By Gabriel Ewepu
ABUJA-THE Federal Government said it will continue to encourage investments in diverse sectors, particularly the hotel, tourism and hospitality sectors of the economy as part of plans to diversify the economy.
Speaking during the launch of BON Hotel Abuja on Tuesday, the Deputy Senate President, Dr. Ike Ekweremadu, said with investments coming into various sectors of the economy, that Nigerians will gradually develop international and home-grown skills that will sustainably keep the economy in top shape.
Ekweremadu commended the BON Hotel Group for emphasizing their strategy of local skills and training in the Nigerian hospitality sector, pointing out the group made their home-grown policy known when they entered the Nigerian hotel management arena some two years ago.
According to him, recent reports issued by the group which indicates that the number of Nigerian managers coming through their programme shows BON Hotel’s commitment to skills development and transfer for Nigeria and Nigerians.
Speaking at the launch of the newly refurbished BON Hotel Abuja, the Chairman of BON Hotels International West Africa, Mr. Otto Stehlik, said he is extremely pleased at the progress of the BON group, saying BON Hotel recognized the need of skills development when it began operating in Nigeria.
Stehlik said: “We put together a transformation program, which the board identified as a priority. We are finally in a position where we have a team of elite Nigerians who have been trained, educated, skilled and, importantly, mentored to head up and be supported by senior executive management and head office.”
Stehlik said this idea formed an ideal base for future growth in Nigeria on all levels, saying it is apparent that BON Hotels have a sincere strategy of tapping into the skills and expertise of seasoned hoteliers of upskilling local talent.
Giving insights into how far the group has come, the Executive Director of BON Hotels International West Africa, Mr. Bernard Cassar, said the organization is proud that its hotels across Nigeria is peopled by mainly Nigerians and a few expatriates staff have devoted their energy into transferring their knowledge and abilities to eager Nigerian recruits.
“We are able to boast from the rooftops that more and more of our hotels are managed on a senior level by locally trained Nigerian staff. This strategy has been a work in progress, when as far back as 2001, Nigerian individuals were identified and fast tracked to form a new generation of localized senior managers”, Cassar stated.
According to the BON Hotel executive director, of the 25 hotels which BON hotels manage across Nigeria, 80 per cent of their general managers, deputy managers, senior management, department heads and executive chefs have, over the last two years, been trained, skilled and promoted to senior level positions by the group.
He explained that the Nigerian management headed by a Nigerian, Mr. Paul Umoh, who, from his position as executive director and major shareholder at BON Hotels International West Africa, has been one of the many local Nigerians who have been fast-tracked through the transformation policy, adding Umoh heads up the on-the-ground operational management of the Nigerian hotels.
Pointing out that multinational Nigerian hotel sector has been run and managed by expatriate leaderships imported from countries such as the United Kingdom and South Africa in the past, Cassar said the predisposed support of imported staff, imported raw material, and imported supplies with very little local encouragement is one that BON Hotel has come to address, adding in two years, that BON Hotels has been able to identify the right talent within their ranks and has placed a strong focus on fast-tracking and supporting their home-grown programme.