By Frank Meke

One of Africa’s best minds in the creative world who also is the immediate past Ekiti State Commissioner for Arts, Culture and Tourism, Prof Rasaki Ojo Bakare has been engaged as Artistic Director of the Calabar Carnival Band, CalasVegas. In this assignment, he is working directly with a former Minister of Culture and Tourism, High Chief Edem Duke. Coincidentally, Chief Edem Duke was the Minister of Culture when Prof Bakare was the Director General of Abuja National Carnival. According to Bakare, “I am here working with my former boss. When he was to get an Artistic Director for CalasVegas, he remembered the good work I did with him in Abuja and didn’t think twice before engaging me.” Our correspondent in Calabar who saw Prof Bakare dishing out instructions to his aids used the opportunity to ask him a few questions.

Question: You did very well for your State as a Commissioner. Now that you are not in office, what next?
Bakare: Thank you. I am back to my practice, I am back to my consultancy and I am back to the University. When I was Commissioner, I couldn’t practice or consult for my own benefit. I channelled the whole of my creative energy towards building a super structure for the sector in my State as the foundation for continuing growth and development. Now, that I am out of office, it’s time to help myself.
Question: But, what if your State needs your services again in future?
Bakare: I am an Ekiti patriot and I am only driven by passion. If that future comes, we will know what to do.
Question: Were there areas you wished you had performed better as a Commissioner?
Bakare: Well, in spite of the numerous achievements within the two years and ten months I was in office, I still wish I did better in all areas, particularly in Tourism. Yes, in 2020, we were the most active state in tourism. In 2021, we were adjudged to be second best in Tourism after Lagos. We hosted NAFEST which brought over 250,000 tourists to Ekiti for seven days and won Tourism Event of the Year beating Calabar Carnival for the first time. We remodelled , re- energised Fajuyi Park and concession it to a private investor. We did same to Arinta Water Fall, Ipole Iloro. We brought investors from Brazil to Ero Dam for purposes of establishing an Aquatic Tourism resort there and so on. But, we had some constraints. First, we lost a whole year to Covid- 19. It drew us back and limited our drive for the Tourism sub sector.

Secondly, the economy of the State within the period couldn’t finance most of the investments we proposed and got approvals for in Tourism. For instance, we proposed and got approvals for the development of Abanijorin Hill, Esa Cave, Ogun Onire groove and Olosunta Rock. But, no monetary releases because of the dwindling resources of the State due to Covid- 19. I secured partnership with a private firm to produce Ekiti parapo War Film. The profit from Netflix was to be shared between the State and our patners based on percentage of investment. The firm brought 70 percent of the funding, the 30 percent which was to be our own counterpart fund never came. While I wish things were better in these areas, I am proud of what we achieved within those 2 years and ten months.
Question: What is your relationship with your new Governor?
Bakare: Extremely cordial. Infact, it is too cordial for some people’s comfort. BAO is my brother, my leader and supporter. He has started very well. He will surpass the achievements of JKF. That is the true meaning of progress. When your child achieves more than you.
Greetings: Thank you for your time.
Bakare: It’s my pleasure.

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