Malam Denja Abdullahi

President of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), Malam Denja Abdullahi, in this interview, says the first office complex at the eagerly-anticipated major destination, Abuja Writers’ Village at Mpape, in the Federal Capital Territory, will come on stream by October, this year. When completed, the village would house the national headquarters of the association, a 50-room hotel, residency chalets, 500-seater auditorium, archives as well as other facilities befitting a writers’ resort.

Abdullahi also sheds more light on his administration’s achievements with few months to the elective national convention, among other issues. Excerpts:

How have you been able to juggle your position as a Director at the National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), with that of running the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA)?

I must say I have combined the two preoccupations perfectly well because they are about the same thing. There is no significant difference between administering an association of authors and administering culture. Both concerns belong to the same domain of the creative and cultural industries. My work as a public administrator of culture who must abide by statutory rules and display fairness and equity has greatly rubbed off on how i have been administering the affairs of ANA as its President. My precision, passion and creative propensity as a writer and manager of an NGO in which resources must be stretched and value gotten for every money or resources expended have all impacted on how I do my public service duties. There is positive co-habitation in the way I performed both tasks and my two “employers” are not complaining.

How would you rate government’s support for the literary arts, considering the rather unusual lull in the art sector in the country?

I have always advocated that all the various government interventions towards supporting the arts must be warehoused in the same basket or envelope if I may put it that way. Presently, such supports are scattered in this or that Ministry, agency or commission and there seems to be no coordination and that even makes it difficult for government sincere efforts to be noticed or measured. We in the arts sector have always advocated the establishment of the National Endowment Fund for the Arts which is that basket I refereed to earlier. The government of any society has a primary responsibility for supporting the arts the same way that education of its citizen is a primary function of government. We cannot push this primary responsibility to the private sector. The government must show its own coordinated effort first before the private sector can come in effectively. With all the noise being made now on the propensity of the creative and cultural industries in creating wealth and generating employment, we still need to get it right by being inclusive and designing peculiar support structure for each of the components of the arts and culture sector.

How has it been so far at the helm of ANA?

It is not modest to score oneself but if you go through our scorecard and conduct an assessment among our members, I am certain me and my team will not score less than 80 per cent out. I have reviewed my electoral promises with what I have done within a year and going to two years of my coming on board  and I have discovered that I have achieved nearly 80 per cent of what I set out to do and well on the way to accomplishing a few others left.

Your milestone achievements till date as ANA President

The milestone achievements are bringing into being a strategic plan (2017-2022) for the Association’s future development;  conceiving and producing a documentary film for the Association entitled; ” Dancing mask: The ANA Story”; Restructuring of the internal governance structure of the Association by creating strategic committees, panels and councils; fast tracking the development of the ANA land in Mpape, Abuja by instituting a stricter monitoring process and doing a foundation laying ceremony; bringing about the second phase of the Nigerian Writers Series  by publishing three new titles devoted to children’s literature; internationalizing the operations of the Association by effective collaboration with other writers’ associations in Africa and beyond; launching a project called A-Book-A-Child to put an ennobling general interest book in the hand of every school going Nigerian child of certain age ranges and generally making the Association receptive to creative and purposeful partnerships with like bodies, governments and individuals. I and my team have done much more than that and there are still more to be done.

What have been the major challenges confronting your tenure at ANA, and how are you tackling them?

The challenges are legion as always. There is the problem of lack of fund which is ever there in a situation where dues paid by members are insignificant and not paid in any structured manner or not even paid at all. This is an Association that has no capacity to network for grant nor the personnel to follow through any request for funding in a sustained manner. It therefore leaves you with a president who thinks and does most things for the Association. However, I must appreciate the contributions of members of the national executive council which I head and the state chapters executives and other well meaning members of the Association across the country. They all do their bits but it is still an association where everyone can go to sleep but the President must not or else he or she will be accused of failure. It should not be that way; that is why  I am working towards enthroning a system in which belonging to the Association means you must be responsible for its upkeep and well being by playing your part, paying your dues and staking your claim in its activities.

