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Nigerian museums grapple with low visitor-turnout, funding

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Museums and Monuments in some states across the country have continued to deteriorate due to paucity of funds and low visitor turn-out.

A nationwide survey conducted by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), revealed that government funding for the sector had been on the decline, due to dwindling revenue generation occasioned by the outbreak of COVID-19.

EditPro | Lagos Metropolitan newspaper Inside the Yemisi Shyllon museum of art at the Pan-Atlantic University.
EditPro | Lagos Metropolitan newspaper The Yemisi Shyllon Museum of Art

The situation had been further made worse with little or no internal revenue being generated by the facilities, due to security challenges, low turn-out in visitors who normally go to the facilities on sightseeing or for research purposes.

In the North-Central, for instance, the facilities are grappling with low patronage with the outfits recording less number of visitors than usual.


Mrs Angbiandoo Julius, the Head of Education Department in the National Museum and Monuments Office in Benue, told NAN in Makurdi, that artifacts in the museum were being preserved for posterity, using the scarce resources available.

“At present, we have only two crocodiles. Our monitor lizard, monkey and tortoise have since died and have yet to be replaced.

“For the crocodiles, I met them here. I have worked here for over 22 years though when I first came they were small,” she said.

Mr Dakam Dakup, the Curator, Nasarawa State, National Museums and Monument, said the state lacked a functional gallery.


Dakup told NAN in Lafia that custodians of cultural heritage like the Emirs and other Traditional Rulers in the state were willing to relinquish their invaluable artifacts to the museum.

EditPro | Lagos Metropolitan newspaper A display at National Museum, Jos

He, however, said that the organisation was faced with a myriad of challenges ranging from lack of a befitting structure to a non-functional gallery to safely keep such artifacts and other cultural heritages.

On the volume of visitors to the museum, Dakup said the little exhibitions at the temporary gallery were attracting as low as 15 to 30 visitors in a month.

Dakup said that plans were made before the recent lockdown, to sensitise all the Emirs on the need to bring artifacts in their custody to the gallery for safekeeping and display.


He said the state was endowed with abundant natural cultural heritage sites such as the Keana salt and Farin Ruwa waterfalls.

On his part, the state Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Mr Dogo Shamma, said the State Government would partner with the commission to promote the traditions and cultures of the various ethnic groups in the state.

Similarly, the Museum of Colonial History in Lokoja, Kogi, was not in good shape as the museum which is home to pictorial historical events in Nigeria before independence was fast becoming an eyesore.

Mrs Rebecca Agbogun, Curator of the Museum, said that the main function of the facility was to carry out pictorial exhibitions of Nigeria’s colonial history.


Agbogun, however, lamented that termites had damaged the museum built with planks saying some pictorial monuments had been lost and might be difficult for the country to recover if urgent steps were not taken.

NAN reports that the museum comprises one main photo gallery and two smaller galleries of photographs of historical events recorded before independence.

One of the small galleries is, however, dedicated to the pictorial events in Kogi State from its creation 29 years ago to date.

She, however, said that patronage had dropped considerably since the break out of COVID-19 in the country.

Similarly, in Jos National Museum and Monuments, the Curator, Mrs Cecilia Akinrinola, blamed the deteriorating situation on the COVID-19 pandemic.

She told NAN that the museum could not hold its annual festivals in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The curator, however, stated that the Jos National Museum established in 1952, was a comprehensive and complete museum, housing a zoo, art gallery, tin mining exhibition and transport exhibition.

She said that the museum which was the second largest in the country was still maintaining its standard in receiving visitors.

According to Akinrinola, the museum is also hard hit by the security challenges bedeviling the country and the world, such that people were afraid of visiting the facility.

“However, we made arrangements with security agencies to provide us with personnel to rebuild or give visitors the confidence to come around.’’

A regular visitor to the museum, Mr Christian Pam, urged the management to improve on the level of maintenance of the facility to attract more visitors.

Mr Francis Mana, a tailor who sews traditional attires in the museum, said that he was no longer getting customers as he used to.

NAN surveys in Borno, Adamawa, Gombe, Yobe and Bauchi revealed that the facilities have either been abandoned for security reasons, destroyed by insurgents, or are non-existent.

