There appears to be a desire in some quarters, not excluding some government officials, that the country’s pay-television landscape should be an ethics-free trade zone. That desire is regularly transmitted to the public in form of willful misrepresentation of facts, outright invention and hollow posturing. These are sold to members of the public who, being largely incurious, take them as the gospel truth. One of such appeared in the media early this week. It sought to present the theft of television signal and illegal rebroadcast of such as a way of widening access to pay television service. Fronted by an alleged coalition of human rights group, Nigeria Civil Society Group (NCSG), probably a special purpose vehicle for calumny, it targeted MultiChoice Nigeria.
NGSG was reported as calling on the Federal Government to put an end to the arrest of pay television signal pirates in the country, claiming that MultiChoice was using the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to harass the cable television operators illegally redistributing DStv, GOtv, StarTimes and BeiN, the Qatari broadcaster, to hundreds of homes in and around Port Harcourt and some communities in Akwa Ibom State. Were the NGSG faintly interested in human rights, it would have known that the rights of the signal owners had been breached. But it is not. It griped that last year, the offices of Communication Trends Limited (CTL), CANTV and MetroDigital were raided by the EFCC because MultiChoice is desperate to maintain its “monopoly”.
‘’We have monitored these events with keen attention and discovered that it is all about market monopoly by a South African company MultiChoice/DStv who claim to have exclusive preserve to air all English Premiership League matches to the exclusion of Nigerian companies,” said the spokesman of the group, Dr. Jackson Omenazu, who bears the colourful title of Chancellor.
Omenazu appears to believe that illegal rebroadcast of other operators’ signals in order. He failed to tell the media that in 2010, CTL had its licence suspended for pirating the signal of the defunct Hitv and that the other operators raided for activities at variance with the country’s laws. The illegal operators are members of the Association of Cable Operators of Nigeria (ACON), which, last year, claimed that the illegal activities of its members are to make pay television services affordable to Nigerians, who they claim cannot afford DStv, GOtv and StarTimes.
ACON also claimed that his members are licensed by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to rebroadcast those channels without authorization by those who own rights to them. Its members were charging subscribers between N3, 000 and N5, 000 monthly for content exclusively owned by others. They claimed to have been paying licence fees and two per cent turnover to the NBC, whose code, they alleged, bars a single broadcaster from having exclusive rights to major sports content. Last year in response to a letter by the lawyers of the rogue broadcasters, the EFCC said Section 40 of the law establishing it categorises TV signal theft as economic crime. The section defines economic crime as “non-violent criminal and illicit activity committed with the objectives of earning wealth illegally”.
The activities of the broadcasters is similarly in contravention of Section 51(1) of the Copyright Act, which defines broadcast piracy “as the rebroadcast commercial scale, without authorization, of content protected by copyright.”
The National Copyright Commission (NCC) on 26 January 2018 arrested one Idoni Joseph Osagie in Osogbo, with broadcast piracy equipment such as DStv and GOtv decoders, coaxial cables and signal boosters.
The NCC regularly carries out similar raids on facilities used for illegal broadcasts with many suspects facing prosecution.
Also in September 2018, the NCC warned two Kaduna-based cable television operators, ABG and QTV, that they risked suspension for unlicensed broadcasting.
The warning, according to Augustine Amodu, NCC’s Enforcement Director in Kaduna, followed the receipt of letters from international broadcasters such as Aljazeera, BeiN and Canal Plus that their content was being redistributed illegally.
“After doing vigilant surveillance and investigation, we have found out that the original and rightful owner of the content you are transmitting is MultiChoice. But ABG has gone behind without getting due licensing from MultiChoice to continue to operate on the cable of MultiChoice. The only people with the exclusive license to broadcast English Premier League, UEFA Champions League, LaLiga among others is MultiChoice Nigeria. So, we are here to issue a very stern warning to you to desist from this illegal act or run the risk of been shut down,” the NCC wrote in a letter to the crooked broadcasters.
But the signal pirates are persuaded that their activities are in the service of the nation.
