NANTA Elections: The Patriots and the Merchants

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By Frank Meke

There are usually many bitter biles, peevishness , gregarious bantering, and show of camaradie each time elections in NANTA comes to being. Believe me, a lot of NANTA members can pass off easily and possibly earn a pay as comedians. When arguments and discussions became heated, there were those who would throw in a banter, quench the rage, and everyone were friends again.

Dr. Soji Amusan leads the pack, followed by Femi Adefope. I won’t forget Yomi Jones, though lately joined NANTA, but a key influencer in the Nigerian travel industry. He gave a badge of honour to Lufthansa Airlines, and when Nigeria went to head hunt him to turn around Nigeria Airways, same Nigeria ( the thieving merchants) messed him up despite his efforts indicative that Nigeria Airways could fly profitable again.

Let also mention that Kunle Fatona (BA Godfada) could get you rolling all over the floor in hilarious excitement. Lebanese born Nigerian, Ahmed Zabadne, was a humour merchant. In fact, Zabadne is a genius, that is if you are a lover , “clean” comedy.

I don’t know how many people in NANTA still remember Chief J. Omonioro? The Delta chief and elder, he was NANTA President ( 1995 NOV. to 1996 Nov.) who could defuse heated meetings with jokes. His prank phrase, particularly when he is pushed to the wall to part with money and which he would cleverly avoid, was ” Are my a rat!!” And that ends the meeting, and the chief would smile away. Na who born banana to say chief Imonioro no get money! Oh dear, good old NANTA.

Don’t you ever put together a serious meeting and invite the duos of Adefope, Babatunde Akala, Olugunsulire, Yomi Jones, Soji Amusan, and Dr Gbenga Olowo! . Such meetings won’t end on a serious note as these guys would pelt each other with below the belt bantering in a marathon comedy race. Modupe Lawale nko?

Don’t get involved when they discuss their ” Women,” their days in youthful escapades, mingled with histrionics of the better days on the other side of aviation and tourism.

As a young journalist, I am friends with most of them and, until now, never knew that I could put together a script, a book of testimony, and encounter with these great industry patriots. One thing is, however, certain. I am not too sure that I will ever get them together under one roof for a rehearsal of their bantering prowess.

True, these guys and others, the ” elders ” were known for hard work and discipline, yet at the close work, dressed down, everything, anything was “Chopable and Grabable” for wholesome fun and fellowship.

NANTA IN SKAL CLUB
I just hope this piece of side information won’t get me into trouble from the grandfathers of the Skall Club. NANTA is the serious, bone face, business, and hustle side of the travel trade sector in Nigeria, while the Skal Club is their ” Night Club.” Abeg ooo, I don’t want to be misunderstood ooo. I have watched the growth of the Skal Club over time, and I know that entertainment and an easy life are associated with it even though it is peopled majorly by NANTA members. Skall Club does not have the vibe, influence, and integrity of NANTA as a body. All I know is that the Skal Club transforms the serious, hard working travel trade professional to a soft jelly, men to boys and grand mothers and mothers to spinsters. I also know the Skall Club, Nigeria has international links and endorsement , just as NANTA has the Universal Federation of Travel Agencies Association ( UFTA). While UFTA is also professional in addressing member countries’ problems with IATA, the Skall Club International organises global tourism destination exposures, providing opportunities to learn, unwind, and dance.

I recall Tereza Ojo( Ezeobi) gave NANTA a massive in roads into UFTA membership with Nigeria ( NANTA) pushing ahead the West and Central Africa initiative. Dr Soji Amusan also tried during his tenure as the association’s president to keep the UFTA agenda in focus.

I shared the UFTA agenda with Bankole Bernard when he was president of NANTA and if I could recall, he attended the UFTA meeting in Madrid with lola Adewole, then Lagos NANTA Vice president and that was all.

Now that I am through with the softer side industry gist and I pray those who may be offended to forgive. , The Skall Club will never have the pulsating vibes of NANTA..like Lola Adewole would say, to succeed in the Nigerian travel trade business, one must have the mental capacity of an agbero or skilled athletic prowess of road traffic marketers.

