The Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Culture and Tourism, Hon. Ben Nwankwo, has called on the management of the National Gallery of Art (NGA) to step up its efforts towards carrying out its mandate by establishing galleries that will carry historical information to the people.
Nwankwo gave this call on Thursday, November 22, 2012, at the National Assembly complex when the Director-General of National Gallery of Art, Alhaji Abdullahi Muku, appeared before the Committee to give expenditure analysis of the 2012 budget as well as defend the proposed 2013 budget for the Gallery.
According to him, “With the establishment of a Parliamentary Gallery at the National Assembly, it simply tells anyone, who is visiting the National Assembly complex the whole history of the Nigerian Legislature and if you are privileged go to the Presidency, it will also tell you the history of the Presidency of Nigeria; so it will be with the Judiciary.”
He further noted that there is a huge disconnect between contemporary Nigerians from the past, stressing particularly that if NGA can step up the presence of visual art in the Federal Capital City (Abuja), it can help Nigerians to recollect, reflect and bring back our national sense of history.
Comparing Nigeria to Ghana, the lawmaker said, “If you go to Accra, from one section to another, you are connected to a gallery immediately even from the airport. With this, there is nobody who goes to Accra that doesn’t understand the history of Ghana.”
He maintained that as Nigeria prepares to celebrate its Centenary, the National Gallery of Art should be at the centre, as regards Nigerian history in order to tell Nigerians how the country started, where it started from, and where we are, adding that, “part of the functions of the arts is also to build a picture in the future and perhaps the picture will remind us of a hundred years back and a hundred years to come.”
Nwankwo, who acknowledged the challenge of funding faced by most agencies of government, which limits the extent to which they can carry out their mandate, assured that with some interventions from lawmakers, NGA stands a chance of doing better, stressing that it should be able to use visual art to tell the history of “Nigeria @ 100,” and to remind Nigerians that they are Nigerians and how to be Nigerians.
Other chief executives of culture parastatals present at the budget defence and expenditure analysis were the Director-General of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Otunba Segun Runsewe, and the Executive Secretary of the National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), Dr. Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma.