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Another memo on the National Theatre…

By Japhet Alakam
For any  one who has been following the drama going on around the nation’s culture house, the National Theatre Iganmu ,specifically as it concerns the attempt to recall the erstwhile General Manager Mallam Kabir Yusuf Yar’ Adua following  barrage of letters of complaints to the Presidency coupled with series of protests carried out against him by some members of the Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service Technical and Recreational Employees, (AUPCTRE)  one would easily conclude that there is no longer room for a come back for the embattled Parastatal Director.

But as the elders say, that one must listen to the two sides of every story before one comes to a conclusion, the encounter with other members of another  factional group under the aegis of Integrity and Justice last week at the Theatre complex revealed that the man at the center of the controversy, probably may not have done anything wrong warranting his suspension.

The embattled , Kabir Yusuf Yar’ Adua was suspended as the General Manager of National Theatre together with  members of the Governing Board of the National Theatre by the Presidency following disagreements between the two after spending only 7 months in office.

But with the coming in of the new Minister, events at the theatre house took another dimension as the suspension placed on the board members was lifted ,while that of Kabir was not, and instead, an investigative panel of enquiry was set up to investigate the allegations leveled against him.

To some groups, Kabir’s seven months reign could aptly be described as ‘seven months of disaster’ and they therefore campaigned that he should not be recalled sighting series of allegations like wrong approach to administrations and management of human resources, high handedness, unapproachable attitude towards members of staff among other claims against him.

While members of this group are happy that he was suspended, it was not so for another group of workers under the aegis of the Integrity and Justice. Speaking to Sunday arts through its spokes person, Comrade Vincent Ofoegbu, members of the Integrity group who claim to be more  aggrieved than their placard carrying colleagues, who support the sack of Kibir said they still remain loyal to the short time tenure of the suspended Sokoto State born technocrat arguing that the man meant well for the National Theatre.

“We cannot counter our  placards carrying colleagues for fear of victimization, but we  believe that it is only the truth that could change the face of things in the theatre house.” They said.

The group also  alleged that the parastatal’s parent union, AUPCTRE has been politicised and can no longer guarantee the welfare of  workers. They also said that the union has been bought over and as such, the Integrity group now plans to go back to Radio, Television, Theatre Arts Workers Union (RATTAWU) where they all originally belonged.

It will be recalled that after the suspension of Kabir, his deputy, Mallam Yusuf Atai took over as the General Manager of the place on acting capacity..

When the panel visited the theatre on March, 31st, there was a protest by some members of AUPCTRE led by the union chairman, Comrade Dayo Akogun on the basis that they don’t want Kabir back sighting series of allegations against him. It is on the basis of this development that the Integrity and Justice group want to let the public and the new Minister know the true facts so that the victimization of an innocent man according to them, will stop.

According to the group, contrary to the speculations that Kabir was arrogant, high handed and not approachable,” we stand to say that Mallam Kabir within the short period of his stay changed the face of things in the theatre house. When he came in August 2009, he noticed a lot of rots in the place and vowed to correct them and it was in the process of correcting these rots that he was tagged an enemy of those who has been benefitting from the old order.

“Mallam Kabir had no problem with the workers, the relationship was cordial, the workers due for promotion were promoted, he commenced the fencing of the theatre and sand filling of the place.

‘He also recorded an increase in the internally generated revenue and to crown it all, there was no protest against him. His problem really started with the former minister over the handling of the internally generated revenue and his refusal to pay the contractor who handled the roofing of the leaking roofs for not completing his job.”

Based on all these facts the Justice and Integrity group therefore appeal to the new Minister to help them  sanitize the National Theatre by completing the work of the leaking roof, the fencing project and sand filling of the theatre.

They also want the new minister to look into the report of the investigative panel and allow justice to prevail maintaining that Kabir had no problems with the workers and his short time with the workers showed that he has the interest of the workers at heart.


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