Why NANTA Act was not my administration’s priority-Akporiaye

The outgoing national president of the National Association of Nigerian Travel Agents (NANTA), Mrs Susan Akporiaye has explained the reason for the inability of the group to get an Act that regulates the agency’s operations many years after it embarked on the journey.

She however said she was more concerned about the survival of members’ businesses and how to help them recover from the devastating effects of COVID that did incalculable damage to travel trade all over the world including Nigeria than occupy herself with the pursuit of a frustrating venture.

 

NANTA President, Susan Akporaiye

According to her, Yes, my administration did not push the Act because every association has its focus. We have done this Act and we have spent a lot of money in two administrations back to back and I felt it was not wise if my administration on the third time continued to pursue this thing. I remember it was COVID, business was down, some were shut down, and people were afraid for their lives. Nobody knew what was going to happen. I don’t think it was the right time to have pursued the Act for the third time in a row. Firstly, we ran into financial issues and secondly, it was going to be insensitive because the world was faced with a disease that we didn’t understand and everybody was struggling for their lives to just survive my administration came up to say it wanted to push the Act I saw it as being insensitive.”

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“Two Presidents had pushed the NANTA Act. The NANTA Act agenda during Aminu Agoha’s presidency and we came up with the Act and got aviation lawyers to help us look at it. We had advice from experts. We were advised by a prominent aviation lawyer on the Act. We went ahead with it and it went through the first, second and third reading and somehow, it did not scale through.

“The Bankole Bernard administration also picked it up again and this time around we were very optimistic. We were even celebrating at that point that finally we had our Act and that went up to the President’s table and we never heard anything from there afterwards.”

‘Rather, we now focused on building members. We just came out from a horrendous situation; there was a healing process that needed to be done, mental and physical healing and members lost loved ones. We were in a survival mode. It would have been gross irresponsibility and very insensitive to have pursued that Act at that time. Of course, they reached out to me that I am now the President and we can continue with the Act. I said, no, we cannot continue.”

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Akporiaye further stated that she sat and came to the idea that she was not ready to put a lot of energy into pursuing the Act because of so many huddles and stress they have had to pass through to achieve their aim.

“I said if we are starting afresh that may be the next president can pursue it. I am not saying that we should not have the Act but against some professional advice. We had some aviation lawyers who advised us against it and they gave their reasons. But we still went ahead because it was something the members wanted. I was not ready for the trouble and the money was not there to pursue it and to start afresh was everything.”

“The next question I asked myself is can we function effectively without the Act and deep within me the answer is yes. All we need is unity.   The question is this, do they have the Act? We can function effectively with unity. As I said, the Act is very important. It is something that we will still look into and maybe the next administration will start to take that headache but I was not ready for that headache. After doing it twice, I ran the race of the Act during Aminu Agoha’s administration. I also ran the race for the Act again during Bankole Bernard’s administration.”

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“Maybe in the future, we may have the Act but for me, we will still pursue the Act. Maybe the next administration can make it their agenda but I tell my members, you don’t have to wait for an Act for us to get whatever we want to get. Unity of purpose is what we need”, she added.

Currently, the travel trade business in Nigeria has no legislative backing as travel falls under the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCA), which is one of the government parastatals.

Although travel trade associations in other countries, such as South Africa and Kenya, prefer to remain voluntary instead of regulated by the government, in Nigeria the situation is different,

Wole Shadare