They have found a patron saint in Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the Information Minister, who, suffering a bout of exuberance and cheap populism in January, directed the NBC to compel exclusive licensees to share such exclusive rights with other broadcasters “upon the payment of commercially viable fees.” Who determines the “commercially viable” fees? It certainly cannot be the minister or the pirates, who believe they need not pay. And in a free market space, the government is in no position to determine prices. He was not the first to come up with the idea. The last Senate, under the Presidency of Dr. Bukola Saraki, made some noise about exclusivity and billing model, but did not do beyond getting people excited for nothing. Mohammed, since January, has not told operators how the sub-licensing plan will proceed.
But he has succeeded in inspiring inspired a band of ill-informed commentators, who keep demanding the institution of a pay-per-view or “pay as you go” model, which they think is the same. In some cases, they claim this model operates in South Africa-a big, fat lie. A Google search would show that the monthly billing system is what operates in South Africa. Pay-Per-View (PPV), it should be noted, is not the same as serving television content a la carte. It is the model used for the broadcast of one-off, big-ticket events and such are more expensive. In certain cases, as high as $100 is charged for events broadcast by PPV.
The epic Manny Pacquaio vs Flloyd Mayweather boxing bout a few years ago was available on PPV at $99.5. Had it ended in the second round, it would have been almost hundred dollars gone. The ignorance that pushes some of these ideas is breathtaking. The Internet also can help-if we are willing. Pay TV companies, most often, do not own the content they broadcast. They pay eye-watering sums to acquire rights to such. Content producers/owners have all the powers and contracts to sell their shows, series, movies and other content to pay TV broadcasters for redistribution typically does not contain “pay as you go” basis. The system that allows you to pay for what you watch is video-on-demand (VoD) services.
That is what is close to the “Mama Put” model that is desired. To pay for only what we want to watch on TV, it has been stated by experts in the industry, will cost individual subscribers a lot more than it does with channel bundles. A report on Stratechery states that if ESPN were offered on a pay as you go basis, it would cost the subscriber $100 monthly. Another report, published by the Future of TV, estimated that “50 per cent of total TV ecosystem revenue will evaporate and fewer than 20 channels will survive in a la carte world where consumers are required to bear 100 per cent of the cost of the channel.”
Majolagbe, a public affairs analyst, writes from Warri
Few days after the Lagos State Government issued a stay-at-home directive to residents, in order to curtail the spread of the novel coronavirus, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has unveiled economic stimulus package for the indigent and the most vulnerable in the society.
The stimulus, which comes in food packs, to be distributed to every local government in the State is aimed at cushioning the effect of the fourteen days stay-at-home directive.
Speaking after an on-the-spot assessment of one of the State-owned food banks, located inside the premises of the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives in Agege, Sanwo-Olu said the economic stimulus will reduce the burden of the temporary economic downturn on the citizens caused by the outbreak of COVID-19.
The Governor said the food packs, which were put together by the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives will reach the most vulnerable communities and households across Lagos, saying that the indigents who rely on daily wages will be given priority.
He said: ‘‘We are here for an on-the-spot assessment, of our readiness, to see how we can fast track some of our stimulus package for our citizens. We are all aware that this is a trying time for our citizens and since the partial drop in economic activities, our government deemed it necessary to reach out to the vulnerable ones in the society. These people are those that fall below the pyramid, the aged and the physically challenged who need to move from one part of the city to another for them to have a living. We felt that as a government, the least we can do is to identify them and give them these stimulus packages immediately.’’
The Governor stated that the package will touch at least 200,000 thousand households in the first phase, saying the food packs are produced for a size of six people per household and would last for at least fourteen days.
“We have packaged dry food stimulus for about two hundred thousand families in the first instance for a household of husband, wife and about four children. We would be giving bags of rice, bags of beans, garri, bread, dry pepper and we are trying to see if we can add water and some elements of vitamin C. Each ration, we believe is going to be able to last them at least minimum 14 days just so our advocacy around stay at home, stay with your loved ones will be respected.
“This is a catalytic initiative of our administration with the hope that well-meaning corporate organisations and private individuals can step up to complement the efforts of the government’’ Sanwo-Olu said.
