The Edo State governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki has been crowned Nigeria Cultural Ambassador for promoting Cultural and tourism Development in the Country.
The recognition is crystallised on the Edo Museum for West Africa Arts (EMOWAA) project, which will be a home for the comprehensive display of Benin collections of Art Works globally.
This is just as talks between Nigerian government, Edo State government and foreign partners in Europe and America for the return of the looted Artifacts during the British invasion of Benin Kingdom in 1897, have reached advanced stage.
Addressing Stakeholders at the 2021 retreat for Management Staff and Curators on Friday in Benin City, Edo State Capital, Governor Godwin Obaseki assured that the construction of the museum would create a cultural district in Benin City and would represent the influence of the Benin empire on West Africa.
He tempered optimism with caution on the need for Nigerians to rally and speak with a unifying voice, noting that dissenting voices may send a wrong signal to those in custody of the artefacts.
He also revealed that he is already discussing with a group of international town planners for the project, which according to him, is expected to kick start by the last quarter of the year.
According to him, Museums should not only be about outdated objects but it should be about current and future objects. EMOWAA will be part of the National museum complex. It is going to be the home for the collective display of Benin collection in the world.
“We want all of us to speak as one; the world is waiting to see that the blacks cannot organize themselves, agree and take it as an excuse not to return the works. I don’t think we should allow that happen.
“All of us must rally round, come together and speak with one voice let the world give us our objects. When the world give Nigeria the objects, whatever reservations we have, we will address it at home.
“But to take a position and show to outsiders that we are fighting over nothing ,should not be accepted or tolerated. We want our works back home. Let us not give them the excuse”, he said.
Continuing, Obaseki who lauded the federal government role in the creation of a safety structure said: “The British museum have made funds available to undertake Archeological survey.
“It (fund) will serve as stepping stone and build confidence to raise funds for the building of the Museum.
“All of us must speak with one voice in other not to give them (Europeans) excuse. As a government, it’s something we are totally committed to,” the governor stated.
Speaking after conferring the Cultural Ambassador award on Governor Obaseki, the Director-General of the National Commission for Museum and Monuments (NCMM), Prof. Abba Isa a Tijani, tasked all the Curators in the Country to train and support the proposed state-of-the-art Edo Museum for West African Arts (EMOWAA) in Edo State.
The D-G of NCMM said: “We 52 have museums across the Country and 65 Monuments and site. And the issue of training and retraining is really a big problem for us in the Commission.
“When I took over, I said the best way is to partner with private sector and our partners outside the country. They have been able to now come to our aide in terms of capacity building.
“The Edo Museum of West African Arts (EMOWAA) is a big opportunity for us to be at the fore front in promoting and establishing this Museum. We have Curators who are experienced, they just need slight training at the international level.
“So that the standard we want to set up at the EMOWAA will be maintained.
“We want you to be part of our national development. We want all the Curators to participate and support this project.
“All those that participate in this project would be trained by all the Curators”, he said.