With 300 items on display, 47,000 rotting in store, aging National Museum Lagos begs for attention

By Tope Templer Olaiya

For the price of a bottle of coke, a pupil with N100 or an adult with N200 is granted access to Nigeria’s premier and leading gallery of history and culture, the National Museum at Onikan, Lagos State. Save for the small signage affixed to the museum’s main building and the little crowd of those initiated into arts and culture affairs, the site of Nigeria’s largest collector of artefacts may well be mistaken for a graveyard.

Tomorrow, May 29, thousands of Lagosians would troop into the main bowl of the Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS), for the inauguration of Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu as the governor of Lagos State. A thriving city mall separates the museum from TBS, yet only a handful of the crowd would be aware of the museum’s existence.

On the average, according to the curator of the National Museum, Lagos, Mrs. Omotayo Adeboye, there are between 10,000 to 12,000 visitors every year. “We have our low and peak periods. The highest visitors to the museum are students and March is our peak period when the pupils are about ending their second term. We have a lot of iconic works, which are part of the school curriculum,” she said.

With the low turnout of visitors and the paltry amount being charged, there is even a sense that culture enthusiasts are shortchanged with the discovery that only about a mere 300 collections are on display at the library, while more than 47,000 works of priceless arts are locked up in the store and are at risk of being damaged due to the poor maintenance of the museum.

Main building of the National Museum, Lagos

When The Guardian visited last week during the occasion of the International Museum Day, it was observed that the three wings of the gallery set up in 1957, had leaky roofs with water dripping on the floor following a downpour. The library, which has thousands of books, was also not left out of the rot. The trio of the archival, library and museum sections were yet to be digitalized.

A tour guide, who preferred anonymity, said many complaints had been sent to the National Commission for Museums and Monuments, its supervising agency, but nothing had been done. He said: “It is unfortunate that what is cherished in other climes is neglected here.

“We have about 47,000 collections kept in the store that cannot be displayed because of space. Many of the works are prone to destruction because they need not just space but the right humidity to preserve them, with an air conditioning atmosphere 24/7 but where can we get that with the power situation in the country.”

He however dismissed the claims that stored artefacts risk being stolen and smuggled abroad. According to him, “to have access to the store, it will be on a special request. You will be registered with security, searched when going in and when coming out because some objects are tiny and can be put in the pocket.

“Ordinarily, if we have the luxury of space, all the collections would be displayed and exhibited. We should at this level have a high-rise gallery that students and the public will be visiting regularly instead of going to the beach, Shoprite or KFC. Sadly, the number of collection on display are not up to 300 while you have more than 47,000 pieces in the store.”

Gen. Murtala Muhammed’s official car where he was assassinated in

One of the attractions to the Lagos museum is the Nigerian Government: Yesterday and Today quarters, which houses profile of Nigerian leaders from pre-independence till date as well as the official vehicle of the assassinated Head of State, Gen. Murtala Muhammed, battered with bullet holes.

He was brutally killed in the attack on that fateful Friday of February 13, 1976 on his way to Dodan barracks, the seat of government, alongside his ADC, Lt Akintunde Akinterinwa. The lone survivor and orderly to the head of state, Staff Sergeant Michael Otuwu, sat in front with the driver, Sergeant Adamu Michika. The vehicle is parked in all its majesty in the room, which walls have all been taken up by portraits and profiles of Nigerian leaders.

The room, which eagerly begs for attention is already choked up and would need extra space to display portraits and profiles of Nigerian top three leaders after May 29, 2023, when the current administration would end its tenure.

It was also observed that no special mention or recognition was reserved for the June 12, 1993 election hero, Chief M.K.O. Abiola, let alone his picture. When asked about this, the tour guide noted that while the contentious issue of June 12 has been put to rest with the recognition of the day by President Muhammadu Buhari, “as a public servant, if order has not been given by your boss, you cannot carry out any directive. Despite the fact that Abiola has been recognized, we should await the time when directive would be given to the museum to exhibit him in our collection of Nigeria leaders,” he said.

