Message for Lai Mohammed, the Culture Minister


Nigeria is not a jumbled, jangling multi-cultural profusion, unassimilable

into anything whole. Nigeria is a shattered country, a wasteland only to a

mind too depressed to endow it with any organizing meaning. Our culture

has always been our most powerful asset. One without culture is like one

without roots. It is the culture of a people that drives the policy

decision of any nation. In the Cultural Policy for Nigeria, culture is

defined as the totality of the way of life evolved by a people in their

attempts to meet the challenge of living in their environment, which gives

order and meaning to their social, political, economic, aesthetic and

religious norms and modes of organization thus distinguishing a people

from their neighbours.
It goes on to state that culture consists of material, institutional,

philosophical and creative aspects. The material dimension entails all

that has to do with artifacts such as tools, clothing, food, medicine,

utensils, housing. The institutional deals with the political, social,

legal and economic structures erected to help achieve material and

spiritual objectives. The philosophical focuses on ideas, beliefs and

values; while the creative concerns a people's literature as well as

their visual and performing arts which are normally moulded by, as

well as help to mould other aspects of culture.
Culture is, perhaps, the most important ministry. Unfortunately,

previous government never saw it in that light. Our culture is all that

we need to drive our economy and distinguish ourselves as a people. The

impoverishness of the cultural sector, especially low funding, is

alarming. The Federal Government has viewed arts and culture as

unworthy financial patronage.  There is a sense of defeat and chaos in

the cultural sector utterly unredeemed by wisdom.
I believe the appointment of Lai Mohammed is about to change this vital

sector. His appointment is unimpeachably precise. The man is

electrically authentic.  I am of the view  that this bright-level headed

man will solidify Nigeria position on the African art-map. Most

ministers in the past had no idea on how to run this ministry and their

prescriptions were too wooly minded and impractical. Mohammed will

invest the culture ministry with his star power and his credibility. His

high-wattage advocacy will help the cause of the sector. It gladdens my

heart that the Culture Minister is an ambitious man. He has always been:

ambitious is how Lai Mohammed rolls. As man of a socially conscious

streak, I believe he will uplift the sector.
There are certain institutions in the Federal Ministry of Culture

vested with power to promote and sponsor arts and artistes in Nigeria.

These institutions have been ineffective and virtually moribund for

reasons best know to them. These   include The National Council for

Arts and Culture, the National Institute for Cultural Orientation,

National Commissions for Museums and Monuments, Centre for Black and

African Arts and Civilization, the National Gallery of Arts and

National Theatre and National Troupe of Nigeria. Apart from the last

two that has impacted a bit on our cultural space ,others have failed

woefully over the years. We need vibrant men at the helm of these

institutions so as to inject punch and vitality into them.

The National Council for arts and Culture (NCAC) is supposed to be the

engine room of the cultural sector but over the years the institution

has proved to be a failure.  The National Council for Arts and

Culture(Amendment) decree no.5 of 1987 vests NCAC with powers to

establish with the approval of the minister, cultural centres,

theatres, arts galleries and craft centres, for the promotion of arts

and culture. The body is also empowered to establish for the purpose

of carrying out its functions under this act, a national endowment for

the arts. In view of this, the NCAC  is primarily responsible to

promote the development of music, traditional dancing, drama, opera,

films, photography, folklore, oral tradition, literature, poetry,

painting, sculpture, architecture, town planning and general arts,

woodwork, embroidery, weaving and similar crafts-by offering financial

grants and logistic support.   The minister should appoint a competent

hand for this institution.
Alhaji Mohammed should strive to bring grace to the entertainment

industry. This man of a stern but sincere look should encourage the

government to have to new and healthy look at the sector.  This is

necessary now that that Nigerian music has struck her poppiest most

contemporary note. Nigerian artistes are unstoppable fonts of

creativity, driven to follow their impulses and present their art to an

appreciable audience. They are busy unleashing a set of tantalizing new

materials. Our music is layered and deep on every release.

Nigerians obsession to motion picture is one of a kind and over the top.

Nigerians are voracious movie watchers.  The minister should ensure that

the movie industry gets all the necessary assistance from the

government. He should also encourage the growth of cinema because it is

practically at its lowest ebb in the country. Collectively, Indians buy

4 billion cinema tickets evey year why Americans buy 1.2 billion. I wish

our new minister outstanding success and may the grace of God and that

of our Lord Jesus  Christ abide with him.
By Ikechukwu Orji
Orji is a Journalist and Media Consultant.
[email protected] com
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