Yusuf Abdallah Usman was appointed DG NCMM on November, 2009. Born in Kano on June 24, 1961, he attended Shahuci and Batta Primary Schools, Kano between 1973 and 1978. He had his Post Primary Education in Government College, Kano in [...]
Yusuf Abdallah Usman was appointed DG NCMM on November, 2009. Born in Kano on June 24, 1961, he attended Shahuci and Batta Primary Schools, Kano between 1973 and 1978. He had his Post Primary Education in Government College, Kano in 1978 and later obtained admission into the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, where he bagged his degree in political science in 1983. He was a pioneer student of the Nigeria Institute of Journalism, Kano, where he bagged his Post Graduate Diploma. He, Usman also has a Post Graduate Diploma in Museology from I.A.M.S, Jos.
He was a member of the Pre-Senior Executive Course at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru, between 2nd and 12th October, 2008. He served as the head of ethnography unit from 1999-2006. He is currently undergoing a Ph.D Programme on Cultural Resource Management at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. He has functioned variously as Curator/Head of Station in Kano, Kaduna, Maiduguri and Katsina Museums.
He has attended various workshops and conferences both within and outside Nigeria, and has released about five publications. He is a member of various professional organization including MAN, ICOMOS, NIPR etc. He was the immediate past Director of the Department of Monuments, Heritage and Sites (2006-2009). Yusuf Abdallah Usman is married with children
The ancient city of Calabar witnessed a remarkable historic moment when the memory of the first indigenous Director-General of NCMM, late Prof. Ekpo Eyo was kept alive through a maiden memorial lecture organised by the Calabar Museum Society in collaboration with the National Commission for Museums and Monuments, Calabar.
Dr. Ogbonna Kalu, President of the Calabar Museum Society in his welcome address, thanked the Guest Lecturer for accepting the invitation at such short notice. He informed the audience that the lecture was organised by the Calabar Museum Society in collaboration with the National Commission for Museums and Monuments Calabar, in an effort to bring into focus the pioneering works and contributions of a great citizen of Cross River State to the development and growth of museums, archaeological studies and tourism in our contemporary society. Dr. Ogbonna pleaded with the youth to fully appreciate, revitalize and reclaim our cultural heritage which was fast going into extinction. He rounded off by inviting members to join the Calabar Museum Society.
Chairman of the occasion, Prof. Mrs. Eka Braide, Vice Chancellor Federal University of Lafia, Nassarawa State was represented by Prof. Ivara Esu, former Vice Chancellor University of Calabar and former Minister of state, Federal Ministry of Culture, Tourism and National Orientation. Professor Esu in his opening remark stressed the need for the memorial lecture to be an annual event and suggested that it should be organised by the Federal Ministry of Culture, Tourism and National Orientationin collaboration with the National Commission for Museums and Monuments. He further stated that the late Prof. Ekpo Eyo was a national figure and should be honoured nationally by immortalizing his name. Prof. Ekpo Eyo had excelled in so many areas of his endeavour and should be given a nation wide recognition. Prof. Ivara Esu also paid tribute to Mrs. Augusta Eyo, wife of the late Prof. Ekpo Eyo.
The Guest Lecturer, Prof. Olu Olat Lawal gave the memorial Lecture titled “ANCIENT AND MODERN IN CULTURAL HISTORY OF CALABAR LEGACIES OF PROFESSOR EKPO EYO”. The abstract of his paper examined the profile of the legendary Professor Ekpo Eyo, some of his major contributions to museums and monuments, and the important stratification of the major focus of his research. The elements of the ancient and modern concept were elucidated through the consideration of some of his major publications such as Conventional Museums and the Quest for Relevance in Africa (1994), Two Thousand Years of Nigerian Art, Treasures of Ancient Nigeria: A Legacy of Two Thousand Years, The Terracottas of Calabar (2008), From Shrines to Showcases: Masterpieces of Nigerian Art (2008) and other publications. The lecturer suggested that as a Senior Advocate of our rich cultural heritage in Nigeria, a National Monument should be named after Professor Ekpo Eyo.
A citation on the Late Prof Ekpo Eyo was given by Engr. E. E. Ita, who reeled off the professor’s rich profile from birth through his professional career till his death on May 28, 2011 in Maryland USA.