The Commissioner of Agriculture, Prince Gbolahan Lawal earlier said the Government would be working with the existing database of the state – using the Lagos State Social register and 4000 community development association register in 377 wards.
He said the economic stimulus is part of Governor Sanwo-Olu’s administration’s initiatives tailored towards ensuring that food security is sustained in Lagos.
Sterling Bank Plc, has contributed N250 million as part of its commitment to the newly formed Nigerian Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19 created to help channel resources to combat the coronavirus disease under the theme: “We need you.”
The bank, in an email to its customers, disclosed that it is working with the Bankers’ Committee to lead the effort to raise N120 billion required by the Federal Government to fight the coronavirus pandemic and help achieve the shared goal of eradicating the virus.
Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Sterling Bank, Mr. Abubakar Suleiman said: “While this will go a long way, more still needs to be done. We have come to acknowledge that this battle will require every one of us to play our part as corporate citizens and individuals.”
He enjoined other public spirited corporate organisations and individuals to join in the fight against COVID-19 by making a contribution to the Fight COVID-19 Fund (FCF) and help the coalition to defeat the pandemic for good. He said every Naira donated will go a long way in saving the country from the pandemic.
Suleiman said donations should be sent to:
Bank Name: Sterling Bank
Account Name: COVID Donations
Account Number: 0076813615
He urged Nigerians to show their strength by uniting against the virus, saying a Swahili proverb which translated into English means “Unity is strength; division is weakness,” is needed now more than ever.
Fidelity Bank says one of its staff who returned from a holiday in the United Kingdom has tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19).
In a statement released on Tuesday, the bank said the individual has embarked on self-isolation upon his arrival in the country in line with its policy that mandates staff/family members who have travelled overseas in recent time to self isolate for 14 days and test for the virus before returning to work.
“Fidelity Bank mandates staff or immediate family member(s) who travel out the country to self-isolate for two weeks and obtain medical clearance before returning to work as part of our COVID-19 preventive and precautionary measures,” the statement signed by Charles Aigbe, the bank’s divisional head for brand and communications, read.
“This process was activated and strictly adhered to by one of our staff members who returned from holidays in the United Kingdom.
“He was in self-isolation and underwent testing in line with the bank’s policy. The test results returned positive at the weekend and we quickly arranged for him to be moved to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), where he is currently being attended to by health officials.”
According to the bank, two other members of staff who received gifts from the individual have also been made to self-isolate and the office where they work has been temporarily closed.
The bank said no customers were identified in the contact tracing that was carried out.
Also, the bank said it has shut down its business office at the federal secretariat in Abuja and advised all staff/vendors to self-isolate and go for testing in line with its policy on COVID-19, on account of possible exposure of a vendor staff.
The bank said it is carrying out other measures like reducing the number of staff expected to report physically at work and number of customers allowed at a time in the banking hall to a maximum of five to curb the spread of the virus.
All over the world, the Corona virus is a pandemic that has ravaged a lot of countries, destroying thousands of lives and threatening the earth with the reality that indeed, ‘The end has come’. But, in a move to curb this menace, several organizations both public and private are rising up against the scourge whose targets are to erase the existence of humanity from planet earth.
One of such noble personalities is Princess Dr. Toyin Kolade, the Iyalaje of the source and Chairman/CEO of Fisolak Group of Companies. This delectable princess recently displayed her passion towards the health and safety of Nigerians when she gracefully donated supportive materials against the Coronavirus. Items donated include cash, food items, face masks, hand sanitizers and more.
The donations were made by her to the proper channels for even distribution. Princess Dr. Toyin Kolade has always remain a blessing to womanhood and a very successful business amazon. However, this kind gesture from her did not come as a surprise to thousands who are privy to her antecedents.
She is a multiple award winner and a colossus in international freight forwarding business.
After launching Euronews on its platforms in November, the MultiChoice Group has just launched Africanews – part of the Euronews group. The channel is available on DStv and GOtv and offers millions of households across Africa access to a pan-African multilingual news channel.
As the COVID-19 crisis develops and spreads across the African continent, the MultiChoice Group and the Euronews group have partnered to offer DStv and GOtv customers access to real-time quality information.
