Thursday, July 19, 2007



In the crucial year of Civilian-Civilian transition representing a major landmark in our nation's democratic journey, the CORA has resolved to mobilise the arts and culture community to begin the process of setting an agenda for the new set of political leaders and public office holders. This is the fulcrum of the ART STAMPEDE no 62.
Below is the preamble as dredged out of past similar themes and gathering by the CORA:

BEING the communiqué of the 46th Art Stampede that held at the National Theatre on Sunday March 2, 2003 with the focus 2003 Elections: what Artistes Demand From the Aspirants

PREAMBLE: Participants at the event were drawn from various professional art bodies some of which include. NANTAP, ITPAN, S.N.A' SONTA.' ANTP and PMAN.
Discussions were held against the background of the approaching general elections; and the trend of contributions for the period of about five hours that the Stampede was on was about defining and devising a strategy of engaging the instrument of governance to the advantage of the organized arts community. The precedence of a 1999 Stampede titled "What shall we tell the legislators?" further strengthened this trend.
In the course of the deliberations the following general and specific observations were made.
For the period of the four years (1999-2003) running to an end, elected officers into all levels of government have done less of governance and more of self-aggrandisement.
As far as Nigerian politicians are concerned, artists and all the instruments of their trade are nothing but ingredients of political assumptions and thereafter, they become tools of amusement at both public and private functions.
The claim of the Nigerian experiment in democracy as a government of, for and by the people is nothing but a ruse particularly given the fact that government appointees into the leadership of art related bodies have been betrayals of this notion.
The dismal rate of development in the arts sector has been a reflection of the lack of idea of government as far as moving the art and culture sector forward is concerned.
Artists have to take up the challenge of improving their art in a more innovative way; by positioning themselves at vantage positions in the business of governance.
All that government may perhaps have to do to get the cultural and art sector on its feet is to provide the needed infrastructure for its growth and development without necessarily insisting on running its day-to-day affairs.
To effectively mobilise the divergent forces within the culture sector, the strategies for art advocacy and agitation have to be reworked from the precepts of understanding the nature and character of conflicts that ordinarily exists within the governing structure and exploiting same for the good of the art and culture community.
o Lobbying as a form of actualizing the sector's aspirations has to be collectively and creatively embraced by all the workers in the art and cultural community.
o The proposed sale of the National Theatre is nothing but a further indication of the arrogance and lack of respect, not only for the wishes and aspirations of the workers in the sector, but above all for the totality of the heritage of our people as a whole.
Drawing from all the foregoing, the Stampede thus came to a point of agreement on the following positions and recommended as follows:
In specific terms
o We must recover, revive and reactivate the National Endowment for the Arts charter and re-present if before the incoming political office holders.
o All organizations therein gathered must pay particular attention to the prospect of contributing to the realization of forming a broad-based coalition of all facets of the cultural and art sector with a view to championing a common agenda for the overall benefit of all. This could either be known as contact group or a lobby group.
o All organizations present at the stampede and subscribing to the ideals of a fully developed art and cultural sector must take measures that would appraise it of government's policies as such concerns the industry and take proactive actions for the benefit of the sector.
o We must explore all instruments of opposition provided for in the statute books of the country against any policy or legislation that is against artists and their profession. In this light, the house resolved to explore the judicial angle of resisting the sale of the National Theatre among other cultural edifices that we hold dear.
In general terms we must impress it upon public office holders that
o Establishment of a well-stocked library in every local government area is an imperative in the age and time in which we live;
o Removal of fiscal bottlenecks that hamstring cultural institutions in general;
o Completion of all unfinished and abandoned cultural centres and theatres everywhere in the country must be of paramount importance to policy maker and executors in the next four years;
o Utilisation of the arts of Nigeria and materials from traditional lifestyle and lore of the people of Nigeria in national enlightenment programme and development projections must transcend the myopic level of the superficial to the proper status of fore-grounding;
o The poor implementation of existing curricula in fine art education from primary to tertiary levels must be positively reviewed;
o Addressing the paucity of information flow to the artists' community on the activities of culture parastatals must be seen as a duty;
o Establishment of proper Book Commission in the Ministry of Culture as an aid to legislation, cultural agreements and protocols involving writers' associations and writing intellectual property rights negotiations as they relate to creative writing;
o Supporting a Book Foundation, a coalition of all the national associations involved in the production and distribution of books;
o Provision of subsidy for the production of books for which is either only sonly small restricted book market or no publisher rich enough;
o Making book fairs aid or book exhibitions a part of every arts festival, and;
o Encouraging the linkage of Nigerian Book markets in other countries realizing that the segmented book market in the world has been no help to either our local book buyer or publishing industry;
o Giving artists deserved visibility in all matters concerning their trade;
o Making the exposure of and presentation of Nigerian art, literature, movie, music and television programmes a functional part of Nigeria's image abroad;
o The Ministry of Culture must support a regular artist (writer, musician, actor, theatre director, light designer etc) exchange programme with other countries;
o Establishment of a proper National Arts Award as well as support inter-African art honours at the level of the African Union (AU);
o Granting of subventions to ANA, NANTAP, PMAN, SNA, and CMPP and other artists organisations, to link writers, theatre artists, musicians and all arts and culture producers and workers across the country, irrespective of language, public or religion.
o Putting a stop to censorship and harassment of writers, fine artists, musicians, moviemakers etc;
o Creation of avenues for annual fair on books published outside by Nigerians and books on Nigeria by writers of other countries.




