TRADITIONAL rulers from Igbo speaking states in Nigeria have commended the numerous achievements of the Director-General of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Mrs Sally Mbanefo, since she was appointed.
HRH Igwe (Dr.) C.N, Nwajagu, who led the delegation of traditional rulers on a courtesy visit to the NTDC office to seek collaboration regarding the forthcoming Iri Ji Ndi Igbo National New Yam Festival 2016 said this in his address, while commending President Muhammadu Buhari for retaining their daughter, as the NTDC boss
“We sincerely appreciate President Muhammadu Buhari for retaining our daughter, Sally Uwechue-Mbanefo, whose contributions to the development and promotion of tourism in Nigeria are immense.
“Sally has been dutiful in her responsibility to promote and showcase all the tourism and cultural potentialities in the country, which has made us proud as a nation, because our strength lies mainly and squarely in our cultural diversity. The unity of this great country cannot be achieved if this parastatal fails.
“Therefore, like the Prophet from the South and as custodians of the cultures of the Igbo people of Nigeria, we hereby make a declaration that the remedy for the ills in the country lies mainly in this parastatal. Not funding it well means joking with the growth and unity of the country for this parastatals holds our peace, stability and base as a nation,” he said.
Mbanefo, in her response, described domestic tourism as a viable tool to unify Nigerians, create jobs in local communities and reduce criminality in the country.
The NTDC boss while commending the anti-corruption crusade of the President Buhari-led administration said the crusade would reduce criminality and encourage foreign investments in the country, adding that “it will boost the nation’s economy and create wealth for Nigerians.”
At a time tourism is being considered as an alternative to oil in terms of revenue generation, the NTDC boss threw her weight behind the promotion of the Iri Ji Ndi Igbo National New Yam Festival. She emphasised that the wealth of culture, tradition, heritage and languages in Nigeria must be encouraged and preserved.
“We are committed to promoting domestic tourism, as its market has a very high revenue and job creation potential. Overtime, we have successfully promoted many festivals and cultural events such as Nzeh Mada Festival in Nasarawa State, Drums Festival in Ogun State, Igbo-Ukwu (New Yam) Festival, Sango Festival in Oyo State, Mare Festival in Ondo State, Osun-OsogboFestival in Osun State, just to mention a few. This will not only be of economic value to the country, but will also engage the teeming unemployed youth, “NTDC as a government agency will do everything within its powers to promote and strengthen this year’s edition of Igbo-Ukwu (NewYam) Festival as festivals are veritable channels to promote and market Nigeria’s rich culture.” she said.
Dr Mbanefo also noted that the Igbo nation is blessed with everything, adding that the human resources in Igboland are enough to make Nigerian tourism Africa’s destination hub.
She, therefore, appealed to the Igbo to come together as one and give Igbo-Ukwu Festival a global outlook like the Sango Festival, which, according to her, has been exported to over 40 countries.
The NTDC boss while soliciting for partnership from the private sector said: “I will continue to collaborate and ensure sustainable partnership with private sector operators to harness tourism resources and make Nigeria the destination hub of Africa, and further grow the tourism value chain to enhance revenue generation in the country”.
The Iri Ji Ndi Igbo National New Yam Festival 2016 is scheduled to take place between 23rd and 27th August, 2016 at the National Yam House, Etiti Village, Igbo-Ukwu, Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra State.