Uncertainty in NTDC as Staff Members Seek Buhari’s Intervention

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Gboyega Akinsanmi

Uncertainty has beclouded the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) with staff members asking President Muhammadu Buhari to dismiss the corporation’s Director-General, Mr. Folorunsho Folarin-Coker.

The workers canvassed Buhari’s intervention shortly after they protested at the NTDC headquarters in Abuja, calling for the dismissal of the director general over alleged financial recklessness, highhandedness and impunity.

They alleged that Folarin-Coker, former Lagos State Commissioner of Tourism & Arts, set up a project unit in the corporation, which they said, was not part of the units created by the NTDC Act, noting that it was a conduit to siphon money.

They said: “President Buhari should dismiss the director-general as a matter of urgency. We are disappointed at the development in the NTDC. We are working under iron rules. Our welfare is next to nothing. President must intervene.”

According to them, “our director-general has no respect for any staff member. His leadership style is impacting negatively on the corporation. We have lost our morale under the leadership of the present director-general.”

The workers had on Wednesday peacefully protested in Abuja, carrying placards with diverse inscriptions, singing songs of disappointment and calling the president to wade into the crisis before the situation becomes worse.

The workers, who displayed various placards with different inscriptions, lamented that the director-general “has not been able to achieve anything and transform the corporation in line with the change agenda of All Progressives Congress (APC).”

The placards reads: “Folarin-Coker, we are tired of your insults. We are not your slaves. Folarin-Coker, give us our job. We want to work. Folarin-Coker needs management training. Folarin-Coker, stop all impunity and financial recklessness in NTDC.

“NTDC staff says no to oppression. NTDC staff members are not animals, treat us like human beings. Special assistant is not a full time employment. Let the staff work. What kind of a leader is Coker? Seven months after assumption of duty, there is no meeting with staff.

“Folarin-Coker said Buhari has not been able to achieve anything in two years. So, NTDC staff should not expect him to perform magic. Folarin-Coker lacks human relations. He is a bully. President Muhammadu Buhari as a matter of urgency should sack Folarin-Coker. Only Folarin Coker attends foreign exhibition, among others.”

However, the management of NTDC had promised to respond properly to all the issues that the workers raised, urging them to take advantage of administrative channels to vent their disappointment and grievances.

The NTDC had been faced with deepening controversies, staff protest and low workers morale, which reports said, resulted from poor leadership style, especially starting from the tenure of the immediate past Director-General, Mrs. Sally Mbanefo.

Amid controversies, the federal government removed Mbanefo precisely on November 30, asking her to hand over the affairs of the corporation to the next most senior officer immediately.

With Mbanefo’s dismissal, stakeholders in the tourism industry had high expectation that Folarin-Coker would reposition NTDC and take it a higher height. But with the recent protest against the director-general, uncertainty beclouds the future of the NTDC.

Folarin-Coker was appointed about seven months ago to help revive the dwindling fortunes of the Nigerian tourism sector after he was controversially dismissed as Lagos State Commissioner for Tourism, Arts & Culture in October 2016.