Friday, June 22, 2012

Lawmaker blames media cynicism for poor funding of MDAs

‘Partner with NTDC to create jobs for Nigerians’
 – Hon. Sokonte Davies

Cynicism spawned by media practitioners in Nigeria has been identified as one of the reasons ministries, departments and agencies as well as other institutions of the federal government are sometimes cash-strapped.
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Speaking during a visit to the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) headquarters in Abuja, on Thursday, 21 June; Hon. Sokonte Davies, Chairman of the House of Representatives’ Committee on Culture and Tourism, revealed that members of the National Assembly have become wary of recommending adequate funding for any institution to avoid being accused of “padding” the vote, for selfish reasons.

Hon. Davies, who led a four-man team of legislators to the NTDC on oversight function, pointed out that, while some subjects are general, budgetting is a special discipline and that as a trained economist, he knew how to determine proper budget for any organisation.
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He however rued that, even when lawmakers realised that an institution’s budget would not suffice for their target aims and objectives, national assembly members may choose to be reticent and not suggest higher figure to avert suspicion that they had done so to reap some payback.

“Any time the National Assembly recommends better funding, the press will go to town, screaming ‘They’ve come again’. So, you (journalists) are the ones that have been creating problems of funding for some agencies. Our challenge has always been the press”, he charged.

Hon. Davies, who was accompanied to NTDC’s inspection by Hon. Akinlade Abiodun, Hon. Makinde Ola-Rotimi and Hon. Haruna Musa Gulma; went on to task some 50 tourism reporters, writers and photo-journalists to refrain from sowing seeds of scepticism in the minds of the public as regards reporting of legislators and their activities.

It could be recalled that the NTDC and NDE recently embarked on a collaborative effort to create jobs for Nigerians. That partnership includes exercises to train people in crafts production, and the visitors were ostensibly impressed, when during their tour they saw an elderly traditional cloth weaver in action imparting knowledge to trainees.
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Afterward, referring to the craft-acquisition exercise, he witnessed; a visibly impressed Sokonte declared: “We saw somebody training people and, if that woman can train 10 people in three weeks; you can imagine how many people she would have trained in one year. And, this is just one person; so, you can imagine the multiplier effect. When you extrapolate it to the number of states and the number of people involved, you will see that in one year, the capacity to generate employment is enormous.

This lawmaker further reckoned: “In fact, in one year, this place alone can generate not less than 200,000 jobs. And, if every sector does that, you would agree with me that it’s going to solve unemployment problems. And, the trained ones are people that are going to be self-employed and what they are going to earn would go directly to them thus improving quality of lives and standard of living. From what has been shown to us, we have seen that the capacity of the NTDC to generate employment is enormous and if properly funded, thousands of jobs will be created for our youths in a year”.

Speaking further, Hon. Davies, who opined that through the efforts of Otunba Runsewe, the NTDC has outgrown its current site and deserved a much larger space to carry out its duties; suggested: “So, the NDE (National Directorate of Employment), NAPEP (National Poverty Eradication Programme), and the Office of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and other poverty alleviation bodies should synergise with the NTDC and complement the efforts of the Runsewe-led corporation in creating jobs for Nigerians”.
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Expatiating, Davies said collaborations between NTDC and other related government agencies was worthwhile because the NTDC strategy provides direct and measurable methods of alleviating poverty. The team leader and other members of the entourage also roundly commended the ingenuity of the NTDC leadership as well as Runsewe’s patriotic zeal, while promising to explore the possibility of assisting the corporation to acquire a larger space commensurate with its drive to promote tourism and generate employment.

The lawmakers were profuse with commendation after being conducted around the NTDC premises by the Corporation’s Director General, Otunba Olusegun Runsewe; who enthusiastically flaunted the many enviable facilities installed at Tourism Village since he assumed duty. The legislators further commended Runsewe for adapting his ingenuity to enrich Nigeria’s tourism sector.

In his response, the NTDC helmsman thanked the legislators for appreciating his efforts, even as he pledged to do more. The NTDC DG also stressed the need to empower Nigerians, even as he pointed out that the era of seminars and workshops was over and that transformation could only be achieved via empowerment of people at the grassroots as this is a guaranteed approach to employment generation and subsequent economic gains for the entire nation.

“For me, my greatest mentor is God Almighty. But, if out of over 150 million Nigerians, I have been lucky to be appointed to this office, then I must leave something behind for posterity. This is what inspires me. It is not what people say about me now, but what will they say, after we leave here. So, I strive to leave positive things behind that future generations can point to as our own contribution, while we were here”, Runsewe concluded.
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Interestingly, the legislators visit coincided with the arrival of dozens of pupils of Crest International School in the Jikoyi neighbourhood of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) brought on excursion to the NTDC by their teachers.

Cheeringly, the NTDC Director General, Otunba Olusegun Runsewe and the visiting legislators squeezed out time to interact with the minors. Before posing for a group photograph, Hon. Sokonte had offered the children fatherly counsel and in return, the pupils rendered an inspiring song to everyone’s delight.

Pic 1. R-L: NTDC DG, Otunba Segun Runsewe; Hon. Akinlade Abiodun, Hon. Sokonte Davies, Chairman, House Committee on Culture and Tourism; and, Hon. Makinde Ola-Rotimi, Thursday during a visit by the legislators to Tourism Village, Abuja; yesterday.

Pic 2. L-R: Makinde Ola-Rotimi, Hon. Sokonte Davies, Chairman, House Committee on Culture and Tourism; Hon. Akinlade Abiodun, Haruna Musa and Runsewe, when the NTDC DG the lawmakers on Oversight Function visit on a tour of facilities at the Tourism Village last Thursday.

Pic 3. Hon. Ola-Rotimi and Hon. Davies in an impromptu Ayo contest, while Runsewe and others look on.

Pic 4. Hon. Davies and others watch with keen interest as Hon. Ola-Rotimi takes his turn in the Ayo game.

Pic 5. The NTDC chief, visiting legislators and pupils of Crest International School in group photograph. PHOTO: NTDC Press

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