Ben Ezechime, Enugu
The former General Manager of Enugu State Tourism Board, Chief Steve Odo, says under his watch he grew the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the Board to 243 per cent increase in one year.
Odo disclosed this to journalists in Enugu while revealing the verifiable standard and other mile-stone achievements and records he set at the Board, which he met comatose.
According to him, “during my first one year in office the Board’s IGR increased from N2,571,000 in 2020 to N6,263,000 in 2021 (243.6 percent) representing 143.6 per cent increase.
“In 2022, we generated the sum of N5,591,000 which is less than the previous year due to sit-at-home syndrome etc. However, this amount represents 217.5 per cent and an increase of 117.5 per cent of what was generated in 2020 before I took over.
“In compliance with the Enugu State Tourism Law 2013 Section (18); I submitted detailed progress reports to his Excellency, the Governor through the Honourable Commissioner for Culture and Tourism every year as required by Law for the two years of my service.”
“Before I took over, there was not even one hotel captured in the entire Enugu North and Enugu West Senatorial Zones.
“As a result hotels and other tourism related enterprises were not aware of their responsibilities to the board requiring first that we have to create awareness which we embarked on and achieved.
“We have captured about 150 hotels (big and small) in the two senatorial zones and registration/classification is ongoing.
“This added to that of Enugu East Senatorial Zone comes to about 494 hotels (big and small) captured in the entire state,” he said.
This, he said, was against a total of 150 hotels captured before he took over; while registration and classification of hotels were also ongoing before he handed over.
The former general manager said that the board’s Audited Accounts by an External Auditor was last done in 2013, which was nine years in arrears.
“However, within my two years in office, the board’s Audited Accounts have been completed up to Dec. 31, 2022 and the external auditors paid fully.
“I also met a workforce at the lowest ebb of staff morale with over 80 per cent record of absenteeism and left a highly motivated workforce with less than 20 per cent of absenteeism,” he said.
Odo noted that before he took over, the Board’s monthly overhead/subvention was far less than the basic salary of worker, adding that through financial data collection and reports to relevant arms of government, “we were able to secure adequate monthly subvention/overhead.”
He revealed that the office had been in darkness since the closure of Hotel Presidential but he restored light (electricity) and procured a meter for the office.
He said: “There were no functional toilets in all the offices of the Board, but I resuscitated the eight toilets in the offices.
“It is on record that I initiated payment of staff pensions since the inception of the Board and have no record of arrears up to the month of May, 2023 when I handed over.
“No retired staff of tourism board was being owed up till the date we were all asked to handover.”
“The World Tourism Day, which is celebrated on Sept. 27 by tourism stakeholders all over the World, was first celebrated by the Board during my first year in service.”
Odo said that during his period in the office, the Board launched a functional website on a special arrangement with a firm – Arichi Global Synergy – who have commenced registration and digitalisation processes with the hotels before we were abruptly asked to hand over.
The former general manager said that he started the remittance of staff salary (PAYE) deductions to the State Board of Internal Revenue Service (EBIRS), which hitherto was being retained due to paucity of funds.
According to him, “my passion for hospitality and interest in Staff Welfare made me introduce End-of -Year Christmas Party for members of staff every Dec. 22 for the period I served.”
Asked his advice to Gov. Peter Mbah, he said that “Enugu State is a hidden treasure of tourism.”
“I urge the new administration to focus on creating an enabling environment that will encourage private investors to partner with the government to achieve sustainable tourism development in Enugu State,” he said.