Considering the disquiet that reared its head at the last ANA National Convention in Abuja, last year, how has your administration been able to build bridges of unity among members?

You read the signs wrongly: there was no disquiet of any kind. It was the usual underhand politicking played in Nigeria all the time, where if you succeed too much, some people begin to wonder why you should have it so smooth. They therefore decide to rake some trouble for you so that you should contend with them and negotiate some of your successes with them. That convention was our 35th Anniversary and I must tell you it was one of the most successful conventions of the Association in the last 10 if not 15 years. A lot of members after that convention called back and wrote to me to commend our efforts. Remember that four years before in 2011 in that same Abuja, a raucous convention took place, in which delegates were held hostages in hotels over unpaid bills and me and the then newly elected President  went round Abuja hotels to sign undertakings for them to be released to go home. Even if I do not have any other quality, the one you cannot take away from me is that of being a bridge builder who relates with people with no prior prejudices and complexes. I have the spirit of inclusiveness in my dealings with people and it has helped me in keeping the Association united and progressive. Well meaning and objective members of the Association have been supporting me. There will always be naysayers, even if you are a prophet; you need such people to be focused and to test your strength and qualities on. I have always said one thing about the generality of ANA membership, you can never sway them with gimmicks and other such empty posturing. They can see through all that to decide on what they want for their Association.

What are your plans for the coming year? And by extension, what is the level of development at the ANA’s Village in Abuja?

If I am re-elected to serve again for a second and final term as President in October, 2017, the Association should expect an even more purposeful tenure from 2018. We already have a strategic plan covering five years, well on to 2022., what I will do is just to follow it through and do what is possible within my tenure of office. Someone else will always come later to carry it further. On the ANA land, a lot of development is on-going and we will deliver one of the first completed office structure before October, 2017.

How would describe the present state of literary arts in Nigeria, and what is the way forward?

The literary arts is in bubbles, exciting and new frontiers is being extended. That is why we were planning to do a symposium with the Federal University Ndufu-Alike Ikwo in Ebonyi State on the 21st of August, 2017 on that, prelude to a major conference next year, before the almighty ASUU Strike aborted the plans. We will go ahead with that after the strike. The many book festivals, book chats and literary prizes we have all over tell you that the literary arts is a thriving industry. The drawback is that we cannot have a thriving literary industry where authors and publishers are still complaining of being unfulfilled.

Air Peace to begin Akure flights

Posted: August 10, 2017 in general

Air Peace


Indigenous carrier, Air Peace has announced plans to begin scheduled commercial flight operations to the Akure Airport in Ondo from August 11.

The airline which made the announcement in a statement issued by its Corporate Communications Manager, Mr Chris Iwarah in Lagos, Monday, said that the carrier was collaborating with the Gov. Rotimi Akeredolu administration to guarantee easy access to Ondo State by investors, tourists and other categories of air travellers.

He said that the inaugural Lagos-Akure-Lagos flight would take off from the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Ikeja and touch down at the Akure Airport.

“We are delighted to announce the commencement of our Lagos-Akure-Lagos service on August 11. Air Peace has been operating from our main hub in Lagos State since 2014, so the launch of the second route in the South West of Nigeria is only a natural progression.

“Air Peace is pleased to have this opportunity to add such an important destination as Akure to our local route network. Akure lies geographically on the tropical belt and is bordered in the north by Ekiti and Kogi; east by Edo; west by Oyo and Ogun. Ondo is one of Nigeria’s most exciting destinations for leisure and business travel.”

Iwarah expressed optimism that the flights to Akure would open up a whole new opportunity for Air Peace guests to visit and explore the wealth of tourist attractions of the state, adding that it would also expand the access of investors and other categories of air travellers to connect with the state.

“The new route allows for connections to additional markets from Akure, creating a more convenient trip for those wishing to visit the city. We expect that our new service will contribute to the economy of Ondo State by bringing new travellers to the area from across our route network. We anticipate that the launch will jump-start the effort of Akeredolu to open up the Sunshine State to massive investment engagements,” he said.

