Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Ooni showers blessings on Mbanefo

Ooni showers blessings on Mbanefo •NTDC signs MoU with Nigeria-Turkey Chamber of Commerce Call it reverence or respect for tradition and culture. You are right. This year’s Oodua Festival held at Ile-Ife in Osun State, provided ample opportunities for many to celebrate the rich Yoruba heritage. One of such Nigerians is the Director-General of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Mrs Sally Mbanefo, who explored the festival to promote domestic tourism, reports Assistant Editor (Arts) OZOLUA UHAKHEME. For two days, the Ife Palace Square, Ile- Ife, Osun State was a beehive of cultural activities featuring dancing, singing and drumming among others. In attendance were traditional rulers such as the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuade, Olususe 11, representative of Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, the Director-General of Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Mrs Sally Mbanefo, Otunba Gani Adams, culture enthusiasts, delegates from different Yoruba socio-cultural groups and tourism operators. The gathering was the celebration of this year’s Oodua Festival organised by Otunba Gani Adams. But of all the guests at the festival, one person stood out; the Director-General of NTDC, Mrs. Sally Mbanefo, who the Ooni of Ife, His Imperial Majesty, Oba Okunade Sijuade Olubuse 11, showered rain of blessing on exhibiting diligence at work and showcasing passion at her duty post. Mrs Mbanefo, who was the special guest at Oodua Festival 2014 organised by Otunba Gani Adams, earned the special recognition and blessing from the Ooni of Ife. The Ooni said Mrs Mbanefo has demonstrated a unique quality and robust sense of responsibility since she assumed office. This according to Ooni, has distinguished her as a public officer that has a vision for the national mission. The royal father pointed out that he had kept an eye on the activities and acts of the Director –General since her appointment and she has performed creditably well by living up to her promises and building her vision for the nation. The Ooni said that he has particularly impressed by the determination of Mrs. Mbanefo to mobilise and kick-start tourism revolution in Nigeria via domestic tourism initiatives. “I have monitored her talking about domestic tourism and I have also read about her visit to tourism sites all over Nigeria, raising the consciousness of Nigerians to these wonderful gifts of God. And her presence here today, participating in Oodua Festival is a living testimony of her seriousness of purpose, diligence at work and commitment to national duty and vision,” he said. The Ooni prayed fervently for Mrs. Mbanefo, supplicating to God Almighty to grant her wisdom, equipped her with strength , good health and grant her success in NTDC while predicting that she has greater role to play by her in the affairs of the nation. “God Almighty will increase your wisdom, grant you good health, bless you, expand your coast, widen your thinking horizon not only to enable you mak a success at this post but ensure you perform better than your predecessors and see you through to a greater responsibility in this country,” Ooni prayed. The Ooni, who commended Mrs. Mbanefo for being the first Director –General charged with promotion of tourism to identify with Oodua Festival, assured her of the support of the ancestors of Yoruba land and invoked the spirit of Oduduwa, who she came to honour, to assist her in all her ways . He urged Mrs Mbanefo to hold on to God for strength, guidance and direction. “In all, of these, I enjoin you to trust in God, hold on to him. Always pray and put God first. Pray to God first thing in the morning, place before him all your activities and return thanks to him in the evening. With you doing this, the sky will be your stepping board,” he said. The Ooni, who declared Mrs. Mbanefo a Yoruba revealed that her father , Chief George Uwechue , SAN, the Owelle of Ogwashiku , has lived in Yoruba land for 42 years. He called on all Yoruba at home and in Diaspora to support Mbanefo’s vision at ensuring the blossoming of domestic tourism in Nigeria He lauded President Goodluck Jonathan for appointing someone who has the right attitude and posture for the job, adding that Mrs. Mbanefo’s deeds, actions and vision since her assumption of duty at NTDC have vividly testified to the fact that President Goodluck Jonathan never made a mistake by appointing her to paddle the canoe of tourism sector to a prosperous bay. Mrs. Mbanefo who demonstrated her rich knowledge of the Yoruba culture, the Ife tradition, her domestic tourism vision and strides since she assumed office by visiting some pristine tourism sites in Kaduna, Abuja, Cross River, Bayelsa, Lagos, Ondo, Akwa Ibom and Port – Harcourt for authentication, assessment and development. She expressed her gratitude to the Ooni for “the fatherly blessing and divine prayers offer her. Meanwhile, the management of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), under the leadership of Mrs Sally Mbanefo has