By McphilipsÂ Nwachukwu
Last weekâ€™sÂ visit to the parastatals of the Federal Ministry of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation by the newly appointed Minister of the Ministry, Alhaji AbubakirÂ Sadiq Mohammade did not only provide an opportunity to understanding the myriads of problems that clog the wheel of developmental progress in the culture and tourism sector; but also provided the needed critical platformÂ to x- raying the preparedness of the quiet looking and seemingly , cerebrally equipped culture minister, who is saddled with the responsibility of turning around the declining fortunes of the Ministry.
Arriving in Lagos in the company of the Director of Culture, George Uffort among other Ministerial aides, theÂ new Minister, whose visit to Lagos marked his first official visit since assumption of office started his familiarization tour cum facility inspection with a visit to the nationâ€™s culture home, the National Theatre, whichÂ serves as land lord to other sister parastatals; including the National Council for Arts and Culture, NCAC, The National Troupe of Nigeria and the National Gallery of Art.
From the National Theatre complex, after interactions with all the parastatal heads and staff of these afore-mentioned agencies, the Minister in the company ofÂ parastatal heads and their aides proceeded to also, visit the facilities of the National Council for Museum and Monument( NCMM) at Onikan and Center for Black African Art and Civilization, CBAAC at Broad Street, all in Lagos.
At the National Theatre Complex, Alhaji Abubakir Sadiq wasÂ received by the Acting General Manager of the Agency, Ysufu Ahmed Atai. While conducting the Minister round the complex, and round theÂ construction works going on at various portions of the large expanse of theater , Atai told the Minister that the turn around maintenance recommended by the builders of the complex, which was to have taken place ten yearsÂ after the commencement of the use of the property would not be until after 30 years.
â€œ It would interest you to know that the first turnaround maintenance, which should be affected at its ten years of existence as specified at construction only came on some thirty years after. Before then, the entire facilities had deteriorated, most beyond repair.â€ He said.
The National Theatre Acting General Manager also called the attention of the Minister to the lingering privatization and concession plans of the Federal Government of the Culture House. HeÂ told him of various actionsÂ taken by various stake holders to challenging such governmentâ€™s ill advised decision, even as he called on him to prevail on Federal government to delist the national monument that is the theater fromÂ her privatization bids.
â€œWe have made representations at the various fora and registered our fears to the Federal Government over her plans to privatize, concession or divest her interest from the ownership of the National Theatre to private concern.
â€œThe request to delist the National Theatre has been on and we appeal to you, Honorable Minister to use your good offices to ensure that the Federal Government delist the National Theatre from the Privatization list.â€ He added.
At the Center for Black African Art and Civilization, while being received byÂ Mr Shedrack Golen, Director of Finance and Administration supported by Mrs A.O.Ladele, Director of Information Management and Mrs G.C.Chuma-Ibe, Director of Exhibition and Museum on behalf of the Director General of the Center, Professor Tunde Babawale, who was unavoidably absent, the new Minister of Culture was intimated about the laudable activities of the organization, which included hosting of international conferences in the Caribbean country of Trinidad, South American country of Brazil, Cameroun and Benin Republic.
The Minister was also reminded of theÂ Pan African mandate of CBAAC, which implies that its activities should be extended to other parts of Africa and Africa in the Diaspora. It was on the need to fulfilling thisÂ Pan African Mandate that Golen speaking for CBAAC called on the Minister to give listening ear to the request of the agency that it be made the cultural arm of African Union, AU.
The Management of CBAAC speaking through Golen also reminded the Minister of Culture of the stifling accommodation need of the parastatal. According to him, CBAACÂ has no accommodation of its own and atÂ the moment operates its activities as tenants in the property of the National Library.
The Minister was also reminded of the need to prevail on Federal Government to upgrade the parastatal fromÂ Grade C agency to a Grade A parastatal arguing that such an upgrade will entail on the financial budgetary allocation to agency for the running and realization of its pan African activities.
In his brilliant response, the calm looking Minister commended the high quality achievements of CBAAC and promised to bring support of the Ministry to the demands of the Center. On the request of becoming the cultural arm of AU, The Minister promised to act on the requestÂ to see to the possibility of its realization.
He also promised to do something about CBAACâ€™S accommodation problem, saying that it did not make any sense for the agency to spend large sums of money in a renting a space, when it would be more profitable for it to have a property of its own.