Africanews is the only international and independent news channel made for Africa. It offers its viewers content in English and French from an African perspective, made by journalists representing the diversity of the continent. With anchored shows, such as the daily bilingual breakfast show Morning Call, a team of 50 local correspondents, Africanews reports breaking news from the ground, delivers unbiased reporting and showcases all the voices shaping the future of the continent.
While Euronews, Europe’s number one international news channel was already available on the DStv platform, its sister channel Africanews will be available to DStv and GOtv subscribers in over 40 countries across the African continent, including South Africa and neighbouring southern African countries, as well as countries such as Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, or Angola.
Thanks to this new partnership, Africanews, launched in 2016 from Pointe-Noire, Congo, now reaches 20 million homes in total across the African continent.
Michael Peters, Euronews CEO, said: “Amid the current COVID-19 crisis, Euronews and Africanews’ mission has never been so important: helping people access real-time up-to-date information, empowering them to make sense of what’s going on in the world by presenting a diversity of viewpoints. We are thrilled to be partnering with the MultiChoice group once again to offer their DStv and GOtv customers access to Africanews, after Euronews, launched on DStv last November. Euronews and Africanews have always been recognised and valued for their fact-based impartial and independent newsgathering. In these times of uncertainty, millions more people in Africa will now have access to these trusted sources of information.”
“In these unprecedented times, the importance of having access to precise, reliable information becomes paramount for our customers and their families. We have increased access to news channels already and the launch of Africanews confirms our commitment to doing all we can to provide the best possible service,” said John Ugbe, CEO MultiChoice Nigeria.
Aside from delivering rolling news, Africanews offers viewers a diverse range of programmes, on culture, lifestyle, sport, business, travel or sci-tech. Inspire Africa is, for instance, the channel’s flagship lifestyle magazine, sourcing stories from the continent. Africanews and Euronews also have a strong presence on digital platforms. In the last two weeks alone, traffic to the Euronews website rose by 86%, while the Africanews website recorded a +300% growth in traffic during the same time.
For more information and find out about other content, products and services, from DStv and visit www.dstvafrica.com or www.gotvafrica.com . To manage your account, download the MyDStv App or MyGOtv App. To enjoy all the extra entertainment on the move, download the DStv Now App which allows you to watch from wherever you are.
Africanews, launched from Pointe-Noire, Congo, in 2016, is the only international and independent news channel made for Africa. With a team of 50 local correspondents representing the diversity of Africa, Africanews reports breaking news from the ground, delivers unbiased reporting and showcases all the voices shaping the future of the continent. Africanews is available, in English and French. Africanews is part of the Euronews group.
Euronews, Europe’s number one international news channel empowers people to form their own opinion. Euronews is unapologetically impartial and seeks to offer a diversity of viewpoints: Euronews is “All Views”.
Since its launch in 1993 in Lyon, France, Euronews has been delivering trusted news in a non-partisan and in-depth way to audiences across the world reaching almost 400 million homes across 160 countries. It reaches more viewers in continental Europe than any of its rivals.
In 2017, Euronews replaced its model and launched 12 distinct cross-platform editions, becoming the world’s first “glocal” news brand. The different editions enable Euronews to deliver tailored content that is relevant to each audience.
The Lagos State House of Assembly led by the embattled speaker, Hon. Mudashiru Obasa, on Thursday, 26th March, 2020 lifted the suspension of two lawmakers, Moshood Oshun and Raheem Kazeem, we learnt.
Hon. Obasa, made the announcement at the start of plenary activities on the floor of the House.
According to Obasa, the Governor’s Advisory Council (GAC) and the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, called a meeting earlier in the week to intervene in the matter.
The Speaker said at the meeting, it was agreed that the House should reinstate the suspended lawmakers.
Recall that aside the suspension of the two members, two other principal officers, Olumuyiwa Jimoh and Rotimi Abiru, who were the former Deputy Majority Leader and the Chief Whip, respectively, were relieved of their offices.
Recall also that the sanctions was slammed against them by their colleagues on Monday, 9 March, 2020.
