LET US CLAP FOR Musawa.

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BY FRANK MEKE

Minister of Culture, Arts and Creative economy is a clear study in contradictions. She is determined to confound herself and, at the same time, sell culture dummy to the country as a legacy. Yes, legacies of absurdities, pedestrian and banal submissions as cultural tourism economy.

I have followed her every step on cultural policy mission and vision since she was appointed a year ago and could submit that she is merely chasing shadows and exuberantly prants to occupy the pages of newspapers and social media landscape for most absurd reasons.

Musawa thought and believed that Nigeria’s culture is a tool for propaganda and beauty competition. Certainly, Hannatu Musa Musawa is beautiful, but her thoughts for the Nigeria cultural socioeconomic beautification are merely pedestrian, ugly, and deceptive

Over the weekend, madam minister of culture came shouting again, bemoaning that our cultural policies are obsolete and must be brought to “ground zero”

Now, if Nok culture, igbo ukwu, and Benin cultural artefacts dates back to 17th and 18th century , if not more, and had caused significant stir in global cultural and heritage circles, how then can an upstart, who accidentally found her way to the Nigerian culture space, boldly without fear , sweep those historical perspectives to the dustbin and wish to start off from ground zero, either administratively or through any malaria induced implementation ecosystem.

I see a Hannatu Musa Musawa as someone who is out to claim matriarchship of a sector that has been in existence before she was born. How Hannatu wishes to spend 3. 7 billion naira for research and development for a sector she wishes to bring to ground zero beats my imagination.

Before we proceed further into her latest fantasy on our culture, entertainment, and creative economy, which she wants us to ” clap” for her newest innovation on ” Creativity Acceleration Programme ( CLAP), it is important to ask what has become Hannatu Musa Musawa eight points agenda which she generiously launched and splashed across the Nigerian media space a year ago?

I won’t help her to tell Nigerians that all her so-called eight culture rebirth agenda were all on ground zero on metrics deliveries. She failed and failed, from agenda one to eight, without any noticeable impact either on culture job openings or innovations desirable to further stabilise or cement whatever she met on the ground.

Nation building is about adding new blocks and not putting buildings or structures to bulldozers. Her latest retorts to ground zero militarism in our culture and entertainment space is an afterthought of a frustrated placement that does understand the practical socioeconomic and political interventions expected by a ministry of culture in this dispensation.

You may disagree with me, but I believe if Hannatu Musa Musawa is not removed immediately by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu as Minister of Culture, she will end up blaming the devil for pushing her into the many unexplainable errors which have characterised her cultural missteps
in the past one year.

Let me try to itemise her earlier eight points agenda in contrast to the new dream on ground zero culture slogan. She told us about Destination 2030, which she certainly hopes will”tip” culture and creative arts as significant revenue drivers. In 2015, Nigeria GDP was about 94. 14. trillion naira( 308. 6 billion dollars) and out which the industry, in which Hannatu latest antics is to reduce the sector to rubbles of elephantine fancies, contributed five trillion naira( 16.4 billion dollars).

Even the troubled Godwin Emefiele, former Central Bank of Nigeria ( CBN) governor, once stated that the Nigerian creative economy was worth about 4. 5 billion dollars in 2021, and this is an industry Hannatu wishes to reduce to ground zero if we must continue to believe the abracadabra statistical propaganda by the very likes of Hannatu, who fancies a new revenue target of 100 billion dollars from the industry by 2030. That’s if her ground zero dream is allowed to happen. Indeed, such a dream can only come from a sleeping pedestrian bystander.

Let me not digress! Her other agenda a year ago was to provide tools to enable continuous growth of the entertainment, arts, and culture sector. Abeg, let her show us the tools? She also promised new job opportunities and assured to foster local collaboration and international partnerships that will exhibit our rich and unique national identity in the local and global stage. Where are these after a rudderless one year in office?

Hannatu promised a brand new national Entertainment Centre, National Arts Gallery and National Museum in Abuja, and a gaming sandbox project. We are yet to even see mere groundbreaking showmanship on these Star Trek scripted movie projects, not to talk about a ground zero ecosystem.

There were promises of a standard film festival, Culinary Academy, led by a possible make-believe Michelin star chef from the outer space. These are a few of the Mycobacterium and culture tuberculosis projects that Hannatu has in her haste to impress President Bola Ahmed Tinubu , churned out a year ago

I am beginning to think that these ministers selected by Mr. President , particularly Hannatu, thinks that Nigerians are morons and hardly remember her propaganda driven agenda of yesterday and even today. What a shame!

Now, Hannatu, who is still struggling to prove that she is not surplus to requirement in this administration, woke up last week and demanded for a clapping assembly to usher her into another routine merry go round year of cultural deceptive stimulation and entertainment “misinnovation”which we have never seen before.

Her efforts last year to manipulate the creative community failed flat on her face as she was told to go join the fast-moving nigerian creative bus as a passenger and not as a driver. Certainly, that outing took winds out of her propaganda machine, and Hannatu is yet to recover from the shock. And if we must believe her new innovations are premised on reducing everything she met on the ground to roubles, it then means amagedon has come to culture.

Cornelius Ugwunwa, a young Nigerian tech start-up guru in Travels, and who won the African Youths in tourism tech start-up innovation competition in Namibia two years ago, told me last week that Nigerian young persons who out numbered fellow Genzes from all Africa two years ago, were no where to be found at the 2024 edition because Hannatu was still dreaming of clapping for their special tools to appear under her new magical creativity.