been described as a purposeful team destined to lead Nigerian tourism sector aright. The Executive Chairman, Nigeria–Turkey Chambers of Commerce and industry, Dr Eze Eche Hyacinth made the observation when he led a delegation of his association on a business visit to the Headquarters of NTDC, in Area 1, Abuja. Dr Hyacinth commended Mbanefo for “carving out the domestic vision, which does not only tallies with the expectation of the people but squarely fits into one of the goals l of his association which prompted the visit and the proposal for the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on the vision with NTDC.” He revealed that the Nigeria – Turkey Chambers of Commerce and Industry “has set upon itself the task of promoting domestic tourism and trading activities between the two countries for mutual benefits. Hence the need for a synergy of purpose between the association and NTDC” Mrs Mbanefo commended the chambers for keying into the domestic tourism vision of the corporation, which she said would not only promote the appreciation of tourism sites in Nigeria but call the attention of governments for their development . She said the MOU would not only encourage bi-lateral cultural and tourism relationship between the two countries but pave the way for economic and social integration. Mrs Mbanefo said : “Our mission at NTDC is to showcase promote, showcase and facilitate development of our tourism assets. We are glad to find in you a willing, worthy and ready partner in the lovable efforts at selling Nigerian tourism potentialities to the world.” A home where ‘time is well spent’ Looking for a home away from home? You need to visit Adna Hotel Limited, a destination point with personalised service, reports Assistant Editor (Arts) OZOLUA UHAKHEME. To every first timer, House 28 is like every other residence on Ladipo Bateye Street, Ikeja GRA, Lagos. But, that impression changes immediately such guest enters the compound. Reason? It houses a boutique hotel where a homely but cosy ambience ushers in guest with personlaised service that ensures that his time is well spent. Welcome to Adna Hotel Limited, a medium-size boutique hotel located in the heart of serene area of Ikeja, where style meets hospitality. Two years on, the new hotel management has been able to keep its head above water by creating a unique brand of boutique hotel where services are personalised. Recalling the experiences in the last two years of operation, Chairman, Adna Hotel Limited, Mr. Ehi Braimah said the hotel is constantly building a brand that thrives on personalised services, friendly, cosy ambience for customers, e-marketing and a team of dedicated staff. He said running the hotel has been a great experience though it’s a new line of business, which is different from the media. “We are building a business that promotes standard, personal service and our slogan is ‘time well spent’, right from the time you open the gate to the hotel. Every touch should be a great experience for guest to come back. And when you have repeat customer, you are in business,” he said. Braimah, who identified unsteady power supply as his biggest challenge, said Adna Hotel has taken on the challenge by acquiring high capacity generators that provide 24-hour power supply. Also on its stable is steady internet network service backed by modern hi-tech mast. He noted that notwithstanding such challenges, the hotel does not compromise maintenance standard, adding that every December the hotel undertakes the face-lifting of all its facilities. “This December, it was the swimming pool that got renovated. It will be another facility tomorrow. And every December, the hotel buildings are repainted to keep it clean and customer-friendly,” he said. On the choice of Ikeja GRA as location, Braimah said it was a deliberate marketing strategy because ‘we wanted to create a premium boutique hotel that is very close to the airport. You know that Lagos is noted for its traffic challenge, and travelers and tourists will prefer a decent hotel very close to the airport.’ Despite the seeming ‘glut’ in hospitality business as a result of security challenges, the management of Adna Hotel Limited is working hard to turn the hotel into a brand. The chairman said he would be fulfilled when he takes the hotel to Lekki, Lagos and Benin in Edo State as he is not in competition with the bigger hotels. However, at Adna Hotel Limited, corporate bodies are its main target audience. But, most of its individual customers have become ‘ambassadors and advocates’ who promote the good image of the hotel to the world. One of such clients is Professor of English and African Studies, Southern Illinois University, United States, Prof. Robert Fox. He lodged at the hotel in July 2012 when he was guest lecturer at Prof Wole Soyinka’s 78th birthday ceremony. He presented a paper titled: From Tigritude to Transcendence: The conscience and conscientiousness of Wole Soyinka. “You are making the point with Adna Hotel that things can really work in Nigeria,” Prof Fox told Braimah before returning to US.

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