Former Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism under President Muhammadu Buhari’s government, Lai Mohammed, has been appointed as Special Advisor to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Secretary General, Zurab Pololikashvili.
The appointment was announced during the opening session of the 66th UNWTO Commission for Africa (CAF) currently underway in Mauritius.
Mohammed is expected to bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to his new task having consistently played instrumental roles in the affairs of the world tourism body for the past seven years.
He led the organisation of the 61st UNWTO CAF Meetings in Nigeria in 2018 and the maiden UNWTO Global Conference on Linking Tourism, Culture and Creative Industries in Lagos last year. He is expected to help Pololikashvili pursue his objective of making Africa a key region for the global tourism economy through his Agenda for Africa programme.
Accepting the new role, Lai Mohammed expressed his gratitude, saying he was inspired by the confidence reposed in him by the Secretary General.
“I stand before you, deeply touched and inspired by your generous words of confidence and trust. With so much gratitude for the confidence placed in me by the Secretary General of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Mr. Zurab Pololikashivili and with an unswerving resolve to honour that trust, I humbly accept the appointment as the Special Advisor on Tourism to the Secretary General of this great Organization.
“This would mark the first time that I would be attending a function of the UNWTO as a private individual having for the past seven (7) years, served as the Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. I wish to extend my deepest respect and appreciation to all the leaders of the member states, particularly those from the Africa region; for their support and friendship,” he maintained.
Mohammed added that, “I am deeply honoured to become the first Nigerian to serve in this capacity. Nigeria is dynamic and diverse in terms of natural and human resources in the areas of tourism, culture, creative industries, technology and other aspects of our national economy. Having come so far and rising still, the Nigeria and Africa region in general is living and shaping the full range of achievements and challenges of our current times. It is therefore inspiring to take on more responsibilities that will guide the development of tourism in a more responsible and sustainable manner.”
The mandate of the Special Advisor straddles several responsibilities including assisting in developing a strategy for restarting a sustainable and safe tourism post COVID-19 and advising the UNWTO Secretary General on issues related to information and culture. Lai Mohammed is also expected to prepare relevant reports and research documents in line with UNWTO’s principles, accompany and offer advice to the Secretary General in his visits and propose relevant actions of public relations in line with the world tourism body’s priorities.”