Losing money

Wilson Orhiunu

First Gentleman with Wilson Orhiunu

Email: babawill2000@gmail.com Twitter: @Babawilly

The universal currency for answered prayers is raw materials. Prayers for a child who would be articulate, intelligent and able to hold his head high in society are usually answered with the birth of crying baby with no language skills that sleeps for a living. Despite having no insight into self or surroundings and having no neck control whatsoever, the parents rejoice and start saving for tuition fees. No woman ever gave birth to a Harvard graduate fluent in 13 languages on the first day of life for nature gifts humans with things they can process and nurture. That way both parent and child learn as they go along.

The same can be said for nations. Some have wealth underground while some have beautiful geographical locations ideal for tourism. It is the responsibility of everyone that wants to prosper to study what resources are available to them and develop them.

Recently I was fortunate to talk to Pelu Awofeso who is passionate about Nigerian tourism, and while we spoke I had an inner dialogue about the kidnapping industry in Nigeria. A friend’s father was at the time held by kidnappers and naturally we were all very concerned about this. That Nigeria has tourist attractions is not in doubt. Nigeria has more to offer than most places I have been to. Hotels and highways are the easiest thing to build, so potentially anyone with cash could build a ‘Dubai’.

Nigeria losses billions of Naira daily from potential tourists because the country is not deemed safe by its citizens talk less of foreign visitors. I remember growing up in Lagos and climbing out of the bedroom window to play. Now all windows have iron bars to keep the robbers out. Houses are constructed like prisons and everyone is used to it. Iron metal gates have slit like windows to peep through before they are opened.

These domestic security measures are all aimed at keeping out armed robbers, kidnappers and recently terrorists.

Armed robbery

How much is this industry worth? It must generate perhaps N100 million a month. One victim shot however damages the reputation of the country to the tune of billions a month. Why don’t we equip the Police with billions and get rid of this menace once and for all? The robber’s cash is usually circulated among beer parlours, drug dealers, prostitutes and landlords. Some cash may go to the people who hire guns out. None of this armed robber economy is taxable, yet this industry destroys the reputation of a country of 170 million people.

Tourism will produce hotels, restaurants, taxis, printers and this means jobs that generate tax for government. Families get supported and school fees for children guarantee the education of the next generation. New airports will be needed when we start to see millions of visitors a year. Most of the people flying into Lagos are Nigerians going home or expatriates going to work. Very few tourists come due to the fear of robbers


With no figures to rely on, anecdotal evidence points to about 30 kidnap incidences a month in Nigeria with an average ransom amount of N15 million. That means kidnapping is a N450 million per month industry. Since foreigners are prime targets for kidnappers and their abduction usually makes the international news, the damage to the country’s image is to the tune of billions.

Why lose N3 billion of potential revenue monthly to an industry worth N450 million. It would be more intelligent to upgrade the Police with billions of Naira in investment and make the country safe.


Need I say more? This is the final nail in the country’s coffin. Greed leads to the mismanagement of the military budget which was meant to help wipe out Islamic fundamentalists from the country.

Large areas of the northeastern part of Nigeria now lie in arrested development. There is no one that will invest in that area for now, talk less of voluntarily visiting.

The way forward

I asked Pelu Awofeso who happens to have travelled across Nigeria numerous times a hypothetic question. What will he suggest if a businessman with £2 billion to invest in Nigeria’s tourism industry asks for advice? (We must suppose there is no internal security problem in the area).

His answer was decisive: “I will tell him to invest in Jos. Lagos is the commercial centre and Abuja is the administrative seat. Jos would fit nicely as a hub for tourism.”

The qualities that make a good tourist destination abound in Jos. Beautiful scenery; lakes, history, nice weather and a museum are all present.

Once an international airport is in place Jos will be ready to host international brands like Disney, Hilton Hotels and MacDonald’s.  Billions of much needed dollars would be generated and jobs created.

Hundreds of hotels could be built and millions of visitors would flock in yearly. There are so many musicians in Nigerian now that there would be no shortage of acts to take up residencies like they do in Las Vegas. Jos could be the entertainment capital of Africa knocking Sun City South Africa off the map.


In a country fixated with oil, it is time to change. I have not even bordered to mention the areas of outstanding natural beauty: the coast lines, the rivers, waterfalls, mountains and nature reserves that Nigeria has. The cultural festivals are too many to list. France is the most visited country in the world with 83 million visitors in 2014. We all saw their prompt response to the terrorist attack of November 13, 2015.

There is a great potential to harness in Nigeria but tourism and insecurity make unlikely bed fellows.

I am not Senator Ben Murray-Bruce but I think Babawilly has just made Common Sense.