Mr. Chairman, Guests of Honour, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen. I wish to say how honoured I am to have been asked to give the keynote at this 62nd edition of the Arts Stampede as organized by CORA.
I will like to commend CORA for the important role it has been playing in the country this past 16 years as a formidable pressure group. It may be tempting for CORA to think that the outcomes of the various Arts stampedes are not taken seriously by those in authority. This is not so. About two years ago, I was with one of our former Ministers for Culture and Tourism when he complained to me that some of the comments at one of the CORA's arts stampede were unfair to him. That goes to show that even if they don't respond, many of our policy makers are following most of the discussions that emanate from the pages of our newspapers. Apart from this, those of us who were associated with the arts sector before going into public office are always mindful of the possible outcome of our official activities. I could recollect an incident that occurred during one of Professor Wole Soyinka's visits to Abuja. When one of the guests was trying to commend me for my performance in the National Assembly, Professor Soyinka quickly replied that I had no choice but to do well knowing fully well where I was coming from and where I will return. It is therefore my fervent belief that CORA has done favourably well as an effective pressure group in the area of arts discourse. I equally believe that this is one of those occasions when I have to return to give an account of my stewardship.
PREAMBLE: Going through the resolutions from the 46th stampede on the same theme of OUR ART, OUR DEMOCRACY which held on Sunday March 2, 2003, two particular points captured my attention;

i). "The dismal rate of development in the arts sector has been a reflection of the lack of idea of government as far as moving the art and culture sector forward is concerned."

ii). "As far as Nigerian politicians are concerned, artists and all the instruments of their trade are nothing but ingredient of political assumptions and thereafter, they become tools of amusement at both private and public functions."

My purpose this afternoon is not to refute or confirm the above statements and any other previously held assumptions about the position of our policy makers as regards the arts sector. My mission is to give an appraisal of what has transpired in the last political dispensation. In the process, I will to throw up some important issues. It will then be up to the distinguished array of discussants and the audience to map out the way forward.

INTRODUCTION: The arts has not always been given much degree of prominence in the political agenda in Africa, Latin-America and Asia. Nevertheless, an increasing number of governments are now recognizing the importance of culture in itself and in connection to social and economic development.

In Nigeria, the right to culture is anchored in the constitution and plays an important part in retaining the national unity in the country. The Federal Ministry of Culture and Tourism which was established in 1999 by the then Obasanjo's administration and its 10 parastatals is in charge of the cultural activities in the country. Even though some degree of progress has been made in the area of culture, the Ministry is still seen as one of the most inferior ministries in the country.

An inkling to this could be gleaned from the experience of a former Minister of Culture and Tourism. This Minister once observed that when his appointment as a Minister was confirmed, he was hailed and celebrated by his town people. However, the moment it was announced that he would be in charge of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the celebration turned to mourning because he was deemed to have been sent to an inferior Ministry. This perception of the cultural sector as the Cinderella of the government has persisted till date. Apart from the fact that the ministry with four departments and ten parastatals is at the bottom of the budget ladder, (allocated less than 1% of the annual national budget) more worrisome is the poor level of budget releases (from 0% to 50%) of amount appropriated. We shall talk more on this later.

The Administration of Culture in Nigeria.

