By Wale Olapade
The Ooni of Ife, His Imperial Majesty, Oba Okunade Sijuade, Olubuse II, on Thursday, 30 January, 2014 at the Ife Palace Square, singled out the Director-General, Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Mrs Sally Mbanefo for special prayers and royal blessings. Mrs Mbanefo who was the Special Guest of Honour at Oodua Festival 2014 which was packaged and organised by Otunba Gani Adams earned the special recognition and blessing from the Ooni of Ife for exhibiting diligence at work and showcasing passion at her duty post.
The Ooni in his speech pointed out that Mrs Mbanefo has demonstrated a unique quality and robust sense of responsibility since she assumed office which distinguished her as a public officer that has 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 has performed creditably well by living up to her promises and building up her vision for the nation.
The Ooni revealed that he was 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 at the Source today participating in Oodua Festival is a living testimony of her seriousness of purpose, diligence at work and commitment to national duty and vision.”
The Ooni prayed fervently for Mrs Mbanefo, supplicating to God Almighty to grant her wisdom, equip her with strength, good health and grant her success in NTDC while predicting that there would be a greater role to be played 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 make a success at this post, but ensure you perform better than your predecessors and see you through to a greater responsibility in this country.”
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 also invoked the spirit of Oduduwa who she came to honour to assist her in all her ways.
The Ooni counseled Mrs Mbanefo to hold on to God Almighty 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.”
The Ooni who declared Mrs Mbanefo a Yoruba revealing that her father, Chief George Uwechue, SAN, the Owelle of Ogwashiku, has been living in Yoruba land for 42 years called on all Yoruba at home and in Diaspora to support her vision at ensuring the blossoming of domestic tourism in Nigeria. The Ooni 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 has vividly testified to the fact that President Goodluck Jonathan never made a mistake by appointing her to oversee the tourism sector.
Mrs. Mbanefo had earlier in her speech exposed 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 and royal blessing and divine prayers offered her.