The International Museum Day is held on May 18 every year, and is coordinated by the International Council of Museums (ICOM). This year’s theme: “Museums as Cultural Hubs: The Future of Tradition”, was meant to focus on the new roles of museums as active actors in their communities. The occasion was used by some stakeholders to call on the Federal Government to resuscitate the nation’s museums across the 34 states of the federation to keep pace with their international counterparts.

The stakeholders who spoke in separate interviews in Lagos said museums across the world are the first point of call for every tourist and should be well-maintained to attract tourists. Mrs Adeboye said apart from the museum not be adequately funded by the Federal Government, the mentality of the public is averse to historical details.

“We need a reorientation to appreciate our heritage and history. The museum is still seen to most people as a fetish centre. Even some staff members at first reject their letters of appointment when they are posted to the museum, but it is a relaxation and educative centre.”

Dr. Kolawole Oseni, Director, Records & Archives, Lagos State Records and Archives Bureau, advocated the need for total restructuring of the Nigerian museum system. “For example, in many of the museums, there may be up to six accountants and seven auditors while there will be no curator, archaeologist, or any other relevant professionals in the museum.

“I have visited museums in other parts of the world, it is usually the first place that my host would take me. Those museums are like a compass or GPS. They give orientation to the history of the country and the community, they tell stories about the ancestors’ struggles, travails, and triumph; they show the pride and confidence of the present generation; and they provide clarity about the aspirations of the society. Does any of our museums in Nigeria demonstrate these qualities? No. Those foreign museums I am talking about have more curators than accountants, more education officers than auditors, more community outreach specialists than clerical staff. This is why they are able to live up to their responsibilities.”


With 300 items on display, 47,000 in store, National Museum Lagos begs for attention




With 300 items on display, 47,000 in store, National Museum Lagos begs for attention (Guardian)






Those who signed away June 12

Hope '93

Hope ’93

LIKE a festering wound that defies treatment and sticks out implacably, June 12 re-awakens sore memories of the nation’s political failure, injustice and inequity.
Twenty years ago, on June 12, 1993, the nation’s political march being led by the late Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola was halted.
Abiola, affectionately called MKO, the initials of his names, won the presidential election of that date. But his victory was denied him by the then Military President Ibrahim Babangida.
There were some ‘patriotic’ Nigerians who reportedly collaborated with Babangida to sign away the June 12 victory.
The names of those who signed away the landmark election victory of the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP) presidential election in 1993 were first published exclusively by this newspaper on June 11, 2000. But most of the actors, who signed the document that scotched June 12 election result, have since become very big political leaders in the last 14 years of democracy in the country.
Specifically, four of them are still very big in even the Jonathan’s government. The biggest of them is Senator David Mark, President of the Senate and he is number three in the national order of succession. In June, 1993 he was serving at the then National War College, (now National Defence College). He had previously served as “abandoned property czar” after the civil war, military governor, Niger State, and communications minister. Another big one is Lt-Gen Aliyu Mohammed Gusau (rtd) who served three times (three presidents) as the National Security Adviser (NSA).
Alhaji Sule Lamido, now Governor of Jigawa State, has previously served as Foreign Affairs Minister. John Shagaya, then General Officer Commanding 1 Division Kaduna, served as a senator in the last session of the National Assembly.
In the same vein, most of the supporters of the then Interim National Government have served in very high capacity in the 14-year-old civilian administrations under Chief Olusegun Obasanjo (1999-2007) and Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua (2007-March 2010) and the current administration of Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.
The big Nigerian ‘patriots’ who also signed the remarkable document that nailed the coffin of June 12 result include Alhaji Adamu Ciroma who has served as Finance and Agriculture Minister. In fact, his wife has served as Women Affairs Minister under Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. She has been Woman Leader of the ruling PDP and last month, she was appointed Managing Director of the Lokoja-based Nigeria Inland Water Ways Authority (NIWA).
Chief Tony Anenih who was in 1993 Chairman of the victorious Party, the SDP, served in Obasanjo government in various capacities including Minister of Works and Housing, Chairman of the ruling PDP’s Board of Trustees for the second time and Chairman of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) for the second time too.
The only political actor then who signed the June 12 historic document “with reservations” under a tripartite committee set up to compromise the integrity of the best election in Nigeria’s history was Joe Nwodo, who has been Chairman of the ruling PDP too. He did not explain in the document the significance of his remark, “with reservations”.