At the risk of being accused of preaching to the converted, I will like to briefly review some basic information on culture. For instance, it is now generally accepted that culture is fundamental to human existence and human civilization, embodying in its dynamism the totality of a people's response to the challenges of life and living. Culture offers meaning, purpose and value to the socio-economic, political and aesthetic ethos of society. Inevitably therefore, cultural and political formation are inseparable.

In materialistic terms, culture ramifies the production, distribution and exchange categories of social and relational existence of mankind. Culture, both of the material and intangible categories, offers a window unto the actual contribution of a people to human civilization.

When well funded and managed, the arts has the potentials to create employment opportunities through the establishment of cottage and culture-based industries. Against the background of the recent spate of literary awards won by foreign based Nigerian writers, the arts has the potentials of giving the country the much needed positive publicity that even the most expensive public relations outfit cannot match.

With the vast and diverse cultural wealth of this country, it is a pity that the country still relies heavily on oil and allied products for its economic resources. The culture sector has the potentials of being the basis of the much needed technological break through for Nigeria.

As was stated earlier, the current Federal Ministry of Culture and Tourism was established by the Obasanjo's administration in 1999. Prior to this, it was under Obasanjo's leadership between 1976-1979 that Nigeria hosted the entire black world during the World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture tagged FESTAC 77. The coming of FESTAC then gave birth to such monuments as the FESTAC Town in Lagos, the once magnificent National Theater edifice and the Durbar Hotel, Kaduna. Also include is the Museum Kitchen and the craft village built outside the premises of the National Museum Lagos. Just before his exit in 1979, Obasanjo also approved the establishment of a unique Gallery in the National Museum, Lagos as well as the creation of the National Commission for Museum and Monument and the centre for Black and Africa Arts and Civilization (CBAAC). It was therefore a confirmation of his interest in the Arts sector that President Obasanjo on his return as a civilian President in 1999 created the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

I have gone into all the above as a basis for my subsequent observation on how a president with such an impressive credential as a pro-culture and arts enthusiast could have inadvertently or deliberately spoilt what could have been a glorious cultural era through poor funding and haphazard policies.



During my four year tenure as a member of the House Committee on Culture and Tourism, poor funding was the biggest obstacle to the smooth running of the Culture and Tourism sector. With budgetary allocations of less than 1% of the annual national budget, the Ministry was at the lowest budgetary rung. Even when the National Assembly appropriated funds, the president constituted another implementation committee under the finance ministry to reduce these appropriated votes. To worsen matters, not all of the reduced votes were released to the ministries and agencies. An analysis of the 2005 budget is very instructive in this matter.

a) Nigerian Copyright Commission
Capital allocation by appropriation act was N524,818,655 but was reduced by implementation committee to N50,000,000.
Amount Released = N 3,750.000
Percentage = N 7.5%

b) National Commission for Museums and Monument
Capital allocation as appropriated by the National Assembly was N520,800,000 but reduced by the implementation committee of the Finance Ministry to N408,307,200.

By the second quarter of 2005, no money had been released.

c) The Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation
The NTDC capital project as approved by the National Assembly was N141,050,000 and was reduced to N110,583,200 by the implementation committee.
Amount released = N19,400,000
Percentage releases = N17.55%

d) The National Council for Arts and Culture
The NCAC got N133,875,000 from the National Assembly which was later reduced to N104,956,000 by the implementation committee.
Amount released = N1,875,000
Percentage = N1.79%.

e) The National Gallery of Arts
The National Gallery got an initial appropriation for its capital to the sum of N525,000,000 which was later reduced to N409,500,000.
Amount released = N34,968,500
Percentage = N8.54%

f) Centre for Black African Arts and Civilization (CBAAC)
CBAAC got N118,000,000 from the National Assembly. This amount was reduced to N92,040,000 by the implementation committee out of which N29,500,000.

g) National Theatre
N850,000,000 was appropriated but reduced to N663,000,000 out of which N22,874,979 representing 3.43% was released.

h) The National Troupe was the luckiest in the 2005 budget when it was able to assess about 50% of its approved capital allocation amounting to N39,000,000 out of its N78,000,000.

The above analysis captures the general budgetary trend for the 2003 - 2007 period and could thus explain why the culture sector found it difficult to carry out its official functions.

It is also to be noted that appropriations by the National Assembly which is expected to have taken into cognizance all the expectations of the stakeholders in that sector is a law which shored not be altered by any person outside the National Assembly. However, President Obasanjo in his own wisdom never implemented the budgets as passed by the National Assembly throughout his four year tenure. The president's excuse for this executive lawlessness was the fact that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had advised him that the budgets as passed by the National Assembly if implemented, would cause inflation in the country.