Hon. Obasa has been battling allegations of fraud for weeks now.
Recall, we reported that a non-governmental organisation, Human Rights Monitoring Agenda (HURMA), recently accused the Lagos Assembly speaker of being reckless with funds meant for development.
In a petition to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC), and signed by its executive director, Comrade Buna Olaitan Isiak, the group called on the anti-graft agency to investigate and prosecute Hon. Obasa for “gross financial misconduct and abuse of office allegedly perpetrated by the speaker so as to avert a further bleeding of the public treasury under his care and restore sanity in the functioning of the state’s legislative establishment.”
Specifically, HURMA urged the anti-graft agency to probe Hon. Obasa’s alleged financial recklessness and cornering of public funds through illegitimate means; and the alleged corruption and compromise of laid down procedures and rules deliberately foisted on the workforce of the assembly.
Union Bank, one of Nigeria’s foremost financial institutions has announced a US$130,000 (N50million) donation to tackle the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic in Nigeria.
The donation was made into a fund set up by 54gene, an African genomics research, services and development company working closely with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
The money will help increase COVID-19 testing capacity in the country by up to 1,000 additional tests a day, by buying testing instruments and critical biosafety materials such as biosafety cabinets and personal protective equipment urgently needed to keep frontline healthcare workers safe. The procured equipment will be installed in general hospitals and laboratories across the country, and will remain in place even after the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, to be used in the case of future outbreaks.
In addition, there will also be extensive training and support to medical practitioners and volunteers working across the country to curb the menace.
Announcing the donation, the Chief Executive Officer of Union Bank, Emeka Emuwa, said: “Community is one of our core values at Union Bank, and there’s no better time to live this value than now. A critical need for the country at this time is to scale up our testing capabilities and give us a better chance of slowing the spread of the virus. We are therefore pleased to be supporting 54gene who is directly collaborating with NCDC and World Health Organisation who are coordinating Nigeria’s Covid-19 response.”
While commending Union Bank on its donation, the CEO of 54gene, Dr. Abasi Ene-Obong also said: “The rapid and assured response from some of Nigeria’s most reputable institutions, such as Union Bank, to join us in our fight against this deadly disease is highly welcome, and we thank them for their unwavering support. They, like us, understand the need for a multi-stakeholder, co-ordinated plan, that can be implemented almost immediately, as we work together as a community, side-by-side, to fight COVID-19 and protect our population.”
Last week, Union Bank, which had already been proactive in rolling out stringent safety and hygiene practices within its branches and service locations, took the lead in activating remote work for its employees, directing more than 70% of its employees in non-service functions to work from home starting Monday, 23rd of March.
Union Bank also announced the launch of a toll-free Customer Care number 0800 700 700 which customers can call free of charge at anytime of the day or night to get help with banking issues.
These initiatives underscore Union Bank’s commitment to containing the spread of the virus while actively supporting the communities within which it operates.
United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA) today announced a donation of over 5 billion Naira (USD14 million), through the UBA Foundation, to catalyse a comprehensive pan-African response to the fight against the coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic.
The donation will provide significant and much needed support to Nigeria and 19 other African countries, by supplying relief materials, critical care facilities, and financial support to Governments. The UBA support programme will be allocated as follows:
- N1 billion (USD2.8 million) to Lagos State Government in Nigeria
- N500 million (USD1.4 million) to Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory, Abuja
- N1 billion (USD2.8 million) to the remaining 35 states in Nigeria
- N1.5 billion (USD4.2 million) to UBA’s presence countries in Africa
- N1 billion (USD2.8 million) for Medical Centres with equipment and supplies
- Free Telemedicine call centre facility
The pan-African bank will fund a medical centre immediately in Lagos, Nigeria, with beds for isolation and ICU facilities, managed and operated in partnership with Heirs Holdings’ healthcare subsidiary, Avon Medical Hospital.
In addition, UBA is providing a free telemedicine platform, that is physician-led, to provide direct access to medical advice to citizens, in compliance with social distancing requirements.
