Folorunsho Coker
The Director General of the Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Mr Folorunsho Folarin-Coker

By Gboyega Akinsanmi

One year after he was dropped from the State Executive Council, former Lagos State Commissioner for Tourism, Arts & Culture, Mr. Folorunsho Folarin-Coker has incurred the wrath of staff members of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) over alleged highhandedness.

Folarin-Coker, who was appointed the Director-General of NTDC on April 2, was also accused of violating extant provisions of the law that established the corporation, thereby asking President Muhammadu Buhari to review his appointment to give the agency fresh breath.

The NTDC workers had during a protest alleged that the director-general had set up a project unit in the corporation, which created by the NTDC Act, noting that it was a conduit to siphon money.

The workers, also, accused Folarin-Coker of financial recklessness, highhandedness and impunity, claiming that the director-general had no regard for any staff member irrespective of status or grade level.

They, therefore, called President Buhari “to review his appointment as 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.”

“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.”

However, the management of NTDC had quickly intervened in the internal rift rocking the corporation, promising to respond properly to all the issues that the workers while urging the protesting workers to take advantage of administrative channels to vent their disappointment and grievances.

The workers had penultimate 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 attains foreign exhibition, among others.

The NTDC had been facing deepening controversies ranging from staff protest to poor 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, citing his wealth of experience as former Commissioner of Tourism, Arts & Culture in Lagos State. But with the recent protest against the director-general, uncertainty beclouds the future of the NTDC.