NTDC’s ‘Nigerian Flavours’ Initiative Overwhelmed Abuja Restaurateurs, Food Vendors Others
JOEL AJAYI ABUJA
The Federal Capital Territory was recently in a celebratory mood as the Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation, fun-filled initiatives tagged ‘Nigerian flavours’ hits the city.
Over 10, 000 fun seekers, food vendors, restaurateurs, entertainers, comedians among others who appreciated and consumed the efforts of making Abuja a glowing city at the weekend, the Saturday 17th of March, 2018 at Harrow Park, Wuse II, Abuja were in attendance.
Without mincing the words, economic import of tourism is gradually being reflected in the business transaction and consciousness of ordinary Nigerian who has now realized that, the sector has something tangible in stock for them.
The event, second of its kinds, tagged: “Nigerian Flavours” by NTDC, under the supervision of the Director General Mr Folorunso Coker was co-organised with the National Institute for Tourism and Hospitality, NIHOTOUR, under the leadership Mrs Chika Balogun remains fresh in the memories of participants while many pleaded for such event every week.
A thousand of words may not enough to appreciate the decent of people with sound minds, clarity of purpose, drive, vision, people who are fit, neat and proper with definite intention and clear understanding of what they need to do to the people.
These people without creating a necessary fuss about themselves, put on their thinking caps, dug into their cognate and corporate experience in public and private life and brought to bear fun filled programmes and events which do not only call attention to the sector but stimulate economic activities and shore up business opportunities.
One-day enlighten, entertaining and fun-filled initiatives saw some fascinating activities such as Nigerian music, foods, clothes, arts, fashion, and children entertainment amongst other met the satiable expectation of travel buffs, patrons, fun seekers, music lovers, gourd men and women tourists and travelers in an ambience dominated by thrilling music, exciting display of talents, sonorous songs and reverie.
However, merry-making lasted deep till dawn as the lively participants were obviously not keen to go home and the performers were as adroit, as ever as they kept on giving their best while the participants cheered them on.
The setting of the arena was not only broad-based, but decked with Nigeria signature while the various cubicles, tents and huts elegantly arranged harboured different tourism entrepreneurs who were able to see and seize the business opportunities the event offer.
Amidst the numerous of fun, money was exchanging hands with vendors of foods, drinks, roasted meat, artworks, shoes, local fabrics and dresses carrying out their business as never before.
For Chinwe Okon, Chief Operating Officer Buka 1, described the Nigerian Flavours Festival as “A new dawn in the annals of tourism promotion in Nigeria. We have experienced different people, different policies different events and programmes, but we are more enchanted by the drift of Nigerian Flavours which has made the exhibition of local ingredients of tourism in terms of foods, music, songs, artworks, children entertainment not just for the reverie or paparazzi affairs, but for economic benefit, commercial relations and creation and mobilisation of wealth which tourism is supposed to do”
She revealed “I can say authoritatively and confidently say that this is the first time that we are feeling the import of tourism not as a sloganeering epithet or personal gratification but as an instrument which can be conveniently used to generate and stoke business for us. We in the cafeteria, bukateria and restaurant sub-sector are happy and commend those who put this together”.
Mrs Okon said “ We are expecting more of this kind of tourism carnival and destination facilitation. The fact is that the more people we have in Abuja every weekend in a form like this, the more money we make and the better part of tourism we feel”.
On the part of Dr Nelson Haruna, a Surgeon in Maitama enthusiastically told The Gleamer News about his profound gratitude for NTDC coming up with this economic exposition of tourism and its attendant benefits”.
“Nigerian Flavours being given life today is a clear manifestation of the fact that those who are saddled with the responsibility of the affairs in the tourism sector know why they are appointed for and going about it in the right frame of vision. This kind of event will stem the tide of the weekend exodus from Abuja because of the “dead socio—carnival ambience which normally enveloped Abuja at Weekends.”
Speaking to journalists at the event, the Director General, NTDC, Folorunsho Coker stated that, Nigeria has been the big cuisine in sub-Saharan Africa where you would find Akpu (fufu), Ukwa, African salad, Amala, ewedu, Tuwo, miyan kuka and many more. Adding that there is nothing you want to eat that you cannot find in Nigeria, by numbers, by varieties even quality.
According to him, we are great people, great nation in sub-Saharan Africa. We are creating awareness in Abuja. We are also setting an example that we hope to be replicated by states and local governments across the nation. Abuja sets the pace and we replicate in other states. This event is driving incomes into the local economies of the states, if this is done in Calabar, the food seller, music seller, wine seller even local musicians, everybody will benefit directly from something that is massive but government initiative. So government is behaving like a private sector promoter, to push the revenues and income into the grassroots and that is what we need in terms of budgetary intervention.”
Similarly, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, Grace Isu Gekpe, who responded to the issues of SME’s, said, “We have various funding agencies and it is our design that at the end of this program we should be able to take an inventory of all the people that are here today and we will be able to link them up with the various funding agencies in Nigeria, we have Bank of Industries (BOI), the SMEDAN, and Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) for those who want to export so we do not despise little beginning. I advise that whatever is made out of this little should be re-invested from the ministry we will link you up to the many funding agencies”
Meanwhile, the President of the Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN), Saleh Rabo, said his association is here to support NTDC and NIHOTOUR because they are the government arm while FTAN is the private sector arm.
“You know tourism is driven by the private sector arm so when an event like this is taking place we have to participate so that together we can be able to drive tourism in Nigeria because it is not the government affairs alone, if you check all the stand, the food vendors they are our own private people they constitute the private sector and the government is trying to see how we can promote Nigerian cuisine and Nigerian products so that we can make Nigeria great because we have all it takes as a nation