The airline has also secured approvals to operate flights into Lome, Monrovia, Abidjan, Dakar, Douala, Niamey and other West Coast countries of Africa.

In addition, the carrier has also been designated by the Federal Government to operate flights into international destinations, including Johannesburg, Atlanta, Dubai, Guangzhou-China, London and Mumbai, India.


Nigeria Tourism


To say that Nigeria’s nature and wildlife parks as tourist destinations are in dire need of attention is understating the obvious, even as operators in the industry have continually raised the alarm over the precarious and dilapidated state of infrastructure in these destinations spread across the country for years.

And while for some of these destinations, especially those located in the North East geo-political zones like the Mambilla Plateau and the Sukur Cultural Landscape, all in Adamawa State, the Gashaka Gumti National Park in Taraba State, Yankari Games Reserve in Bauchi State, their problems may well be rooted in the Boko Haram insurgency, however, for others, it has been a simple case of institutional neglect and abandonment by all the tiers of government.

Recently, a study commissioned by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural organization (UNESCO) on its natural World Heritage Sites found out that 46 percent of these sites including the Sukur Cultural landscape had no active tourism management plan. The research also found about 105 sites of the 229 natural UNESCO sites lack tourism management plans.

Sukur Cultural landscape, which is one of the Nigeria’s only two UNESCO acclaimed natural heritage sites, rarely gets a look-in from government quarters, a problem further compounded by the fact of its not having any major national festival attached to it.

Few visitors dare the destination for accessibility and security factors, with no attempt by the state or federal government to improve accessibility with the retention of its natural topography still protected.

“In terms of years since listing, newer or more recently inscribed World Heritage sites were more likely to have extensive planning or at least moderate tourism planning, compared with sites that had been listed a very long time ago,” the UNESCO report said.

Only last month, management of the Ogba Zoo and Nature Park, in Benin City, Edo State, rushed to the Edo State Government to appeal to the State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, to intervene in what the management described as the destruction of its facilities by vandals in addition to the ‘conversion of the land for private development.’

Director/CEO of the Ogba Zoo & Nature Park, Mr. Andy Osa Ehanire had also urged Governor Obaseki to quickly set up a panel to investigate the circumstances surrounding the loss of nearly 70 per cent of the company’s land to land grabbers.

“We seek the intervention of His Excellency the Governor of Edo State, to set up a special investigative panel to look into the destruction of the Zoo Staff quarters and the conversion of the land for private development, in violation of a subsisting Arbitration judgement.

“This investigation should naturally extend to the scandalous incursions and destruction of nearly 70 per cent of the zoo, since we currently hold the unenviable record of being the most vandalized Zoo in Nigeria. We have absolute confidence in the integrity of the Governor to do justice to these disturbing issues plaguing Ogba Zoo, as only a panel set up by the Governor can guarantee neutrality, rather than the intended investigation by the House of Assembly,” said Ehanire.

Commendably, Obaseki has since acceded to the appeal of the Zoo’s management with the setting up of an investigative committee to look into these complaints.

However, in other states, the case is not the same, as Nigeria continues to lose huge revenues at the expense of out-bound tourism following the unattractiveness of local destinations, some of which have either been overgrown with weeds, or closed shops.

The case becomes even worrisome when viewed against Federal Government’s expressed commitment to grow the tourism sector and make it a major revenue earner for the country, and also with the new policy statement by the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) to focus on developing domestic tourism.

Only last week, Members of the Plateau House of Assembly Committee on Culture and Tourism decried the poor state of the Jos Wildlife Park.

According to Chairman of the committee, Mr Nyam Daren, who led other members on a visit to the park in Jos, this facility as one of the treasures of the state, has suffered so much neglect in the recent past.

“It is obvious that this park needs government special attention to make it regain its past glory. We are blessed with so much tourist sites, but sadly, they have been neglected by successive administrations in the state.

“So, if the government is serious about revenue generation, then it must go back and fix the tourism sector and make it more attractive and viable,” Dareng said.

