The governor of Abia State, Chief Theodore Orji has commended President Goodluck Jonathan for appointing Mrs Sally Mbanefo as the Director-General, Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation NTDC describing the act as “a patriotic fetching of an appropriate person to excavate and exhibit a goldmine for the benefit of the nation.”
Governor Orji commended President Jonathan last week when he received Mrs Mbanefo in his office in Umuahia, Abia State. Mrs. Mbanefo, who took her domestic tourism campaign train to Abia State was accorded a rousing welcome at the airport, where she was received by the deputy governors of Abia and Imo States, Chief Emeka Ananaba and Prince Eze Mbadumere respectively. The deputy governors handed Mrs Mbanefo over to Chief Uche Sunday Aja, the chairman of Ukwa East Local Government Area who brought some of his people to welcome the visiting NTDC boss to his area. After the exciting reception at the airport, by the two deputy governors and Chief Aja led the NTDC to Oganihu Women Hall, where the community had gathered in large numbers for a rousing reception for Mrs Mbanefo.
Mrs Mbanefo was not only impressed by the large numbers of the people of the community; she was also elated by the distinguished personalities who were at the hall to listen to her campaign about domestic tourism. The Master of Ceremony had earlier informed the guests and people present of the wonderful and impressive work of the DG, “we are expecting in our midst a lady of immense intelligent , a humble achiever, a goal getter, a woman who is showing to all that Nigerian women are not pushover, a reasonable and responsible representative of President Jonathan . A woman who has within seven months as the DG toured over 14 states which none of her predecessors in office ever did. A woman of great aura who is coming to Abia to help us market and promote our tourism sites so that we the people will make money and enjoy from the blessing which God Almighty has blessed us with in the state.”
The chairman of the local government, Chief Aja who spoke briefly to welcome the DG formally at the presence of the people and commended her for her seriousness of purpose which prompted her in coming to Abia State in general and his local government area in particular. The people of the community were so pleased with Mrs Mbanefo “for not staying in her plush office in Abuja and talking grammar of domestic tourism without venturing to see the places herself. This has distinguished and set her apart from the crowd of armchair DGs. We are happy to see you. We are seeing the seriousness of purpose in you. We pray that God almighty will see you through,” the local government chairman said.
To show how pleased they were with her visit and noble conduct, the community commissioned the mother of the present Nigeria Ambassador to South Africa, Ambassador Okey Emuchay to pray for her. In an elderly soulful and spirit-laden tone Madam Emuchay said, ‘‘For you honouring this community, the Lord will honour you. For you coming down all the way from Abuja to this tourism and historical town, the Lord will visit you, bless you with wisdom and win your wars for you. The Lord will guide you and fight those who plan evil against you. My daughter, fear not, for the Lord and the spirit of good people in Nigeria is behind you “
The ceremony was sandwiched with cultural performance by groups from the community which did not only perform brilliantly well but effectively showcased the cultural unity of the community to the excellent of all present. The wife of the chairman of the Local government, Mrs Sunday Aja presented a locally weaved traditional cloth of the community to Mrs. Mbanefo as “our show of gratitude and appreciation for your intention and good act towards our community.”
“This is wonderful,” Mrs. Mbanefo said opening her response for the wonderful and unexpected reception held for her. “I am also short of words. This reception and your kind words are not only appreciative pills but rejuvenating tonic to do more. I promise you to do all within my capacity at promoting the tourism potentialities of this great country and this wonderful community.” After the grand reception, the DG in company of Dr Greg Ibe , Proprietor Gregory University, Uturu, Chief Aja, chairman, Ukwa–East Local Government, Hon Felix Wabara, headed for the Azumini Blue River which they sailed with three boats.
Mrs Mbanefo was not only excited seeing the river being blue and clear but was impressed by the attempt made in the past to attract visitors. “We are going to collaborate with the state government, members of the private sector and foreign investors to turn this great lake into a world and global tourism sites,” she said.
After having a wonderful exploration of the Azumini Blue River, the DG and her team also visited the War Museum and had a nice time at the Ojukwu Bunker. Elated, the DG said: “Though these are reminiscences of our past which might not be too palatable they are efforts at preserving for the generation yet unborn our strides and struggle during the process of becoming a nation. Also, it showcases to the world the innate ingenuity of the vibrant people called Nigerians. We at NTDC will not shy in our charter at ensuring the effective marketing and promotion of these sites.”
By the time the DG team had an audience with the state governor, Chief Orji who had been intimated on how the people of Ukwa East Local Government had thrown a red carpet for her, learnt about her agrarian commitment to the spread of domestic tourism, her responses to issues, aims, goals and robust sense of duty, all these endeared her to the governor. “I have to thank you for not only identifying the tourism potentialities of Abia State but also commend you for coming personally with your team to visit the bastion of tourism in the South–East. I have been monitoring your activities since your appointment and I can boldly say you are an asset to the tourism sector. You have raised the stake in that sector. We shall support without looking back.”
Governor Orji assured the DG of immeasurable support for the DG and NTDC, saying “we are going to reinforce your efforts which are geared towards the mobilization of the hidden tourism wealth of the nation. You have displayed within the little time your sincerity of purpose and comitment to the mission of the Federal Government. We are not going to let you down. Thanks for coming to Abia State we appreciate you.”