Unfortunately, the National Assembly which should have opposed this flagrant disrespect for the constitution was held to ransom by the overbearing influence of the ruling party which insisted that its members who form the majority in the National Assembly must obey the party's policy. The few legislators who were members of the ruling party who wanted to oppose this anomaly, could not do so out of the fear of being disciplined by their party for party disloyalty .

2. The Cultural Policy / Endowments for the Arts

Another handicap against the effective management of the cultural sector is the absence of a cultural policy as well as the Endowments for the Arts. Produced since 1988, the cultural policy is still being reworked and reviewed with the active involvement of cultural workers, scholars. Various committees have been set up to collaborate with UNESCO in order to make the document very relevant to culture and tourism in the country.

Under the sectoral policies, section of the document, the support for Artistic and Literary creation has been included.

If finally passed, the policy will among other thing make provision for a Federal Fund for the association to artists and purchase of the needed materials. Other types of support available to artists or writers depend on cultural industries that are directly involved or influence artistic and literary creation.

There are other provisions in the policy for the assistance of members of the arts community such as writers, musicians, artists, actors among other.

Unfortunately, several years after its first production, the cultural policy is still being worked upon.

From what I gathered at the last sitting of the committee where I was invited, the slow pace of work on the policy is due to the involvement of UNESCO which is keen on bringing up the policy to international standard. However, as I pointed out at the said meeting, the delay in bringing out the policy remains a big set back to the much awaited endowment for the Arts.

This point was reiterated in my remark at the celebration the world Cultural day in Abuja on Saturday May 21 2005 where I represented the chairman House Committee on culture and Tourism. As I put it during the event, "we are also looking forward to the much awaited policy on culture as well as the endowment for the arts; two very important innovations which we hope, will further improve the activities of the cultural sector. From our investigations it is obvious that the relevant documents for these two innovations are still being fine-tuned by the ministry. We want to plead with the Honourable Minister of Culture and Tourism to expedite action on these two documents in order to ensure their quick passage into laws. As representatives of the people, Nigerians from all walks of life are daily bombarding us with requests for the quick passage of these policies into law. Unfortunately, being executive Bills, there is nothing we can do until the ministry sends the documents to us".

Up till the time the last National Assembly rounded up its activities in June 2007, the documents are still with the ministry. My observation on this matter of the Cultural Policy is that if we as the arts community want a quick legislation, we need to take the policy out of the hands of the Federal Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

Apart from the undue bureaucracy which is slowing down the policy, I have the feeling that there are some powerful forces in the executive arm of government behind the deliberate delay of the bill. If we as members of the arts community can come together and properly strategize, the policy can be presented as a private member bill for a much quicker passage into law instead of its current state as an executive bill.


i) The Issue of the National Theatre.

The recent decision by the Federal government to hand over the National Theatre to a private arts community. Government's reason for taking this action was borne out of the feeling that the Theatre was grossly under utilized and as such needed to be commercialized.

Of course, artists have risen against this decision seeing it as negation of the whole idea behind having a public monument not solely for the purposes of making money but as the soul of the cultural activities in the country. My own take on the matter is that we need to balance both sides of the argument. The truth of the matter is that having been involved with over sighting government projects in the last four years, as a member of the National Assembly, I have a lot of sympathy for those saddled with administering public establishments. Apart from the perennial problem of inadequate funding, haphazard government policies as well as official corruption are impediments towards a smooth running of some of these establishments. Against the background of these factors, I do not see how such a big edifice as the National Theatre can solely depend on government subsidy without crumpling. I therefore strongly believe that for us to fully utilize the facilities at the National Theatre, we need a sort of Private Public Initiative. My suggestion therefore is for us to allow government to cede part of the edifice especially the cinema halls to a Private establishment sole while other organs such as the National Troupe, CBAAC among other can continue to play their artistic roles to the community.

ii) The Abuja Carnival:

The other issue which I consider a contentious government policy is the recently introduced Abuja Carnival. In his address on the occasion of the world Cultural Day in May 2005, the then Honourable Minister for Culture and Tourism Ambassador Frank Oguewu observed that the Abuja Carnival was established to show case our cultural diversity. As he put it. 'our mission of making Nigeria the preferred tourism destination could only be realized if Nigeria has a unique cultural "package" to offer the tourists'

After two appearances, the major criticism against the Abuja carnival is the absence of public participation in the one week event. Whereas, other carnivals the world over have mass involvement, Abuja as a city is too elitist to showcase our proper culture. Rather than dancing through the streets of Abuja with very little public participation, it has been suggested that future carnivals be decentralized. This way, the durbar activities could take place in Kano, while the display of masquerades could be done in the western part of the country and the boat regatta in the riverine areas of the South South.

