Sunday 4 July 2021

Again, 'sole' presidential candidate for artists' body, SNA

Muhammad Sulaiman, a sole presidential candidate in SNA general elections 2021.

As the next congress of Society of Nigerian Artists (SNA) holds, virtually, on July 10, 2021, a sole candidate, Muhammad Sulaiman for the professi- onal body's office of the president seems like a concluded "arrangement."

The election was earlier scheduled to hold June 27, but shifted for about two weeks. There have been quite a number of reasons — including suspicion of plans to rock the boat of the "arranged election"— that led to the postponement.

Founded in 1963, SNA was formally inaugurated in January 1964 with Yusuf Grillo as President and Tayo Aiyegbusi, Vice-President. The group is currently being led by Oliver Enwonwu whose tenure expired two years ago. 

Quite a number of issues had led to the postpon- ement of the professional body of artists' delayed elections. Among such was the Covid-19 pandemic crisis of last year. Also, could it be that the arrange- ment for a sole candidate was built on feeble basement, which perhaps led to the shift in date? "Not at all," Enwonwu replied during a chat on the delayed elections.

Running with Sulaiman as Vice is Dotun Alabi, a former SNA Chairman, Lagos State Chapter. The current president, Enwonwu, coincidentally, was also elected as a candidate from the Lagos Chapter in 2012.

And why a sole presidential candidate for such a professional body of artists whose membership cuts across practitioners of full-time studio practice and within and outside the academia? The consideration for "balance," a source who did not want his name mentioned disclosed. The northern part of Nigeria, the source explained, has not produced SNA president since the body was founded nearly 60 years ago "despite having so many members as artists from that part of the country."
Dotun Alabi, Vice Presidential candidate in SNA general elections 2021.

Some kind of "arrangement" in electoral process to produce the president of SNA has an antecedence. In 1989, Dele Jegede was elected as President of SNA ending his tenure in 1992 in what was described then as "a coup" necessary for "rescue mission" aimed at saving the group from a protra- cted crisis. Again, when there was return of unreso- lved crisis with SNA for many years, Kolade Oshinowo got elected in another alleged "arranged election."
Who is Sulaiman, (fsna)?
Excerpts from his bio/CV;
He has exhibited his works in notable cities (Paris – France, Philadelphia, Los Angeles – USA, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, Colombo – Sri Lanka, Nanjing – China, etc.) across the globe with his most recent in Abuja, Nigeria in 2017.
He is the President of the Abuja International Open Art Expo, one of the fastest growing art events outfits in Nigeria with exhibiting artists from around the globe. This indeed puts him at the forefront of art exchange in Nigeria.

Muhammad’s efforts in practicing and promoting art events between Nigeria and China, earned him the prestigious Chinese Government's Award for Cultural Exchange in 2013. President, China Alumni Association of Nigeria;
  Fellow’s Award SNA, July 2014; Distinguished Painter of the Nanjing Painting and Calligraphy Academy, China, 27th June 2012; and Disting- uished Ambassador of Nigerian Art in 2011; Award of Service, University of Abuja Nigeria in 2014. 

He has been the past President, Rotary Club of Asokoro, Abuja;  Chairman Society of Nigerian Artists FCT; and Director, Open Mic Nigeria, Abuja.
Muhammad Sulaiman is Head, Public Relations and Bilaterals at the FCTA Arts and Culture, SDS, Abuja.


  1. No doubt the SNA in recent years has been quite elusive to it's responsibilities which has kept the Society without much impact in the changing scenes of life especially through the Covid 19 new normal. Whereas the Covid 19 pandemic is a ready answer to it's inactive posture, the newly formed Sculptor's Association of Nigeria has not less than three major national programs to it's credit. Going by the pedigree of the incoming President of SNA, I believe that the paradigm of leadership for profile status will be charged. The Oshinowo and Uwa Usen have some tangible legacies that the new incoming Exco will learn from. Also to add that the new Exco should see suggestions and possible constructive criticism as calls to improve on their game. Muffling of members voice has never built a formidable team. I wish Muhammed well in his office.

  2. Good piece my brother.
    However, Kolade Osinowo's election was never arranged.
    Egonwa Exco of which I was PRO, having outlived its mandate was compelled handover through my publication in some dailies urging members to call for election.
    The election held and Osinowo was dully elect.
    No one was prepared to contest and so he was prevailed upon to step in as an unwilling candidate in order to save sna.

  3. Either, the Northern part has ever produce a Presidential candidate or not, the whole issue is about credibility, Muhammed is credible to lead the SNA chair, based on his portfolio and his exposure to the outside world. At the same time, Mr Dotun is equally capable to hold the position of the vice chair, cos' he is also and up and doing. Therefore, I am only wishing you guys a successful tenure, and hope you move SNA, forward.

  4. Artists have started again with their usual Pull Him Down syndrome. Let us thank and appreciate those who sacrificed their time,energy and resources to keep SNA on the global map! Truth of the matter is that we can never play better by watching the match on TV from our comfort zones. And please if you are not on the pitch, try to cheer those in the game without animosity. I appreciate the achievements of past executives and pray for the new Exco to improve on our collective gains as a body.