks could run as night-time affairs, whereas others could specifically cater for day-time relaxation.
While promising that the Committee will be proactive in providing solutions to the myriad problems identified and that a precedent would be set with the coming on board of the present administration; Runsewe had nonetheless lamented the inadequacy of conveniences in some parks. He believes that the number of restrooms in any such facility should be commensurate with the size of the relaxation park.
The NTDC helmsman subsequently reiterated his assurance that when making its submission on “Guidelines for Park Operators” to the FCT Minister, the Committee; would ensure equity and fairness for all practitioners, who operate within the ambit of stipulated laws guiding the procurement and leasing of lands for recreational activities as established by the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA).


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