UBA Group Chairman Tony O. Elumelu, stated ‘This is a time when we must all play our part. This global pandemic must bring citizens, governments and business leaders together – and quickly. As we see a rapidly increasing number of cases of the coronavirus in Nigeria and Africa, the private sector has to work hand in hand with various Governments, in stemming the spread of the global pandemic.
We commend the efforts of governments and we are keen to partner and contribute our resources to the collective effort, that will ensure the response to the pandemic is swift and effective’.
Operating in 20 African countries and globally in the United Kingdom, the United States and France, the United Bank for Africa has a strong record of supporting its communities, through challenging times.
I have been recurrently asked of recent whether tourism will still be possible in an era of epidemics or the global pandemic, or whether we are not already witnessing the gradual lights out on an industry that has grown year-on-year in the past decades to contribute more than 15 per cent to the global GDP in contemporary times. Also, the possible demise of a sector that has been growing at almost 4 per cent per annum and which witnessed revenues in excess of $12 trillion dollars in 2017, while offering livelihoods to over three hundred million people, directly and indirectly, across the world.
Closer home, could this be the curtains drawing on a sector that has engaged our exertions, and which the National Bureau of Statistics values as a contributor of some 35 per cent to new GDP, yielding huge tax receipts and accounting for the jobs of over 20 per cent of newly employed Nigerians, formally and informally?
No doubt, our interconnectedness through time has been one of the greatest strengths and achievements in the human experience, which however now appears to be unravelling in this era of the pandemic as also a great source of vulnerability.
While the past few decades have seen humans build enduring communities across geographies – in no less our various Diasporas; across intellectual interests; and even within a virtual continuum enabled by cybernetics and disruptive technologies, yet we are now rudely confronted by the flip-side of having to find means of surviving the shared burden of infection and disease as a global community.
The past couple of weeks have no doubt been deeply troubling in the statistics that regularly assail us across all media – of infection, sickness and even deaths borne on the wings of the dark vector we have come to know as the coronavirus disease of 2019, otherwise referred to by its grim shorthand, COVID-19.
It is also the statistics of how systems are overwhelmed and crashing – whether as health care systems, systems of commerce, stock markets, and so forth. There is even prognosis that the world is about slipping into the abyss of economic recession and the emergence of a new global economic order.
Still, the other side of the story less referred to has been the marvellous capacity for human resilience, not only in terms of the determination to push back on the epidemic through the continuous research for antidotes. Or the increasing numbers of those who are surviving the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide, in figures that are many multiples of the mortalities being recorded. But, equally, there is that relentless spirit of overcoming adversity that’s already looking into how to rebuild a post-pandemic world.
In the work that I do, which has now become a source of concern to many across geographies, local and international, we are experiencing one of the lowest periods ever, which a few cynics have unfortunately described as the death of tourism, as the notion of pandemic tourism appears almost as a contradiction in terms, since the human outreach quickly recoils in periods of any sort of upheaval. Even the tourism for remedies becomes more and more impossible as national borders are successively shut as part of strategies of containment.
There is an increasingly vocal concert of opinion pointing to the fear that COVID-19 will very likely trigger a global economic recession in the very immediate future, and it is incontrovertible that tourism continues to be one of the industries most affected in this era of the pandemic…
But could this present circumstance foreshadow or signal the death of tourism? Just looking at the map of the territories that have been afflicted by the coronavirus infection, the rash of luminous red dots furiously populating the earth, calls to mind the situation for much of Europe, the Mediterranean and Asia in those long centuries of the Black Death that begun in the 14th Century when the Bubonic plague struck and wiped out over 70 per cent of the human population then, according to some estimates.
Yet, Europe, the Mediterranean and Asia recovered from those decades, to subsequently pursue a globalisation that has advanced the human experience many notches up till date. Certainly, the world we live in currently has more skills, technologies and capabilities to contain and shorten the run of tragic experiences, whether by natural disaster or biological infections.
Of course, epidemics and pandemics impact on tourism and its related ecosystems most severely, as the instinct for safety in humans leads to restrictions of movement that deeply whittle the businesses of airlines, hotels and restaurants, travel agents, tour operators, and other tourism stakeholders.
