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‘Why national gallery, museums commission should not be merged’

By Gregory Austin Nwakunor
26 June 2020   |   3:00 am
Culture experts and practitioners have faulted the government’s proposed merger of the National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM) and National Gallery of Art (NGA).

Culture experts and practitioners have faulted the government’s proposed merger of the National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM) and National Gallery of Art (NGA).

With approval given for implementation of the report submitted by the Presidential Committee on Restructuring and Rationalisation of Federal Government Parastatals, Commissions and Agencies during the President Goodluck Jonathan administration, the move is aimed at reducing the cost of governance by eliminating duplicated functions by several departments and agencies.

According to the culture communicator and former Deputy Editor of The Guardian, Ben Tomoloju, it is not appropriate to merge NCMM and NGA “because disciplinarily, their areas of coverage are distinct from each other.”

He further noted: “Talking about the stimulation of the creativity, it could seem to the ordinary eye as if they do overlap, but the extent of overlapping is quite limited. The dichotomy is rather more and overwhelming in terms of periods and subject areas. The NCMM deals with our antiquities, dating as far back as thousands of years.

“So many sites that demand the attention of the commission are yet to be fully developed for both educational and touristic advantages. Whereas the NCMM has the herculean task of dealing with and packaging the manifests of our antiquities in their broad variety, the National Gallery is a specialised agency handling contemporary Nigerian art. In fact, you will recall that it started as the National Gallery of Modern Art.”

For Dr. Ayo Adewunmi, Arts Director of Life In My City (LIMCAF) and head of Graphics Department, Institute of Management and Technology, Enugu, the roles of the two agencies are miles apart. “Their functions do not overlap in any way. While NCMM primary functions concern cultural properties, that of NGA borders on contemporary art. I believe also that Oransaye committee did not consider what is obtainable elsewhere in the world.”

Dr. Sola Adeyemi of the Goldsmith College, University of London, said: “Culture is not monolithic and the administration of the strands should also not be left to a singular entity, for effectiveness and efficiency. You can’t manage language the same way you manage the production of the arts, though they may have elements that are connected or interlinked. You need a different mechanism of administration structured and adapted for these different strands in a country with diverse cultures.”

The theatre teacher and coordinator of the MA Programme of the Goldsmith College said: “The idea of jumbling everything together can only lead to disaster. In the end, nothing will work and we will go back to the planning stage again. For example, the strange combination of culture and tourism. We need to look at the shift in cultural identity for the nation, alongside the new phenomena of social media, disruption of traditional ethos, and fluidity of cultures. One body cannot do this.”

Dr. Sola Balogun of the Department of Theatre Arts, Federal University, Oye-Ekiti, however, supports the merger of the parastatals. “If we examine closely their operations, we’ll discover many of their officials operate like typical civil servants, hence creativity and excellence in terms of idea generation to advance the sector are grossly lacking.”

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