Raboam and his grasshoppers gang - Paul Ukpabio's Blog


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Thursday, 28 May 2020

Raboam and his grasshoppers gang

By Frank Meke

I am certainly not in the best of my tourism mood as the industry has been cut to size. After long years in the forefront of keeping the industry in view, watching its rising and falling, the emergence of the tourism grasshoppers, the unending romance of the industry with commerce, industry and information, I just wonder if tourism can stand on its own, driven by huge diversity of our culture.
And because we are now creatively been challenged to prove our mettle, the grasshoppers have taken over the stage, struggling to breathe and yet confused about what they want.

This brings me to share with you today a true life story made in Jos, the Plateau State capital about three years ago.

Some "dangerous" tourism influencers, tired of the rudderless ship of the tourism sector, manned by the grasshoppers, decided to save the ship from sinking.

Like the creatively uncreative legend, Picasso, I didn't start the revolution but drew the pictures. Andrew Ehanire, Nkereruwem Onung, Bankole Bernard, Ikechi Uko and John Likita Best, who arranged the strategic anti grasshoppers meeting, were sighted.

Just remember that am painting pictures in this piece. Creatively, like Piccasso, am throwing up the corn, and did not call any fowl (chicken makes more meaning to my readers) home to roost (to come chop).

One, trouble maker, ahh ha!, a writer (journalist) Andrew Okungbowa begged his way out of the meet. Is a Journalist too among the creative prophets? It was my friend, Segun Adeyemi, I"senior artist", sorry Special Adviser to Minister Lai Mohammed that asked me the question last week.

God forbid, that I should forget that the Jos picture also had the "Boatman" Ganiyu Tarzan Balogun in it. We will stroll through the beautiful streets of Jos early hours of the morning, bemoaning the many troubles of tourism in Nigeria. We painted pictures of how former ministers of tourism industry would make one promise or the other yet no action. We also creatively painted that tourism is so huge and creative that no one or any destination would ever survive in tourism business without being creative. One morning, the boat man told me a story that no matter how a man can make you laugh, he cannot take the reality of who you truly are away.

The meeting venue (I won't paint it) for security reasons was beautiful but noisy place, where the grasshoppers could never imagine just as they now fretter about the Ali Baba slice of pizza. Pizza? I would rather talk about puff-puff because at every committee meeting in Nigeria, you must find this delicacy on the table supported by the very creatively packaged Coca-Cola drink.

That cold night in Jos, as the saviours of the tourism ship was about to leave for their hide out, one Raboam crept in. He drove in from the grasshoppers headquarters in Abuja.

My camera battery began to suddenly blink red. What is wrong with this battery, I screamed to no one in particular but the guys took note and Ikechi turned to the Ali Baba of the night, mocking my street camera.

Years ago, I recall meeting Ali Baba at the venue of post burial entertainment outing of the late father of Otunba Segun Runsewe at Union Bank ground, Bode Thomas, clutching a professional camera and I wondered if he  was a professional photographer. So all those who are beefing that Ali is head of creative meeting in Nigeria should take note. What is even in a meeting to which there's no sitting allowance?

Apologies for digressing, it just that most people don't understand what creativity is all about and the like of Raboam who smuggled his way into our "coup" meeting, not knowing that there was no money to share. Anyway, we didn't know that Raboam was planted by the grasshoppers. Today, we are now witnessing the emergence of creativity as the new lexicon of the industry.

Raboam like his biblical name sake Rehoboam, was very cunning. While, the hot heads met to fine tune plans to dislodge the "old" grasshoppers, he was with us begging and cutting deals to be made king. 

I recall calling the attention of Bankole Bernard to my fears, later to Onung and Ikechi. Ehanire certainly does have the background pictures of Raboam.

I had warned that he would give us up, and tried to play back pictures of his past betrayals, and stubborn streak unbecoming of a leader. My friends smiled over the pictures and said that Raboam will creatively define creativity in tourism.

In our hearts, we were too busy to sit on the throne, and significantly, has no ulterior motive to unseat the grasshoppers. And I recall sitting through that meeting, painting the pictures that we're seeing today.

It is significant to note that the meeting continued later in Abuja and Raboam playing the good boy to win our hearts, begged Otunba Segun Runsewe to intervene on his behalf just as there were several meetings in Lagos held by the Minister and Ali Baba group of creative gang before the opened game of creativity pepper soup.

So when Raboam took over power, he no longer consulted the anti grasshoppers team. Afraid they are too strong for him, as the Rehoboam spirit in him went on over drive.

Now that Raboam had burnt the end sticks of his creative Armageddon, he is clutching the waters. Today, grandiose palliative for an industry that he does not understand, the next is his traded confusion in interpreting tourism as a creative sector and now in direct confrontation with a creative caterpillar,  Lai Mohammed.

Unfortunately, his young friends eating from his table are egging him onto self destruction, no focus, no strategy, celebrating a mere warning to steer clear out of the way of a moving train.

I have searched around that the loud voices of the notable influncers can't heard again. Surely, they must have given up Raboam to be eaten up by the grasshoppers.

His very feeble struggle is sad. He has no quality name backing him in his  current enterprise to "fight" a war with Lai Mohammed.

My picture of this battle will be likened to the one we had in Jos. Raboam will cut a deal for himself and abandon the grasshoppers.

Jesus taught that when the fig tree sprouts out fresh leaves, it is a sign that the winter is around the corner. So let no one be surprised that Raboam and his grasshoppers have taken more that they can chew and the pictures of their send forth will be made public soon. As I had it  well captured even though I didn't start the creative war!!!

*Goodnight Alhaji Saka Oladimeji Abdulsalam*
      Alhaji Saka Oladimeji Abdulsalam is one of the key apostles of protected areas management in Nigeria. He was a gifted manager of men and resources, a strong believer in Nigeria's green tourism evolution, a robust driver of good way among men and above all, a cheerful giver. It is sad to hear that this gentleman who gave his all to the building of National Parks across Nigeria is no more. He died in Ibadan during the week and it is sad that the few remaining frontliners of our natural resource protection and management are dying one by one. May I use this opportunity to console the family, the Conservator General of the Federation, Alhaji Musa Goni and the entire management and staff of the National Parks Service, and the people of Kwara State. Abdulsalam indeed was an elephant in the making of National Parks in Nigeria. My heart also goes to my big brother Alhaji Lamidi Monsur Ajide who was very close to Abdulsalam through out his lifetime and rallied round the family to organize prayers for the dead. Soon on this page, I will write about my encounters with key players of National Parks Service, not excluding the living legend and founder of protected areas in Nigeria, Alhaji Lawan Marguba.
Farewell my dear friend and ègbon, Saka Salami, May God accept your kind soul.

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