Photo: Lai Mohammed And Onyeka Ewelue During The Conference Between Nigeria’s Creative Industries And The Ministry Of Information And Culture

I took this picture of Onyeka and Lai Mohammed. This was last year in May, after a conference between Nigeria’s creative industries and the ministry of information and culture. I also joined the conversation afterwards, which lasted about 7 minutes before media folks swarmed all over him.

Onyeka was trying to follow up on an earlier discussion on how Lai can liaise with the foreign ministry to establish culture departments in Nigerian Embassies abroad. These sections would have young Nigerians who’d take up the teaching of Nigerian languages and promotion of culture just as the British Council does for UK, Goethe Institute for Germany, Institute de France for France etc. To be fair to him, he showed some initial interest in hearing more of the idea, but politicians here would never change. If there is no political mileage in it for them, then it’s dead in the water.

During the discussion, He kept saying: “is that so?” over things that should be quite basic for your minister of culture. But away from all that, one would need to ask: what really has this minister done to promote culture within or outside Nigeria?

In fact, during that conference, one of his colleagues got up and said, it was not the responsibility of the ministry to create enabling environment for creative industries in Nigeria to thrive. You can imagine such a scandalous statement!

But today, the same Lai Mohammed is asking Nigerian artistes to stop shooting their music videos abroad. What if South Africa or America provides a better conceptual or aesthetic ingredient for what an artiste wants to achieve with their music, why shouldn’t they go to those locations? Is Lai providing the funds for them? Does Lai understand that one of the things that still affords this country any modicum of respect is the quality of the music coming out of our industry? Even the most remote villages in Africa are probably still dancing to Dorobucci.

Doesn’t Lai understand that Nigerian artistes who make awesome videos in overseas locations are actually helping his ministry and marketing the Nigerian brand? This tells you about the quality of thinking in that ministry. It tells you all you need to know about those at the helm of the country’s affairs. You have to look at all the ministers in this regime and weep. Including the one that wants us to become a pencil-producing country by 2020.

Lai is a minister of a dysfunctional Nigeria, but a Nigeria most of its citizens are quite happy with. Any talk about altering its structure (to alleviate that dysfunctionality) is considered a political agenda rather than a political imperative. If you doubt me, take a look at the Facebook comments on your own timeline. Many victims of Nigeria’s dysfunctionality wishes the country remains the way it is. Which is an even greater tragedy. A fickle people deserve the jokers that lead them.

Written By Mitterand Okorie
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