New Telegraph

So Far, So Good But… Buhari, Oteh, Zaaki Azzay Share Their Thoughts

The Arts and Culture sector in Nigeria has witnessed numerous outstanding developments and accomplishments over the last year. From innovative exhibitions to vibrant performances, the country has shown its exceptional talent and creativity. One significant achievement was the increase in collaborations and partnerships, which allowed for the exchange of ideas, skills, and knowledge, resulting in groundbreaking artistic projects.

Such partnerships also provided Nigerian artists with exposure to global audiences, helping to elevate their profiles and showcasing the country’s rich cultural heritage. In terms of visual arts, several awe-inspiring, thought-provoking exhibitions took place throughout the year. Galleries in major cities like Lagos and Abuja hosted thought-provoking exhibitions that explored diverse themes and issues.

These exhibitions provided a platform for artists to express their views on topics ranging from politics to environmental concerns, creating spaces for dialogue and reflection. The performing arts scene has also experienced immense resurgence of live theatre productions. The rise of talented playwrights, directors, and actors has contributed to the emergence of unique and impactful productions.

Nigerian theatre companies staged exceptional performances, combining traditional elements with contemporary influences, which resonated strongly with audiences in terms of cultural relevance and artistic quality. Also, the music industry in Nigeria continued to thrive, with Nigerian musicians making remarkable impact both nationally and internationally. Several Nigerian artists, such as Burna Boy and Wizkid, gained recognition globally, winning awards and collaborating with renowned international artists.

This increased exposure has not only showcased the talents of Nigerian musicians but has also contributed to the country’s positive image on the global stage. The literary scene experienced significant growth, with Nigerian authors producing outstanding works that captivated readers worldwide. From thought-provoking novels to powerful poetry collections, Nigerian literature continued to showcase the depth of storytelling and the diversity of perspectives present in the country.

The innovative use of digital platforms and social media has, arguably, been crucial in promoting Nigerian arts and culture both locally and internationally. Artists and organisations have taken advantage of these platforms to showcase their work, reach a broader audience, and connect with art enthusiasts, thereby creating a more accessible and inclusive arts community.

However, despite these laudable achievements, the sector faces its fair share of challenges, including insufficient funding and limited government support which remains significant concerns for artists and cultural organisations in Nigeria. This lack of financial backing often hinders the realisation of potential projects and impacts the sustainability of artistic practices. Moreso, the success recorded so far has been possible due, largely, to the efforts, determination, resilience and efforts of the practitioners themselves, with support from private sectors.

Many of the stakeholders are therefore divided about how the sector has, indeed, fared in the last one year of President Tinubu’s administration. While some posit that it is still too early to draw conclusion, adding that it is in a “transition” phase, work in progress, others are of the opinion that nothing much changed. For renowned artist and scholar, Prof. Jerry Buhari, the Tinubu government “is giving us a good impression that she will prefer young blood to drive the culture sector of the country.

This is a very welcomed development. With the young you are can be sure of new ideas, new methodologies that will be driven by innovation and bold adventures,” he said, adding that the young always holds out the dream for a bright future. The “old repent too quickly.” He, however, added that but “to be able to chart a sustainable path requires a government that understands and appreciates the role that culture could play as THE foundation stones of/for nation building and national development.

So, the young would need to collaborate with old, and together in one accord, forge the definitive blueprint for a New Nigerian dream that we all can relate to and be a part in the building project. According to him, the culture sector cannot simply become a “creative economy” by the spoken word alone. “The country must first show in a practical way that they value its importance of culture.

Culture must be given its rightful place as that most critical factor of transcendental value in national development, and must be seen practically for all to see. We can see this in well articulated structures of policies and physical structures that are hubs of implementation strategies. The road to the development of any national must of necessity be launched from its culture. “Without culture, all forms of development are a groping in the dark, unsustainable and without a driving spirit.”

Veteran thespian and the Artistic Director of the acclaimed Jos Repertory Theatre, Dr. Patrick Jude Oteh, posited that ideally, one year is not enough to score a “new” administration especially “one riding on the crest of change.” According to him, the sector has, however, witnessed movement in the appointment of arts administrators who have background in arts or who are conversant with the goings-on in the sector. “But this is yet to translate to achievements/performance within the sector.

Individuals are still pushing the gains in the sector and these individuals are getting overwhelmed with our national economics going downhill. Perhaps most of the changes that have been made are still settling down trying to find their feet but they must realise that time is of the essence if the gains inherent in the sector are to bear the required fruits. In trying to settle down, they should please not forget – this sector needs a functional endowment fund. The will has not been there but I think the resources can be mobilized.

There has been too much talk in respect of the endowment fund. Can these set of broad minded administrators roll back their sleeves and get this to work? Time will tell.” For Hip hop music exponent, songwriter, music producer and TV presenter, Zaaki Azzay, it has been “so far so good.” He noted that he is happy with the appointments in the sector so far, stressing that in terms of deliverance, it is too early to start judging. “It takes a while. A lot of decisions have been made, based on what I have been seeing in the news.

A lot of efforts have been made towards the arts, and culture sector. “So, I think it is too early to start judging because some of these things need time to manifest. I know that by next year or the next two years, there will be an improvement. President Tinubu’s administration would have been complementing the effort that the Nigerian entertainment industry has achieved so far. Because, so far, everything that we have achieved in the entertainment industry is without the government’s help.

“This is the first time that we are seeing an administration that shows concern towards the entertainment industry. The entertainment industry as it is is a source of income for GDP in some other countries entirely. And Nigeria right now is the headquarter and the biggest because Afrobeat is in the centre of the world. Nigeria is ruling Africa, ruling the entire world via entertainment. I just want the government to put in more effort.

Yes, they are making the right appointments, but more effort is needed because there is a lot of money to be made from the entertainment industry, which will help the economy of Nigeria, would improve our GDP. Oil and solid minerals are still good, but they are nothing compared to the entertainment industry. “So, I am very happy with what is happening in the entertainment industry in Tinubu’s administration. I am also very happy with the attention he is giving to solid minerals. Let’s see how it goes.

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