Culture and Tourism: One Year of Painful Agony

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By Frank Meke

President Ahmed Bola Tinubu is certainly a strategic thinker. He possibly could pass as the Aristotle of Nigerian politics, and many people wonder at his many socio-economic and political interventions, some of them begging for interpretations.

Out of the blues, Mr President gave us two Ministries, Culture, Arts,Creative economy, and Tourism. The development, though inspiring, provoked bitter and sweet reactions.

Hannatu Musa Musawa

How could Culture, Arts, and a Creative Economy that oxygenate tourism be separated from each other? The arguments raged and trust some of our ranting noisemakers who couldn’t see beyond their noses, they premised everyone who called on the President to do a rethink on the separation of the twins as noisemakers and that they are rude to Mr President.

The President, who is ever willing to listen, waded into the controversy, and explained that he wanted to use the creation of the two ministries to stimulate job creation and offer space for more hands in baking the cake for the renewed hope agenda.

Lola Ade John.

If creating jobs in the cultural tourism industry is the focal expectations of the renewed hope agenda, then the president has hit the bull’s eyes, but on political job offerings for the sake of boys and girls in the political space, then there must be a rethink, considering the huge plundering of the nation by ex- political appointees.

Unlike 2015, when President Buhari came with sweeping brooms to audit the ministry of Tourism and found the cupboards empty without any documentation to help his government restructure the economy, which consequently led to the renaming the Ministry as Information, Culture and National Orientation with tourism sadly on a desk profile. Alhaji Lai Mohammed who took over the ministry, shadowed tourism as the voice of Jacob to culture.

Indeed, and in truth, culture played a significant and pivotal role in shaping our tourism space with the National Council of Arts and Culture under the watch of enigmatic Otunba Segun Runsewe, occupying the Nigerian economic space even beyond tourism rendition.

With a proven track record of delivery while as Nigeria’ s tourism chief years ago, Runsewe rallied and glavernised all Nigerians, particularly members of the National Assembly and State governors, to buy into the Nigerian cultural landscape. He didn’t wait for any presidential council on tourism or any fancy over hyped cultural policy.

Matthew Olusegun Runsewe is a man of faith and, within a space of two years in office as Nigeria’s cultural ambassador and marketer won over the hard doubting minds of Nigerians to value the chains in our cultural economy.

The president’s economic eggs heads didn’t consult the cultural tourism maestro, and it was a grave oversight. Ever strategic, futuristic, innovative, and authoritative, Runsewe didn’t square in the make-believe gallery of cultural spin doctors, but carefully took our cultural products to the owners, the Nigerian people.

And with an abiding faith in Nigerian tourism press in particular and the entire national media landscape, Runsewe launched out with culture as the new oil, rebranded Nigerian Festival of Arts and Culture, and brought the world to Nigeria through cultural diplomacy to trade in Nigeria’s biggest cultural market, the International Arts and Crafts market.

Abuja, in five years, danced like an excited peacock and became the global cornerstone for cultural tourism diversity, which opened doors for all expenses paid international cultural invitational trips for some of outstanding state cultural troupes to showcase our cultural values to the world. Significantly, INAC became a breeding ground to export our cultural diversity to the world and the world to our doorstep. It was counted for Runsewe! .

There were also gains in training opportunities offered by countries such as Turkey, China, and other foreign countries. Indeed, the Nigerian rural communities were targeted beneficiaries of skill acquisitions on arts and crafts, fashion designing, traditional hair making, shoe making, cloth weaving, and so much more. There are living testimonies, no abracadabra!

At each of the two unfailing calendared cultural events, the youths, particularly the female persons, were mentored to acquire skills to reinvent the sector. The records of beneficiaries gave vent to eggheads around the president to rethink and birth an exclusive cultural economy. Unfortunately, they didn’t consult the maestro, and that led to our agonies.

From Kaduna, Rivers , Plateau , Edo, Ekiti, and Lagos States, Runsewe, in partnership with these State governors, delivered on the socio-economic strength of Nigerian culture and arts economy. For a week duration, the festival took place in those States, and it’s evident that both local and international attention were focused on the gains of the iconic festival.

