Africa: FTAN has lost the interest of Tourism in Nigeria- Ehanire

Andy FTAN

Federation of Tourism Association of Nigeria (FTAN), as a body has lost the drive and interest in the tourism industry in Nigeria.

According Andy Osa Ehanire,  a tourism promoter who recently brought up a paper he presented at a past Annual General Meeting of the body.

He said that the intention to organize another FTAN AGM is coming against an adjudged faulty foundation, in which those currently at the helm have shown scarce understanding of the nature and workings of a Tourism federation.

Ehanire, stated that FTAN being a convergence of diverse industry players in Tourism, its essence is to foster a policy of inclusiveness in order to ensure all stakeholders fit under one tourism umbrella. Contrarily, the sum effect of the actions and policies since a cabal manipulated control over FTAN’s executive positions, has been to promote policies of exclusion, thus disrupting the delicate balance that holds the federating units together.

Firstly, there is manifest appropriation of policies and key positions to disproportionately favour hotel Associations, as if they are the only sector of relevance, thus virtually turning FTAN into a Hotel Federation. This is against the backdrop of the current paucity in mobilizing the uniquely wide spectrum of the tourism industry. Little wonder then that the State Chapters that are key components recognized by the FTAN Constitution are now as good as phased out and no longer given any recognition or role, including in this proposed elections.

Whereas tourism products are known to reside within the States and Local Governments levels, the current election processes have failed to mobilize the FTAN State and even Local Government Chapters as distinct entities recognized by the FTAN Constitution. What is being orchestrated is an attempt to continue to produce an FTAN President and all other elective positions from a few Abuja and Lagos based Associations, to the exclusion of wider stakeholders who are bona fide members of FTAN.

In a recent tinkering with the FTAN Constitution in 2014, the extant Executives were clever by half in enthroning a policy that allows only the highest bidders to qualify for various levels of executive positions, thus emasculating the key fledgling tourism constituencies that are more deserving of consideration and development.

In their scandalous categorizations of elective positions for “sale”, only those Association who can pay N300,000 (three hundred thousand Naira) qualify to run for the top positions of EXCO! Knowing full well that only the Hotel Associations are highly capitalized, such a policy can only be described as shamelessly discriminatory and only intended to permanently disadvantage or subjugate other key federating units. This act alone, clearly demonstrates the clear perverse intent of a group to continue using FTAN to fester narrow and selfish interests, to the detriment of real and accelerated tourism development.

This is therefore a clarion call by a wider section of the industry against their gross marginalization and dominance by a narrow section of the industry, which has been dominating much of the EXCO / BOT positions. The real and present danger of this grave scenario is an FTAN that does not represent tourism but the predatory and pecuniary interests of some individuals or group, at the expense of the wider interests of tourism. This has imperiled the known capacity of tourism to create awareness and mobilize stakeholders up to the grassroots levels, which otherwise, lead to employment generation with attendant alleviation of poverty.

With manifest violations of the norms and tenets of the FTAN Constitution by failure to recognize a wide swath of the key federating units, FTAN is being galvanized into imminent fractionalization.  To reverse this dangerous situation, therefore, there is urgent need to review and reflect the true composition and structure of the Tourism Federation, before any credible election can take place. Only the unity and equality of tourism stakeholders as reflected in a balanced Federation can give FTAN the leverage that holistically develops the industry, while safeguarding its collective interest.

ISSUES FOR RESOLUTION
a.    That FTAN AGM as currently being advertised is deemed inauspicious and can only produce a fraudulent contraption that cannot be a representation of a Tourism Federation; hence a major Constitution review should take place before any election.

b.    That a Technical Caretaker Committee be elected from the founding pillars of FTAN (NANTA, NATOP, ATPN and NHA), to review and engineer an all inclusive structure for FTAN and to present same to a meeting of Stakeholders, so as to enthrone the tenets of the FTAN Constitution as regards modalities for credible elections and representation on the FTAN Governing Council.

c.     There is need for an expanded meeting of all representatives of key tourism constituencies, ie bona fide Tourism Associations, State Chapters and Associate Members, to vote on a reviewed FTAN Constitution and chart a viable course for FTAN.

KEY AREAS FOR CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS
1.    Need to Introduce rotational presidency and spread of Executive positions across major tourism sectors and Geo-political zones.

2.    Repositioning the State Chapters to also serve as a platform for rotation of FTAN national leadership across geo-political zones, in view of the concurrent legislative powers of States in Tourism.

3.    Provide for the election of an FTAN Secretary General as with most Organizations, so as to bring in superior expertise at minimal costs, and whose tenure will expire or be subject re-election based on performance.

4.    Provide for multiple tiers of subscription for equal representation, based on levels of capitalization. For instance, while the hotels group collectively, can be made to pay as much as N5.0M or N10.0M as annual subscription, the other federating units could each pay about N1.0M or N2.0M (even less), based on respective levels of capitalization. Only such can guarantee fairness in a union of entities with relative capacities.

5.    Need for transparency and accountability in FTAN’s management and reporting processes, including effective Committees that have a fair spread from across the federating units.

6.    The need for FTAN Electoral Committee to be fairly constituted by the key federating units, not as a lopsided group of hatchet men serving any cabal.

7.    That when leadership is zoned to any sector or geopolitical zone, those candidates to compete for elective positions must still present action plans and justifications for scrutiny.
The worst case scenario would be the unbundling of FTAN in order to go back to the drawing board.

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