NANTA’s MOTHER TEREZA: A TRIBUTE.

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By Frank Meke

It is very difficult to believe that Tereza Ojo is no more. She was a pioneer of a different mould, an industry care giver, a special bred, and an achiever, a role model, minister of tourism and aviation Nigeria never had. Tereza Ojo was an embodiment of beauty, courage, and integrity. As the first female president of the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies( NANTA), Tereza Ojo ( then years back as Ezeobi) brought refreshing transformation to the business of Nigeria emerging travel trade and tourism business.

At her time as NANTA president(;1993/5, her Tess travels company located at the Tafawa Balewa square in lagos, was the,industry barometer, the measuring scale, and investors guide to what and how a travel company should be like. She was focused, cerebral, and fearless. She was the face of travel trade in Nigeria then, humble, yet a detailed disciplinarian and kind.

I can’t just put all my thoughts together on this great travel trade and tourism amazon who brought me under her wings as a son. Mother Tereza, yes, a true mother in every sense had gone the way of all mortals, but her memories live with us, with me, and many of her contemporaries and her many industry children.

I have shared many of my encounters with her as a travel journalist, as an admirer, and a son. There is a ” me ” in her , that courage in the face of adversity, gracefulness, truthfulness, selflessness, and unwavering love for Nigeria and our cultural tourism. Mother Tereza was all, more than anyone can imagine.

I studied her leadership blueprint, the nuggets to dare challenges and overcome the very lethargic drawbacks to travel and tourism industry growth in Nigeria and shared it with younger nanta leaders after her, many who were too young to remember this enterprising industry colossus.

Susan Akporiaye heard her exploits, flew her flags, and ruffled shoulders. Susan Akporiaye, immediate past president of NANTA, crystallised her ethos, doubled up on Mother Tereza typical frontal deliveries, commitment, and advocacy for bigger opportunities in the travel and tourism economy.

Mother Tereza Ojo was prophetic about the industry tomorrow. Between 1993 and 1995 she invested in a cultural tourism economy when we were dreaming about it, organised tours around cultural festivals in strategic collaboration with traditional rulers across the country, and chattered aircrafts to move tourists from one end of Nigeria to another, brought organised cycling Federation of Nigeria into the tourism circuit, gave Ogun State an eye into nature tourism, showcasing Area J 4, a template nature reserve ecosystem of the state then emerging forest restoration plan.

At the national level, Mother Tereza guided the leadership of then Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation ( NTDC) and provided the military leadership of the Aviation ministry the courageous shoulders to clean up the rots in the then Nigeria Airways.

She was everywhere, and everything to the good of Nigeria and her people. Mother Tereza lived for a better travel and tourism Nigeria but won’t get involved with our dirty politics. She was never part of our industry gossip and irresponsibilities. She was divine yet human!

Some of her contemporaries fought her, but she bore no grudges. She was an open book, spoke through her unbelievable achievements, and the foreign airlines trembled at her presence.

Wednesday this week, Princess Tereza Ojo nee ANAO will join the saints triumphant, and we shall not see her again in this earthly plane. She did her bit, and may God be merciful unto her.

If Nigeria has been a country where true Patriots are honoured, Mother Tereza of nanta deserves posthumous recognition from a country she gave all. Thank God for Susan Akporiaye, one of her daughters, who inaugurated a documentary capturing the giant strides of late Princess Tereza Ojo and other nanta legends, a timeless historical legacy to which the younger generations should learn from.

Good night, dear mother. I had kept faith with your expectations of me. We agreed to meet at the last nanta AGM and later to visit your nephew, who was crowned as a traditional ruler at a young age of 24 years, an occasion you had wished to turn into a big cultural tourism project as you have always done but the wicked hands of death scuttled it. It was a privilege to have met you while you were here with us. I will never forget you and all you stood for in an industry to which strangers now pretend to be leaders.

Your passing connected me to your son, my (brother now), wale Ojo, a great thespian, disciplined and courageous. Together, with Susan Akporiaye, Babatunde Adesokan, vice president, nanta western zone, and the leadership of nanta, headed by Yinka Folami, we shall keep your dreams for the industry alive until we meet up again in the presence of God, our creator.

I will inform Femi Adefope, Olu Ogunsulire, Tunde Akala, Dr. soji Amusan, Dr. Ghenga Olowo, and many of your colleagues and contemporaries that you had left this sinful world. I will tell them! I have also told the leadership of NTDC of your demise, and I pray that the government should remember your sacrifices for our tourism sector.

Mummy, we are proud of you, I am very proud but in pains. You came, conqured and left a legacy, people, and an industry that has put food on the table of many people who possibly won’t credit you for pioneering their lifeline of survival today. You were the gardener of our tourism and travel history.

Good night, mother princess. Rest well in the Lord.

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