NTDC: FG may not appoint replacement for Mbanefo in 2016

Posted: December 14, 2016 in general

Sally Mbanefo


Indications are rife that the Federal Government may not appoint the much-anticipated substantive Executive Director for the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), this year, to replace Mrs Sally Mbanefo, who was removed from the office, last November.

Mbanefo’s removal as chief executive officer of the NTDC was contained in a letter titled: “Notification of de-secondment from the Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation( NTDC),” and signed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir David Lawal, which though was dated Sunday, November 27, 2016, was delivered to her November 30.

Since Mbanefo’s removal, permutations have occupied industry discourse as to which candidates may likely replace the1986 law graduate from University of Lagos, who assumed the office in May 2013 during the immediate past President Goodluck Jonathan administration.

“If it were up to the minister (of Information and Culture, Alhaji lai Mohammed) I believe a replacement would have been made by now to fill the void, but that decision has to come from the Presidency and as long as a Permanent Secretary or even a senior director at the agency as contained in the letter is in place to run it, then a replacement may not come this year; maybe next year.

“I don’t see the Presidency having to attend to that matter for now until the budget for 2017 has been attended to. So it looks likely a substantive CEO may have to wait till next year. I also soresee the permanent secretary having a sort of oversight functions at the NTDC until a CEO comes in despite the eagerness and anticipation by those in the industry,” disclosed a former officer in the Ministry of Information and Culture.

While it may have come as a surprise to the embattled Mbanefo, her sacking did not so to private sector operators and government officials alike, some of whom had openly expressed displeasure at Mbanefo’s perceived negative style of administration.

According to insiders, a battle line had already been drawn with the exit of the former government, hence, it was only a matter of time before the axe is wielded.

In between when her dismissal letter was signed and presented to her, Mbanefo had ironically continued to exercise her functions at industry-related events, totally unaware of the happenings around her at the Federal Ministry of Culture and Information.

On Tuesday, November 29, the embattled former DG was at the opening of the two-day Nigeria Tourism Investors Forum and Exhibition, at the Sheraton Hotel Abuja, in Abuja, to present her paper as Director-General of the NTDC.

The forum, which held under the theme; Tourism: Tool for Economic and Development, was organised by the umbrella organization of travel and tourism operators, the Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN) in collaboration with the NTDC and the National Institute for Hospitality and NIHOTOUR in Abuja.

Her dismissal letter read, “I refer to the attached letter, Ref. No. SGF.6/S.23/1/568 of 8th October 2013 in respect of your secondment from the Keystone Bank Limited to serve as Executive Director/ Chief Executive Officer of the Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation( NTDC) for a period of two years with effect from 6th May 2013.

“You may note from the foregoing that the period of your secondment at the corporation had since lapsed on 5th May 2016.

Consequently, you are to handover the affairs of the corporation to the most senior officer on or before Wednesday, 30th November, 2016.”

“I believe this only goes to show how she was far too removed from the industry she was supposed to oversee that such plots were hatching and she was unaware of it,” said a travel agent and member of the FTAN, who craved anonymity.

Ironically, Mbanefo has been receiving the cold shoulder from industry operators on one hand, and government circles, which was not helped by the her refusal to change her unpopular style of administration at the tourism regulatory agency.

According to sources, Mbanefo was not in the good books of her principals who may have succumbed to the pressure from industry stakeholders and operators alike to remove her, having been appointed by the previous government of former President Goodluck Jonathan in a manner that ‘did not conform with civil service procedures.’

Furthermore to underscore the extent of exclusion from government policies up until her removal, Mbanefo or any representation from her agency, was overlooked from inclusion in the technical committee inaugurated by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, penultimate week.

That committee included representatives from the Federal Ministries of Information and Culture, Interior, Budget and National Planning, National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism, as well as the National Association of Nigeria’s Travel Agencies.

Incidentally, her appointment in 2013 was, originally, hailed by the organized private sector in the industry, which commended Federal Government‘s decision to appoint technocrat from the private sector instead of the conventional public service.

Mbanefo came with 28 years corporate professional experience, had spent 21 years in the banking, two years in manufacturing, three years in Oil & Gas sectors at Executive Director levels prior to her appointment as Director-General of the NTDC.

The mother of three is also the daughter of a former Senior Advocate of Nigeria and one-time Chairman, Body of Benchers, Chief George Uwechue, the Owelle of Ogwashi-Uku in Delta State.


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