Travel & Tourism

APATA SAMSON NUNAYON: My plan is to make Badagry a world class tourist destination

Apata Samson Nunayon is the supervisor for Environment and Tourism, Badagry Local Government Council, he spoke with ANDREW IRO OKUNGBOWA on his various engagements as tourism, art and cultural activist

Background

Born in Badagry, Lagos State, Apata Samson Nunayon, who is the supervision for Environment and Tourism in Badagry Local Government Council, is a thoroughbred artist and educated at various institutions across Lagos and Ogun states. A grassroot activist of some sorts with hands on experience on many fields, Nunayon, aptly describes himself as a trained creative and cultural artist, art educator and tourism administrator. Career wise, he taught art briefly in a public secondary school and also ran a private art studio and later joined in the political fray and clinched his first ever political appointment as special adviser on Tourism to the former chairman of Badagry Local Government between 2012 and 2015.

He also contested for the position of the Executive Chairman of Badagry Local Government but failed in his bid, however, he was appointed the supervisor for Education in 2017 spanning 2019, with the Tourism portfolio later added to his function due largely to his overwhelming involvement with tourism in the locality. He was also the Chairman, Lagos Supervisors for Education Forum (LASEF) between 2018 and June 2020. He holds the distinction of being the only local government supervision in Lagos State with double portfolio.

He is very engaging and hyperactive in his different fields of interest, thereby earning proudly the sobriquet of ‘Fashola of Badagry.’ Nunayon is an executive member of Society of Nigerian Artists (SNA), Nigerian Society of Education through Art (NSEA), Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN), Guild of Global Tourism Administrators (GGTA), Tourism 100 Club, and member of the Top 100 Tourism Personalities in Nigeria.

Mixed experiences growing up

He describes his growing up days as characterised by mixed experiences with less of negative and dramatic happenings but more of positivity as he says that: ‘‘My growing up wasn’t too challenging negatively but with mix experiences but to God be the glory today.’’

Influenced by his father’s life style Although

he lost his father growing up, he still recalls his towering influence in his life. ‘‘I think my dad’s lifestyle influenced me most though I lost him around 1983 but I grew up to know him as someone being loved by people of his community especially when he comes home from work for weekends a lot of people will come down to our house and my mother will start cooking and serving them both foods and drinks everyday till he goes back again. ‘‘He played musical instrument in the church and also played in a musical group called (Manbo) with his friends then and today, his musical spirit still lives in the family because virtually every member of the family down to the extended family members, are into one music or the other to the extent of having two younger ones with musical and recording studios and they’ve produced so many artistes.

‘‘Till tomorrow, I can’t stop playing piano. So, I will say my father’s lifestyle really influenced me and my mother’s hard work and lifestyle too also equipped me to be hard working in life. My parents have good images in our community and I vowed to follow suit.’’

Growing up in Badagry was fun and adventurous

Looking back to his growing up days in his place of birth, Badagry, he says it was fun and adventurous, a situation, which today has greatly influenced his life trajec-tory given his various engagements in arts, culture and tourism as well as education, which happens to be his forte. ‘‘Growing up briefly in Badagry was fun and adventurous and thanks to God, today we’ve been able to translate that lifestyle and enjoyment growing up in Badagry into tourism business.

Visionary leader sleeps less

One thing that is easily noticeable about Nunayon, is his hard working nature and his ability to overwhelm you with his affable and passionate personality. This perhaps is informed by his life’s philosophy and motivation, which he says is: ‘‘My philosophy and motivation in life is “Sleepless.’’ I mean a visionary leader sleeps less.

This means, if you don’t sleep, you will move and move well.” Foray into tourism His sojourn into the world of tourism, according to him began in his school days (University) where he had the opportunity to introduce others to the fun and adventurous life style that Badagry afforded him growing up.

He latched on to the opportunity to organise various social events, including tours for his friends and other students at the time. ‘‘It began with friends back in school with various events like Miss Campus, Valentine’s Shows and so on, and also bringing different movies and their producers to school hall then, bringing people together for fun, organising excursions to Badagry beach, Cotonou and the rest from Ogun State as student then,’’ he recounts with nostalgic feeling. However, his interest in tourism was fully given vent during his Industrial Training period when he had the opportunity to be engaged at the Olumo Rock. ‘‘Then my IT experience too in the past at Olumo Rock sparked my interest in tourism,’’ he calls.