Most affected are facilities in towns that are vulnerable to insurgents, making it impossible to operate such Museums and Monuments, just as tourists shied away from such places for fear of attacks.

One of such places is Borno, where the Curator of National Museum, Maiduguri, Mr Abdulrasheed Musa, told NAN that Boko-Haram insurgency and lack of awareness on the activities of the Museum, were affecting its operations.

Musa said that the insurgency, which created insecurity in Maiduguri and some parts of the state, had affected the patronage of the Museum by tourists, leaving only students within Maiduguri, who visit on an excursion.

“There is a need for awareness but as it is now, we do not have logistics for that,” Musa said.

He also stated that the Museum had not been receiving new relics and artifacts that would attract tourists, as such had little to attract visitors.

He said he had started reaching out to some stakeholders and organisations, like the family of Late Ibrahim Waziri, Borno Government and North East Development Commission, on reviving the Museum.

The curator said there was a plan to organise an exhibition of National Unity in Borno, to promote unity through culture, and seek partnership with stakeholders on how to use culture in re-branding Nigeria.

Adamawa is the custodian of one of the world heritage sites recognised by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisations (UNESCO).

Abdulaziz Duhu, Director General, Adamawa Agency for Museums and Monuments, said that UNESCO named Sukur cultural landscape in Madagali Local Government Area of the state as one of the world heritage sites.

He said that in the past, the place had witnessed a lot of visitors, both locally and internationally.

“But the security challenges in the North-East have taken its toll as insurgents have damaged that heritage site.

“However, with the commitment of the state government, plans are underway to re-model it and bring it back to life,” he said.

Duhu said that the North East Development Commission (NEDC), and the National Commission for Museums and Monuments, were also making efforts to revive the site.

Mrs Victoria Mamuda, Director Culture, Gombe State Ministry of Information and Culture told NAN that the state was blessed with diverse ethnic groups, peculiar culture and history, which had made it possible to have valuable artifacts that represented these groups.

“We do not have a Museum for now, but efforts are being made to establish one for the state; our challenge is the artifacts; artifacts are valuable things that the tribes appreciate.

“Most of these tribes do not want to release the artifacts, so it is a bit difficult to secure them, but we are making efforts; we have some collections,” she said.

On monuments, Mamuda said the state had a lot of them in the form of tombs of prominent Islamic leaders, as well as cultural sites like hills and mountains with rich histories.

“Two of such tombs are those of the founder of Gombe Emirate, Bubayero, located in Gombe-Abba, Dukku Local Government Area, and that of Sultan Muhammad Attahiru I.

“Attahiru was the Sultan of Sokoto Caliphate who resisted the indirect rule of the British. The British followed him to a place called Bormi, Funakaye Local Government Area of Gombe State, and engaged him in a battle, which resulted in his death.

“ Commander of the British forces was also killed and the tombs are there. That is another monument and a historical site,’’ she said.

Alhaji Adam Talba, Director, History and Culture, Yobe Ministry for Information and Culture, told NAN that the state would display an 8,000-year-old Canoe discovered in 1987, at the National Museums gallery in Damaturu

He said the artifact would be moved into an exhibition case by a team of experts, led by former Military Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, in collaboration with the state and National Museums.

The director said the eight-meter long Canoe was first discovered by a herdsman, Mallam Yau, near Dufuna village of Yobe, in 1987, while he was digging a well in search of water for his cattle.

He said a radiocarbon dating of the boat by archeologists at a University in Frankfurt, Germany, indicated that the canoe was 8,000 years-old.

According to Talba, Dufuna is the oldest canoe in Africa and believed to be the second oldest in the world.

In Bauchi, Malam Munkaila Usman, Director of Culture, Bauchi State Ministry for Culture and Tourism, said although the state had no functional Museum, it had six tourist sites.

He said apart from the famous Yankari Games Reserve, other sites are Marshall Caves, Sarkin Yaki Tomb, Panshanu Stone Heap, Na’Raba Mining Site and the tomb of former Prime Minister, late Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa.

Usman said that the state government planned to reconstruct an abandoned Museum in the area, adding that the ministry had already produced a new architectural design. (NAN)

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