Last week, we engaged our Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and his entire team, not excluding the nine agencies under his watch, to minister to us. Entitled: “When Ministers needs ministration”, we carefully explored the entire human resources architecture, and pronounced the Permanent Secretary and majority of the agencies heads, as failures. And because they have failed, the industry has struggled, private sector engagement windows off the beat and a general darkness loomed over a sector, with the greatest potentials to turn around the troubled Nigerian economy.
That same Thursday, when our column hit the public space, some of our prophetic introspection and expectations, were also on the table of the” Supreme court” in the National Assembly where Ogbeide Ihama, the fire spitting House Committee Chairman on Culture, tore up the Ministry and its agencies for failing to justify the call for a united Nigeria through Cultural tourism.
Today, I put this great lover of Arts and Culture, a chess master, an engineer turned politician, a football game lover like me on the marble of public perception and engagement.
Ogbeide Ihama, is by all means a youth, very young and has on his shoulders a very significant socioeconomic assignment to which history will judge him as he traverse the Nigerian political space. Okay, what are we driving at on this outing, you may ask?
Let first, give you the deep insight and as we stated last week, every year bugdet presentation and approved budget releases, were never in the public domain, making it difficult for the industry and the oppressed tourism media to hold the ministry and its agencies accountable.
One critical example is that of Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), which has measured ignobly as a Banana Republic where citizens could be Golgothaned for asking for accountability and performance records.
It’s not only NTDC that bears this badge of dishonesty, there are others that does not deserve government funding particularly at this period when we are borrowing to service critical infrastructure, needed to drive Cultural tourism.
Indeed, the intervention by Ogbeide Ihama during his opening remarks to kick start the yearly budget presentation ritual, underscores the need to revisit the Orosanya report on agencies mergers. If you ask me, NIHOTOUR should swallow NTDC, an issue in Perspective.
I learnt from a report put together by chairman, Board, Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN) Chief Samuel Alabi which may possibly go viral soon, on legal position which red marks Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), as not known to law. Chief Alabi, is notable lawyer and is not pedestrian.
Another issue for another day for Alabi’s sledge hammer on NTDC, so where did Ogbeide Ihama, draw the provocative curtain? Hear him’’ There are countries in this world today that their oil is culture, some others Tourism, and we ( Nigeria) is endowed with both sectors and unfortunately, we are not taking full advantage of it”.
He continued” The Ministry has its limitations ( poor performance, emphasis mine) the sector requires funding and I will for the sixth assembly budget defence session, use the opportunity to call on the Federal government to look towards this sector (If NDTC and other siddon look agencies) and see how funding and attention can be given to Culture and Tourism.”
Ogbeide Ihama, a politician with eyes on youth empowerment and Cultural development, further explained: We can create employment, empowerment and also drive national unity (through Cultural tourism). This country has never been divided as it is today and it’s apparent, Culture is another way of bringing all the diverse tribes together in form of festivals and (dance, Arts) Competitions. These can bring unity, employment and skill acquisition’.”
Now that you have the timelines of the Honourable “Supreme court” verdict by the likeable chairman of the House Committee on Culture, (Honourable Ogbeide Ihama has attend all the Culture engagements of National Council for Arts and Culture), it is also important to ask if the Permanent Secretary and Ministry officials, have ever attended any Cultural tourism engagement since the lifetime of this administration?
Don’t ask me if the minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has ever did same? And like I pointed out last week, Alhaji Lai Mohammed did visit NTDC, and lectured on the how to meet up with public tourism expectations, since NTDC draws funding from tax payers money.
Those who are angry about perceived poor showing of the minister on the culture tourism beat, should know that our kakakin kebbi, was always present at nihotour programs and activities, ditto at those of National Institute for Cultural Orientation ( NICO).
And as we speak, the Minister and his team are in Paris for an investment meeting between Nigeria and France. That the minister did not carry the leadership of the Federation of Tourism Associations or even the tourism media, along is another issue for another day.
Now why should a Minister, Lai Mohammed and some of his failed agencies heads who does not relate effectively with the organised tourism private sector, lament about the justified slashing of about 1. I billion naira from the 2021 budget. ‘Na wetin Dem do self?’
Again let us hear the lamentations of Lai Mohammed. “ I am not happy with the National Assembly, sir with due respect, because a whopping 33 per cent was chopped off. I proposed 3 billion naira and they took 1.1 billion naira out of it and I was paralysed completely.
He raked the more, “The National Assembly is like the Supreme Court, and once they give judgement, there is no court to appeal to”
Notably, the Minister had proposed a 7.84 billion naira for 2022 budget, with 900million for overhead cost, 3. 90 for personnel cost? 777million for capital expenditure. Information and Culture capital proposal is pegged at 645. 7 million naira and we watch.
Now that we know, I will advise the Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN), to visit Ogbeide Ihama, Senator Rochas Okorocha, Senate committee, chairman, to push for technical input to the entire industry funding mechanism to avoid leakage and to enthrone accountability in order to avoid the story of , “much is given and nothing to show” for it.
By the end of this year, we shall begin to stone non performers, not because we have personal issues with them as some dark forces, always tunes off but because we expect that Nigeria should be in the top tourism ranking in Africa. So failures be warned, there is still room to make amends. Oto ge! Enough is enough!
•Next week, Blood soaked Enemy flags in our National Parks!