Youths Citizens-led Coalition of Benin socio-Cultural Organization has advised governor, Godwin Obaseki to stop using the proposed Edo Museum of West African Art (EMOWAA) for housing returned Benin artefacts during 1897 British invasion in Benin for his personal benefits.
Recall that on Thursday July 21, 2022, the Governor unveiled phase one of the Edo Museum of West African Art (EMOWAA)at a stakeholders’ engagement meeting in Benin City, the Edo State Capital where he stated that there is no dispute between the state government and the Palace of the Oba of Benin, His Royal Majesty, Oba Ewuare II.
But the signatories to the Coalition, Mr. Osaze Amas-Edobor (Coordinator-General), Mr. Culture Iyamu (Secretary General), Marxist Kola Edokpayi (Public Relations officer), Comrade Osaze Erimiatoe (Director of Planning), Charity Ozigbo (Director of Gender Affairs), Comrade Collins Osaghae (Director of Operations), Mr. Justice Amafe (Director of Research), Eseosa Omoregbe (Director of Mobilization) and Mr. Samuel Normamukor (Director of Public Complaints), unanimously opposed the Government’s move in a statement on Saturday in Benin City, Edo State.
The non-partisan group, warned Governor, and other proponents of EMOWAA with their agents not to “destroy a legacy in an attempt to create another”, following the Governor’s preference for a private Venture known as Legacy Restoration Trust in which one Mr. Philip Ihenacho is an actor, adding that the Benin’s are prepared to go to battle with anyone that undermines the authority of Benin monarch.
The Civil Rights group wondered why the Governor back down on his earlier promise to support the construction of Benin Royal Museum to house returned Benin artefacts in 2018, but he suddenly made a U-turn and declared his support for a private Venture, EMOWAA, which the group considers as a pipe-drain.
While opposing housing returned Benin artefacts in EMOWAA, the Coalition faulted the appointment of a South Eastern Nigeria as the Executive Director of the proposed EMOWAA in place of any other qualified Nigerian from the Benin Ethnic group for “the position in order to protect the Edo interest and use it as opportunity to train young Edo people in that field which is a component of the course at hand”.
Described the behaviour by the Governor as strange and “tantamount to betrayal of public trust”, the Coalition, advised him to be wary of those who fan the embers of discord who pose as his friends while he exhibits weakness of character over the returned artefacts, which remain the Cultural heritage of Benin people which outrightly belong to the Oba of Benin — the Custodian of Benin Culture, Customs and Traditional.
The Coalition said, “We want to inquire from your Excellency, why you reneged on your earlier promise regarding the Benin Royal Museum in 2018, when your supported the idea of a Benin Museum before EMOWAA idea came from the blues.
“And it has already been settled as at last year that the proposed Benin Royal Museum would take custody of the Benin artefacts on behalf of his Royal Majesty, not EMOWAA,the flagship project of your Legacy Restoration Trust Limited”.
The Coalition further said, “If the Governor is so keen in developing the Art and Tourism sectors, then, it is a proper thing for you to liaise with our Revered Oba who would give the nod to these Royal Guilds of Benin Artisans in order to collaborate with the government in replicating these stolen Artefacts for Edo State government for EMOWAA”, which Oba Ewuare II had denounced and proclaimed promoters of the agenda as enemies of Benin Kingdom.
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