CAN TRANSCORP HILTON HOST THE WORLD?
Few days ago, I was worried about some pot holes that dot the road network within the expansive premises of the widely acclaimed Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja that I had to raise alarm calling for urgent facelift of the infrastructural facilities. I also raised salient concern regarding standard of services provided daily to clients by this hotel that is seen as one of the most expensive places to visit.
Immediately the online version of the letter to the editor was published severally including the photographs depicting the bad portions of road inside the hotel premises, various reactions trailed it even as the management of the hotel immediately established contact with me to offer their own side of the story in strong defence of the tourism institution that has made a mark as the number one choice of most foreign visitors to the Nigerian political capital of Abuja.
As a professionally trained journalist of over two decades of formidable experiences with investigative background, I decided to honor the invitation extended to me by the top managerial team because I believe in transparency, objective journalism and balance of facts and figures.
These traits of journalism excellence seem to be seriously lacking in the practice of modern day 'citizen journalism' whereby untrained minds with access to the social media have misused these beautiful opportunities and advances in science/technology to market their warped ideas without regard to the time- tested and time -honored values of objectivity and the worship of what I may call the 'goddess of truth'.
At the end of two of the many deliberations I had with the management, I came out with the impression that they indeed have extensive plan to totally rehabilitate most facilities in the hotel to keep pace with growing expectation of global best practices by their esteemed clients and other observers of beauty and nature such as investigative writers.
The public Relations Unit of Hilton Hotel in Abuja further disclosed that the princely sum of $200million USD has been voted and budgeted for the comprehensive maintenance and upgrading of virtually all the facilities in the hotel to satisfy the highest aesthetic demands of their clients who are mostly global travelers.
Also, Transcorp Hilton Abuja is billed to host the World next year for the 2014 World Economic Forum on Africa. Both the managing Director and Chief Executive officer of Transcorp Hilton Mr. Valentine Ozigbo, a thorough-bred gentleman and the Recreation/Public Relations Manager Mr. Shola Adeyemo, a man with deep friendly disposition, assured that the management and staff of Transcorp Hilton Abuja are ready and competently trained, motivated and willing to host the World next year. For now, I am prepared to give them the benefit of doubt given the fact that these are persons of high intellectual and managerial pedigrees.
The great news that Nigeria is to host the 24th edition of the World Economic Forum (WEP) on Africa in Abuja next year was announced by no less a great nationalist in the person of the former managing Director of World Bank and current Finance minister Dr. [Mrs.] Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, at the venue of the just ended World Economic Forum on Africa in Cape Town, South Africa which hosted this year's version in May 2013.
Specifically, the Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, made the announcement at the close of the 23rd edition of the WEF in Cape Town, South Africa.
Okonjo-Iweala thanked the WEF for choosing Nigeria as the next host, expressing the readiness of the country to make the next edition as exciting as possible.
She said that the choice of Nigeria was appropriate given its position and huge economic potential.
'I think we epitomise a lot of things about Africa. We have the excitement, the passion, the entrepreneurship, the private sector drive and the glow for the future.
'But we also epitomise all of the difficult challenges of the continent such as infrastructure deficit, governance issues, corruption and transparency,' she said.
According to her, a combination of these opportunities and challenges in one country makes Nigeria the most exciting place to be on the continent.
Okonjo-Iweala said that the future of Africa was bright, judging by the commitment and passion demonstrated by participants in the forum, especially the Young Global Leaders, who represented the youths of the continent.
The Director General, Nigeria Economic Summit Group, Mr. Frank Nweke Jnr, said that Nigeria was excited to be the host of the next WCF.
He said that President Goodluck Jonathan had already mandated the team to organise a successful forum.
After my various informal meetings with top management of Transcorp Hilton, I also took some few days to interact with different foreign visitors and well-mannered Nigerians on what their opinions are regarding the fact that Nigeria is billed to host that global economic parley, and most of them were confident that indeed Transcorp Hilton in Abuja and Nigeria as the host nation will deliver one of the best events to the World next year.
I also observed that some of the pot holes were already being filled up just as most people spoken to are awaiting the renovation work to commence. I believe in the 'I can do spirit' of the typical Nigerian to showcase the best event whenever the opportunity comes.
* Emmanuel Onwubiko; Head, Human Rights Writers' Association of Nigeria;[email protected];www.huriwablogspot.com.