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Mr. Acting President, this is the time

… to save the Culture and Tourism Ministry

By MCPHILIPS NWACHUKWU

The decision of the Acting President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr Goodluck Jonathan ,to sack members of the Executive Council of the Federal,(EXCOF), as a way of appointing new federal officers, who, according to former Information and Communication Minister, Prof. Dora Akunyili, will help to inject new blood into the national governance business is a very welcome development to the entire ministries ; and most especially, to the culture and tourism ministry.

Every careful follower of the activities of the Federal Ministry of Culture , Tourism and National Orientation in the last two years will no doubt agree  that the last two years of the life of this once vibrant Ministry was a disaster.

The appointment of the outgoing Minister of Culture, Tourism and National Orientation, Hon Bello Gada was to many a grave mistake ,as his short tenure in office manifested insincerity, purposelessness and ineffective leadership.

When the two years tenure of Bello Gada in office is weighed and compared with the tenure of ,for instance, Hon Adetokunbo Kayode and Hon Idi Hong, whom both served as Minister and Minister of State for the Culture and Tourism Ministry, one would see and feel the ineffectiveness and level of purposelessness that are being talked about.

Hon Gada Bello’s tenure, apart from showing errant disregard for continuity with some worthy programs of his predecessors, did not on  the other hand, initiate new programs capable of taking the Ministry forward.

There were, for instance, a number  of critical issues about the sector on ground before Gada  assumed office. Issues like Artists Endowment Fund and  the Tourism Master plan were among some vital issues , which, for a long time, had created tension among stake holders, which his tenure in office did not bother to look into with a view of bringing a conclusion.

It may interest the  Acting President to know that during Kayode and Hong’s tenures as Minister and Minister for State, virtually all the parastatals in the Federal Ministry of Culture and Tourism had laudable programs, from the heads, whose appointments showed evidence of professionalism. effectiveness and purposefulness.

As a result of that sense of committed and objective appointments coupled  with the leadership of a listening Ministers, the parastatal heads were able to pursue programs, which their impacts continue to register in the minds of culture and tourism stakeholders.

His Excellency, It was during this era for instance too, that one saw the best of Nigeria’s visual art sub sector following the exposition given to the sector through the innovative imagination of Chief Joe Musa. So also was the case in the National Council for Arts and Culture, NTDC, Centre for Black African Art and Culture, CBAAC and  the then, National Theatre / National Troupe under the leadership of Professor Ahmed Yerima, who also benefitted a lot from the professional guide of the present DG of National Theatre,Ahmed Yussufu Atai..

But with the removal of the likes of  Tokunbo/Hong and a replacement of the duo with a lack luster Minister in the person of Bello Gada, what did one see ? a moribund ministry. A ministry committed to stifling in all ramifications, all the laudable programs of the ministry.

It is important to state here that the entire activities of the ministry, which were steered by the parastatal became all comatose with the exception of perhaps, CBAAC and NTDC, which  managed to raise their heads above waters of shame due essentially to innovative minds of their directors, Professor Babawale and  Otunba Runswe.

Some of the appointments made in the last two years, one must admit to say,brought cultural activities to a dead.During the time of Yerima, for instance, the Director General of the National Theater/ National Troupe, the national theater complex, which represents the cultural soul of the nation was open to artists and for their activities.

This was made possible because, the person at the helm of leadership of the culture home, was on his own a man well grounded in the cultural tradition. But a recent appointment to the headship of the culture house completely put a stop to artists usage of their symbolic home.

It is not until recently that life is beginning to return to center following the appointment of Ahmed Yussufu Atai, a well heeled theater management expert and professional man of culture.

As Acting President, Jonathan appoints new federal officers to help him manage the affairs of the Nigerian State, it is the feeling of this reporter, that His Excellency should as a matter of duty salvage the life of the Federal Ministry of Culture and Tourism by appointing a Minister, who is not only knowledgeable in the dynamics  of the sector, but must also have a knack for continuity with laudable programs.

The Ministry of Culture and Tourism does not require a Minister, who will come on board to stifle the life of the Ministry with petty politics, but one , who must run the affairs of the ministry in the best global standards by also appointing parastatal heads, who have what it takes to make fundamental statements.

This is no time to appoint another “Eze onye agawanam”, a one man player, but a time to appoint a Minister, who would be ready to meet with stakeholders, hear them out, consult and take good advices. Do this Mr. Acting President. This is the time. The time to save the Culture and Tourism Ministry.


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