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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