The event also witnessed cultural displays and an interactive forum where tributes were paid on the late Prof. Ekpo Eyo.At the end of the memorial lecture, Mrs. Augusta Ekpo Eyo, wife of Late Prof. Ekpo Eyo expressed her appreciation for the honour done her late husband. The lecture was rounded off with a vote of thanks by Elder Sunday Adaka, Curator National Museum Calabar, who stood in for the Director General (NCMM). He said that the Director General has promised to continue to support the lecture which will be on annual basis.
The occasion was highly attended, with dignitaries as the Deputy Governor of Cross River State Barr. Efiok Cobham who is also the Grand Patron of the Calabar Museum Society. Others are Senator Bassey Ewa Henshaw, Dr. Oshoyeye, Prof. Osuulo representing the Vice Chancellor University of Calabar, Prof. Okon Uya, Prof. Mkposong, Prof. J. O. Charles, Dr. S. O. Jaja, Barr. Wilfred Inah, Etubom Bassey Duke representing the Obong of Calabar, members of the Cross River State Executive Council and a host of others. Also present were the curators of Owerri, Oron, Slave History museum and staff of NCMM Calabar.
The Director-General of National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM), Mallam Yusuf Abdallah Usman with his management team received the senate committee in charge of Culture and Tourism led by its Chairman, Senator Ahmed Hassan Barata. The visit to the museum headquarters is in line with the committee’s statutory oversight function.
The museum helmsman gave a panoramic presentation of the museum including its accomplishments and challenges as the visit was to appraise projects executed from the 2011 budget.
Mallam Yusuf mentioned some of the ongoing projects in the commission; being construction of Heritage Conservation Centre, Ogbomosho, construction of Chalet at Ita-Yemo, Ile-Ife, construction of a Museum at Jalingo, Taraba State, and Ogbomoso, Oyo State and the completed projects as : rehabitation of Tafawa Balewa Musoleum,in Bauchi,Rock Art Interpretation Centre, National Museum, Birnin Kudu.
The museum boss explained, that “out of the four Museum of National Unity that were earmarked for the country, only two Enugu and Ibadan are operational while Maiduguri and Sokoto are yet to take off”.
The Chairman, Senator Ahmed Hassan Barata, while appreciating the presentation harped on the importance of museum collection as they represent man’s cultural legacies. He said, “Every community needs to identify itself and it can’t be done without art and craft. We therefore commend NCMM for gathering such diverse collections for our country”.
The visiting committee members responded to the presentation made by the DG NCMM and promised to use their good
office to ensure that more fund is provided for the purchase of artifacts and maintenance of the existing museum throughout the Country.
While stressing on the security of objects, the committee also suggested that “We need to establish a department that will be
responsible for preventing illegal trafficking of antiquities outside Nigeria and we need to keep somebody who understands the importance of artifacts at the border points; otherwise, people will just pocket the small items and take them across the borders without anyone knowing that they are artifacts”
The Museum Management was delighted at the visit. In his response, the museum boss said “We are happy because we are sure your visit will afford us the opportunity to interact and possibly see ways of making culture, particularly, Museum and Heritage resources, a part of the development agenda of this country”.
The Museums Management also used the occasion to reiterate the urgent need of having a National Museum built in Abuja, the capital city of Nigeria as seen in other modern cities of the world.
Some of the Senators that came with the committee Chairman were Senator Abubakar Sadiq Yar’dua, who is the Vice Chairman of the committee, Senator Hosiah Agboola, senate Deputy Whip and SenatorAbubakar Tutare who is also the vice
chairman Senate committee on Police Affairs with their aides.
The museum top shots present included Dr. Musa Hambolu, Director of Research Planning and Publications, Mr. Olubode O. Oke, Director of Finance and Accounts, Mr. Oluremi Adedayo, Director Monuments, Heritage and Sites, Ms Ronke P. Ashaye Ag. Director Museums, Barr. Emeka Onuegbu, Ag. Director of Administration, Alhaji Abdulkarim Kadiri, Deputy Director Audit, Mr. Bayo Olajide, Deputy Director Works, Ms. Rose Bodam of Museums, Dr. Akinade, DD Research, Pastor Yemi Opaleye, DD Research and Barr. Tunde Adebiyi of Legal Unit.
The visit was a delight for Pressmen as they were there to cover the occasion while it was rounded off with group photograph.
