Vanguard-——–After many months of waiting, the Buhari led federal government finally announced the appointment of ministers with their portfolios. While, many sectors of the economy saw the announcement and appointment as a positive development, others did not see it that way.
One of the sectors that did not receive it with gladness is the Culture and Tourism ministry, which was scrapped. The Culture and Tourism ministry is a very important area that should not be tampered with.
The ministry has contributed a lot to the country’s GDP, and tourism industry alone offers the opportunity to lessen the country’s dependence on oil revenue, if properly harnessed. Though, the previous government tried to tap into that by recognising the sector and supporting it with grants. It is expected that the present administration of General Buhari will key into that and do more, but many stakeholders in the culture sector were stunned with the announcement.
The question that many are asking is what is to become of the sector? As a follow up to that, Vanguard Art sought the views of some stakeholders and they responded thus.
In a statement tagged MISSING IN ACTION , the Nobel Laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka who was recently given the highest seal of the City of Florence, as one of the world’s leading art, culture and peace advocates bemoaned the action of the president and said, “We all know that Culture is regarded at best as an orphan, but does General Buhari have to make it so obvious? Even orphans are entitled to a foster home!”
For renowned art promoter, collector and founder of Omooba Yemisi Adedoyin Shyllon Art Foundation, OYASAF, Prince Yemisi Shyllon, the ommision of an art and culture ministry by Buhari’s administration did not come to him as a surprise. According to him, “I am not surprised, generally, Nigeria’s sight has been deformed by Arabic and Christian propaganda against our culture. Lord Lugard who was our first governor general, said that we have no culture. Hegel and others followed, so they never regarded our culture. Even when Probenius came here, he said our art works were not good, but he ended up stealing one and was arrested.
“Even when we were growing up, our language was regarded as vernecular, you were cained for speaking it.Anything that has to do with our culture was termed to be demonic, they don’t even investigate to find out so, whenever people who has such idea assumes position of authority, Art, one of our culture is jettisoned for other things. They forget that art is our culture, our culture is our identity, our way of life,the way we eat , dress and speak. African man has been brainwashed to regard his culture as demonic. It is very unfortunate.”
Also reacting to the development, Artiste/Culture Communicator and former Editor of Sunday Guardian, Jahman O.Anikulapo said, “There is really nothing to say. I did not expect anything anyway, so I am neither disappointed, nor depressed about the omission of Culture. Culture has always been an orphan as Prof. Soyinka rightly said. Government in Nigeria is always a Philistine. Not even with the so-called rebasing of the economy based on the contribution of the Creative Industry to the economy in recent years,which is probably a fraction of what it actually contribues, and the thousands, perhaps millions of young ones that it has given means of livelihood. Watch it, things might even get worse for the Culture sector under this dispensation!!! But they can’t stop a moving train… Nigeria is in the throes of a cultural Renaissance… if the authority cannot understand that, that is their burden; it is not my job to open their eyes and sensibility to what is very obvious. They will be left behind as the world embraces and celebrates the creative resources of the people of this land. Amen.”
Foremost printmaker, painter and sculptor,and one of Africa’s best known and most highly respected artists, Bruce Onobrakpeya feels that it is an ommission that has to be corrected.
“It is a big omission that has to be corrected. I think, it has to be corrected. Let us not begin to think otherwise. It has to be corrected, that is my strong feeling for now,” he noted.
Broadcaster and Culture activist, Ben Tomoloju said it is wrong for a modern government like Nigeria to ignore culture.
“There is no government in a modern society, especially under a democratic order that can afford to ignore culture, as the totality of our way of life in an institutional framework. I do not expect that Nigeria, the fulcrum of African culture whom other African peoples on the continent and in the diaspora look up to for cultural inspiration can literally forget culture in a ministerial arrangement. Besides, General Buhari, as a military Head-of-State, between 1983-85, was the one who laid the foundation for some very positive developments which are now institutionalised in the cultural sector. For instance, he placed culture under a Sole Administrator and things moved progressively fast. As a democratic president, I expect more landmark achievements. No, I dont think PMB can stand anywhere in the world and say culture is not important. We have to give him the benefit of doubt, at least for his antecedents.”