The National President, Society of Nigeria Theatre Artists (SONTA), an umbrella body of Theatre Arts lecturers in Nigerian Tertiary Institutions, Professor Sunnie Enessi Ododo, has said that the preoccupation of the Society was to see that Nigerian democratic culture was a success.
Stating this at the opening ceremony of Society’s 27th Annual Convention and International Conference, Wednesday, 27th August, 2014, at the Department of Creative Arts, University of Lagos, Ododo noted that, democracy was a system of governance any nation desired, adding that supporting whatever would make it a success was the best thing that would happen to anybody or any group.
Commending the authorities of UNILAG for its support for theatre and culture in Nigeria, the SONTA President said such support was healthy to Nigeria’s democracy, which the theme of the conference emphasized.
In his words: “Nigerian democratic culture is very important to Nigerian theatre scholars. We have to continue to suggest the ways it will be achieved successfully through our profession. It informs why all the lecturers in the Theatre Arts Departments in Nigerian Tertiary Institutions gathered here to brainstorm on the theme, Theatre, Creativity and Democratic Practice in Nigeria, in this 27th edition of the conference. We have made democracy our theme in several other editions of the conference. We are grateful to the University of Lagos for its support to Theatre, Culture and Democracy in Nigeria.”
Urging SONTA members to stress the theme in the papers they would present, Ododo reminded them that the conference will ride on the idea of creativity and performance in theatre practice to reflect on Nigeria’s democracy with sub-themes like creativity, theatre, performing arts, theories of creativity, the dramatic text, allied arts, democracy, theatre design, architecture, media, and gender study, among others.
Calling for a minute silence for late Professor Jenkeri Zakari Okwori, Professor Sam Kafewo and Dr. Martins Ayegba, three SONTA members and lecturers in the Department of Theatre and Performing Arts, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, the SONTA President said their death in a ghastly motor accident was a big loss to the theatre industry in Nigeria, because they were all in the vanguard of the Society’s pursuit for successful democracy in the country.
In his remarks, the Vice-Chancellor, UNILAG, Professor Rahmon Bello, represented by the Deputy VC (Academic), Professor Babajide Alo, lauded SONTA for its efforts in giving Nigerian democracy the attention it deserved from scholars from the University Community.
His words: “Indeed, Nigerian democracy deserves attention from Nigerians. It is quite germane for scholars from the university to do so, because they are teachers and they really know what democracy means. So, UNILAG will continue to do its best to see that Nigerian democracy is a success.’’
Dignitaries at the event included the Vice-Chancellor, Western Delta University, Oghara, Delta State, Professor Austin Ovigue Asagba; Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Management Services), UNILAG, Professor Duro Oni; Executive Secretary, National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), Dr. Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma; Dean, Faculty of Arts, University of Abuja, Professor Mabel Evwierhoma; former President, SONTA and Head, Department of Theatre and Cultural Studies, Nasarawa State University, Keffi, Professor Emmanuel Dandaura; Director, Institute for Arts & Culture, University of Port Harcourt, Professor Julie Okoh; renowned Nigerian Playwright, Chief Fred Agbeyegbe; and former Editor, The Guardian on Sunday, Jahman Oladejo Anikulapo, among others.
Nwagbo Pat Obi