MKO... Resting in peace 15 years after

MKO… Resting in peace 15 years after

The Guardian recalls that in 1993, as the June 12 election crisis worsened on end, a tripartite committee comprising members of the then military regime and the two political parties then, the SDP and the National Republican Convention (NRC) buckled under the weight of pressure, compromised and then agreed to form an Interim National Government (ING) that was headed by a famous businessman Chief Ernest Shonekan, former Chairman of the UAC.
Specifically, the first signatory to the evil document was Admiral Augustus Aikhomu who was then Vice President under the then military presidency of Babangida.
The second signatory in the document was Shonekan, who was then head of one transitional arrangement in a diarchy headed by Babangida.
The third actor to sign was Alhaji Abdulrahman Okene who later became Chairman of Devolution of Powers Committee under the Abacha regime. He signed as the Secretary for Internal Affairs in the Transitional Council then, a precursor to the ING concoction.
One other big signatory to the epochal document was Lt. General Joshua Dongoyaro who was then Commandant, Command & Staff College, Jaji. Dongoyaro was later removed as Chief of Defence Staff by Abacha who replaced him with Gen. Oladipo Diya.
Other members of the G-34 who signed the popular document included Alhaji Sule Lamido (who actually signed as No 26). He was to become Chairman of NACB under the ING. He was Foreign Affairs Minister in Obasanjo’s government, served as a member of Abacha’s National Constitutional Conference and he is now Governor of Jigawa State after serving as Foreign Affairs Minister under Chief Obasanjo.
Chief Tony Anenih was Chairman of SDP at the time of June 12 annulment. It was the victory of the party he led that was negotiated away. He later emerged as Coordinator of a N10 billion worth of Poverty Alleviation Programme (PAP), precursor to NAPEP, even as Works and Housing Minister in Obasanjo’s administration (1999-2003). He later emerged as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the PDP. He handed over to Obasanjo as BoT Chairman in 2007.
Dr. Patrick Dele Cole who later became Senior Special Assistant (Foreign Affairs) to President Obasanjo signed the document as SDP N0 24.
Chief Dapo Sarumi who returned to the PDP in 2010 signed the June 12 obituary paper as N0 32. He served as ING Communications Minister. He was to be Minister of Information, Integration and Cooperation in Africa in Chief Obasanjo’s first term (1999-2003).
Alhaji Adamu Ciroma who signed the document as NRC N0 13 served the Abacha regime as Agriculture Minister and served Obasanjo as Finance Minister.
One other notable character in the Intelligence and Security community that signed the June 12 Paper 17 years ago was Lt Gen Aliyu Mohammed Gusau who was then the National Security Adviser, (NSA). He signed the document as “Government Representative”. He was Obasanjo’s NSA for about seven years. He returned in 2010 to the Jonathan’s (completion) government as the NSA.
Brig.-Gen. Anthony Ukpo signed the document as PMT, Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), Kaduna. He is now a businessman, publisher and hotelier. He had served on some panels in Obasanjo’s government.
Some other political figures including members of the federal legislature who signed the document then included Chief Jim Nwobodo who signed for the then SDP. He was to serve later in Abacha’s government as Sports Minister. He was a senator in the first session of the National Assembly (1999-2003).
Mark signed the June 12 document in 1993 as an officer at National War College (now National Defence College). He had been an officer of the abandoned property management, had served as Communications Minister and Governor of Niger State under the Babangida junta. Now as Senate President, he enjoys full benefits: His son, Tunde, is his Senior Personal Assistant, his daughter, Blessing Onu (nee Mark) is a two-time, Mandate Secretary (State Commissioner equivalent) Social Development Secretariat in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Administration. Similarly his younger brother was a Special Assistant to a former Minister of Defence.
One other notable politician who signed the document as a member of the would-be ruling party then was Maj.-Gen. Shehu Musa Yar’Adua who signed the June 12 away as SPD No 34. He was a member of the 1994/95 Constitutional Conference organised by Abacha. The former Chief of Staff Supreme Headquarters and a presidential aspirant then later died in Abakaliki prison after being implicated in a phantom coup plot by the Abacha junta.
Other members of the political class who signed the June 12 Death Paper included Alhaji Abubakar Rimi who later served the Abacha regime as Communications Minister. He signed as SDP No 30. He died in 2010. Alhaji Olusola Saraki who signed the PDP Platform as N0 31 died in 2012. The father of former Governor of Kwara State, Dr. Bukola Saraki, was Chairman of the Business Committee of the Constitutional Conference of Abacha. He later surfaced as a member of All Peoples Party (APP) now ANPP). He was a member of the PDP. His daughter Gbemisola Saraki, was a member of the House from where she contested election in 2007 to be in the Senate. She contested election to be governor of Kwara and lost to the current governor of Kwara State.
