By Frank Meke
There’s a common currency among men and women of low esteem, the swiftness to tell lies and misreprent others. Let me call it the currency of corruption of human character. Indeed, it’s important to highlight that those who prance to either curse or lie against others are usually deadly and filled with the minds of Ziba and Shimei.
Indeed, good or bad Character truly defines a human being not achievements, and as we all know, even a fool can be an achiver, but the real self, his character, will expose him in the long run. Now, before I tell you about these guys, the ziba and shimei of this world, I will share with you some historical perspectives to certain issues in the making of our tourism sector. I possibly would have mentioned Judas, the bible character who betrayed his master and helper, Jesus Christ, but I felt it’s not necessary calling out Judas because he is already notoriously popular as the global president of betrayers.
Ziba and Shimei are not that popular like judas, but they share the same trait and character with Judas. Shortly, I shall come to these characters.
In 2013, there was a change, unfortunate, and ill-advised change in the leadership of the then Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation ( NTDC) . The global promotion of Nigerian culture and tourism endowments was on a massive roller skeater drive, and the holiday world was beginning to take a serious look at us as a destination.
President Yar’Ardua had kept the dream of Obasanjo to take Nigeria out of the tourism woods and had sought the best hands. Good luck, Jonathan, as Vice President is indeed a gentleman and a God fearing politican, who from all intent and purposes, identified with tourism.
As vice-president, he was a special guest of honour at Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria gathering at the then Sheraton Hotel when the association led by Goddy ibru held court to synergise with the federal government on how to support private sector tourism.
I was privileged to be the Master of ceremony at the event, and I recall my good friend, then Minister of Tourism, Adetokumbo Kayode, calling me up and down to ensure I stayed within extant protocol expectations.
Adetokumbo and I were “sworn enemies” and just like every other minister who was privileged to head the ministry of tourism but would refuse to perform. Truely, Adetokumbo was a fine
gentleman and he understood that I have a job to do in holding him accountable on behalf of two hundred million Nigerians, whose fortune can be better improved through a well funded tourism industry.
Sorry for the digression, I just wanted to lay a foundation to this critical intervention. After that FTAN meeting, Jonathan was on hand and on time, beating our notorious indiscipline to time keeping, by being the first to arrive at the official unveiling of NTDC Radio and TV studios , put together by Otunba Segun Runsewe.
There were other tourism landmark achievements by Runsewe, which we later found out became a pain to certain Ziba’s and Shimei’s in the corridors of power who conspired to remove him.
Let me add before I continue that it’s only in Nigeria that those invited by the government to change our socio-economic narratives and be seen to have successfully executed such expectations, are usually hounded and asked to step aside for time wasters.
Fortunately, character as a leveller of all men would end up exposing the conspirators and their godfathers. Certainly, as a developmental journalist, I am very quick in making friends with men and women of good character, who, despite challenges , toil day and night to make Nigeria better.
1n 2013, the then Secretary to Federal Government ( SGF), Mr Pius Ayiam announced a change in NTDC, a development most industry players and observers described as a decision against the run of play, and again, to which some of us in the media strongly protested against.
While we moved on and Runsewe returned to his house to have a deserved rest after a marathon race to give Nigeria a strong global tourism presence and also pushing the home cultural tourism frontier back to life, but the ziba’s and shimei’s wont let peace reign. As usual, they were all over the place, pranting, lying, and cursing.
I must confess here that no leader, particularly those with guts to remove impediments to any progressive developmental action plan(s), will ever be immuned to the blackmail and cursing of the likes of biblical shimei
I still have a full-page colour of abusive and insulting diatribe published in Champion newspaper against my person for warning the new Lords at NTDC in 2013 to ” Beware of industry Banana Peels, the title of a piece I wrote immediately after that change in NTDC leadership.
A year or so after, the Banana Peels became active and evidently instigated serious disharmony between the then Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, Mr Edem Duke, and the delectable DG of NTDC, Sally Mbanefo. Whatever led to that disharmony is better left to imagination.
It was a Sunday, and I had just walked into the house from church service when my phone rang. It was from Femi Adeshina.. My heart skipped to what went wrong because, as a thorough bred journalist and editor, Femi Adeshina is not known to indulge in frivolities. He was then the Managing Director of Sun newspapers.
Adeshina, till today, will address me as ” Frankie ” and has a special way, a very deep and beautiful ring tone to the pronunciation of my name. Let me please add this, and that Femi Adeshina loves me so much and has gone beyond the bond of friendship to help me in the course of my media work and assignments. He read the manuscripts of my book, “The Race to Nikki,” and graciously took it to former President Muhammadu Buhari to pen the forward.
‘Frankie’ Adeshina woke me out of my stringed imagination and said there was an important personality in his office that he wanted me to speak with.
