Nanji Tyem, an environmentalist is also the Public Relation Manager, Sheraton Abuja Hotels Abuja as well as the Area Public Relations Coordinator for Star Wood Hotels in Nigeria. An award winning public relations practitioner, Tyem is “Green Ambassador”for the Hotel and a UNICEF Ambassador. The daughter of a former Nigerian diplomat, Tyem had her early education in the United Kingdom, Pakistan and completed her degree in Nigeria. As an ambassador to many projects in Nigeria and Middle East, she seems to be following the footsteps of her father in the diplomatic world. She spoke to Tunde Akingbade in Abuja on her work, projects and related issues. Excerpts;
Q: What is your scope of duties in the Star wood Group of Hotels?
A: Public Relation is all about communication. And there are so many angles in Public Relations. You talk of Crises Management; you talk of Community Relations and Media Relations too. You try to promote the publicity of the organization and its any thing that is related to image making. Part of it is to create something for people to appreciate the organization by getting key messages out to the public.
Q: I know you are a Green Ambassador. Tell us about that?
A: We have this programme in Star wood. It’s a corporate initiative called “Going Green.” In this initiative, we handle issues of conservation and preservation of the environment. “Going Green” has to do with maintaining an ecologically friendly environment. You will discover that our environment is green around here with trees, birds etc around here. We also have a very good landscaping department which maintains our environment. In the rooms we have little flyers that talk about our “Going Green” Programme. The flyers enlighten on how to conserve water. For example, it also does it in a way by telling customers that if they don’t want the towels to be changed every other day; they should just let us know. It helps us to conserve water. Even in offices, we have information on how to conserve energy; how not to leave the taps running. These are little things that we can do at individual level. If you add all these together collectively, it turns to something big.
Q: You also organize programmes for children?
A: Yes, We also organize programmes for children. We have World Environment day every year and we mark that with the children. What we do is that we invite children from the community; we also bring experts to talk to them on various issues such as the problem of the Ozone layer depletion, Global warming etc. We get the children to also present something to the public and to tell us what they know about the environment. That artwork behind you was done by one of the children who took part in one of our programmes. That reminds us about the event. We used to invite people from the Horticulture Society, Nigerian Environmental Society, Nigerian Environmental Protection Board, and National Park to come and teach us what they know and are doing to protect mother earth.
Q: What are the things you are doing in the area of Eco-tourism?
A: We have developed a venue somewhere in the hotel. We call it the “Penelope Garden.” We have a place where we keep birds. We caught two monkeys sometime ago. They were wandering around with no hope. When we found them, we kept them in the “Penelope Garden.”We took care of the monkeys. But unfortunately one died, the other ran away later. I don’t know what happened. We kept the monkeys and took very good care of them for a very long time. It was really nice to have them around. The garden is a very natural place. There are bamboos and trees there. We turned the place into a place where you can actually go and have your wedding reception. The first day we launched the venue, we brought animals such as hyena, apes, monkeys etc. and we taught people about them. So these are the things we do. Also, there is what we call Earth Hour, all our organization all over the world in Star Wood Hotels put off the light for a particular time in a way of conserving energy.
We give children award yearly during the World Environment Day. The beauty in the Programme is that the National Park as part of its contribution organizes a tour to different parts of Nigeria and they chose the outstanding performers that presented things from those schools at that point to go around with them on tour.
Q: Did you go with them?
A: No, this is because of my busy schedule.
Q: I have been to some of the National Parks and I enjoyed the trips. Any plan to take your guests in the hotel to some of the National Parks to make them know about these great places in Nigeria?
A: What we do is to invite children for these programmes but we do invite members of the public too and at the programme we do talk about the parks and where they are and where they can go to. We should know where our parks are in Nigeria and we should be pro active when it comes to taking care of our parks and conserving them. We should develop more parks. Recently, I went with my son and two families to a Park.
Q: Here in Abuja?
A: Yes in Abuja. We just wanted to be close to nature; not just the hustle and bustle to make money. No. Without the earth, there is no hustle and bustle and if we destroy the earth, we will have nowhere to run to.
Q: You won some awards. What are these awards?
A: I won the Best Public Relations person Award in 2004, 2005 and 2006 for Africa and Middle East. I won these awards in Cairo, Egypt several times as the Best Public Relations Person. I also won the UNICEF Ambassador Award. Up till now, I am still the UNICEF Ambassador for the Hotel.
Q: Where are you from?
A: I am from Plateau State.
Q: Which schools did you attend?
A: My father was a diplomat. So, I began my education abroad. My first school in London was called Little Crosby in Liverpool. After this we came back to Nigeria and I was also in Pakistan. I went to St. John’s College briefly, Command School briefly and Nigeria Navy Secondary School, Ojoo, Navy Town, Lagos. I went to University of Jos briefly and I later finished at the University of Abuja.
Q: Coming from Jos area a place where you have European birds coming to roost during the annual winter. What’s your impression about Jos?
A: I loved Jos so much when we lived there and there was no responsibility. I was very young then. I loved hiking. I used to go with my friends. We went to climb the mountains and hills, water falls etc. We liked to explore and there was so much adventure. Thank God we didn’t `get hurt. But there was a day we almost lost a friend at the water fall. We were always going on expeditions to these beautiful places and to explore nature. We were every where those were beautiful memories I have of Jos. I remember the beautiful places, nature, fresh fruits and so on. It was a simple and beautiful life in Jos. I just hope things get settled there.