Tinubu to shake down Culture and Tourism sector, merger looms

By Frank Meke

After years of foot dragging by Presidents Goodluck Jonathan and Muhammadu Buhari on the Oronsaye Report for restructuring of federal government ministries, and agencies, President Ahmed Tinubu on Monday revealed his tough guts, directing and setting up an eight man committee to engage surgical knife to deconstruct the former Head of service report for lean government apparatus.

Though two white papers were adopted by the two previous administrations in 2012 and 2014, all indicative of the readiness to cut down on cost of governance, however political elements with fiendish interests were alleged to have ambushed the development, boldly and against economic realities, sponsored through the national assembly the creation of more ministries and agencies as against expectations of downsizing.

Just as he confronted the monster of subsidies, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is leaving no stone unturned in the quest to prone down the humongous and octopus cost of governance by reversing, merging and even outright disengagement of Ministries and agencies adjudged as surplus to true and effective governance and or as seen as conflict enablers.

In Tourism, Arts and Culture domain, the white papers singled out focal mergers of all the eleven arts and culture agencies, and including Nigeria Tourism Development Authority ( NTDA) and National institute of Hospitality and Tourism.

Ironically and in conflict with established extant operational structure since the governments of Obasanjo, Late president Yar Adua , Goodluck Jonathan and Muhammadu Buhari, President Tinubu split into two the standalone Ministry of Tourism and Culture, adding to the bourgeoning overhead bills and emoluments of staff in the two ministries.

It’s expected that the downsizing committee headed by Secretary to the Federal Government and Head of service among others, will merge the two ministries into Tourism and Culture with some agencies either merged , scrapped completely or funneled as departments under the ministry of Tourism and Culture

Agencies that may not escape the restructuring hammer are, National Theatre, which will be merged with National Troupe, National Gallery of Arts, which will exhibit its artistic contents under the National museum and monument and Nigeria Tourism Development Authority ( NTDA) which will be subsumed by National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism ( Nihotour).

National Council of Arts and culture, will automatically warehouse National Institute for Cultural Orientation. Centre for Black and African civilization, will be scrapped completely or made a department in the National museum.

Indeed, it is going to be interesting to see how the committee will reverse certain administrative errors which Hannatu Musawa brought to bear in her over seven months failed attempts to live up the billing as minister of Culture.

Musawa with out the approval of the presidency upgraded two departments under the National museums and monuments, into full fledged agencies with militaristic pronouncement, and also appointed their chief Executives.

Now that President Tinubu axe dangles over some of the boisterous and overzealous driven administrative and legal decisions in the past and present, Hannatu Musawa may have to apply for a new job elsewhere , subject to judicial approval of her National Youth service discharge certificate which the Nigeria Bar Association says it’s in conflict with extant NYSC act.

President, National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies and also chairperson, Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria ( ftan) Review Committee on the Acts establishing ntda and Nihotour, Mrs Susan Akporarie, told me that the news of the merger of government agencies is not entirely new but with the current economic realities, the wisest thing for the government is to cut down on cost of governance.

She recalled the recommendation of the stakeholders in the culture domain during the Abuja Nafest review meeting where practitioners up voted the merger of Tourism and Culture ministries to help articulate, drive and manage the Nigerian tourism destination agenda.

Since the return of Tourism Minister, Mrs Lola Ade John to her beat after a long lay off due to illness, the minister returned with zeal to meet the demands of her office, flagged off Nihotour mobile training kitchen, initiated internal capacity overview of her new assignment, picking brains here and there and consulting widely to ensure tourism thrives without hiccups.

And with culture merged to her portfolio, Lola Ade John, will have various tourism promotion options and in particular with a rewired and empowered Nihotour swallowing poor showing ntda. ,if Lola Ade John stays focused, she may rewrite the history of Cultural tourism development in Nigeria.

Though ftan president , Mr Nkereweum onung stated that the downsizing agenda is welcome, he suggested that the committee should hold a tourism town hall meeting to appraise the sector and how the private can contribute to the merger equation.

Mr Onung, an experienced banker and travel logistics expert believes that some agencies of government only exist to waste resources and time, adding if care is not taken, the merger committee itself may become another monster to same issue it was created to solve.

However, it pans out , we are excited that the Ministry of Tourism and Culture shall become one indivisible entity and not separated to function and funnel frustration for the industry and practitioners.

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