This report today is to audit the Ministries of Culture and Tourism under Hannatu Musa Musawa and Lola Ade John respectively and to submit with evidence the two beautiful women failed this administration, and put to flight our expectations on the renewed gains in the two sectors. My verdict is that they should look for jobs elsewhere or go back to their Egypt.

Both Hannatu Musa Musawa and Lola Ade John do not have depth, charisma, and the guts to take us across the Jordan to the promised renewed land of Hope in Culture and Tourism trade.

Let me situate that Hannatu Musa Musawa as Minister of Culture, Arts and Creative economy, amputated the Nigerian cultural movement through her unbelievable swoop on all the eleven heads of parastatals under the newly created ministry of culture, an effort which caused a heart failure of the Nigerian cultural movement.

Though, changes are inevitable in the journey of life, it is sad for a minister to bitterly knife through the souls of the best we have in the system out of mere political shenanigan, certainly showcasing ingenuity in scandalous self worth.

Runsewe was not only the bigger star in our cultural firmament, there were an Ahmed Mohammed Ahmed and Ado Yahuza, who turned around the fortunes of National Troupe of Nigeria and National Institute for Cultural Orientation ( NICO) respectively before the coming of Hannatu Musa Musawa.

Ahmed literally burnt midnight candles, went round the country, sought out the best creative young persons, and on the flooded planes of Iganmu, Lagos office of the agency, breath life back into our moribund National Troupe, set it off on global showcase and insisted that Nigeria must welcome her foreign guests with the best of culture dances and drummings on showcase. Hannatu killed that dream, but today, she wished to appropriate the gains as landmarks of her key performance metrics.

The case of Ado Yahuza at NICO is equally worth mentioning because we must build on gains and not distractions packaged to deceive the public. NICO also rose from the ashes of misplaced and misappropriated priorities. As a tested human resources manager, Ado Yahuza took NICO’s training school out of the lethargy of focal mission, affiliated it with Nassarawa State University, breeding certificated cultural officers for the good of the nation and for export to global cultural knowledge market.

Under Ado Yahuza, NICO tackled headlong the discomforting cultural malaise among Nigerian young persons, took our languages to the barracks, and schools across the country and flourished cultural revival through cultural clubs in Secondary schools. Our children become proud again about our way of life.

Ado Yahuza also worked hard with the encouragement of UNESCO and got Nigerian heritage values , Sango festival in Oyo State, and our midwifery system listed on UNESCO representative calendar. NICO thematic workshops targeting the academic community and Sundry professional groups produced detailed essays and materials for generic documentation to find solutions to national cultural setbacks.

Hannatu again nailed Ado Yahuza on head for outstanding performance, but would turn around to document his achievements as one of her great achievements in one year.

In a recent publication sighted last week in a national newspaper and written by one Dr Deji Ayooola, an Anthropologist, his deliberate delivery of what was clearly an attempt to credit Hannatu Musa Musawa with scores of achievements she bitterly repudiated by sacking these patriotic Nigerians , is nauseating. It was an anthropological fallacy written to curate Hannatu as our cultural messiah. It failed to click and register against her failed efforts so far.

Though Hannatu was quoted to gleefully admit that the remarkable achievements and milestones in the culture space were the handwork of ” her predecessors” in the sector, it is, however, rankling to the mind why Hannatu choose to sack the best, the ” predecessors ” ( DGs) and sought their replacement with Girls and Boy Scouts!. In a hurry to assert her lordship in the sector, she pulled down pillars unto honour, and she wanted us to clap for her?

The truth is that Hannatu Musa Musawa has added no value to whatever she met on the ground in the culture space and should be shown the way out of this government. There was no inclusivity in the way she ran the ministry and which evidently ambushed critical ongoing gains before she came.

Her first stakeholders meeting at Villa ended terribly in chaos when the creative community told her to regard herself as a mere passenger and not as chief pilot in the fast-moving Nigerian creative train. The media was awash with the apologies of our amiable Vice-President, Kassim Shettima, who promised the culture and creative stakeholders that this government will respond positively to their neglect over the years. Hannatu didn’t get the message!

