Supplanting Tourism Education in Nigeria

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By Frank Meke.

Mattieu kerekou, late President of the Republic of Benin, Nigeria’s close door neighbour, started off as a Marxist and grounded all state structures in the name of people and like the biblical king Saul, banned marabouts and chased them out of the city.

When kerekou noticed that his Marxist ideology was not working for the ordinary man on the street and having enriched himself and his cronies, he went back to capitalism and democracy and also employed the services of a fortune teller, an occultic trade he once banned.

The Bininese leader, like most leaders and appointees in Nigeria, does have some kind of games up their sleeves to mislead the people whom they swore to serve. The spirit of surrogacy and deception are everywhere. Even the wise can be mislead and deceived. Time and chance happen to both the deciever and the deceived. Some of the surrogate leaders stay focused, pretending to be the best that could happen to the people, and if one is not careful enough, the supplanters will jump start a popular project, just to win the hearts of undicerning people, later bearing out their fraudulent fangs.

The problem here is that we look at the ” face” and not at hearts of our leaders. We leave out the objectives and mission metrics and pursue pedestrianised hollowness. We praise servants as leaders, and they reward us with stone face and arrogance. That is the bane of our tourism education supplanters.

There is no denying that Nigeria tourism education has no clear-cut purpose and direction. The original objectives have been ambushed, supplanted, and sidelined.

NIHOTOUR represents the rot in this sad ecosystem. It has become more of a construction company than a training school. There’s a clever miss bag of appearance of ” education ” and propaganda, a fraudulent showpiece of activities, captured as meeting the needs for tourism education.

We are not unloading the failings at NIHOTOUR to spite anyone but to call out the nation for a rethink before we perish and pass the buck to the gods. Nura Kangiwa can not give us what he does have. As a selected deliverer, Nura Kangiwa certainly needs deliverance.

Nigeria tourism education ecosystem is bigger than the horse riding experience of Kangiwa. A country of two hundred million people with diverse cultures and traditions, the capacity of its tourism education needs transcends the current thinking by NIHOTOUR management with arrays of food festivals, dash and kiss engagement with procured stakeholders, and the deliberate white washing of tourism education infrastructures, littered across the six geopolitical zones of the country, which are eyesore to the renewed hope agenda of this government.

Like in all developmental milestones, there are certain metrics expected to drive tourism education curriculum. Tourism education curriculum is not a gastronomy festival, and neither is it captured in the construction of vanities. Tourism education is about the growth of the people, their culture, and heritage competitiveness. It’s about the awareness of opportunities around them and the deployment of such opportunities to better their lives, immediate community, and the nation at large.

Tourism education is not about grandstanding over vain projects, the seeking of intervention funds to service gluttony and pride. It’s a political tool to liberate the minds of the people and make them sustainably independent, materially and physically.

It must prioritise human capital development across the board. Our tourism education supplanters have thrown sand into our eyes, playing street games with the curriculum, which should have been strategically tailored to equip our youths with 21st-century tourism entrepreneurship skills and knowledge and not a microwaved ECOGen projects targeted to a procured crowd.

NIHOTOUR must be reformed. It is long overdue and actually desirable. It has, in many uncanny ways, contributed to the decline of our values in the tourism and hospitality industry,leading to the pursuit of transactional projects seeking to enrich the surrogate leaders with slush funds and illicit wealth.

About two months ago or so, NIHOTOUR came to town with a mobile training kitchen, and I was a witness. Even though the bus was refurbished, I thought it was a well thought out intervention and wrote to interpret the concept, which should take tourism education to the rural communities around the country. I had begged that the mobile kitchen should be deployed to rural communities instead of being part of junks at nihotour parking lot and Unfortunately, that was the end. Imagine if that mobile kitchen was deployed to internal displaced camps around the country where over two million Nigerians are holed up, particularly young persons with no opportunity for education or skills acquisition. Just imagine!

The N -power tourism education funds, which ran into millions of naira, grew wings without any trace of the Nigerian youths who benefited from the intervention or graduated from the expected mass tourism literacy campaign by the federal government.

All we know is that NIHOTOUR was allegedly the supervising agency for that program during the immediate past government, and as we speak, there were no accountability, no trace of beneficiaries, no lessions learnt, and our youths and their parents still struggling to pay for cake baking master class in NIHOTOUR.

The unregulated growth of private hospitality and tourism trade schools across the country is certainly evidence that nihotour has failed to provide direction, capacity, and a moral compass to an industry with the most profound opportunities for job creation and standardization of values in the world.

As the private sector takes on the drivers seat in tourism education, some out of the reach of the poor and ambitious young persons, Nihotour which has been cloned out of its original foundation objectives, sadly overlooked by a ministry and a minister playing Jack and Jill with our tourism industry.

Imagine a minister whose renaissance tourism agenda is to superintend over an institute that has become a supply and construction enterprise overnight. What a renaissance indeed.!

Let us spread out our net to trade and investments, areas where NIHOTOUR did not consider to provide tourism education. The minister of industry, trade, and investment, Doris Anite,last week in Abuja tasked African countries to invest in the training of small and medium-sized enterprises to help them meet with trade standardisation and to boost the continent economy.

She spoke at the General Assembly of African 0rganisation for standardisation with the theme ” Educate an African fit for the 21st Century- Building a quality culture – One market, One standard.”

That theme certainly resonates with the government original intent to float NIHOTOUR, but sadly, the surrogates at NIHOTOUR are not brained enough to interrogate the vision and mission of the institute and align it to the huge operational ecosystem of the industry, adjudged to be largest employer of labour globally.

What we have only seen weekly is a NIHOTOUR on the overdrive to cook food and pranting around some parts of the country, dropping off to gullible rural poor, miserable handouts as tourism projects.

At no time in recent times have we seen any advertisements on NIHOTOUR tourism education curriculum or its academic calendar. Its pedestrian press releases dwell mostly on food and festivals, hardly celebrating global tourism education breakthroughs or collaboration with other local or international tourism education institutions.

Thirty-six years after its birth, it’s sad that graduates of NIHOTOUR at all levels could not advance their training possibilities outside Nigeria as nihotour remains deadlocked on providing interdisciplinary impact.

I have not seen NIHOTOUR celebrate or excel across multiple United Nations Sustainable Development Goals( SDGs) , except for the ranting to supplant Nigeria Tourism Development Authority ( NTDA) over tourism promotion issues.

On SDG four, NIHOTOUR can not boast of providing quality tourism education in Nigeria. NIHOTOUR has not demonstrated any commitment to exceptional tourism education, or has it set high standards for other institutions , mostly by the private sector to follow.

On SDG 3, NIHOTOUR, as a government tourism education institute, has not shown that the health and wellbeing of its students and teachers are top priority, and neither has it supported the communities around its national zonal structure. NIHOTOUR impact ranking is poor, very poor!.

NIHOTOUR again, measured on SDG 17( partnership for goals) clearly swims on lack of excitement to drive collaborations with other similar but highly rated tourism education institutions, universities, or global non-governmental organisations owned tourism education schools, offering exposures that could improve the competitiveness of its certificates and students.

While we have a minister celebrating mediocrity, we are also burdened by a critical tourism education institute that has emerged as a placement corporation for questionable intervention projects. Going forward, NIHOTOUR must be reformed and be well guided to stay focused on its original objectives and mission.

Next week, we shall look at the Ministry’s supplementary budget and roles NIHOTOUR will play to service some tourism itemised projects., certainly not related to tourism education.

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