Notably, former Governor Bukola was a Senior Special Assistant to President Obasanjo before he contested election as governor in 2003.
The 10th signatory to the June12-ING Paper was Dr. Hammed Kusamotu who was Chairman of the NRC then. He has died.
Similarly, Alhaji Bashir Dalhatu who signed as NRC N014 served as Internal Affairs and later as Power and Steel Minister. Same for Chief Tom Ikimi, who was pioneer Chairman of NRC who later became Political Adviser to Gen. Abacha and later served as Foreign Affairs Minister, signed June 12 monument away as NRC N0 15. He is angling to be APC Chairman.
According to the landmark document, Chief Joseph Toba signed the G-34 Paper as SDP N0 33. Mr. Okey Nzoho, then NRC Publicity Secretary signed on the NRC Platform as NRC No 21.In the same vein, Dr. Bawa Salka who signed too for the NRC signed on Platform 22.
Now Senator John Shagaya signed the document then as GOC 1 Infantry Division, Kaduna. He had been Minister of Internal Affairs. He was a senator in the last session of the Senate but not Chairman of any Committee because he allegedly voted against the Senate presidency of David Mark in 2007.
One Mr. Theo Nikire also signed the monumental document just as Professor Eyo Ita signed the G-34 Paper as NRC N0 16. Others who signed away the June 12 success story included Bola Afonja, who signed as NRC 11; Alhaji Y.Anka, NRC 12; Mr. Abba Murtala Mohammed, NRC No 18 and Alhaji Muktari A. Mohammed signed as NRC N0 17.
Even traditional rulers were involved in the political deal that still haunts the political class till date as Alhaji A Ramalan, who was Permanent Secretary in FCT and later became an Emir in Nasarawa State signed the document. Same for Alhaji Halilu A.Maina who signed the SDP Platform as N0 27.
From the Eastern Block came Dr. Okechukwu Odunze who signed the SDP Platform as No 29. He was the then SDP’s National Treasurer. One FCT indigenous figure who signed the document was one Mr. Amos Idakula (deceased). He signed as SDP N0 25. He was then SDP’s National Publicity Secretary.
According to the political document, the original G-34 members had then felt that after signing the Covenant Paper ING would begin on August 27, 1993 and terminate on December 31, 1994.
But Abacha who was said to have written his Sandhurst College project on “ambush” was posturing as a defender of democracy and thus conned even notable politicians who urged him to take over from Shonekan as Head of the ING.
Abacha thus on November 17, 1993 capitalised on the provisions of Section five (V) sub-section 48 of the ING Decree 61 of 1993 which states: “The most senior minister shall hold the office of the Interim National Government if the office of the Head of the Interim National Government (ING)… becomes vacant by reason of death or resignation” and took over from Shonekan who was then warming up to move into the official residence of the President of Nigeria.
Babangida had earlier stepped aside in the early hours of August 26, 1993 following the enablement of the ING concoction by the aforementioned G34 members.
In 2008, Prof. Humphrey Nwosu who was shoved aside on June 23, 1993 as Electoral Umpire “summoned up” courage and announced the late Abiola as real “winner” of the 1993 election. The ineffectual announcement was made through the instrumentality of a book .
According to the result he announced, the presidential candidate of the defunct SDP, the late Abiola polled a total vote cast of 8,323,305 equivalent of one-third of the total cast in each of the 28 states of the federation, while Alhaji Bashir Othman Tofa of the defunct National Republican Convention (NRC) polled a total vote cast of 6,073,917 scoring at least in one-third of the total vote cast in 23 states of the federation.
“Consequently, Alhaji M.K.O. Abiola won the election, but NEC could not announce the result of the election because of the Abuja high court order which was served on the commission on June 15, 1993, which NEC, through its director of legal services challenged at Kaduna Court of Appeal, and then the dissolution of NEC on June 23, 1993.”
In an address, Nwosu, a retired political science professor, identified the crux of the problems that face the task of state and nation-building in an emergent state like Nigeria as the problem of legitimacy. He said his main aim of writing the book, apart from putting into their proper perspectives the events that led to the annulment of the June 12, 1993 election, was also to show how successive administrations in the country, whether military or civilian sought to attract legitimacy or its acceptance from the generality of Nigerians.
His words: “This book underscores the importance of June 12, 1999 presidential election which was adjudged by national and international observers as the freest, fairest and most peaceful and credible election in Nigeria’s history.”

JUNE 12 As An Industry In Nigeria

By Tope Templer Olaiya, Assistant Lagos City Editor

Hope '93

Hope ’93

JUNE 12 was yesterday elevated to an industry as five southwestern states, comprising Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun and Ekiti declared the day a public holiday to mark the 20 years of the annulled mandate of late Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola, who died in detention on July 7, 1998.
Commemoration of the historic date, preserved in Nigeria’s history as the freest and fairest election ever conducted in the country, took centre stage in Lagos as the June 12 movement and pro-democracy activists took over popular event centres in Lagos to reminisce on Abiola’s struggle to reclaim his mandate and sacrifice his life for democracy.
Those who wanted to be reminded of Abiola’s place in history were spoilt for choice as June 12 events organized by different pro-democracy groups, held at Airport Hotel, Ikeja; Sheraton Hotel, Ikeja; Blue Roof Hall of Lagos Television, Ikeja; Excellence Hotel, Ogba; Freedom Park, Lagos Island; Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos; and most importantly, Abiola’s residence in Ikeja.

MKO... Resting in peace 15 years after

MKO… Resting in peace 15 years after

At his residence on MKO Abiola Crescent, it was a solemn assembly of students, activists and politicians who gathered to pay tribute to the memory of Abiola. Held in his ground floor sitting room, which has been converted into a hall, the gathering coordinated by Olawale Okunniyi under the chairmanship of Chief Ayo Adebayo, took turns to make speeches about the June 12 struggle and life and times of Abiola.
At the end of the symposium, where members of the Abiola family were conspicuously absent, wreaths of honour were laid at Abiola’s tomb by dignitaries in attendance, which included the Commissioner for Information, Akwa Ibom State, Aniekan Umanah, who represented Governor Godswill Akpabio.
Once upon a time, MKO Abiola Crescent, tucked in the hearts of Ikeja, was paved literary with gold, as it served as a Mecca of sorts to the unending crowd of those who visited the man with a large heart to curry favours and tap from his wealth of knowledge and resources.
He was indeed, a man of the people and the pillar of strength not only for individuals, but also for groups, organizations and critical sectors of the country, most especially in sports and education. This was long before he won the hearts of the whole nation in the historic election that has become a benchmark in Nigeria’s history.
Twenty years after, as memories fade away and with pockets of democratic activists still gathering in remembrance of their hero, the family residence was stealthily quiet yesterday. Against the clatter from the streets, particularly Toyin Street and Allen Avenue, which encircle the expansive residence, the highbrow crescent was an illustration of tranquility with no unusual movement.