There is an increasingly vocal concert of opinion pointing to the fear that COVID-19 will very likely trigger a global economic recession in the very immediate future, and it is incontrovertible that tourism continues to be one of the industries most affected in this era of the pandemic, being that’s its forte is essentially anchored on the continually renewed human relationship with space, mostly requiring very physical acts that enable human connectivity, through transportation and the engagement with hospitality, entertainment, etc.
Now, revenues running into billions of naira and dollars are being lost, productivities are diminishing and so are jobs and livelihoods, with devastating impacts on nations, communities, and families. One needn’t crane far to witness how the states in the Middle East’s huge tourist corridors have been impacted at this time.
But then, is pandemic tourism possible, or have we entered into the age of the death of tourism, even while we have just been labouring strenuously for the rebirth of domestic tourism?
As diseases can now travel with ease, from the most affluent parts of the Far Eastern and Western Hemispheres to the poorest villages in Africa and Asia, with the speed of the Internet and on the back of economic routes, in a manner highlighting our interconnectedness and shared vulnerability, we need to urgently perfect a sturdy system of preparedness; a robust system of healthcare and health management, embedded in a strong capacity for response to and containment of epidemics and pandemics.
This will be a system that has a vigorous early warning and response component that can predict and respond to swiftly isolate and inhibit the outbreaks of local and global infections, while neutralising disease vectors. When this system is fully attained and comes into maturity – as the Federal Government has been missioning passionate after recently and will soon achieve – to serve as a secure buffer against the fears of health challenges or crises, either as epidemics or pandemics, the expediencies of having to shut down national borders in times of global health emergencies would no longer be as urgent.
Pandemic tourism will and can be possible when our state of healthcare preparedness, and the narrative around it, have fully evolved, with institutions having the capacities to offer robust responses to healthcare needs, of both citizens, residents and visitors.
Naturally, narratives around this level of preparedness would have to be communicated as widely as possible, as this is highly crucial in stemming the rampaging fear and panic that haemorrhages tourism to near or total death in periods of crises.
Pandemic tourism will and can be possible when our state of healthcare preparedness, and the narrative around it, have fully evolved, with institutions having the capacities to offer robust responses to healthcare needs, of both citizens, residents and visitors.
No doubt, when health or pandemic crises make landfall in one’s front yard, one gradually becomes isolated as a country, as conventional institutions and establishments start to fail as part of the burden of an unfortunate visitation, driving businesses to closure, and the economy into retraction or outright collapse. With tourism easily being one of the first victims, the picture then gets complicated by surges in the crime rate and the manifestation of other indices of human desperation. But with a renewed focus on preparedness, the corrosive edge of this is blunted, as travel advisories get more detailed and offer information on the national capacity for surviving raging exigencies, without the closure of borders.
Tourism in the age of the pandemic is about taking on the serious business of disaster preparedness, of which ground work has been done in areas such as the Federal Government’s efforts in improving the ease of doing business in Nigeria, coupled with the newer visa collection at the point of entry regime. With the strengthening of institutions to deal with emergencies like pandemics, and the altering of the narrative around a debilitating state of national affairs, there can be no death to tourism in the foreseeable future.
Importantly, in terms of the present situation and the on going ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic making an accelerating and vicious run through our country, our institutions have been demonstrating how greater multi-sectoral and multi-agency coordination can make that fundamental difference. This definitely also requires the private sector to keep layering on the efforts of the public sector, to allow for better emergency collaboration in managing and containing this crisis.
More so, data and evidence driven solutions must be increasingly employed to track, monitor, evaluate and grant therapy to the afflicted and needy. With these and the careful application of the knowledge and standards provided by multilateral agencies such as the United Nations, international organs like the World Health Organisation (WHO), and our extremely industrious Federal Ministry of Health, the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), and the Nigerian “can do, never carry last” spirit, we are on the course to a victorious pushback, if we keep acting responsibly in a collective manner.
Without an iota of doubt, I believe that for tourism in Nigeria, it is still a dawn that holds bountiful promise of the day that is unfolding.
Folorunsho Coker is the director-general of the Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation.