Tourism: Curbing the effects of insecurity in Nigeria

The highly engaging discourse on the timely and thematically relevant topic titled: ‘Insecurity in Nigeria: Which Way Forward for Tourism ?’ at the recent Tourism Parliament
Police recovers dozens of weapons . (Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP)

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“Your perception is your reality. When you see something wrong and you refuse to talk about it, you are part of the problem. In my candid opinion, Nigeria is a beautiful destination of choice for tourists from across the globe” (Honourable Commissioner of Arts, Culture, Tourism and Diaspora Affairs, Edo State) -Prince Bamidele Obaitan
The highly engaging discourse on the timely and thematically relevant topic titled: ‘Insecurity in Nigeria: Which Way Forward for Tourism ?’ at the recent Tourism Parliament hosted by the Ayo Omotoso-led Association of Travel and Tourism Writers of Nigeria (ANTWON)turned out to be rich, robust, in-depth and informative. It became an eye-opener that one had the compelling urge, for wide dissemination to the public. The event took place at the Citi Height Luxury Hotel, Ikeja Lagos.

It should be noted that tourism creates great economic benefits such as income and substructure development, especially for the rural areas. “From local aspects, tourism can provide organic economic growth for small trade”. That is according to › Africa › Nigeria.
The bitter truth is that Nigeria ranked 165th in the world, but at 0.026 tourists per resident, coming 8th in Western Africa, and generating a paltry amount of$321.00 million US Dollars out of approximately 5.8 billion U.S. dollars in the tourism sector in 2021. Therefore, this topic could not have been more auspicious.
According to seasoned professionals and tourism experts, some of the critical factors that act as frictional forces on the path to maximizing the huge potential of tourism in Nigeria include the hydra-headed monster of insecurity, unemployment, lack of impactful legal framework, the weak institution of ill-motivated, ill-equipped security forces, lack of credible data on tourist sites, inadequate focus on domestic tourism and of course, corruption across the social spectrum.

Other significant issues militating against the sector are the lack of application of modern information technology, lack of strong synergy between the public and private sectors, on one hand, and between the related ministries, departments and agencies at the federal and state levels. The negative perception of the country’s security profile, as wrongly projected even by some Nigerians outside our shores has served to de-brand the country away from the status of a tourism destination of choice. This was their position of Roy.

That is even though Ukomadu has described tourism as a fragile, sensitive industry which responds easily to safety and security issues. Perception, therefore, matters a great deal. He supported Roy’s call for instituting the right and positive perception to market our tourism sites to both Nigerians and the outside world.

And lest we deceive ourselves, Nigeria is not yet a tourism destination, he insisted. For instance, countries, where tourism has thrived, took the responsibility to safeguard their treasures while projecting the same. That will have to come with the right synergy between the public and private sectors.
One of the shortcomings identified is the gap that exists with regards to when acts of insecurity take place and how fast the security personnel on the ground responding. 

For now, that remains a challenge. The proactive measures taken based on intelligence information gathered are few and far between. Painfully too, some security operatives who are supposed to protect us become accomplices to the crimes so committed. This is not good enough. Training and re-training of the tour operators and the police have become imperative.

That reinforces the position of Tewo Jegede, a legal expert that we should admit, to begin with, that the entire security architecture in Nigeria has broken down. She boldly asserted that some lawyers and judges are equally guilty of insecurity because of corruption.

The way out, therefore, is to retool the laws on security and implement them. Fast-tracking the judicial system is also a sine qua non to speedy delivery of justice. She asked how forceful the Amotekun has been in the absence of arms and ammunition?
On his part, Rotimi Aiyetan highlighted the fact that tourism should be viewed as the king of all enterprises in the world. Within the Nigerian context, it should be positively projected. The challenges ahead, however, include the digital dynamics of the 5G network likely to be launched by November, this year. And MTN network will be selling sim-less phones from February 2023. He highlighted the fact that most of the tourist sites are in rural areas but unfortunately, we are not doing enough to promote domestic tourism.

Indeed, Nigerians should be encouraged to visit their own places of attraction instead of jetting out to Dubai, Seychelles and the Caribbean at the drop of a hat. If their citizens could develop such areas for global attraction why not back here in Nigeria?

We need to encourage our own tourism operators, in addition to going back to developing agriculture and tourism because the crude oil we have so much relied on for aeons will soon become a thing of the past.
On the best way forward he strongly canvasses for a thorough review of the 1999 constitution. It is questionable that some local community security personnel in some parts of the country are legally armed to the teeth while Amotekun has remained a toothless bulldog! That is because security is on the Exclusive List at the federal level, making the state governor’s chief security officers without the power of security matters! What an aberration.

In all honesty, we should return to agriculture, and revive River Basin Authorities such as those once in Anambra, Osun and Ogun states. Leadership should be proactive with the use of CCTV cameras and focus our resources on the development of domestic tourism. It is not rocket science. Well said.
Other dignitaries in attendance included Mr Olufemi Talabi, Chairman of Citi Height Hotel, Mr Dada Bankole, Prince Folasagbade Kudehinbu, Richard Inumah, and Olalekan Akinruli, both media consultants.
to rein in the monster, characterized by some unpatriotic policemen and soldiers acting as accomplices in the crimes perpetrated by Boko  Haram insurgents, free-wheeling bandits, armed herders and of course, kidnap.

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