It is believed that this mass approach will not only reduce the fiesta's over 800 million naira budget, it would also go a long way in bringing our cultural and tourism potentials to the people.


It is very obvious that the issue of Culture and Tourism is very fundamental and important to the socio economic development of any country. In view of this, it is my contention that such an important issue cannot be left solely to the government and politicians alone. While it is government's responsibility to provide the enabling environment for arts practitioners to practice their work, we as members of the arts community need to organize ourselves into a formidable and effective pressure group in order to guide our policy makers.

We also need to have a say in who is elected to important political positions. This we can do by taking more than a cursory interest in politics. One or two members of the art community in politics is not enough. We need a critical mass before things can change.

We also need to actively and regularly engage our policy makers so that they can fulfill their electoral promises. Equally important is the support of the private sector and philanthropists in the actualization of some of our demands. It is regrettable that today most of the financiers and backers of artistic events are foreign embassies and foreign donor agencies.

We need to woo our philanthropists and successful business organizations to give more to the arts.
Finally, we need to encourage those of us who are courageous or lucky enough to get elected into public office. Having survived the last four years in what I refer to as Nigeria's political jungle, I can say without any iota of doubt that to stay in politics without compromising your ethical and moral qualities is not easy. While it is important to keep our elected officials on their toes, it is equally important to give them all the support they need. In this regards, I wish to express my sincere and heartfelt thanks for the warm support as well words of encouragement I received from members of the art community during my last four years in office. I don't want to mention names, but I am constrained to especially thank the journalists who gave my activities very good coverage as well as Prof Duro Oni previously of CBAAC as well as Dr Ahmed Yerima of the National Theatre. Of course my colleagues in the Private sector and donor agencies such as Cadbury, British Council, Chevron among others have very supportive to me and the ANA. My final thanks goes to the members of ANA nationwide, My prayer is that the good lord will continue to bless and honor you.

Thank you for listening.


By Tee Mac Omatshola ISELI
( Being a apaper presented by the President Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria, PMAN at the 62nd ART STAMPEDE JULY 1, 2007 at the National Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos).

Millions of years ago when the first human beings descended from the trees somewhere in East or West Africa and became a Homo’s Erectus, his senses sharpened because he had to be aware of his surrounding’s. He watched and listened and realized that there are different sounds all around him. Maybe it was a young man who picked up a reed and made the first reed flute to imitate the birds in the forest. Maybe it was a warrior or hunter trying to lure birds nearer for him to kill them, anyway the flute became the first instrument in history. Hundred thousands of years later in the early empires of Egypt music had evolved to an art form practiced in the temples by priest and used for the entertainment of the rich and famous and pharaoh’s family. The knowledge of the 8 full tones and the 12 halftones was incorporated into the school of Luxor. The manipulation of the tones, the triads of the notes creating the cords where invented. Instruments such as the harp, the violins and a kind of guitar, drums and flutes where skillfully used to create ton colors; Temple service was enhanced by light musical performances and music known today as pholiphonetic was invented. Pholiphonectic meaning:
Melody, harmony and rhythm. There had to be a beginning, a middle part and an end.

When Alexander the Great of Macedonian invaded Egypt around 230 BC, he carried his teacher Aristotle’s with him. Aristotle’s went to the famous university towns of Luxor an raided it, carrying thousands of years of knowledge of Music, philosophy, algebra, mathematics and medicine with him back to Greece. That’s why when we study music today we come across Greek names such as: octave, which means the diatonic range of musical notes named after the starting note. The two tetra cords, the four tone group contained in the octave. Melos which became melody. Harmonia which meant the logic order of musical notes and their importance in the created tone arrangement.

