The elasticity of the Director-General of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Dr (Mrs) Sally Mbanefo, for orchestrating practical promotion of tourism industry in Nigeria, with domestic tourism as a catalyst, to achieve a predetermined goal of creating wealth and jobs at the grassroots level in the country, is limitless.

The ebullient NTDC boss leverages on every opportunity to preach and promote domestic tourism. The latest one was the Iri Ji Ndi Igbo 2014 (National New Yam Festival 2014), where she calculatedly enlightened the community leaders and participants at the event.

Iri Ji Ndi Igbo is an event bequeathed on the Igbos by their great ancestor, Igbo, the head and father of Igbo race and nation. The festival is celebrated by the Igbo people, held at the end of the rainy season, to symbolize the conclusion of a harvest and the beginning of the next work cycle. The celebration is also a very culturally based occasion, tying individual Igbo communities together as essentially agrarian and dependent on yam.

The port of call of the NTDC boss in Ugbo Ukwu community in Anambra State for the celebration of this year’s Iri Ji Ndi Igbo was the Igbo-Ukwu palace to pay homage to the Idu II of Igbo-Ukwu, HRH Idu (Dr.) Martin Ezeh.

HRH Ezeh while reacting to the visit of Dr Mbanefo to his palace prior the commencement of the festival lauded the strides of the NTDC boss at promoting domestic tourism and cultural festivals in the country.

“Dr Sally Mbanefo has a blessing to Nigeria, and in particular the Nigerian tourism industry. If men and women of vision and passion for nation building like our daughter, Dr (Mrs) Sally Mbanefo are at the helms of affairs of every sector in Nigeria, the nation will not only express her appellation as the Giant of Africa, but also as the Giant of the whole world. This is because we have the resources, what we only need are men of vision and patriotism to manage the resources for the benefit of all,” HRH Ezeh disclosed.

The Odogwu of Ibusa and Director of Centre for Igbo Studies of the University of Nigeria, Nnsuka, Dr Tony Nwaezeigwe, who corroborated the submission of the Igbo-Ukwu monarch on the efforts Dr Mbanefo at promoting Nigeria’s tourism industry, culture and tradition enjoined the NTDC boss to make a policy that will make the Igbos understand and appreciate their culture and tradition.

“Foreigners are coming to appreciate what we have, in terms of culture and heritage, hence we should never allow those inestimable virtues to go into extinction. Thus, I plead with our government to make Igbo language and history a must in the academic curricular, thereby protecting our language, culture and tradition,” Dr Nwaezeigwe submitted.

Like she did with other traditional rulers during their festivals, Dr Mbanefo presented HRH Ezeh with a cow for the celebration of the festival.

The National Yam House venue of the festival was electrified with the entrance of the NTDC boss, with the dancing troupe of the community welcoming her with series of melodious traditional songs and beats, while the DG alighted from the vehicle and dancing to the rhythm of the troupe’s traditional music to the admiration of participants.

In her speech, Dr Mbanefo noted that the Igbo nation is a people who are blessed with everything that make a great nation, adding that the human material resources that are found in Igboland are enough to make Nigerian tourism Africa’s destination hub.


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