Tourism: A Missed Opportunity for A Country Like Nigeria - Dr. Samuel Eremie
By: Frank Ajufo
A Development Economist, Dr. Samuel Eremie has attributed the low income attracted by the tourism sector in Nigeria to the consistently deteriorating security situation in the country.
Dr. Eremie who stated this in Abuja during the launch of his book “Adventures in Development Tourism”, lamented that Nigeria is losing huge sums of foreign exchange because tourists cannot be assured of their security when they visit tourism sites in Nigeria.
The Development Economist, appealed to the Federal Government and other levels of government in Nigeria to strengthen efforts at resolving the worsening insecurity, in order to reposition tourism in line with the economic diversification drive.
“The potentials for tourism in a country like Nigeria are quite huge but unfortunately, it is a missed opportunity for this country. In the first place, security is a major requirement for a thriving tourism industry and we lack this. Starting from the ocean to the fringes of the desert, there is so much insecurity.
“And even opportunities that used to abound in this country, drawing people from different parts of the country as well as from different parts of the world appear to have all disappeared mainly because of the insecurity that we are facing.
“I will give you an example, Nigeria could earn plenty of dollars from foreigners if they had that assurance that if they go out towards the Atlantic Ocean with local fishermen and stay in the fishing villages where these fishermen dwell, Nigeria could earn quite a lot.
“We saw that happen in places like Kenya, where communities will host tourists. They go to the village, share the life and experiences of the villagers and pay hard money. And that is why countries like Kenya are promoting tourism because it is the second largest foreign exchange earner for a country like Kenya,” Dr. Eremie noted.
Speaking on developing the agricultural sector, Dr. Eremie called on Government to invest more in the sector, as well as redesign the procurement process.
“Sometimes people have asked me, what has the support from international development agencies done to agricultural development in Nigeria. My answer is that if we had not received this support agriculture would have been right at the bottom.
“Now Nigeria may not be the best in terms of harnessing and managing its resources for agricultural development. India started like Nigeria, through the World Bank assisted projects they procured tractors and these tractors were procured with so much of the long lasting parts and very little of the fast moving spare parts.
“But they quickly learnt their lesson in future procurements, they insisted that they must have more of the fast moving spare parts which will be required to make the tractors move,” he said.
Dr. Samuel Eremie emphasized that the persistent borrowing by government, could be checked if government can consciously work towards repositioning the Tourism and Agricultural sector.