With Joke Adeniyi
Back in the days, Kwara Hotels in Ilorin, Kwara State was choice fun destination for my friends and I. Our favourite hangout spot was the swimming pool. The Ariya Garden was also a fun place when we needed to let down the hair. It was the best hospitality outfit in the mid and late 90s, it boasted of enchanting landscape and cozy environment. The tall structure was a monumental masterpiece of its time. Kwara Hotels was a name that readily came to mind when the need to lodge a guest or hold an event arose. Its strategic location was an added advantage. The hotel was the toast of the people, hence the huge patronage. It was an outfit that suits most business and social purposes such as cocktail parties, wedding receptions, conferences and many more activities. However, with the springing up of exotic hotels in the nooks and crannies of the state capital, fortunes of the state-owned hotel began to dwindle because like most government owned establishments it suffered mismanagement. Presently, it is fast losing its class, glamour and splendour in the hospitality business. Hanging onto its past glory, Kwara Hotels still manages to get patronage, in terms of hosting functions at its conference halls.
The decline in fortunes of the hotel came to fore penultimate Tuesday when I was opportuned to attend an Inclusive Forum for Accountable Society held in Ilorin, a programme organised by Centre for Community Empowerment and Poverty Eradication (CCEPE), a partner with ActionAid Nigeria (AAN). The event, which was slated for 10am did not commence until about an hour and half later, owing to power issues. There was power outage at about the time the programme was to begin. Immediately the hall became stuffy and participants became uncomfortable with the heat, with many using the seminar resource materials as hand fans. Succour did not come for us immediately, as ‘relief’ measure the staffers pulled curtains apart to let in some air. We were later to learn that the alternative power generating set of the hotel was faulty. I then imagined how Kwara Hotels can survive in the present stiff competitive world of hospitality business, if situation continues like that. That scenario must have etched an impression on minds of participants who came from far. The organisers were about getting a small generating set just for purpose of powering the projector when power supply was restored. The situation left a sour taste in my mouth. It would be recalled that the Chairman, Harmony Holdings Limited, Prof. Halidu Abubakar had expressed displeasure over the deteriorating condition of the hotel. The Harmony Holdings Limited took over the management of Kwara Hotels earlier in the year. The company is in charge of all state owned enterprises. Therefore the time is now for the board of the company to brace up to the task of revamping the hotel. It is the pride of the state, so it must not be allowed to go under. Hospitality business in Nigeria is one of the enterprises that guarantee all season profit for the owner, little wonder the state capital is dotted with hotels. The state cannot afford to lose it as it is a revenue earner; Kwara Hotels can become the state cash cow if it is well managed. The condition of the beleaguered hotel must not be allowed to degenerate. The lost glory of the hotel must be restored to elevate its status and bring it back to profitability.
Vocational Centre completion, good tiding
The handing over of the International Vocational, Training and Entrepreneurship College (IVTEC), Ajase-Ipo in Ifelodun Local Government Area of Kwara State to government on Tuesday, is good tidings for people of the state.
It is coming at a time when there were speculation that the project had been abandoned by the Governor Abdulfattah Ahmed-led administration.
Some Kwarans had began to express fear that the present administration had its hands in many pies and may not be able to bring into reality its infrastructural development aspiration.
The completion of the project is a pointer to the fact that the present administration is determined to deliver on its mandate of taking the state to greater pedestal.
What is next is for the state government to ensure smooth take-off of training at the vocational college in the first quarter of 2017, as assured.
Also applaudable is the proposed three-month training for staff of the college at the Alfred University in New York, and intended partnership with foreign institution for management and technical collaboration.
Undoubetedly vocational training at the college will help bridge the widening gap between the supply and demand for skilled manpower across various industries in the state and beyond. It is common knowledge that shortage of skills has translated into unemployment among an increasing number of graduates who pass out every year and are forced to be re-trained in order to become marketable. Incontrovertibly, IVTEC will produce skilled artisans and entrepreneurs that will contribute to the development of the state and country in general.
Therefore, this is a laudable initiative that must be sustained for socio-economic development and growth of the state.