It was impossible for the Greek to create the logic of music. A country where the towns were at ware for decades. No it needed the peace, stability and the fortune of thousands of years of pharaonic reign to develop music. From Greece the logic of music found it’s way to Europe, Asia and later to the Americas. There it developed to what is known as classical music. In the dark ages there was not much development and music stagnated. Simple

Music was used in monasteries and churches but the harmonic system degenerated to a simple 5tone music. Diatonos or Diatonic music was preferred in the 11 and 12 century in Europe.

Again is was black Africa who brought new life to music in the 17th 18t and 19th century. Slaves carried to the Americas had in them the lost rhythm needed to fulfill the pholiphonetic demands of melody, harmony and rhythm. Those slaves came from the poor areas and had no musical education; had no ideas of harmony and melody but they could drum and dance. When in the late 19th century the slave owners in New Orleans allowed the blacks to study music instruments such as the guitar, tromped, saxophones and play the hand carried drums, they where ordered to play marching band music for funerals and political meetings. A miracle happened. The blacks put their soul into the music and a new art form was created. New Orleans Jazz. When the ladies of the high society heard this "colored music" they wrote it off as "what a jazz". Jazz meaning derogatively nonsense, useless. The black said: well you think is it just jazz, we will call this our music Jazz. The name stayed forever. Dixieland Jazz or Jazz was the inn thing form 1895 to 1929 when a new more commercial style, played by big band developed. SWING lasted form 1929 to 1944 having created great musicians such as Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman etceteras. Modern Jazz, BEBOP or East Coast Jazz started in 1940 and lasted until the 1960 giving the musicians the freedom to improvise.
Free Jazz became the latest and incorporated European music, including the use of Philharmonic instruments such as the classical flute, the violins, cello and the harp. The old art form, the blues which developed a century earlier in the cotton fields of the south, was incorporated as rock and became the third stream; Pop music, funky Jazz and metallic Rock-n-Roll.

The phonograph invented by Edison in 1877 became the tool to help the black Americans to spread their music around the world and the first time blacks where able to make money through their musical message.

Of course musicians like Elvis Presley, who carefully studied great musicians like John Lee Hooker, copied their music and made more money than their black counter parts. But generally the American music industry had become fair. Which meant good and innovative musicians made money.

Never mind their color. Through the invention of first Radio and then Television a new business developed. Show business.

Show business is after the defense industry the second biggest money maker in the United States of America. In some European countries show business rates second or third. Any country, which has a good industrial out put needs to advertise their goods and music is needed for it. Show business can be looked upon as the thermometer of a country. Where there is a healthy show business there must be a healthy economy.

Of course to make money with music internationally, there must be a regulatory body, controlling the intellectual rights. Overseeing the payments made from royalties, such as performance royalties, mechanical rights, copy rights etcetera. In the United States are more than 3,000 TV stations and about 18000 Radio stations which means a hit song, selling one million copies can make the composer more money than the performer of the song and even change life style eve of his grand children.

According to the copy right law from the 1st of January 1978, all new musical works created after that date are protected for 75 years or 50 years after the death of the composer. It was arranged that composer not connected or affiliated to any agency could deposit 2 copies of their works in the copyright office of the Library of Congress in Washington and the date of deposit will be the legal date and cover the world wide rights.

Pman’s aim it to fight against the injustice of Piracy, which made it impossible for most Nigerian composers and musicians to live a comfortable life. Secondly to make sure all it’s members are receiving their rightful share of their intellectual properties by making sure that the Radio stations in Nigeria pay for playing their music. Also the Television stations in our country must follow the international rule and standards of compensating the composers when their works used for, background music, musical shows or commercials. Of course it is the freedom of any composer/performer to select the collecting agency of his choice. What matters is that he receives the money due to him by law.

During FESTAC 77 an edict was created by the Military Government of General Obasanjo establishing the endowment into the arts. Corporations and Banks where encouraged to invest money into the arts and the corporations could use it as a tax deductible item. PMAN’s aim is to sponsor a bill in the house of assembly where by law corporations and rich individual willing to spend money in sponsoring the arts will be able to use the receipts or certificates issued by bodies such as PMAN to invest and deduct up to 5% of their pre-tax profits. This will immediately put billions of Naira into the development of the Arts. Nigeria needs hundreds of music teachers in secondary schools to enable our children to learn the basic’s of music. Teachers are needed with the knowledge to run music appreciation classes and from the young generation PMAN will be able get future buyers for the products of Nigerian Artists. Not every child will be turned into a professional musician. Few have the talent and the will power go through the harsh reality of music, where a few make the big money, but every child who has learned how to play the recorder, the guitar or the Piano, will appreciate music more, because he or she has learned how music is created and has understood how difficult is it to become perfect on an instrument or to master one’s voice.