On the line was Sally Mbanefo. I will stop here because I will need to clear from Adeshina to share the reasons behind the call, but again, I will add that I took Obinna Emenike, a young journalist as a witness to meet with Sally Mbanefo at Planet One hotel in Maryland.
As possibly predicted, Sally Mbanefo was misled by the bitter and envious ziba’s and shimei’s in the corridors of power. These guys maligned me to no end, even including Otunba Segun Runsewe, and when their lies expired and lost flavour, Sally Mbanefo came back to her senses. The beautiful lady was held captive by the lying merchants.
Sally Mbanefo had offered me opportunities to help her to turn around the fortunes of NTDC ( NTDA) an offer I had politely turned down because she refused to adhere to my attached condition, which was for a peaceful resolution of her differences with her predecessor, a sad development largely poisoned by the ziba’s and shimei’s around her.
Now to the recent call by industry stakeholders for a remerger of Tourism and Culture. It was a detailed affirmation by stakeholders after a debate and review of what tourism product( s) should drive our tourism. A merging ecosystem is never a call to “scrap” any agency or ministry as being miscountrued but a call for bigger and larger pictures of bringing together all enablers of tourism promotion and development under one roof.
In most climes, certain enabler(s) is/ are usually pushed forward to drive tourism most effectively and efficiently, and no doubt, we hear of the ministry of water resources, environment, and tourism. Some places with heritage , culture and tourism, wildlife , tourism, trade and transportation, and so forth.
Essentially, the idea is to help harness these tourism resource enablers under one roof instead of dividing the ranks. During President Olusegun Obasanjo era, there was a Presidential Council on Tourism, exclusively meant to bring state governors together to buy in and also grow tourism in their respective states, clearly identifying the advantaged resource product(s) that could help leap frog the states into a destination.
Before then, most governors believed that tourism and culture were a waste of energy, resources, and time, but the power of tourism has changed hands, and Nigeria is clearly driven by our cultural diversity.
However, it smacks of mischievousness to throw insultive peebles and epiletives on well-grounded technocrats and industry leaders who felt and respectfully called on the president to review the separation of culture and tourism ministries. The president, too, had insisted that he wanted to unbundle some ministries and allow for more creativity in managing our diverse resources, not only in the areas of tourism and culture.
Those cursing and abusing others for sharing opinions on how Nigeria can better benefit from our diversity in culture, possibly are playing a spoilers game as ziba. ” we love the president more than others,” they chorus! Also, Lola Ade John is another primed mugu for brothers, Ziba, and Shimei.
I should think holding a different view from my dad or the president of Nigeria does not make me a bustard but will actually help everyone to arrive at an all-inclusive decision.
There are Nigerians who believe that it was hasty to remove subsidy, but many of us, even though we are all going through the pains, believe the president is spot on over the issue. Also, there have been lots of reviews of socio-economic and political decisions of the immediate past government without the government of President Ahmed Tinubu calling out his predecessor in uncouth language.
If actually our tourism minister is back on her feet, then to God be the glory. Lola Ade John is probably the most loved minister in this government because knowing us very well, there would have been a placard asking for replacement immediately she fell ill but nothing of such happened.
There were many in and outside our industry who empathised with her, prayed quietly in their rooms and churches. There was no noise. This government, too, I mean President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, also kept her place for her,and I am sure supported her full recovery. And no doubt, we have those who will go out of their way, shout to high heavens, and stir up bitterness and all kinds of conspiracies where there are none.
Why do such things happen to leaders? Now let me share with you the story of Ziba and Shimei. Ziba was a servant of Mephibosheth , the crippled grand son of Saul. His father is Jonathan, David’s bossom pal.
When David fled in a Palace coup led by his son Absalom, Ziba cleverly arranged to meet the fleeing King and provided horses, food items and all what not to sway the mind of David against his crippled master, who rightly owns everything the lying Ziba brought to King David.
Certainly, David expected that Mephibosheth should be with Ziba to see him, and the surprised King asked why the crippled Prince was not part of the entourage.
Do you know what Ziba said of Mephibosheth?.” Behold he abideth in Jerusalem for he said today, shall the house of Israel be restored to me and the kingdom of my father”. Na lie ooo, Ziba just wanted to bring down an innocent man and covert his vast estate.
See the lies of a betrayer? Next comes Shimei. He was of the house of Saul, an unforgiving wicked soul, a son of Gera who stoned ,cursed and threw dust against David, a king surrounded by his generals on his left and right, yet David held his peace and forbid Abishai , one of his Generals from cutting off the head of the ” dog”. Though Shimei escaped the sword of David who was at lost during an unexplainable encounter with one his sons, however , his other son, Solomon, slaughtered Shimei many years after he had forgotten his infractions and insults against King David. Please read second Samuel Chapter 16 and learn a lesson from these misguided fellows who possibly do not know that truth would one day find out their lies