The National Commission for Museums and Monuments will launch this site soon to enable easy information dispensation. Read more »
A very large number of Nigeria’s priceless artefacts left Nigeria’s shores long before the country came into being as an independent nation. The high point was the infamous assault on Benin in 1897. Dispossessing Nigerians of their heritage went on throughout the period of colonial domination and more recently it has been rearing its ugly head through looting of heritage archaeological sites and museums.
The National Commission for Museums and Monuments, Nigeria, the organ charged with the responsibility of preserving Nigeria’s antiquities considers the return of all these objects an issue of paramount importance that is why it is paying quality attention to it including setting up of a special unit to handle it.
It must be stated however, that since 1996 thefts of antiquities have not been recorded from National Museums collections. So the claim that the recently intercepted terracotta pieces in US were stolen from National Museum Lagos is absolutely false.
No object has been stolen from any Nigeria museum since the last series of burglaries in the early 1990s. Even then, Lagos museum was not involved and all the stolen pieces were put on ICOM red list. Indeed many of them have since been recovered and returned to the museums.
The looting of heritage archaeological sites and Museums has been an age-long and world-wide problem. In Nigeria the problem reached epidemic proportions in the 1990s when Nok and North-western Nigeria’s (Kwatarkwoshi) archaeological sites were massively raped and ripped of their priceless objects. These objects were spread throughout Western Europe and the USA illustrating the devastating scale of the problem.
While the problem abated in the beginning of the new millennium, recent field studies indicate that it has not fully stopped.
At the onset of the present Management of the NCMM in 2009 under the leadership of Yusuf Abdallah Usman, the issue of looting of archaeological sites by illegal diggers reduced due to the use of a multi-pronged approach. Within the last three years the Commission has embarked on several sensitization programmes involving law enforcement agencies,media, local community and traditional rulers at Abuja and Kaduna and also in the rural areas especially at Nok and Janjala. In the meantime , approval to employ six hundred security and crafts men to police our heritage site is awaiting cash backing from the budget office.
From the legal perspective, the Commission has made substantial progress in her bid to review her laws with a view to tightening the loose ends against the smuggling of antiquities.This review will give the Commission the power to the unequivocal proclamation that all antiquities buried under the ground are the properties of the Federal Government of Nigeria.It will also make it possible for the Commission’s Antiquities Inspectors to search and arrest, with or without warrant, malefactors. The Commission will equally be endowed through provisions in the reviewed law with the power of prosecuting offenders.
The Commission has some registered antiquity vendors who bring objects to it for acquisition. Through them, the Commission has acquired very good and invaluable objects. However, in recent times due to dwindling financial resources the Commission has been unable to pay as at when due.
When the vendors bring in these antiquities the Commission is obliged by its Act to collect them even when it does not readily have funds to pay compensation, for the simple reason that these are the heritage of the nation and so cannot be allowed to remain outside the protection of the National Commission for Museums and Monuments.
We are currently dialoguing with the vendors with a view to finding means of compensating them. Thus we are seeking intervention funds from the Federal Government to enable us defray the debt owed them in order to prevent the objects from being sold to foreigners and private collectors. It is important to note that the issue of purchase of Antiquities is of prime importance to the nation. Meanwhile, we appreciate the understanding and patience of the vendors who are helping us to continually increase the number of our collections besides other means of acquisition such as: field collection, donations, seizures and restitution. It is pertinent to note that objects taken out of their archaeological context have little significance to social and historical reconstruction. Accordingly we try to regulate the activities of these vendors in order to balance curatorial needs with scientific archaeological considerations.
In the meantime the Commission is pursuing restitution and return, has adopted approaches that are firmly anchored within the framework of the foreign policy direction of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which is principally dialogue rather than undue combativeness. These efforts at dialoguing have brought us into discussions with nations, particularly our West African neighbours through the auspices of ECOWAS. This is necessary because most smuggled artefacts are taken out through the borders we share with these nations.
The Commission in its effort at getting our objects back to Nigeria has also been operating through the ICOM/UNESCO framework and has also been dialoguing with professionals in the foreign Museums. We indeed believe that dialogue is more productive than confrontation. This however must not be misunderstood as weakness on our part. We do believe that our professional colleagues abroad and the law enforcement agencies will continue to cooperate with us in our legitimate pursuit for the return of our antiquities.
