Address By The Honourable Minister Of Information And Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, At His First Meeting With Heads Of Parastatals Under Culture And Tourism In Abuja, On Thursday, 19th November, 2015
- Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. I welcome you to this gathering, which marks the first time we are meeting since I assumed duties in this Ministry. I have just held a similar meeting with your colleagues under the old Ministry of Information at the Radio House.
- Without mincing words, the Parastatals under the old Culture and Tourism Ministry, which are now under the new Ministry of Information and Culture, are suffering a crisis of leadership. There are square pegs in round holes at the leadership cadre of some of the Parastatals. Sometimes, where academicians are required, administrators are holding sway.
- There is a critical lack of understanding of the mandate of the various Parastatals by some of the heads, and where they understand the mandate, there is a serious lack of capacity. The implication is that those heading these Parastatals simply invent their own agenda sometimes and impose such on us, with devastating consequences. That explains why most of the Parastatals are lying comatose.
- But for a critical lack of imagination, the National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC) would have just worked to encourage each of the 36 states to declare 10 cities each as cultural cities. Add five cities within the Federal Capital Territory and you will have a total of 365 cultural cities. Imagine cultural activities in one cultural city daily, and you will have such activities for 365 days, all year round! This will improve the economy and lead to a reduction in crimes.
- The National Troupe of Nigeria for example could borrow a leaf from its counterparts in Uganda and Kenya. In those countries, their National Troupes perform for the public every two hours. And it is a regular fixture to have long queues outside the performance venues. Just imagine the kind of money these National Troupes in Kenya and Uganda will be making. Not only will they be self-sufficient, they will have enough money for other things.
- Let's look at another example: The National Theatre. This magnificent and historic edifice is mostly lying fallow all year round. Why can't the management make it available for the use of the creative industry, like Nollywood and others? Even the movies that used to be shown in halls within the building have either dwindled or stopped altogether. No wonder a past administration almost succeeded in selling it off. A less magnificent and less historic building elsewhere within or outside Africa is a money spinner. Yet, all we hear is that there is no money to do this and no money to do that.
- Or is it the case of the National Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), which has the mandate to develop, market and manage tourist sites. How successful have they been in executing their mandate?
- The law that established the National Commission for Museum and Monuments (NCMM) mandates it to establish and manage national museums. What have they been doing? What is their scorecard?
- Take the fact that Nigeria has only two UNESCO World Heritage Sites – Osun Osogbo Sacred Grove and the Sukur Cultural Landscape in Adamawa, when the country boasts of numerous sites that are of special cultural or physical significance to qualify them for listing as UNESCO World Heritage Site. Even the Osogbo is in danger of losing its designation. By way of comparison, Ethiopia has nine UNESCO World Tourist Sites, Kenya six, Libya five, Mali four and Morocco nine!
- Ladies and gentlemen, you all are sitting on a gold mine, but you have either refused to realize this, simply feigning ignorance or totally lacking the capacity to mine the gold. It can no longer be business as usual. Stop feeling second class, snap out of your complex and mine your gold. Culture drives tourism, and both are good for creating jobs reducing crime and diversifying the economy, which are three of the cardinal programmes of the Buhari Administration.
- It is important to state here that Information and Culture is a key vehicle for the massive national reorientation campaign which we are planning to launch soon as part of efforts to drive the change agenda. Culture is particularly important in this regard. We need the National Commission for Museums and Monuments, the National Council for Arts and Culture, the National Gallery of Arts, the National Institute for Cultural Orientation and of course the National Orientation Agency to be part of this campaign, just like we need the Film Corporation as well as the Film and Video Censor Board.
- We will give the necessary leadership to ensure that these parastatals realize their potentials for the benefit of Nigerians. I encourage you to think out of the box to bring about the much needed change in your various organizations.
- I thank you for listening.