Does the Secretariat of the PDP Governors Forum know of the existence of these facilities in Nigeria? The Obudu Mountain Resort, Le Meridien Ibom Hotel and Golf Resort, Yankari National Park, Whispering Palms Beach Resort and the Tinapa Resort. Do they know of the Nike Lake Resort, Ikogosi Warm Spring Resort and La Campagne Tropicana Beach Resort? Or do they remember the Transcorp Hilton Hotel and the Eko Hotel, Lagos, with the most extensive facilities for conferencing and meetings in West Africa?
Citizens received with considerable consternation news of the planned jaunt of governors elected on the PDP platform to Dubai ostensibly for a retreat. It came a few days after the return on Sunday, May 5, of President Muhammadu Buhari from a 10-day “private visit” to the United Kingdom. Neither trip fits into any pattern of seriousness, accountability and promotion of national interest. They raise troubling signals for the next four years.
Officials of the Presidency made strenuous efforts to rationalise the failure of Mr President to formally hand over power to his vice president in the course of his trip. They could not explain to the nation the essence of his trip; they left it to analysts and citizens alike to speculate that it was about his health. More significantly, presidential spokesman Garba Shehu claimed the charge of non-observance of constitutional stipulations on the transfer of authority would only apply if Mr President stays more than 21 days outside the country. Shehu claimed that the President could govern from anywhere in the world.
There is no information in the public space about the cost of this presidential “private visit” to a foreign land for medical or other reasons. What is known is that the State House Clinic has continued to receive budgetary allocationsamounting to N5b in the last four years. Candidate Buhari famously carpeted past administrations for neglect of the health sector and frowned against medical tourism by Nigerian officials. Under him, the State House Clinic degenerated and then became reserved only for a few.
The 15 governors elected on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party will attend “An induction and investment retreat” as part of “Getting ready for the task” from May 16-22, 2019. They will “invest” considerable amount of resources from Nigeria first at The Retreat Palm Dubai, in the Palm Jumeirah, Dubai.
The governors would follow in the footsteps of the PDP presidential candidate in the last election, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, who similarly took 400 party officials to Dubai supposedly to devise strategies for managing and leading Nigeria.
The incoming PDP governors should take another look at significance and implications and reconsider their trip. Each of them can go to Dubai on their own steam but to do so as a collective representing 15 states and the opposition party deserves deeper thinking. The country is currently in dire straits financially with the absence of jobs and opportunities. A choice of any of the locations in Nigeria for their retreat will significantly boost direct and indirect job creation and the economy of the town. It will also be good optics for them and speak to understanding by the PDP of the mood and need of the nation.
Business tourism is one of the fastest growing sectors of the global economy. Nigeria ranks in the 20s rather than the Top Ten in Africa. Actions such as those by the governors-elect contribute to the low numbers for Nigeria. The sector now goes by the acronym MICE, which means Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions. This correspondent often attends “Meetings Africa” in Johannesburg wherein South Africa Tourism invites participants from across the globe, hosts them, showcases their facilities and works to ensure that planners of meetings come to South Africa.
The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) estimates that the travel and tourism industry globally is worth US$7 trillion. “This includes domestic and international travel, for leisure and business, the investment in the sector, spending by tourists and tourist businesses, and so on. It is a measurement of the whole industry, which is the most diverse of all.
Of that US$7 trillion, experts estimate that the global MICE industry is worth around US$650 billion to US$700 billion, a sizeable figure. They say that Africa accounts for no more than around two per cent of that figure, or around US$13 billion. That’s just a quarter of what South Africa spent in the run-up to the 2010 FIFA World Cup!”, the report states.
According to the WTTC (2019) “Travel and tourism supports one in 10 jobs (319million) worldwide and generates 10.4% of world GDP. In 2018, the Travel and Tourism industry experience 3.9% growth, compared to the global economy (3.2%). This industry created one in five new jobs over the last five years.”
The PDP Governors Forum may want to survey Nigerians, particularly the business class, to gauge views about the appropriateness of their foreign excursion. They may also note the fact that Nigerians expect them to signal a change in thinking from the health tourism of the Buhari years to a focus on growing Nigeria. You do not grow Nigeria by exporting significant business and revenues outside. Expectations are justly high from persons to whom citizens have invested hope through the ballot. The PDP Governors Forum should show seriousness, emotional and social intelligence!