A vibrant show business will bring tourist to Nigeria. They will want to come and see the diversity of our country. They want to go out at night and listen from Hi-life to Juju music, to Jazz and Pop. Our village music properly recorded and packaged will be carried back to Europe and the USA for them to enjoy a different culture. We can not depend on the Government alone. They are busy trying to solve the daily problems. But we musicians through our body PMAN together with the Committee for Relevant Art can advise the Government on what needs to be done to implement laws and regulations to put Nigeria onto the musical and artistic map of the developed nations. It is us jointly who will create the right atmosphere for younger generations to enjoy the live of an artist without the hard ship we have encountered. It is us here who can advise our Government from State level to the Federal level on how our nation’s democratic journey can influence the development of arts and culture. It is us, united who can package an Agenda for the new Government to consider and since we are living in a democracy our voices will be heard.

Thank you, Tee Mac Omatshola ISELI; Written for the 62nd Art Stampede July 1st 2007



I am highly thrilled to be here on this occasion of the 62nd edition of the Quarterly Art Stampede. I must quickly say that my excitement is neither driven by the relevance of the theme and sub themes of this event nor the appropriateness of the forum and time. Apart from the confusion, disorderliness and violence which always herald new government and of course the protests and grumblings which normally greet post elections, (please, correct me if I am wrong) topics like this at post election editions of Art Stampede are nowadays the only reminder that there is actually a change of baton in government and we must really thank CORA for always keeping us hopeful. Agenda had been set for successive political office holders so many times and at different fora without any corresponding change in our micro constituency that one is becoming frustrated, more so, when we see,( except in a very few cases example of the really honorable, honorables Tunde Akogun and Wale Okediran), committed academics and industry players in politics joining the bandwagon and behaving in the same way as the politicians they have always criticized and castigated.

However some highly noticeable achievements, though, almost at a pedestrian level when we talk of hierachy in the Culture sector, as manifested in the total re-engineering of the National Theatre and National Troupe of Nigeria in terms of infrastructure and personnel within his short period of taking over of the management of the edifice of the current Director General of the National Theatre and National Troupe of Nigeria, Professor Ahmed Parker Yerima is as highly commendable as it is a pointer to the fact that all hope is not lost in this sector. One only prays that people of his rare ability and capability are given responsibility at higher level in the Culture Sector. It is essential to note that over the years, successive governments have constantly paid lip service to arts and Culture without any concrete structure for its development. Whereas its potential for wealth creation is enormous, art and culture is yet to be integrated into the mainstream of governance in Nigeria. Thus, the terrain for the practice of the profession continues to be rough and windy: stifled by politics that have not contributed to the apparent growth and development of the profession. This has always raised issues of grave concern to the stakeholders in the sector whose livelihood depend on the viability of the sector.

However, past President Obasanjo’s administration must be commended for its pioneering effort in revitalizing the sector even though much attention was paid to tourism. It is also unfortunate that a great deal of the past President’s efforts did not get to the stakeholders who were never involved in the implementation of some of these few culture programmes. The Abuja Carnival, NAFEST and the Zuma Film festival are few examples of sure neglect of stakeholders as an organized body. Artistes are never considered or consulted when it concerns formulating policies that directly affect their profession and by extension, their lives. This trend of turning Arts and Culture stakeholders to mere spectators in affairs that directly concern them has continued unabated such that when one is confronted with a topic like this, the question that readily comes to mind is ‘which democracy?’ Only in May was the only symbol of our culture – the National Theatre of Nigeria turned to a mere commodity at a political bazaar without considering the opinion of the stakeholders. Then, some of us begin to ask questions, is it that industries are being integrated into the new democratic social order in phases and it is not the turn of ours yet? If this is the case, I will have to say that this is not only a grievous ideological error, but it is also a great misplacement of priority. As we all know from history, it is art of a period that makes people remember that period. It is the rulers who patronize artists who are never forgotten, because the artists in turn glorify and immortalize them. No matter the magnitude of a particular ruler’s conquest, or the amplitude of his vision, if he does not invest in the patronage of art, he will miss the accolade that he deserves from his and coming generations.
That is why all American Presidents for instance, who have been widely admired have always openly fraternized with poets. Even in our own tradition in this part of the world, all the great Kings we remember are those who housed the performers, carvers and Sculptors in their palaces.