The conditions inside the park was so appalling, members took turns to carpet the tourism sector in the state.

While, a member of that committee, Mr Jacob Kassam, decried the poor feeding pattern for the animals in the park, and also calling on State Governor, Simon Lalong, to also visit the park to assess the situation, another member of the committee, Mr Eric Dakota, called on the government to ensure prompt release of funds for the rehabilitation of the park.

Earlier, General Manager of the Plateau Tourism Cooperation, Mr John Doi, equally called on the government to revive the park without further delay.

It would be recalled that earlier this month, President of the Hotel Owners Forum, Abuja (HOFA), Dr. Chike Ezeudeh, urged the Federal government to institute a development fund for tourism and hospitality for private sector investors to help expand the sector.

“The loan can be given at a single digit interest rate to genuine investors in the sector. The fund is absolutely necessary because presently, you cannot get loan from the bank; also even if you build a hotel, it needs constant renovation,” he said.

According to the hotelier, the fund could help investors develop tourist venues to encourage inbound tourists to support these sites across Nigeria, while further stressing that maintaining good hotels and tourist destinations in the country would encourage Nigerians to remain in the country for vacation instead of traveling to destinations in other countries.

Experts posit that any move by government geared towards developing domestic tourism in the country without rehabilitating the various wildlife and nature parks would fail as these destinations constitute the biggest draw in terms of revenue earnings.

This is just as many also believe that privatization of these sites should also not be ruled out in the quest to diversify the economy and grow the tourism sector.

“With the abject state of our parks and nature reserves, it will not be out of place for the government to declare an emergency in the industry so that these iconic sites can get the attention they need. I don’t even understand why state governments build hotels in the middle of nowhere in their states as if a tourist will leave his home just to come and stay in your five-star hotel. There has to be attractions like parks and games reserves where people can come and see while residing in your hotels,” opined Ms Gladys, CEO of MGs Travels in Ikeja, Lagos.

South African AirwaysSouth Africa’s state-owned airliner says it will face a liquidity crisis if it does not receive a 13 billion rand (976million dollars) cash injection from the Treasury to meet its debt obligations and cover operating costs, it said on Friday.

South African Airways (SAA) said in a financial plan presented to parliament that its modeling showed it was not generating enough cash.

However, it said that it would turn a profit by 2019 on an EBITDA basis.

The airline also said debt maturities had been negotiated and extended to the end of September this year.

auSouth Africa has signed a visa waiver agreement with the Congo Democratic Republic in furtherance of their bi-national relations.

Home Affairs Minister Hlengiwe Mkhize who signed the agreement with the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior and Security of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadari, Monday, said the deal was an expression of the good relationship existing between both countries.

South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo have maintained good diplomatic and political relations.

The highest expression of the quality and significance of this diplomatic relations is the annual Bi-National Commission (BNC) co-chaired by their Heads of State.

In this regard, during the 10th Session of the BNC that took place in Pretoria in June 2017, both countries agreed that the signing of the visa waiver agreement should be concluded in July 2017.


Nigeria Tourism

Organizers of the forthcoming Destination Tourism Night have said that the planned exhibition will serve as an avenue to showcase Nigeria’s tourism assets to the rest of the world.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Travelogue Communications Ltd, Mr Ayo Omotoso, disclosed, weekend, in Lagos, added that the aim would be ‘connecting values.’

“The more our people cross paths, the better our social, cultural and economic life becomes. It will also connect destination values, people from different backgrounds, race and culture together,” he said.

Omotoso said that the one-day expo would hold at the Eko Hotel and Suites on September 22.

According to him, Destination Tourism Night is an expository digital tourismtainment, which will savour the offerings of different tourism destinations around the world and Nigeria.

“Our focus is to showcase the hidden tourism destinations in Nigeria to the world. We will achieve that through a digital platform, so that participants can appreciate and savour the tourism offerings of all these notable sites,” he said.

Omotoso said that the expo would be used be an opportunity to send signals to local and international investors, tourists, public and private sectors about the huge tourism potential in the country.

