|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."
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.