The Society of Nigeria Theatre Artists (SONTA), the umbrella body of all Nigerian theatre scholars, during its Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the 29th Annual International Conference held at Nnamdi Azikiwe University (UNIZIK), Awka, Anambra State, recently,  gave University of Port-Harcourt, Port Harcourt (UNIPORT), the hosting right to its 30th Annual International Conference in 2017.

The hosting right was unanimously given to UNIPORT after Prof. Henry Bell-Gam spoke extensively why the hosting right should be given to UNIPORT, assuring SONTA of the readiness of the University to host the conference successfully.

In a similar vein, Prof. Saint Gbilekaa of the University of Abuja and Dr. Reuben Embu of the University of Jos bided for the hosting rights of SONTA 2018 and 2019 Annual International Conferences, respectively; and they were given tentative hosting rights, pending the confirmation of the former at SONTA 2017.

Earlier, the SONTA President, Professor Sunday Ododo, informed members that after 34years of its existence, the Society has now been recognised by the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and issued Certificate of Incorporation.

His words: ”SONTA now has many wings to fly; we had been inhibited because of the absence of corporate recognition. Our registration number was always asked of; our Scene Dock Journal was affected because of this. Zonal presence will now be felt.”

Responding to the cheering news of the Certificate of Incorporation issued to the body by CAC, 2-time Vice-Chancellor of University of Ilorin and Nasarawa State University, Keffi (NSUK), who is also the SONTA Governing Council Chairman, Prof. Shamsudeen O.O. Amali, thanked the Exco for working assiduously towards acquiring the document.

The issue of resuscitating the Nigerian Universities Theatre Arts Festival (NUTAF), an annual festival, which Nigerian Universities Theatre Arts Students Association (NUTASA), the umbrella body of all the students of theatre arts in Nigerian universities used to organize annually, was at the front burner of the AGM discussions.

To address the above, a Committee was set up to look into the festival that had been comatose for years; and it agreed to convene a meeting of all NUTASA chapter Presidents and Secretaries at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), Enugu State, from 10th -11th December, 2016, to discuss modalities for the preparation and hosting of NUTAF in 2017. 

Present at the SONTA Annual General Meeting 2016 were Deputy Vice Chancellor (Management Services), University of Lagos (UNILAG), Prof. Duro Oni; Prof. Ayo Akinwale of the University of Ilorin; former Chief of Staff, Benue State Government, Prof. Saint Gbilekaa of the University of Abuja; Director, Institute of African and Asian Studies, University of Calabar (UNICAL), Prof. Chris Nwamuo; and Winner of the 2015 LNG Prize for Drama, Prof. Sam Ukala of Delta State University, Abraka.

Others were Dean, Faculty of Arts, University of Jos (UNIJOS), Prof. Tor Iorapuu; President, International Institute of Theatre Arts Critics (IITAC), Prof. Emmanuel Dandaura of Nasarawa State University, Keffi (NSUK); Prof. Irene Salami-Agunloye of the University of Jos; Prof. Molinta Enendu of the University of Calabar; Prof. Julie Okoh and Prof. Emmanuel Emasealu of the University of Port Harcourt; Prof. Chris Ugolo of the University of Benin; and Executive Secretary, National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), Assoc. Prof. Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma, among others.

It would be recalled that UNIPORT hosted the 1994 edition of the SONTA Conference, when Prof. Henry Bell-Gam was the Head of Department; and the Executive Secretary, National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), Assoc. Prof. Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma, was then a Member of the Local Organising Committee.

Njideka Dimgba

NICO HQtrs, Abuja