“Some call domestic tourism low hanging fruits but to me, it goes beyond that. It is a virgin sector opened for development and investment. It opens up new worlds, new vistas and greater understanding. There are lots of people who have not visited some of the tourism sites in the country.

“The expo will encourage Nigerians and international tourists and investors to visit the numerous tourism sites that the country is blessed with it,” he said.

He said that South Africa, Kenya, Ghana and some other neighbouring countries as well as members of the Diplomatic Corps are being expected to participate in the event, just as he urged the Federal Government to improve on tourism infrastructure and other basic amenities needed to facilitate domestic tourism development.


The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) is not sure of both the readiness of the Lagos and Abuja international airports’ full with International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Standard and Recommended Practices (SARPs) certification.

This is just as the agency also stated that it will not certify any airport in the country which fails to meet the required ICAO standard.

Fielding questions by the media, midweek, Director-General of the NCAA, Captain Muhtar Usman, said despite his agency having already defaulted on the ICAO deadline for full certification of its five international airports in the country, the Murtla Muhammed International Airport was one step away from full certification.

“Specifically, I may not be able to give you percentage. I know we have had deadline but unfortunately, we have not met because we will not certify anything that is not up to standard. But those challenges are being addressed and I believe within a very short time, very short time, based on what we have in place now, Lagos will be certified.

“The certification process is in five stages and Lagos is about fourth stage. The fifth stage is just the signing of the certificate. So, we can say it is almost at the point of certification.  Abuja too once Lagos is finished, we will concentrate more. Even though Abuja, some of the things that we needed to put in place were taken care of during the closure of the Abuja airport.


“As I said, there are 5 stages: the pre-application stage, formal application stage, document and evaluation of document stage, operational demonstration stage. At this stage, all the documents you put forward, the way you operate, we want to see. And what you say you have in place are there and finally we sign the certificate.

“As I said, signing of certificate is just the beginning. You have certificate and it comes with privilege and you can only access the privilege if you continue to maintain the standards.

On the level of cooperation of other government regulatory agencies in the aviation sectorin the certification process, Usman assured that the NCAA was working in tandem with the Federal Aviation Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) as well as the Nigerian Airspace Management Authority (NAMA) in the process of certifying the five international airports across the country.

“We have been working closely from the beginning, because we have to interact. We have no reason not to cooperate in the first place, because they are desirous of getting airports certified and we are also desirous of certifying the airports. Our common goal is to get the airports certified, in line with the international standard and we have been cooperating.

“They have to show interest first and intent, and formally they will come and put in for the application, the documentation will follow- manuals and so on. At almost every stage, we interact and they have to demonstrate that what they have in place are workable.  Where we have areas where we put limitations, we will put limitations because there is hardly any airport in the world that is operating without some forms of limitations.

“Where there are genuine issues and things are put in place to ensure those safety concerns are addressed. And they are properly documented. It is a requirement that we certify those international airports.

“Currently we have five international airports, where we operate regular international flights.  We started with Lagos and we hope Lagos will be finished in a very short time. Abuja also on course. Whatever lessons we learn in the certification of Lagos will be applied in the certification of Abuja. And whatever we learn in the process of certifying Lagos and Abuja, will be applied towards certifying Port Harcourt, Kano and Enugu airports. And subsequently, we intend to go beyond the international airports,” he said.

On what measures the NCAA has put in place to ensure the process is transparent, Usman said: “The NCAA is set-up to meet all with International Civil Aviation Organisation, ICAO Standard and Recommended Practices (SARPs), and we will not go below that to certify the airports. We have been working very well with the relevant airport operator to ensure that those things required are put in place for us to certify the airports at the reasonable time.

“We will not certify any airport that is below standards. We will ensure that airports that have met international standards as specified will be certified.  And we will also mount surveillance to ensure that they continue to meet those standards and recommended practices with them, to continue to exercise privilege of the certificate issued to them.”