Efforts at dialoguing have brought about recent interface with most of the major museums in Europe. The Commission instigated discussions on modalities of returning Benin objects to Nigeria. This has resulted in the meeting of the major museums in Europe and the Commission in Vienna, Austria and Berlin, Germany in 2010 and 2011 respectively. A third meeting is scheduled for Benin City before the end of this year. The heads of these European museums have signified their intention to attend this meeting. It will be recalled that Nigeria was one of the strong voices in the Egyptian Conference of 2010 where return of the pieces of each countries priceless antiquities were demanded to be returned to their countries of origin.
Nigeria is also involving the Inter-Governmental Committee for Promoting the Return of Cultural Property to its Countries of Origin or its Restitution in Case of Illicit Appropriation. This Committee has helped Tanzania in recent times to reclaim its famous Makonde mask. We are confident that this Committee will aid our current demand for the return of the 32 works of Benin Art recently donated to the museum of Fine Arts in Boston which we have reasons to believe came from 1897 Punitive British Expedition to Benin. The NCMM is in direct contact with this Committee through Nigeria’s Permanent Delegation to UNESCO. Similarly Nigeria is taking steps to join the United States’ Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act (CPIA).
Nigeria’s effort at restitution was recently rewarded when Terra-cotta effigies of more than a thousand years old were returned from Canada on the 24th of February, 2009. Before this, the L’Office central de repression du vol des oeuvres et des objets d’art (O.C.R.V.O.O.A.) had also returned three Ife bronze heads stolen and found in France. Benin bronze artefacts sold to Galerie Walu in Zurich were also returned to Nigeria.
In September this year, the Commission shall be receiving from the Embassy of France five Nok Sculptures which were intercepted in August 2010 by the French Customs from shipments originating from Togo.
While a Management inherits the image of an organization, it is also fair to acknowledge efforts being made in tackling an age-long problem. The NCMM, AAN and other stakeholders have re-affirmed their commitment to work together in tackling the menace of illegal excavations and export of our priceless antiquities.
The statutory mandate of the National Commission for Museums and Monuments is to acquire, protect, promote, conserve and develop our cultural objects, heritage and sites. If it is to succeed, the support of Nigerians is critical.
Usman is Director General, National Commission for Museums and Monuments
The Department of Monuments, Heritage and Sites recently organized a two Day workshop tagged: “Utilizing Current Trends
in Heritage Management”, the event was held at the Federal Secretariat complex, Dutsen-kura Minna, Niger State.
Zungeru was declared a national Monument on February 13, 1962. Some of the Historic sites abounding in the town includes Lord Luggard Villa; Colonial Market; Colonial Prisons; Colonial Military Cemetery; Saint Ebenezer Church (where late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and Col. Odumegwu Ojukwu were baptized).
It was discovered by NCMM Heritage Site experts, that the site is being encroached by local communities. Other factors militating and hindering accessibility to the site are no defined heritage route; lack of basic amenities; no perimeter fence and dilapidated structure. It was resolved
at the workshop, that NCMM should partner with other stakeholders to source fund for the renovation, restoration and the site maintainance.
The Commission has since initiated action to revive the glory of Zungeru Historical Site by liaising with Niger State Council for Arts and Culture to carry out proper documentation of these historical Sites.
The workshop had in attendance staff from various stations. The essence of the workshop was to sensitize participants about the current trends in heritage management and site inspection which they did at Zungeru, a colonial heritage site in Nigeria.
The National Commission for Museums and Monuments was established by Decree No. 77 of 1979 (now Act of Parliament, CAP 242, 2000) to replace the former Antiquities Commission. According to the Decree, the functions of the Commission shall be:
1. To administer national museums, antiquities and monuments;
2. To establish and maintain national museums and other outlets for or in connection with, but not restricted only to the following, that is,
- 3. To make recommendations to any State Government or other person or authority concerning the establishment and management of museums and other preservation of antiquities and monuments declared to be national antiquities and monuments; and
4. To approve a museum, that is privately established and maintained for the purposes Act of Parliament, CAP 242, 2000 and at any time withdraw such approval.
The Commission was set up to save Nigerian antiquities from destruction through human and natural agencies and to create among Nigerians an awareness of their country’s cultural heritage.
The activities of the commission therefore cover the rest of the Black world. Through displays and publications it fulfils one of its primary objectives of discovering, collecting, preserving and researching into the traditional cultures of the various peoples of Nigeria and making the results of such studies known to them.