Having said this, I, on behalf of my association NANTAP and the arts community in general congratulate the present political office holders and the ones that would soon be appointed. We implore you to use your office to facilitate the following for this industry to grant us an enabling environment to practise our art

The establishment of the performing Arts Practitioners Council of Nigeria is long overdue for a profession such as ours that has put the name of our dear country on the world map. Many may ask, what is it about a practitioners Council? The answer is simple. The performing Arts Practitioners need it just for the same reason as other professionals in Advertising, Public relation, Medicine, Engineering and the Media among others.
The Council will help to regulate practice and provide a statutory framework for all practitioners and those who do business with them.
Sanitise the fractious nature of the industry by providing an umbrella platform that will accommodate all practitioners who will be duly registered and therefore enjoy all privileges as may be provided by the instrument establishing the council including accessing funds from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).
The Council will also set in clear terms a code of conduct and disciplinary measures for members.
The Council will make provision for capacity building of practitioners through the organization of workshops, seminars, etc.
The Council will interface between practitioners and government at the three tiers of government i.e. federal, state and local governments.
Create or facilitate the synergy between practitioners and the academia to ensure that performing Arts curricular in our institutions of learning reflect the realities of the market place.

The Council will be run by a Board of Trustees to be appointed by government with inputs from member organizations/Associations.

The government should as a mater of urgency establish the National Endowment for the Arts – a pool through which creative people and groups can access funds for the promotion of creative excellence and the propagation of the nation’s culture heritage. The fund when established will take care of such progammes as grants, residency programmes and other artistic collaborations. More than anything else, apart from helping to provide the enabling environment for the artistes through the creation of proper institutions, the artiste can also earn a proper living from his art and government would have shown visible support.

It is an international practice that any foreign artiste who comes to perform in another country is expected to pay what is called Performance Rights fee to resident umbrella organization which in this case is NANTAP. An organization like PMAN has almost succeeded with this.

All local governments in the country should be mandated to provide and manage performing infrastructures that would be put at the disposal of local performing groups and other professional performing groups. State governments shall have the responsibility to provide a modern arts performing/resource center and shall have these managed by professional artistes on behalf of the state. The federal should as part of its responsibilities maintain a National Arts Centre/Resort.

Ensure that artist’s bodies are given some subvention to enable them carry out successfully their numerous annual programmes that should form an integral part of the nation’s calendar.

Discourse is an essential part of engendering co-existence as well as eliciting participation of the public in governance. It is therefore imperative that a forum be held regularly that would bring together stakeholders for the purpose of appraising Cultural issues and proffering solutions that would bring about enhanced visibility of the arts and Culture sector of the nation. The stakeholders congress is conceived to achieve this goal.

Facilitate inclusion of at least one artist from a genre that is relevant to a particular executive trip in the entourage. It was a strategy and not a mistake that the French President, for instance brought a writer along on his last visit to Nigeria. Nigerian art is highly regarded abroad and many Nigerian Artists, it is no news have established international reputations. They could contribute a lot to our selling points abroad.

Facilitate creation of awards and arts and literary prizes. It is all well and good to win the Nobel Prize but the question will always be asked – where is the Nigerian Prize? Why must we wait for our Artists and Writers to be recognized abroad first, before we ourselves recognize them? Only at the last Cannes Festival in France was our lady of the film industry, Peace Fiberesima’s rare contribution to the film industry at home and in diaspora was rewarded with a special recognition.

Ensure support of regular artists programme with other countries.

Facilitate establishment of Nigerian Culture centres around the world. France with the French Cultural Centre in Nigeria, and Germany, with the Goethe Institute also in Nigeria to mention just these two achieve a lot in making their people’s culture popular outside the shores of their countries. Nigeria should emulate this.

Facilitate a Cultural Calendar for the sector to avoid clash in cultural events and achieve popularity of such events, among the people. The only one that manages to exist is the one that recognizes only the scanty events being handled only by government agencies and parastatals. Activities and popular events of the various associations should be recognized and integrated into the sector’s calendar. Festina and the annual lecture of Nantap are just a few examples. And lastly, but most importantly, make sure that the sale, whether partial or full, of the National Theatre of Nigeria is never mentioned again. The limited time that we have will compel me to stop here for others to make their meaningful contributions.

Thank you immensely for listening; and a lot of apologies for being such a bore.

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