Usma who further listed the benefits of the ICAO certification for the country’s international airports to include boosting patronage by foreign airlines entering the country, said the process is based on safety which is required by ICAO to assure international airlines coming into Nigeria that standards have been met.

“That is not to say that what we have now is unsafe, because we have been operating. The airports as they are, are safe and they will be even safer, if we bring it in line with standards and recommended practices- because ICAO wants to bring in uniformity as fuelled by Standard and recommended practices. We have been operating safe, we want everybody to be on the same page, that is why this certification has to be done in line with ICAO standards,” he stressed.


(L-R): AIB Legal Adviser, Mrs. Maureen Tsenongo, Director of Operation, Captain Dauroka, Commissioner/CEO, Accident Investigation Bureau {AIB}, Engr. Akin Olateru, Dean, Faculty of Engineering and Technology, University of Ilorin, Engr. Prof. Yinusa A. Jimoh, Dr. Jamiu Kolawole Odusote, H.O.D, Department of Material and Metallurgical Engineering and Mrs. Farida Sheriff during the signing of MOU on the Bureau’s Metallurgical Laboratory at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Ikeja

The University of Ilorin has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) for the usage of the recently-commissioned $5.8 million Safety Laboratory equipment belonging to the aviation agency in Abuja.

Speaking at the MoU signing which took place, Wednesday, at the AIB’s headquarters inside the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos complex, Commissioner of AIB, Engr. Akin Olateru said the partnership would be beneficial to the agency and the university.

He maintained that the usage of the facility would lead to human capital development in the country while the laboratory would also give students more opportunity to practice whatever they had been taught in the classrooms by their lecturers.

“This is a very important occasion for us and I believe University of Ilorin too should be proud of this occasion. I have about 30 years’ experience in aviation and this is the first that I know of that an aviation agency is signing an MOU with any higher institution in this country for the benefit of Nigerians.

“Let’s look at it very well, Federal Government owns AIB and University of Ilorin is equally owned by the federal government. Why can’t we collaborate? I challenge every other agency to see how we can all collaborate. No more a stand-alone business. We should find a way how we can benefit on one and other. You don’t need to have all the resources, competence or the technical expertise by yourself, it is all about collaboration.

“We need to develop the manpower to be able to run the laboratory effectively and that is why I think this MoU is a grand breaking event and I will like to see more of it not just in aviation, but in the country at large. This is something we are giving our 100 per cent and Nigerians would benefit from it.”

He also explained that AIB hoped to lure more academic institutions to make use of the facility, stressing that it would also form part of its Internally Generated Revenues (IGRs).

Remarking, leader of the delegation and Dean, Faculty of Engineering and Technology, Engr. Prof. Yinusa A. Jimoh, noted that it was the first time the institution would sign an MoU with Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) in the country and expressed hope that it would be mutually benefited to parties involved.

“Nigeria has a lot to gain through this partnership because Nigerians go to every part of the world for research purposes. We still send materials to overseas when we are doing some research work. Our facilities still require improvement and this is a good facility for us and we are taking good opportunity of this.

It would be recalled that at the commissioning of the facility, last week, in Abuja, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) stated that Nigeria and six other countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) will utilize the $5.8 million Safety Laboratory equipment belonging to the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) in Abuja.

The ICAO’s Commissioner for Banjul Accord Accident Investigation Agency (BAGAIA), Mr Caj Frostel, also listed the BAGAIA member states that would make use of the facility to include: The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Cape Verde and Sierra Leone.

Frostel who said the revitalised equipment would help boost safety not only in the sub-region, but Africa in general, noted that apart from those countries, other countries on the continent could also make use of the facility, which he described as“ a world class equipment”.

“Much of what we did during the week was that we needed to establish that the equipment works. We have a BAGAIA interest that the AIB facility in Abuja becomes the centre of excellence in reading out flight recorders for all the seven countries.

“With BAGAIA, we have the ambition to cover the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) as well as countries in Central and Southern Africa. There is no other flight-recorder-read-out facility elsewhere in the sub-region as you have in Abuja.

wp-1490262309560.jpegBy VICTOR NZE

World’s biggest hospitality chain, the Marriott International, Monday, announced the expansion and strengthening of its Sales and Marketing Leadership Team for Middle East and Africa.

