By Franklyn Isong|
Yesterday, was Easter Saturday. It was a very busy day for me. After buying three different types of whistles at Itam market the previous week, I had to start combing the hooks and crannies of Akwa Ibom state in search of abandoned buildings where corrupt politicians are stashing our stolen resources. The federal government whistleblower policy is such that a whistle-blower gets 10% of the total money uncovered through his/her whistle. This would be a very rewarding industry in Akwa Ibom state.
While, I was waiting for EFCC to name the real owner(s) of the $43.4m, £27,800 and N23. 2m stashed in a four-bedroom apartment on the 7th floor of a residential building at Osborne Towers located at 16, Osborne Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, it uncovered via a lucky whistle-blower on April 13, 2017; I got a call from the Information Unit of the Akwa Ibom State Ministry of Cultural and Tourism.
The caller requested that RADAR newspaper should send her reporter(s) to cover the official unveiling of the Amazing Akwa Ibom Logo, a Brand for the Ministry, by the Commissioner for Cultural and Tourism, Mr Victor Antai, at the Council for Arts and Culture, Abak road, Uyo.
I sent two Radar’s reporters to the event. Why two? Because I needed two independent reports from the event in order to form a better independent opinion. Of course, I got it. And I can say it the loudest, that the process leading to the emergence of the winner of the prize was thorough and transparently transparent – I will check dictionary later, if there is such a phrase.
Talking about transparent, the Culture and Tourism Ministry determined to get the best and internationally accepted logo, set up a six-man panel made up of internationally certified Fine Arts gurus. The panel was chaired by a University of Uyo Fine Arts lecturer of over 25 years standing, Dr. Uwa Usen, PhD.
The panelists set out the criteria and marking schemes by themselves. They were not teleguided by the ministry officials in anyway. This is the only way to get an acceptable logo that will stand the test of time from amongst the over 600 entries received from across the country. The Culture and Tourism ministry never interloped with the workings of the panel, I must give it to the ministry.
In his address before the winner was announced, the chairman of the Panel,Dr. Uwa Usen, PhD., said that the panel’s checklist included; Originality of the work – it means that the panel had to thoroughly investigate the source(s) of each of the entries it received. Craftsmanship – a thorough examination of the creativity, skills and knowledge of the author of each entries was done. Interpretation – the brand was able to be interpreted with relation to the Culture and Tourism of Akwa Ibom state. Finishing – this was a checking of the relevance of the completion of the work, etc.
Though, I am not holding any brief for the ministry, but anyone using these well thought out array of criteria to assess such Fine Arts works, I bet, will always have same conclusion as the panel’s. How? This is not a scientific test or laboratory experiments that may require the understanding of some already laid down theories/principles before arriving at the conclusion, but more of intellectual stimulus and knowledge of the Fine Arts profession.
Obviously, Akwa Ibom State has gone globally, no thanks to the past administration of Senator Godswill Akpabio. He took the state to the international space. Almost all his projects were either tagged: “First in West Africa” or “International”.
I have followed the interesting avalanche of reactions trailing the conclusion of the exercise which produced a Logo for the ministry yesterday. I have also read comments of the state commissioner for Cultural and Tourism, Mr Victor Antai, on this discourse. The commissioner in one of his comments said; “Akwa Ibom is a global brand.” I think, I agree with his postulation. That is why we have so many “International” facilities/structures in the state.
I read an article on this platform questioning the rationale of allowing an Igbo man, Mr Eval Isuguzor from Imo state to win the star prize of N250,000 and adopting his design as the official logo for Akwa Ibom state ministry. I give it to the author and I respect his intellectual reasoning. Even though, I disagree with that.
Two weeks ago, television viewers globally were glued to DStv Big Brother Naija 2017 Reality Show. Of particular interest to me is that, the #BBNaija Show was sponsored by an Akwa Ibomite from Mbo LGA, the CEO of PayPorte, an online shopping portal, Mr Eyo Bassey.
I was expecting these kind of avalanche of reactions when the only Akwa Ibom son in the show, Ekemini -Kemem, did not win the final prize of N25m and a brand new Kia Sorento SUV. But was disqualified half way into the #BBNaija 2017, a television show sponsored by Akwa Ibom man. And how come there was jubilation and celebrations in Akwa Ibom more than other states, when Efe, a Delta state indigene won the prize? I think it is high time we started looking above our nose.
That an Akwa Ibom man did not merit to win the star prize in an event organised by the state owned ministry did not give away the integrity of the ministry. Rather it shows that merit was placed above board.
By the way, this is a ministry that had never been anywhere in the front burner talk less of trending on social media. Rather than castigation, the Commissioner, Mr Antai should be encouraged to turn things around in the Culture and Tourism sector of our state.
Let the discourse continue!
*Franklyn Isong is a public affairs commentator