By Tajudeen Sowole
While President Muhammadu Buhari was in the U.S leading his country back to reckoning in global affairs, another delegation at UNESCO, led by the Director-General of National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM), Mallam Yusuf Abdallah Usman got the country elected into a committee of the world body.
According to Usman, Nigeria was last week, elected as Co -Vice Chair of the Subsidiary Committee of the Meeting of the States Parties to the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property. The election, which took place at the headquarters of UNESCO in Paris, France, also voted Poland, India and Iraq as co - Vice Chair to Greece while Equador is to serve as Rapporteur for a term of two years. Usman was at the event as the national implementation agency of the convention.
Also Prof Folarin Shyllon of University of Ibadan (UI), Oyo State, who is a consultant to the Permanent Delegation of Nigeria to UNESCO was on the country's delegation to the Paris convention.
In 2013, Shyllon was elected by the same sub-Committee, representing Nigeria at UNESCO.
Back to Nigeria, Usman spoke on Nigeria's achievement and noted that the NCMM has in the last few years strengthened its restitution efforts by vigorously creating awareness among Heritage site communities, capacity building on documentation and setting up of special units to deal with issues of return, acquisitions and protection of antiquities. The awareness, he argued, has led "to the return of over a hundred (100) Nigerian objects from Europe and United States of America."
Shortly before leaving for the UNESCO Convention, Usman had, in Lagos flagged off the exhibition of 70 top cultural objects to mark a proposed-70th anniversary of museum in Nigeria. The celebration, which holds in Abuja before the end of the year will also showcase 70 iconic objects drawn from various Nigerian art traditions such as Dufuna, Nok, Ejaghan, Calabar, Igbo Ukwu, Ife, Benin, Esie, Owo, Tada," among others. He added that the exhibition will highlight "similarities in our differences thereby promoting national unity."
Included in the events are publications on museums, monuments and other heritage sites of Nigeria as well as research journal on museum in Nigeria: Sustainability and Challenges; art competition involving school children at National Museum, Esie to promote art appreciation among youths; a gala nite to honour and appreciate our friends, mentors, benefactors and staff in Abuja.