This is also as the Group revealed  that is also targeting a projected growth of 150,000 rooms operational and pipeline in 38 countries by 2022 across Middle East and Africa (MEA).

The revamped Brand, Marketing, Sales and Consumer Services (BMSC) Leadership Team comprises highly experienced professionals from Marriott International and legacy Starwood Hotels and Resorts, bringing together exceptional talent and expertise from both companies and speaks to the company’s commitment to support its enhanced footprint and aggressive growth plans in the region.

Led by seasoned Marriott International veteran, Neal Jones, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, Middle East and Africa, Marriott International, the team will provide dedicated support to the company’s thriving regional portfolio and will be responsible for driving top line revenue for Marriott International brands, ensuring the regional Sales and Marketing strategy is aligned with the company’s vision and priorities.

With a current portfolio of over 240 hotels with 54,000 rooms in 30 countries, Marriott International is working towards targeting a projected growth of 150,000 rooms operational and pipeline in 38 countries by 2022 across Middle East and Africa.

“The leadership changes we are announcing today are important to foster greater synergies, teamwork, accountability and nimble decision-making critical to lay a strong foundation that will support our ambitious growth plans in the region. I am extremely excited to work together with such a talented and diverse group of leaders who bring with them exceptional domain expertise as well as regional insights that will enable us to create a more vibrant organization that delivers value for all stakeholders,” said Neal Jones said,

“I am confident that with this, we have the right structure and talent in place to accelerate our lead in the market, drive further innovation and strengthen the positioning of our brands while keeping our loyal and new guests at the centre of everything we do, steering us into the next phase of our growth and success,” he added.

Marriott’s BMSC leadership team for Middle East and Africa has been formed with the following seasoned hospitality professionals currently on board and a Vice President Luxury Brands soon to be announced.

Paul Dalgleish, Vice President of Sales & Distribution will be responsible for Property, Market and Area Sales Organisations as well as the Global Sales Organisation, whilst leading the Middle East and Africa Distribution Strategy.

Previously Vice President of Sales for Marriott International, Paul has played a key role in the rapid expansion of the Middle East and Africa Region, deploying new and innovative sales strategies, whilst ensuring talent development lives as a discipline priority.

Sarah Allen, Vice President of Revenue Strategy & Analysis will be responsible for Property, Market and Area Revenue Management, Remote Revenue Management Solutions and Revenue Management Analysis. Formerly Vice President of Revenue Management, Marriott International Middle East and Africa, Sarah is a Marriott International veteran and has played a key role in moving hotels onto Marriott’s Revenue Management platforms implementing processes as well as setting up shared services across the markets to drive synergies.

She was also the business leader for the integration of Protea Hotels which was acquired by Marriott International in 2014.


Jitendra Jain, Vice President of Digital, Loyalty and Portfolio Marketing will be responsible for the company’s award-winning Loyalty Programs, Partnerships, cross-brand marketing of Marriott International’s regional portfolio and will lead all Digital Marketing, Platforms and Products.

A Starwood veteran, Jitendra previously led the Marketing function for the former Starwood portfolio in the Middle East, where he spearheaded the transformation of marketing processes, talent and culture, cultivating a data-driven and forward-looking mindset leveraging digital, brands and loyalty.

Sandra Schulze-Potgieter, Vice President of Premium and Select Brands will be responsible for Brand Marketing and Management for Marriott International’s compelling portfolio of Premium and Select Brands and will oversee Restaurants & Bars Marketing as well as Area Field Marketing. Sandra was previously Senior Director, Brand Marketing & eCommerce for Marriott International Middle East and Africa managing Field Marketing, Brand Marketing, Public Relations, Partnerships, Social Media, Digital as well as Loyalty. She was instrumental in positioning Marriott International’s lead in Brand Marketing in the region.

