The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has given the Artists’ Village community at the National Theatre, Lagos the assurance that they have not been abandoned by the government.
He said this during a meeting with representatives of the Artists' Village, the Minister emphasized the government's commitment to compensate the artists whose studios and artifacts were destroyed during the demolition of illegal structures and shanties at the National Theatre, Lagos, in January 2016.
“I have just come here to let you know that we have not abandoned you. We promised we are going to compensate you but you also know that the wheel of government grinds slowly."
''I think it’s enough to convince you that we mean well. So it’s not correct to say that the government has abandoned the Artists’ Village as I read in the newspapers recently,” said the Minister.
Mohammed appealed to the artists to reciprocate government's gesture by constructively engaging with the government instead of confrontation, as that will not further their cause.
“It appears that some of us have not switched our mode from analog to digital. We still believe in the politics of confrontation rather than politics of engagement."
"We still believe in us against them. I came to this office with no baggage at all; I have no prejudice or bias. I came to this office with the single-mindedness of advancing culture, tourism, and arts,” he said.
The Minister emphasized the need for synergy between the Ministry and the Artists so as to advance the creative sector.
Lai Mohammed described the Artists’ Village as a critical part of the entertainment and creativity industry.
He also made it known that his ministry has signed an MOU with local and international organizations for capacity building and scholarship for Artists.
“The Artists Village is there to stay. I have said it loud and clear. I have not taken any step to the contrary. Whatever I have done, everywhere I have gone, is to promote the cause of the cultural and creativity industry,” he said.
Mr Tope Babayemi, representative of the artists commended the Minister for his commitment towards the development of arts and culture in the country and his efforts to find an amicable resolution to the ongoing conflicts and challenges.
“I wish to thank you for your efforts since this happened and indeed since you assumed office as the Honourable Minister of Information and Culture."
"I have always maintained in the media and other interviews that you, to date, have been the most responsive minister we have had in this sector and I speak with some degree of authority having spent about 35 years in the industry,” he said.
Mr Babayemi pledged to constantly engage the Ministry in dialogue with a view to evolving a vibrant creative economy in the country.