I should think the best Hannatu can do is to talk no one in particular and pose for the cameras. Her new escapade is a trajectory in pretentious cultural rebirth activism. To go hire members of Nigeria Economic Summit Group , a non-profit organisation to come review culture policy or any such documents, neglecting the input and expertise of tested private sector culture and entertainment operators is a script from the Synagogue of Dracular.

It’s indeed glaring that Hannatu does not have the backing of culture and creative stakeholders who may have been convinced that nothing good will come out of the culture ministry of Hannatu Musa Musawa. No notable industry actors from the movie, music, fashion, culture, and the theatre sub sector have paid the iron lady of culture any curtsey visit since her (dis) appointment. It’s ironic that NESG will scan through a document meant to create jobs and empower operators in the field who will now be invited to constitute an advisory council. What a cheek!

We know of various organised trade professional bodies in arts and crafts, fashion, music, dance, movies, theatre, and even comedy, yet Hannatu ignored them to romance with an NESG that exists to prode unsubstantiated influence. These group advantaged the ignorance of the minister Tourism on the same issue of policy review for tourism as if that is the major problem retarding tourism growth expectations.

The Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria ( FTAN) pointedly told the lady in tourism to perish the thought and focus on verifiable immediate gains that could propel sustainable tourism development and not a naked dance in the market place of tourism framework .

Certainly, Hannatu’s move to request Bunmi Ojo, Minister of Interior, to create a special visa scheme for the creative sector is shortsighted in view of the huge money to which most countries generate from visa windows from prospective trade and Sundry visitors .

Indeed, if we must claim to be the entertainment hub of Africa, why create a visa regime to especially favour foreign creatives who, from all intent and purposes wish to visit Nigeria for profit and not for charity. South Africa, which is far ahead of us in the organised culture, and creative business opportunities did not create any special visa requirements or even make special visa incentives to attract global attention.

I was in South Africa about a year at its indaba festival, and part of the complaints from their trade bodies is the stringent visa regime of South Africa. The South Africans know that they are hugely gifted in culture and creative arts possibilities, not withstanding the far-reaching global exposure of its music and culture, still unapologetically and strategically protects her people and their cultural tourism diversity from foreign influences and exploitation.

I doubt if a Hannatu who is begging Bunmi Ojo to create an open “free special entry visa cover” for foreign creatives to run our people out of business, understand the dynamics of the business even though I quite agree that our visa regime should be made less stressful. it is important that we know that each country in the world has certain economic, political, and security peculiarities it wishes to either advance or shield through their visa regime.. All visa applicants all over the world , for whatever reason one may wish to visit such a country, must, through an application, state the purpose of visit and are guided to seek the relevant visa options. There are no special incentives whatsoever.

What type of rebate should we offer to businesses or investors that bring in their equipment to gain profit from our culture and entertainment space? How then do we make money and create jobs when we give out rebates to foreigners while our indigenous organisations pay all kinds of taxes and levies, despite their huge investments. Is Hannatu not aware that Nigeria movies are being taxed heavily outside our shores, with some African countries putting a lid on Nigerian films entering their shores just to protect their own creatives, yet our blue eyed madam minister is advocating for free and rebated incentives for foreigners..

Culture today is a diplomatic tool beyond good and healthy relationships between nations. Otunba Segun Runsewe as Director General of National Council for Arts and Culture, built on that strength and reality and turned Nigeria Arts and Crafts Market into a huge diplomatic gain for Nigeria. Hannatu should run with such open wins and stop dreaming of a ground zero culture slogan. Maybe she should go learn from her appointees at the Nigerian films and Movies Censors Board and National Troupe of Nigeria who have reached out to real owners of the business in Nigeria and are winning back their confidence and support.

If she also wishes to live in denial of the gains of our biggest Cultural tourism festival, National Festival of Arts and Culture( NAFEST), which again Runsewe turned into a brand national festival with trade , jobs and empowerment opportunities for Nigerians, then Hannatu is not in the right place. NAFEST is the only national festival of unity that was well presented to our governors to buy into and there are records to confirm its acceptance and reach by Nigerians as a vehicle to drive our cultural tourism advantages.

It is sad that we have ministers like Hannatu who do not recognise the efforts of others in nation-building but prefer to dance to the drummings of ignominy and self-delusion.

Sadly, Hannatu Musa Musawa, after one year in office, has not taken any major visit to any of the agencies under ministry but chose to hole up in her office to conjure abracadabra statistics for her own ground zero dream for culture. Right behind her office in Abuja is a Nigerian Culture village, a multidimensional cultural tourism endpost, restored and powered up by Runsewe as then boss of NCAC, which Hannatu in her blind pursuit of certain make believe culture infrastructure shenanigans pretends to ignore the existence.

Hannatu culture ground zero slogan is a facade, a game of deceit, a Maradonic dribbling style to waste our opportunities on vain babblings, and to frustrate verifiable deliveries efforts she met on ground which she apparently lacked the practical knowledge to add new blocks.

It’s easy to pull down structures and bulldoze them to ground zero, but difficult to build new structures. To Hannatu, culture and creative arts economy is a mere dress rehearsal. She can’t play big in the open arena of culture either locally and internationally. Her latest ground zero slogan does not deserve our attention, plaudits, and presence. President Ahmed Bola Tinubu should find Hannatu Musa Musawa another job, maybe as a make-up artist in the villa!

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