10th September, 2020
By Taiye Olayemi
Tourism and culture industry players in Nigeria have been warned about scammers pretending as government licensed consultants for post-COVID-19 palliatives.
Otunba Segun Runsewe, Director-General, National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC) gave the warning in a statement on Wednesday.
According to him, these scammers pretend to be government licensed consultants and financial consortia with powers to provide post-COVID-19 palliatives and sundry investment titles for a fee.
He said that their mode of operation included the presentation of well-articulated proposals, parading fictitious and forged references, backed by a mouth-watering financial intervention.
The director-general hinted the scammers’ fake proposals were packaged to suck up the unassuming and simplistic individual and state governments.
He, therefore, warned industry players and institutional investors in culture and tourism economy to be watchful.
He noted that NCAC would resist all ploys to use government initiatives on palliatives and sundry commitments as an instrument to defraud operators.
“We have been receiving calls from stakeholders around the country, drawing our attention to these individuals and their activities.
He said that if left unchecked, “the scammers may ruin our efforts to build trust and confidence between registered operators and financial institutions on one hand and between federal government and state governments on the other hand’’.
“As Chairman of the implementation committee on COVID-19 palliatives and President, World Craft Council, Africa region, I will put up measures with security agencies to expose these individuals.
“In coming weeks, we will interface with both private sector players, financial institutions and state governments on what is going on in the system.
“We are aware that certain gaps are being exploited by these smart guys who are not working alone.
“They have insider contacts, all primed to deceive and cheat people of their legitimate resources in the name of helping them to access funds and credit waivers,’’ he said.
Runsewe enjoined all practitioners and state governments to carry out necessary due diligence by reaching out to the federal government implementation committee on creative industry and relevant security agencies before taking steps on prospects for cultural tourism financial aids or waivers.
“This is a red-flag call and let no one blame us for not saying it loud and clear,’’ he said.
The DG further warned banks and insurance companies to beware, particularly in the choice of corporate and individuals trading or representing their interest with the public.
“Nothing should be done under the table so that innocent stakeholders are not taken advantage of by well-polished scammers.’’
He noted that because the industry was badly hit by the pandemic and operators were looking for quick solutions, the Minister of Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed had acted promptly by inaugurating the post-COVID-19 intervention committee.
The committee, he added, was to help find immediate and future remedies to the huge impact of the pandemic on the industry.
He urged all stakeholders to exercise patient as “strategic plans to arrest the trend has been activated’’.