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« on: September 07, 2008, 02:06:52 PM »
A man with resources can go for polygamy ?Idi Hong, Tourism Minister

Dr. Aliyu Idi Hong, the Minister of State, Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, shares his life?s experiences with KEMI DAYO-AIYETAN.

Dr. Aliyu Idi Hong, the Minister of State, Tourism, Culture and National Orientation

HIS name is Dr. Aliyu Idi Hong. Hong? Doesn?t that sound Chinese? ?Oh no, Hong is the name of my village in Adamawa Central,? he corrects. According to him, he chose the name as a result of an experience he had as a secondary school student. ?The name Aliyu Idi was common and there was this particular boy in my class who bore that name. At a point, I decided to adopt my village name, Hong. So, I was called Aliyu Idi Hong. Though many of my colleagues joked about it, the name stuck. I am a rural person and I love my village, which could be the reason I chose the name.?

He is the Minister of State for Tourism, Culture and National Orientation. Friendly and with a good sense of humour, he reminisces on his childhood. He says, ?I was the second of 35 children and my father had four wives. He was very strict and encouraged us to be educated. Growing up in a polygamous home was fun and all the children are close.?

But that has not inspired him to be polygamous. ?Maybe because I have chosen to live like a white man,? he says humorously. Is polygamy wrong? ?Of course not,? he retorts. ?As long as a man has the resources to be polygamous, he is free to do that. The maximum is four and anyone who can manage the situation can go for it. My father was successful at it and so many other men. The issue of polygamy has to do with individual capability and availability of resources,? he says humorously.

Born on December 31, 1967, he should be one of the youngest ministers in the Musa Yar?Adua cabinet. Like every other child in the north, he started his elementary education after the usual Koranic school in 1976 at the Hong central primary school and he left in 1982. In 1982, he enrolled at the Government Science Secondary School, Hong, and had his school certificate examination in 1987.

By 1987, he secured admission into the Ahmadu Bello University, School of Basic Studies, Zaria and graduated in 1988. He later gained direct admission to read medicine at the same school in 1990, which he completed in 2000 with a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery Degree. Despite his workload as a medical student, he did not abandon the social aspect of university education as he also participated actively in the students? union politics.

Attributing his sojourn in politics to destiny, he explains, ?I was not born into a political family; neither was my father a politician. I still believe that some invisible forces pushed me into it. It is destiny and once it has been written, you will find yourself toeing that path. I started politics from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, where I was in the Students Union Government.

?In ABU, the SUG is vibrant and it is a reflection of national politics. There are students from diverse race and issues of religion, politics and culture are not shoved aside. That must have prepared me for wherever I found myself as a politician.

?As a young medical doctor cum grass roots? mobiliser, I also served as the director-general of the Prof. Jibril Aminu campaign organisation, where I successfully handled the re-election of Senator Jibril Aminu to the Senate. I was also the Adamawa State Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, between 2006 and 2007 before I became a Minister of the Federal Republic.?

But why didn?t he stick to his medical practice? Laughing, he replies, ?I am still a medical practitioner and my certificates are updated annually. I am involved in their activities. Between 1998 and 1999 I served as the national president of the Nigerian Medical Students Association, Adamawa State.

?Just that being a minister is a national service and by virtue of my current position I would not have much time to dedicate to that aspect of my life. I love medicine and will always remain a doctor no matter what position I take in government. On the other hand, medicine is also a service and it requires your personal attention and care. I am not saying that ministerial appointment does not require such, you can delegate duties and have many hands to work with.?

As minister of state in the tourism and culture sector, he is really excited about arts. Just back from the Osun Osogbo Festival, Hong talks extensively on culture as the unifying factor in the nation. ?Historically,? he begins, ?we share same culture and traditions. I feel highly privileged and delighted to witness the 2008 Osun Osogbo Festival, which has been put together to once again showcase our cultural heritage.

?I am delighted not only because of the rich cultural content of this annual event, but more because today as I speak to you, the Osun Osogbo Festival has become an internationally cherished event. As we all know, the Osun Festival is not only a festival attached to the water goddess that blesses her people annually for prosperity and fertility, but a cultural heritage which pulls its people from far and near for annual obeisance and gratitude to Olodumare, the supreme being who guarantees blessings in the forthcoming year.

?In order to harness the benefits of the ever growing impact of religion on tourism, the ministry has designed a programme on religious tourism in Nigeria. This will serve as a means of attracting people and boost tourism so that we can fully harness the benefits of the sector.

?Apart from the Osun Osogbo cultural festival, other festivals spread across the six geo-political zones in the country include but not limited to the following: Argungu International Cultural and Fishing Festival, Ancient Gobarau Minerate, Katsina State, Farin Ruwa Falls, Nasarawa State, Yankari Games Reserve, Bauchi State, Ancient Dafuna Canoe (800) years old, Yobe State, Mango Park Cenotaph, Kwara State, Sukur (World Heritage Kingdom Site) Adamawa State, Jande Diver Wonder Stream, Benue State, Confluence of Benue and Niger Rivers, Kogi State,Oke Maria Hill, Ondo State, the Olumo Rock, Ogun State, Slave Route Complex, Badagry, Lagos State, Oziomo Royal Shrine, Edo State and many more.

?To encourage the development of the above listed cultural activities and sites, government has put in place a well structured programme to promote investment in the tourism industry. These include the development of quality tourism products and supporting infrastructure capable of attracting and meeting the needs of international, regional, domestic visitors and investors.

?We are also raising awareness and understanding of the benefits of tourism through all strands of the society and within the tourism industry. To achieve our goals for this sector, government is to establish tourism business support group, improve security, re-orient visa officials to a pro-tourism approach as well as pursue an aggressive environment policy that will support and encourage the tourism industry. I therefore appeal to the private Sector to take advantage of the visibility the sector is now enjoying to invest in the sector and partner with the government to develop tourism so as to provide employment for our teeming youth. This is because I am very optimistic that with such a support the tourism industry will soon grow to overtake the oil and gas sector as the nation?s major revenue spinner which will draw foreign exchange to the country through participation of large number of tourists from every part of the world.?

Wondering when he has time for leisure? He would tell you that he is a ?book? person. ?I don?t drink; neither do I go to clubs, so I read. I like reading and buying books - biographies, scientific materials, politics and fiction. As long as I can read it. Whenever I am free, I try to read,? he says.

And handling women who would want him because of his position? ?I don?t even see them,? he says frankly. ?I have so much on my hands in the ministry and I have a family that I cherish, so I don?t even think of women.?


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« on: September 07, 2008, 02:06:52 PM »

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