By Lari Williams

We are not sure that Mr. President has been properly informed of the reasons why the cradle of Nigerians artistic creativity needs to be sold to the Arab Emirate to be converted to a replica of the Dubai Mall and to build a Five Star Hotel in the name of Hospitality and nation building for Tourism.

*Kolanut dance by the National Troupe of Nigeria. Photo: Kene Egbuchuna.
*Kolanut dance by the National Troupe of Nigeria.

We appreciate the fact that the Minister for Culture and Tourism has the expertise in Hotel Management and welcoming tongue of hospitality.   That may be sufficient qualities for Tourism Ministry, but not to kill the Arts and Culture. No bird can fly with one bald wing. The Arts and Culture wing has almost lost all its feathers.

For two decades the prestigious and magnificent Bulgarian master piece acquired for our nations prestigious hosting of the World’s Black Festival (FESTAC) has lost its shine and out of function.

The main bowl of the auditorium has not been used at all for two decades.

“We thank God for the presence of National Council for Arts and Culture (N.C.A.C) in the premises to have created room to establish an artists Village for creative artists and enabling environment for Sculptors, fine Artistes, dancers, singers, and instrumentalists etc to exist and function. This cradle of artistic community is indeed the first of its kind in West Africa.

It attracts Tourists and provides the most useful artistic information about the people called Nigerians. If this portfolio is too loaded to be under one Ministry, we wish to suggest a separate Ministry for the Arts and Culture. The prospect of such Ministry has great advantages. If well managed it will be a leading income generator for our nation just like it has done for the American ‘Broadway’ establishment. The Tourists will come to see our Arts and know our people.

Tourism is not to impose foreign culture on our home and invite strangers to come and enjoy the hospitality of a foreign culture.

Mr. President may recall that after his generous bonanza on the Arts sector, I wrote an “Open Letter to the President” thanking him and in the same vein suggesting that we do not go ‘cap in hand’ to collect our shares individually but to build a HALL OF FAME FOR NIGERIA to preserve our cultural heritage in art history like England’s Madam Tusaud in London and provide work for the painters sculptors, writers, photographers etc for the next five years indeed for a good number of top professional artists to make their prints in the nation’s history. By their works they shall be remembered.

The premises, indeed the complex that constitute the National Theatre is large enough to contain this suggested Hall of Fame without destroying the existing concept of Artists Village, NICO ((National Institute of Cultural Orientation, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN). What better way to introduce Nigeria and its people for Tourists to see?

A Dubai style shopping mall decked with yet another Five Star Hotel or a National and monumental museum of arts and humanity that will display our ‘heroes past’.

Mr. President sir, please consider favourably the choice of the latter and perpetuate the good works of your time. We see the reforms in Railroad, Maritime Roads, Education and others. What about the arts.

The Arts will build a perfect permanent and organic legacy to remember, the reign of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. There has never been one like you.

Your reign will exhume the memories of our past heroes, artists, politicians, sportsmen and women, world champions encapsulated in a hall of fame and to keep the spirit alive we ask for social security and retirement benefit for established artists. Most artists work until death or work till they are tired and wait for death and die before their time.

The consolation is ‘AWARDS’ without cash to cushion their lives. The national awards and awards of excellence and the latest is “life time Achievement Award all of which carry no financial reward. They’re left to jump on ‘molue’ with medals dangling on their chests.

Legitimate citizens, we pay tax, pay rent and we are parents with artistic blood to produce future Nigerian artists running in our veins. Surely that does not amount to crime.

Thank you again, Mr. President for your generosity left in the hands of the executioners.

The Artists Village is a community of creative artists. For the past two years have been hangings like puppets on the string with authorities of the ministry threateningly dangling a scissors along side the string. Creative nerves are left shaking with anxiety and insecurity for fear of being bulldozed out of the premises and out of existence.

The big question is should we have a hall of fame to showcase the memories of our heroes, the wonders and the God given endowment to our nation and maintain the cradle of artistic creativity for the world to see “For our art and culture” to grow or a Dubai style Mall and Italian or Japanese style Five Star Hotel with its attendant social values alien to our culture in the name of Tourism.

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