Hannatu’s effort to reap from the Grammy Awards nominations of some Nigerian acts and whom unfortunately lost out to a South African listed nominee drove nails between the minister and Nigerians when she out of desperation called for an African Grammy Awards replica.

Certainly, it won’t be out of place that Hannatu’s one year in office attracted most stringent controversies ever apart from the edugate affair. The public opprobrium against her, many public missteps is a tail sign that she is surplus to requirement in this administration.

For want of repeating myself, it’s funny that someone somewhere in present day Nigeria, in our culture space, will deliberately mark up the ongoing refurbishment of National Theatre, a private business, owned by the Bankers Committee as one of Hannatu’s pin down achievements. It is a hilarious , unbelievable, desperate movie script written to mock our intelligence.

MOONLIGHT JOBS AND GDP SWEET SONGS:
I was gripped with fear on the anthropological submission that about 257, 754 ” new jobs” were harvested by Hannatu in one year and to the Gross National Domestic productivity, Hannatu’s classical ingenuity scaled up the GDP by a share of 0. 37 percent from 1. 3% to a current GDP share of 1. 67%. This abracadabra figures from certainly a heinous research beats my imagination considering the fact that the Minister and her new team are struggling on all fronts. She held her first retreat with her team barely three weeks ago, so where did the magic figures come from?

There were other generated statistics from the synagogue of Satan, unbelievably outlandish and programmed to deceive unassuming Nigerians.

SOFT POWER MAGIC!:
It was again written by our anthropologist that the ministry spearheaded Nigeria cultural influence from 2.5 % to 46% in the period under review and the brand index perception from 1.5% to 18%. I dey laugh the devil. What? Under Hannatu’s, the clueless Minister of culture? Wonders shall not end with infertile imaginations of some Nigerians. Watch out from this week advertorials, press releases, and paid opinions on the achievements of day dreamers in this government.

On the stakeholders’ belt, the ministry and minister “organised” successfully about 18 stakeholders’ meetings spread through workshops and public engagements by CEBAAC and Nigerian Gallery of Arts. Really? When and where? Hannatu held a creative sector meeting under the office of the Vice President, and just on Friday, May 10th, the Nigerian film and Censors Board, headed now by Dr Shaibu Husseini held a strategic stakeholders meeting in Lagos. Two is the number and not 18, as generously and ingeniously claimed by the magical anthropological hand.

Certainly, the game to justify their appointments is here, and the fear of their removal for poor performance will beyond measure the pushing out conjured figures to the public space. Except for Dr Shaibu Husseini of Nigeria Films, Movies, and Censors Board, nothing good has come out of the Culture House of Hannatu.

Hannatu sadly is her own problem. She was not circumspect and wise to clearly work with the best she met on the ground, but today, without fear of posterity, has aligned with the achievements of those she pushed under the bus in the desperation to have an absolute grip on the sector.

We won’t be surprised to see the same fabulous, fallacious ecosystem emanating from some of her appointees to just justify their obvious failings. Unfortunately, Hannatu can not save the failures as the blind can not lead the blind.

In the tourism sector, Lola Ade John should just go and take a deserved rest somewhere. She is not in tourism, not cut out for it, can not interpret her mission, and is too laid back to confront the two monsters under her struggling ministry.

Madam Lola is a victim of her fear. She is feeble, weak, and afraid to effect changes and drive collaborations that can advance the course of the sector. She has walked into a deadly trap, and it’s too late for her to escape the hammer of non performance.

Her spin doctors are well-known industry buccaneers . They will give you a shoulder to cry on for a fee or reward. Ade John came to seek a sympathetic tourism crowd, and they have been praising her to high heavens and justifying her very grave failings.

I won’t waste my time because Lola Ade John has no technical tourism structure of her own. She is in the wrong place, pretending that she can do the job. Lola Ade John can’t do anything for tourism. That is the truth and the only truth. We won’t be surprised to see her Bill Boards all over Abuja, Lagos, and Ekiti States, showcasing her soft power in cutting red tapes to declare open grandiose tourism projects primed to confuse the uninitiated.

I don’t know why people lie openly to justify just a stay in public office, to which they are unfit to run. Is it a crime to throw in the towel if the ring is too hot and unbearable?

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