The Magicians of Egypt

By Frank Meke

To be a sorcerer or witch is not as easy as many people think. You certainly need initiation, some with rituals of telling consequences and benefits. It’s a tough journey to find anyone who knows it all, meaning what you don’t know, you don’t know.

So knowledge is knowledge, particularly in your area of expertise, so when confronted with seeking a solution and looking for a way out of difficult situations, humble yourself and request to be well guided.

Ignorance is ignorance, QED!. And let me add quickly that there are no excuses to when, why, and how anyone failed in a given assignment or job.

Having made these critical observations, it is important that we take a careful look at the quality of staff at the Ministry of Arts, Culture, and Creative Economy. Unknown to the many Jacks and Jills in our industry, the pervading Ignorance that this ministry is linked administratively with the “new” Tourism ” ministry is certainly obvious.

How? Mrs Evelyn Nkadi Ngige is the only permanent secretary in this administration, single handly overseeing the two ministries under one roof. Mrs Ngige is the wife of the immediate past Nigerian Labour Minister and also a former governor of Anambra state, Dr Chris Ngige.

Mrs Ngige comes to the Nigerian cultural tourism market with little or no experience on how to trade on these beats, even though as the chief accounting officer, her experience in the civil service sector may ease just an idea on how culture and tourism are interwoven but may cause her green ink to flutter.

As earlier stated, ignorance has no capacity to generate excuse, so what you don’t know, you don’t know, period. For a long time, we have not found it expedient to interrogate the consequences of a civil service workforce without requisite training and experience to run a scientific and dynamic sector such as culture and tourism.

At the coming of this administration, there was a full swoop gale of retirement of staff of most ministries and in all agencies, leaving most of the agencies and their supervising ministries, bereft of quality and competent manpower.

To even oversee certain promotional examinations to fill these gaps, some of the experienced but retired staff were” begged” by concerned agencies leaders to come bail out the cat. It was that bad, and trust the typical Nigerian average person, those in acting capacity in those agencies and ministries travelled to their villages to seek help of sorcerers to deal with the recalled but experienced retired ogas, whose only mission is to help guide the new ” actors against making ” edugate” mistakes.

Now, Mrs Ngige, whose only possible experience with culture and hospitality ( tourism) maybe an attendance of new yam festival and or local ofala festival in her husband village as ” lolo” to red capped chief Chris Ngige, one just wonders how long it will take her to know the names and extent of influence of most industry people, and even how their business could help turn around the economic fortunes of Nigeria.

Indeed, the least of any serious contact by most of the staff in the two ministries into “one”with the sector is either as spectators during festivals or by passing paid night stays in hotels in the course of a national assignments, sometimes poorly executed because of lack of knowledge of the sector.

Now, on Friday, Minister Hannatu Musa Musawa took hold of a broom and swept away from sight all the agencies heads under her watch, both the good and the ugly.

But again, it could be seen that experience is from far from her desperation to live up to expectations as she unveiled directorates as new agencies without legal backing or presidential affirmation. We heard she is an oil and gas economy lawyer!

Did the head of service of federation or the focal permanent secretary in ministries of arts, culture, and creative economy and tourism know that Hannatu Musa Musawa has no right to jump start mere directorates in the National Museum and Monuments to full-fledged agencies, which she again effortlessly announced the appointments of their substantive Director Generals without qualms.

The two “arrangee “agencies,” the National War Museum, located in Amafor, Umuahia, Abia state, and National Institute of Archaeology and Museum studies, located in jos, Plateau state, are domiciled under the octopus National Museum and Monuments, a full fledged agency of government, funded through appropriation by the national assembly to manage the collection, documentation, conservation and preservation of national heritage and cultural property.

It is still beyond my understanding of how mere departments or directorrates under government agencies are given authoritative legislative wings to blossome into full agencies. And you ask me, where would Madam Hannatu get the funds to run them, particularly now that we are dire economic famine., with payment of salaries late in coming?

Nigeria is a country where strange things happen, and hardly do we follow extant regulations. I don’t have issues with the minister toying with the idea of unbundling national museum and monument , but the stakeholders must be carried along to determine such protocols and to ignore the input of Nigerians, represented by duly elected members of the National Assembly is again beyond pedestrian excuses or ignorance. It’s an arrogant disposition by Minister Hannatu Musa Musawa, the type Betta Edu exhibited to her undoing.

I once remember the story of a Pharaoh who sought the Magicians of Egypt to interpret his fearful dream. The Kings of Old Times were men of great and deep insight into how the heavens rule in the affairs of men. The kings of those yore eras like Pharaoh can not do anything without being guided by wise men, some say sorcerers , star gazers, and magicians.

Pharaoh had a terrible dream that made him sweat on his ” waterbed.” And with fear, he sought the interpretation through the magical lens of his sorcerers.

The king was desperate not to make mistakes and was willing to do anything to understand what the dream signified. The Magicians of Egypt failed. In fact, the guys tried, made empty noises and conjured to no avail and couldn’t stand the truth on its head, neither were they anywhere near unravelling the meaning of the dream until a certain Joseph, who was gifted with having heavenly inspired dreams with their divine interpretations emerged from the prison to guide Pharaoh aright.

Since my intention is not to bore you with dreams, its interpretations, and spiritual things, it is of a grave concern that those who are saddled with managing our cultural tourism economy may be likened to Pharaoh’s magicians.

There’s one magician already in the ministry with bewitching powers to mislead any minister. She has done it before during the last administration, and we won’t waste ink talking about the magical Dorothy. She is ugly, self-centred, brutish, and niece to jezebel.

Mrs Ngige no doubt will pull through with her experience as a seasoned civil servant, but is she capable of standing up against the new magicians from Egypt?

There are interesting times ahead of us in our two ministries, and if you must keep your heart in good stead, learn to pray for the peace of the cultural tourism sector because the magicians of Egypt have come to congure abracadabra . Do not say I did not warn you!

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