When you look around, it is certain that the creative tourism sector has been hard hit by coronavirus and now the very painful and avoidable dislocations across the country.
It is very fearful and, regardless of the famed resilience that we are noted for as a people and nation, the damage may take a long to fix. Today, I want to report, to unveil and ask where the palliatives for the creative sector are.
Now that we know that President Muhammandu Buhari has always kept his word and promptly released intervention funds, particularly for post-COVID-19 troublesome situations, where is ours warehoused?
The Otunba Segun Runsewe committee on the creative industry has done a good job getting the industry’s players to build up a strong case, with detailed areas of losses and expected intervention, the real sharing is, however, yet to commence and we wonder.
I am crying out now because I don’t want anyone to accuse Otunba Segun Runsewe of warehousing the palliatives meant for the sector. Some funny characters have been calling me since the youths and their parents (hoodlums?) have been tracking and breaking walls of warehouses across the nation, looting the looted palliatives.
In culture, arts and tourism, we are well known orphans, but very humble in our poverty. My fear is that the urge tar every government official as “pallia-thieves” is gaining ground, hence this intervention.
It will certainly be wrong to ambush a Runsewe, a mere messenger, trying to get the industry palliatives from only-God-knows-who the powers that do not wish the creative sector to rebound involved in a matter beyond his powers.
I am not saying that Runsewe’s boss, the Honourable Minister of Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, knows anything about it but he is our political head in the industry and should tell us where our palliatives are!
From the body language of our dear President Buhari and the sundry discoveries of palliatives warehouses across the nation, something tells me that our creative sector palliatives are somewhere.
All the people who have been calling me and insinuating that I know about the creative sector palliatives surely must know that Alhaji Lai Mohammed is the right man to provide us with believable answers.
Typically, I expect a press conference on this matter and maybe we shall be asked to visit not as a mob but as responsible practitioners the Central Bank of Nigeria for our share.
God bless our President who has remembered us in our low estate and considered us for the palliatives, but I am still worried about some us looking in the wrong place for the right answers.
Please, I am not speaking for Runsewe, as some people may want to allege, but I am only saying our palliatives are long overdue. I am even tempted to ask the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs to speak out as she had done lately, if our palliatives are warehoused with her.
I am not used to fables, but I heard that the minister, not too recently, released enough funds to train youths in vocational jobs, catering and hospitality, through National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism ( NIHOTOUR) and the money disappeared.
According to tale bearers, the officials of NIHOTOUR and a clever private sector marverick did serious arithmetics and everything got warehoused in private accounts. Chop and clean mouth?
If you doubt me, you need to visit NIHOTOUR’s Lagos office and see where pigs wrestle for academic excellence. In fact, the new director-general of NIHOTOUR, Alhaji Nura Kangiwa, is lost in this piggery made manifest due to collaborations within and outside.
This palliative issue will reverberate soon in the sector due to bottled up anger and sheer deception going on at the ministry. Former and ex-permanent secretaries in the Ministry of Culture are known warehouse owners of collective patrimony.
They stole us blind and when we complained, they called us bad press, divided our ranks and enslaved us. Many times in the past, they have laid ambush for me, got security people to “talk” to me, threatened legal action and even got to my ogas to kill my column. Truth must be bitter.
I am not asking journalists to visit the homes of permanent secretaries for palliatives as it’s easy to call one hoodlum in Nigeria now. In fact, I will not be surprised that industry warehouse palliatives owners will call me a hoodlum very soon. Years ago, during the celebration of World Tourism Day hosted by Akwa Ibom State, we summoned courage to get our palliatives from the very house of the then commissioner for tourism who is now a senator.
The other day, I passed through the office of Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) in Abuja, I wondered at the perilous state of the industry’s head office. It is a shame, big shame. Whoever is representing the President in that office does not deserve a mention in the history of tourism development in Nigeria. Abegi, let me waka pass, before the haters of truth find a camera hidden under God knows where.
Go to the National Museum, National Theatre, Gallery of Arts, the Center for Black Africa History and Civilization, NICO, you will vomit. I wonder what magic the new guys in charge of these moribund places will bring to revive them.
All those who think I am a troublemaker should know the enemies of the industry by now. Our problem is not the President or National Assembly releasing funds but the civil servants milking us dry. Except for the National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), the industry may as well forget getting palliatives.
Now that our young persons have woken up from slumber, who will lead the campaign to liberate NTDC, and other struggling industry agencies warehoused by our leaders? I speak for myself, what about you?