Mega Exhibition For Charity: Unveiling Painter Sally Mbanefo
ONLY few people knew the Director General, Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Mrs. Sally Mbanefo as a visual artist.
For this reason, the DG has planned to unveil herself as an artist with a painting exhibition holding in Lagos on February 22, to mark her 50th birthday.
Over 20 pieces of paintings done by her would be on display at the ceremony. Aside the exhibition, several other events are also packaged to spice the day. These include the launch of a directory of the nation’s spectacular tourism sites and destinations. Equally contained in the book are Mbanefo’s major paintings.
The idea behind all these activities however is to raise fund for the construction of a vocational training centre for Nigerians, especially the less privileged.
Although Mbanefo has been lending support to the education of many, she felt the construction of a vocational centre would impact the other class of Nigerian youths, who are not privileged to attend formal schools.
“That day, I shall be unveiled as an artist; a painter. My paintings would also be unveiled at the exhibition.
“I am also using the occasion to launch the documentation of my paintings and tourism sites that I have visited since I assumed office.
“The proceeds from the outing would be devoted to the poor to make a statement. These are the people that are not privileged to go to university but through skills acquisition, they will survive.
“I am starting from the South West Geo-Political zone because the zone made impact in my life. From there, we plan go to other states of the federation. It is a celebration of 50 years of getting from God. I want to give back.
“I do not wear jewelries or carry expensive bags because I fill such amount of money can be deployed to pay school fees for some people, it can also be channeled to feed the hungry. My goodwill and talent would be devoted to the poor and the needy”, she said.
The DG also talked about the fallen oil price and the urgent need to leverage on the immense tourism potentials as alternative revenue source.
She therefore called on state governors across the country to consider the development of their tourism sites to the level that they would begin to attract tourists from within and outside Nigeria.
She also pledged to continue her tour of states for listing and authentication of tourism sites. About 22 states have so far been visited and their tourism assets authenticated and documented for public awareness. She believed that for her to effectively promote tourism in the country, she must have first hand knowledge of the existence of the tourism products as well as their geographical locations.
She said: “My fresh mind motivated me to begin to tour Nigeria. I believe that if I am going to promote tourism effectively, I must be sure of what I am talking about. I needed to experience the sites, the festivals, the environment and also, feel the people.
“I am glad to hear that our earlier visits have started yielding results and the governors want me back in their states for further promotion. It is our hope that every other state governor will look inward with a view to developing the numerous assets God has deposited in their states.
“Although most of the tourism sites are not in good shape now, there are numerous tourism products that can keep Nigerians and foreigners thrilled – our music, our festivals, our whether and the people are veritable assets that are capable of boosting the nation’s revenue base.
“ I have learnt so much more within the two years that I am here as the D.G of NTDC than the two decades I spent in the private sector, about tourism and its gains”.
While not undermining the implications of the security situation on the influx of foreign tourists into the country, Mbanefo urged Nigerians to be more diplomatic in the manner Nigeria is being projected abroad.
According to her, terrorism and insecurity have always been a global phenomenon, yet, countries such as Israel, the United States of America and several others have continued to thrive in tourism.
“Terrorism and security issues are not peculiar to us. It is also not limited to Nigeria. Yet, those countries thrive in tourism. While the government does all within its power to combat insecurity, let us package our nation positively so that others can think and talk good about us”.
The local tourism advocate, Mbanefo admonished Nigerians to help the local currency appreciate by visiting interesting places within the country rather than spend holidays outside the country, where they would be expected to spend foreign currency.
“Whenever you make a trip to any of the local communities, try to visit a site or two. Spend your holidays visiting tourism destinations that are spread across the country. Aside encouraging peace and unity, we would be saving money for ourselves and for the country”, she said.