Sarah Walker Kerr, Vice President of Communications Middle East and Africa will be responsible for devising and implementing the overall Communications Strategy for Marriott International in the region, driving visibility, enhancing the perception of the company and its brands and increasing its share of voice in the media. She will provide strategic counsel to the senior executive leadership team, managing Internal and External Communications, Crisis Communications and Reputation Management as well as Brand Communications. A seasoned communications specialist, Sarah was previously Regional Director of Public Relations Middle East, Africa, India & Japan for The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company.

Raheel Baggia, Senior Director, BMSC Planning and Services will be responsible for Integration and Change Management, Program Execution and Training. Prior to this Raheel served as Director, BMSC Consulting-Middle East and Africa. Since joining Marriott in 2013, Raheel has been working on strategic continent projects both in his previous role supporting BMSC-Middle East and Africa as well as in Europe where he was part of the Global Operations team.

federal palace hotel


What is becoming one of the continent’s landmark cultural events, the Lights Camera Africa!!! Film Festival is returning in 2017 with the theme “RESET.”

The imagined world order that predicted a safe and stable world, that would bind people and cultures for the most prosperous age the human race had yet to witness appears to be experiencing fraught times. The countries and their agents that would safeguard a safe and prosperous future are themselves fragile. Despite the progress of humankind in all fields of endeavour, age-old fault lines in communities across the globe are becoming exposed.

Recognising the clashing civilisations, overturned norms, emerging trends – the Lights Camera Africa!!! Festival brings to its audiences a reflective presentation of films that it hopes will support a common contemplation on opportunities for a RESET of the weakening world order. Identifying the error of our trajectories and retracing steps, these reflections are even more relevant in the festival’s home of Nigeria which is fighting a perennial sectionalism.

This year’s festival will present a series of film works and conversations that examine these issues in various spheres – including politics, science and the arts.

This year’s programme, will not only provide a forum for open discourse, it will also provide entertainment for all the family over its three-day run.

“Our very popular Festival Marketplace returns again this year as will our inter-disciplinary showcases of literature, visual art and live music during this 3-day cultural fiesta.

“This year’s programme demonstrates the festival’s commitment to its mission of exposing African and global audiences to good quality independent African cinema with a view to stimulating discourse on issues and experiences rooted in the African experience.

“The Lights Camera Africa!!! Film Festival brings to audiences a strong programme for its 2017 edition and is proud to continue what has become an enduring partnership with the African Film Festival New York.

“This partnership has at its core a mission to expose African and global audiences to good quality independent African cinema with a view to stimulating discourse on issues and experiences rooted in the African experience.

“The Lights Camera Africa!!! Film Festival appreciates the past partnerships of a committed group of donors and friends of the festival including the Ford Foundation, Union Bank, Federal Palace Hotel, The Wheatbaker, Zircon Marine, Alliance Francaise, Goethe Institut, Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) and Film House Cinemas….and in 2017 look forward to new and equally committed support from culture loving institutions and individuals.

“The Lights Camera Africa!!! Film Festival also celebrates our alliances with scholars, directors, artists and personalities like Tunde Kelani, Peace Anyiam-Osigwe, John Akomfrah OBE, Manthia Diawara, Uwem Akpa, Taiwo Ajai-Lycett, Pascal Ott, Ego Boyo, Kunle Afolayan, Tam Fiofori, Odia Ofeimun, Victor Ehikhamenor, Emeka Ed Keazor, Femi Odugbemi, Chika Anadu, Remi Vaughan-Richards, Kene Mkparu, Shaibu Husseini, Mildred Okwo, Nadia Denton, Adebola Williams, Lala Akindoju and Jahman Anikulapo.

“We remain excited at the opportunities for cultural exchanges with our friends of the French, German, Italian, Austrian and Dutch diplomatic missions, long-time enablers of cinema and culture in Africa – in particular we celebrate the support of the German, French and Italian Consul-Generals.

“Great people of Lagos , get ready and join us for the 7th annual Lights, Camera, Africa!!! Film Festival from Friday, 29 September to Sunday, 1 October 2017 at Federal Palace Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos.’