We’re Tired Of Cats & Pythons Dance, Invest In Arts And Culture To End Enterprise Of Violence In Nigeria – Hon Omoregie
By, Uchechukwu Ugboaja
While Nigerians are applauding President Buhari for finally approving the Nigerian Army’s launch of Operation ‘Cat Dance’ in the North-Central region in response to the ravaging suspected herdsmen militia attacks on several farming communities that have claimed thousands of lives in recent years, the House of Representatives Committee on Arts and Culture Chairman, Hon. Ogbeide-Ihama Omoregie have insisted that more investments in Arts and Culture by the federal government will drastically reduce the orgy of violence across the country.
Speaking during the budget defence of the Ministry if Information, Culture and Tourism before the House of Reps. committee on Culture and Tourism, the Edo state born Prince requested Minister Lai Mohammed to specifically take the message to Mr. President that there is need to invest more into culture and tourism if we sincerely want to end the spate of violent conflicts in the country.
According to him “I want the honourable Minister of Information to take this message to Mr. President that we are tired of Cats & Python’s dancing when we should be investing in arts and culture which will adequately engage our youths.
“If we take a look at the state of the nation today we will see how people are being killed on a daily basis as if human life don’t matter anymore in our society. Culture can become that tool that will unite us again, because operation cat dance and python romance cannot solve this problem. Nigerians will not be intimidated, but engage them by investing more in arts, culture and tourism.”
He also lamented the fact that there are sinister attempts to sell the National Theatre which could severely damage the prospects of the culture and tourism industry as it could render thousands of Nigerians jobless in the sector redundant.
“Thank God we have the Artistic Director of the National Theatre here today, I want to equally remind you of a resolution that was passed on the floor of the House which says that we cannot sell the National Theatre.”
Describing the National Theatre located at Iganmu, Lagos as a national structural monument that uniquely symbolises Nigeria at the global stage, he vowed that it will not be sold under the watch of the 8th Assembly and that as the representatives of the people the House of Reps will ensure that more national monuments will be built rather than been sold by government.
He also went further to criticise the failure of the federal government to increase allocation to the Ministry.
In his words, “We are tired of hearing approvals from Mr. President for various other sectors of the economy but we never hear of any approval for the arts, culture and tourism sector. We need to see a deliberate effort by the Federal Executive Council to boost the sector which will be in tandem with the plan to diversify the Nigerian economy.
“Federal Government must give attention to the culture and tourism sector not just because it will attract foreign direct investments (FDI) into the country, or because of the millions of youths that it has potential to engage but because it has the power to foster unity and peace amongst us as a people.
“Government policies must be seen to be fair on the culture and tourism sector and it is your responsibility as the mouthpiece of the government to keep advancing this message before the FEC, because at the end of the day more youths will be able to participate in various cultural and creative business including sculpture, painting, theatre arts and music which would be consumed both locally and internationally,” he said.
Meanwhile the Director General of the National Council for Arts & Culture (NCAC), Dr. Otunba Runsewe have also stated that his agency can do better that the paltry N500,000 internally generated revenue (IGR) which the Ministry of Information reported in its 2017 budget performance.
According to him, the NCAC has the capacity to do better N500,000.00 IGR if we are given more funding for our various programmes especially the AFAC which we intend to give an international perspective with our partnership with the Chinese government.” He claimed that if given the right funding, an IGR of over N3 billion every year is possible.
It is worthy of note that Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information had earlier asked the House committee not to treat the Ministry of Information like the Petroleum Ministry with regards to the N500,000.00 IGR it presented for 2017 as the committee members queried why such meagre amount would be recorded for a ministry in a year.