The Director-General of the National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM), Mr Abdallah Usman, says inadequate funding among other factors are responsible for the backwardness in the nation’s museums and monuments.
Usman said this while fielding questions during the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Forum, in Abuja.
The director-general said that Nigeria was endowed with abundance of artefacts and heritage sites that had yet to be transformed into sources of revenue generation for both government and individuals.
“On the exhibition, design and conceptualisation, we have hundreds of artefacts in our storage; how do we bring these out to tell the specific stories in an exhibition so that we achieve certain objectives.
“It is one of the greatest challenges that we face as a commission; so we need this expertise, people who can come up with ideas of how to use these artefacts to tell specific stories in a very beautiful and modern way.
“The facilities angle is there so even if we have brains of course we have a few in the commission, where are the equipment to use in doing this display, where are the facilities that can be used to show this exhibition, where are the galleries, where are the modern equipment to do this.
“So it becomes a very big task to be able to do this over time, you do one exhibition in Nigeria all the resources of the commission are being drained there.
“To have any serious impact you have to have several exhibitions going on across the country simultaneously or at regular interval and this cost money and resources, there is absolutely room for improvement,’’ he said.
Usman said that the activities of illegal excavators were among the factors militating against development in the sector, noting that the commission lacked adequate personnel to check such activities.
He said that the menace of illegal excavators was exposing communities to danger and at the same time violating laws regulating the ownership of antiquities.
He added that the commission adopted other means of securing the known heritage sites until government approved its request to employ more hands to police the areas.
“There are hundreds of archaeological sites, thousands of heritage sites in Nigeria, you can’t police all of them it is very difficult but you can police the known ones, you can put in people to police those areas to ensure that no illegal excavations are carried out.
“In that we have a problem. Most of the staff, who perform these services have been downsized.
“So we have succeeded in getting the minister to approve for us to employ about 600 officers but for the last two years we have not had any cash backing for the employment to be carried out so we are not able to have these sites policed,’’ he said.
In the case of the monument, Usman said that the state of conservation was also a major area of concern for the commission.
He said that the shortage of manpower in addition to the unusual attitude of some Nigerians where the sites are located also constitute a problem for museum development in the country.
According to him, people will want to run away from these monuments and sites because of their new found religion.
He, however, maintained that the commission did not relate with the artefacts and monuments as objects of worship but from the perspective of history and aesthetics.
Usman said this attitude of Nigerians was something that was also a factor in maintaining and managing these heritage resources. (NAN)