‘‘In 2007, I was made Assistant Secretary of the Society of Nigerian Artists (SNA) Ogun chapter and hosted National Conference of SNA and I played a very prominent role during that period taking participants from all over the country that came for the conference on a tour of Abeokuta especially to Olumo Rock and it was on the rock that idea to push for a proposal to establish a ministry for tourism came up. ‘‘After the conference, the proposal was made by SNA executives of Ogun State to the then state governor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, to upgrade the agency in charge of Cultural Centre and Olumo Rock in Abeokuta then to full ministry of tourism. ‘‘He bought the idea and did some facelift of Olumo Rock through a company, Kristal Laurel, but never upgraded the status.’’

Realisation of tourism ministry proposal

Nunayon is not the type that gives upon his dream easily as despite the failure by Daniel to keep to his promise of upgrading the centre to a full tourism ministry, he kept his dream alive and in 2011 he was his path cross that of the new governor of the state, Senator Kunle Amosun, to whom again he presented his proposal. This time, luck smiled on him as the governor bought the idea and in 2012 the governor created a ministry for tourism. Following this development, he was to transfer his appointment with the Teaching Service Commission to the newly upgraded ministry of tourism but this was not to be.

Heeding his people’s call Why?

‘‘Then I got a call at home (Badagry) to occupy the vacant position of SA on Tourism in Badagry Local Government in that same year 2012 precisely January,’’ he retorted. This turnaround, according tohim, was informed by his interest in marketing Badary’s tourism: ‘‘It was because of my interest to market Badagry through tourism which I also started in 2009 in Badagry too, I opted for the position and resumed office immediately and this gave me an opportunity to be a member of the Lagos Black Heritage Festival Committee headed by Prof. Wole Soyinka between 2012 and 2015.’’

Involvement in Badary tourism

Ever since then, he has not looked back in his commitment to the development and promotion of tourism in the ancient town, which is famed for its slave trade history, as he has notched up participation in so many tourism related activities in the community either as the concept initiator and organizer or as active participants. The list are endless but some of them include: To God be the glory, my credit so far in tourism: Badagry cultural tourism through black heritage festival; Pan- African beauty pageant tagged “Miss Tourism Badagry International”; Taken Badagry tallest drums (Sato Drums performers) beyond the shore of Lagos; Representation of Badagry Local Government at a Responsible Tourism Summit, Gambia; Promotion of Badagry tourism potentials and business opportunities through an exhibition at an event in Ghana; and Production of Hotels and Resorts Directory in the Ancient Badagry.

Outstanding contributions

Perhaps one his most outstanding and cherished tourism initiatives, he says is the first tourist limousine cruise service in Nigeria. ‘‘The most outstanding of all my tourism concepts is the Tourists Limousine Cruise Service because it’s dynamic and one of the major products of tourism in Badagry and Lagos in particular.’’ Besides, he also describes his recent elevation to the position of supervisor for Environment and Tourism as quite a celebrative feat: ‘‘My recent elevation to Environment and Tourism was indeed a round peg in a round hole and I see it as an avenue to prove myself again in the sector.’’

My vision for Badagry tourism

With his new position, Nunayon, dream is to elevate tourism in his native home to a world class affair,ashe says to you that: ‘‘My plan for tourism in Badagry is to make it a world class and use the sector to better the standard of living of our people especially in the eyes of COVID-19. ‘‘Tourism has been greatly neglected in Badagry over the years because of lack of interest and understanding of the roles that tourism plays in development and the lack of political will to draw the attention of the appropriate quarters to the needs of the community such as good roads, and electricity. ‘‘But I will make sure I do all I can by way of lobbying the necessary quarters to attract quality infrastructure to Badagry and also engage the necessary stakeholders to join in the campaign because tourism is all about networking ‘‘Government bureaucracy slows down attempts to speed up growth but we shall try to overcome in order toachieve our plans.’’

Legacies

With so much on his basket of what to do, he says: ‘‘I want people to expect a cleaner, greener Badagry. I want to be remembered for making Badagry an ideal tourism destination for both domestic and international tourists.’’

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