The Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi, has said that the greatest misfortune that has ever befallen Nigeria as a nation was the discovery of oil and gas.
Ogunwusi said this late on Friday during a courtesy visit by the National Executive of Nigeria Tour Operators (NATOP) to the Ooni’s palace in Ile-Ife.
The executive members were led by Mrs Bilikisu Abdul, NATOP’s President and accompanied by some journalists.
The traditional ruler said that Nigerians had failed to develop the tourism potential in the country due to the discovery of crude oil.
He said that Nigerians had also forgotten that every nation’s tourism potential was inexhaustible compared to its oil and gas that has a life span.
” As a nation, our biggest problem has been discovering oil; we have different tourism products rich in content which are nature based, tourism is not exhaustible but oil is.
” It is important for us to propagate domestic tourism, it is the future of the country and that is the way things can get better.
” We should encourage people to travel within the confines of the nation, we should focus on things nature has blessed us with and take away every negative charge in us.
” Tourism is something I am very passionate about, I don’t joke with it so let us all collectively groom it together,” he said.
The Ooni of Ife also in his responses to requests made earlier by the leaders of the groups under NATOP assured them of his royal support.
He promised to attend the AKWAABA Travel Market in September, Calabar Carnival slated for December and NATOP Annual General Meeting in April.
He said he was going to channel his resources to the success of the tourism events as each was capable of attracting tourists into the nation.
He commended NATOP’s president for her doggedness and sense of responsibility to ensuring that the Nigerian tourism sites were well marketed.
” I will say that you all have my full support for all these programmes tabled before me today, we will work together to take Nigeria to the next level,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that among those on the NATOP courtesy visit were: Mr Gabe Onah, Chairman, Carnival Calabar, Mr Ikechi Uko, Organiser, AKWAABA Travel Market, Mr Ken Akah, Special Adviser to Governor of Cross Rivers on events, Mrs Fatima Garbati, former NATOP President and Miss Gbabo Laura, NATOP Secretary.