It is on this note that we shall take a look at the emerging scenario by some misplaced industry players to manipulate the affairs of NANTA and possibly buy its soul.

THE MERCILESS MERCHANTS:
These sets of people are usually few, and like the northern star, appear on the horizon of the NANTA heavens once every decade with the intent to use NANTA’s credibility and integrity to trade profitably in influence and pecuniary persuasions.

A detailed history of NANTA rightly revealed that these sets of persons operate within and outside the association’s sphere and usually deploy ill gotten wealth to buy souls of pedestrian and unassuming members of NANTA during elections, particularly at the national level.

Sometimes, they succeed, and many other times, they are disgraced and told to go perish with their money. The soul of NANTA has been attacked severally in the past five decades, but somehow, a divine intervention would appear to strengthen the association. That is one spiritual aspect of NANTA that no one has paid attention to in the past fifty years of this frontline industry body.

I am proud and privileged to have met, interacted, and become friends with half a dozen presidents of NANTA, starting from Femi Adefope to the current leadership. I am unapologetically NANTA centric and believe that this association could help librate and unshackle the many problems facing Nigerian travel and the tourism industry.

Now, to the soul hunters of NANTA, it is important to let everyone know that their antics are to pull a wool of over hyped and selfish influence over the many unassuming members of the association, bewitch them by a perceived appulance , but unfortunately they are key enemies within.

They buy off struggling agencies for peanuts, throw mouth-watering baits to hardworking staff in rival agencies, and hedge friendly interventions to those perceived to be having difficulties. Meanwhile, their intention is to swallow and take over their rival accounts.

I recall years ago when Jide Saraye and Steve Isokariare joined hands to chase these soul hunters out of NANTA. These guys( Jide and Steve) were very young then, patriotic, and financially loaded, and deployed their financial liberty to give the soul hunters after NANTA soul some bloody upper cuts. Have you ever heard of Association For Better NANTA ( ABN) ?

Just like “NANTA Elders” , ABN led then by Jide and Steve was an amorphous save the NANTA soul from the visible scavenging soul Merchants who don’t give a hoot about the survival of NANTA, but for their very monopolistic bidding.

The Merciless Merchants wont give you any level of opportunity except you allow them take the driver seat. They are culturally dead, arrogant, and see their fellow professionals as scum bags. They are pretentious and clinically deceptive and will take you out of your comfort zone before Jesus comes to your rescue.

These Merchants hate the NANTA elders with perfect hatred, but bows before them like judas, and unfortunately, they hate the presence of such upright elders who would not buy into their bewitching antics.

Severally, in the past I had witnessed elders such as Femi Adefope, Ahmed Ojuolape, ( Empire Travels, Kano), Aminu Agoha, Soji Amusan and others being targeted by these merchants to help achieve their goals, but again there’s something going for these elders, who on their own are very successful, but will at the end of the day see through magic wool being projected as solution to deliver NANTA.

This has always happened. Sometimes tribe and primordial sentiments run high, but at the end of the day, the elders will get to know that these merchants are prospecting for self seeking glory and not for the collective good.

In 199I, they pressurised Adefope not give up the NANTA presidency to Munzali Dantata, a young handsome well read fulani travel trade owner from Kano, but Adefope threw cold water into their hot tea. They always reach out to elders as a ploy to gain legitimacy, but again the elders won’t soil their good name for a porridge which they can also buy effortlessly.

I also want to believe that the patriots in NANTA know themselves, gives themselves sacrificially to others to thrive and above all, intentionally supports the growth of NANTA above self.

I am going to stop here in this piece, hoping that NANTA youngsters who constitutes about 70 per cent of the association’s membership today could learn from history and vote wisely. As often said, the future belongs to the youths, so I also believe that in NANTA, it would not amount to a mere slogan for those who think that their future and that of NANTA can be driven by the masquerading Merciless Merchants.

Next week, we shall be exposing the antics of NANTA hijackers. NANTA is on another match to history, another serious effort to wade off the soul hunters of the association. let us watch and pray!

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