Brief History of the NCMM
In the early 1930s, some British Nationals (K.C. Murray, J. D. Clarke, B. E. Fagg, Hunt – Coole & S. Milburn) were in Nigeria as colonial officers in the Nigerian Education Department. They were invited to teach art in Nigeria at the instance of Chief Aina Onabolu, an Europe-trained Fine Artist who persuaded the then Director of Education to allow qualified art teachers from the United Kingdom to take up teaching positions in the secondary schools and teacher training institutions in Nigeria. K. C. Murray an art teacher believed that contemporary Nigerian Art should develop and be based on the traditional art of Nigeria. But, there was no collection of traditional Art which the children could examine. Secondly, they were worried about the uncontrolled rate at which Nigerian antiquities were being shipped abroad. In their bid to preserve Nigerian artefacts, they mounted pressure on the colonial government to set up museums in Nigeria and to legislate against the exportation and illegal removal of Nigerian cultural artefacts. This led to the creation of the Nigerian Antiquities Service which was inaugurated on the 28th of July, 1943 with K. C. Murray as the first Director. Murray worked on collecting the Esie Soap stone figures and eventually established the first Museum in Esie in 1945.
The second Museum was established in Jos by Bernard Fagg in 1952. It was the first National Museum to be built. This was borne out of the need to house famous Nok terracotta objects discovered first during mining expedition and later during a large scale excavation by Benard Fagg on Jos Plateau.
After the establishment of the National Antiquities Service, he continued to canvass for the enactment of legislative measures to prevent the illegal exportation and indiscriminate acquisition of Nigerian antiquities. It was not until 1953 that clear-cut legislation to prevent these heinous acts was instituted when the Antiquities Ordinance No. 17 of 1953 was passed. This bill provided for the metamorphosis of the Antiquities Service into the National Antiquities Commission with Dike, K. O. as the first chairman of the governing board. It was charged with the responsibility of exploring, caring for and preserving of antiquities or works of art and provided also for the control of exportation of works of art from Nigeria.
The ordinance stated that:
"There shall be established a Commission to be called the National Antiquities Commission---and in connection with this ordinance, may acquire, hold and dispose of movable and immovable property".
Following this, more Museums were established including Ife, Lagos etc. This expansion was soon to spread to other parts of the country, with the National Antiquities Commission being given more roles to perform in the nation. One of such functions was her participation in FESTAC 1977.
This input at FESTAC as one of the factors that encouraged the Federal Government to give a wider recognition to the museum administration by enlarging museum activities through the promulgation of decree 77 of 1979. This decree dissolved the National Antiquities Commission and the Department of Antiquities and replaced it with the National Commission for Museums and Monuments giving it autonomy.
Ekpo Eyo who was the first Director of the Federal Department of Antiquiteis (1968 – 1979) was subsequently the first Director-General, National Commission for Museums and Monuments (1979 – 1986).
The National Commission for Museums and Monuments has had a Sole Administrator, two acting DGs and seven substantive DGs/Chief Executives from 1968 to date.
They are listed as follows
PROFESSOR EKPO EYO, OFR
1968 – 1986 (18 years) Substantive
MR. C. O. UGOWE
1986 – 1987 (1 year) Acting
PROFESSOR ADE OBAYEMI
1987 – 1991 (4 years) Substantive
DR. SULE BELLO
Sept. – Nov. 1991 (2 months) Sole Administrator
DR. YARO T. GELLA
1991 – 2000 (9 years) Substantive
DR. OMOTOSO ELUYEMI
2000 – 2006 (5 years) Substantive
CHIEF J. A. NZE OKORO
March – Aug. 2006 (6 months) Acting
DR. JOE EBOREIME
Aug. 2006 – Nov.2007 (15 months) Substantive
MR. I. A. AKINGUN-ROBERTS
Nov.2007 – May 2008 (6 months) Acting
DR. OCHI ACHINUVU
May – July 2008 (3 months) Acting
DR. JOE EBOREIME
2008 – 2009 (2 years) Substantive
YUSUF ABDALLAH USMAN
Sept. 2009 (10 days) Acting
BARR. O. A. S. ALASAN
Sept. – November 2009 (3 months) Acting
YUSUF ABDALLAH USMAN
Nov.2009 to date – Substantive
The story of the Commission will not be complete without the mention of the landmark achievements so far recorded by aforementioned Chief Executive Officers.
SOME HISTORICAL LANDMARK
Twenty seven (27) years ago, an exhibition titled: 2000 years of Nigerian Art travelled to seven cities in Europe and the United State of America which destroyed the myth that Black Africa had no worthy civilization before its contact with Europe.
The Commission witness massive change in the 80s with increase in the number of museum offices in the country. Museums were established in the 21 states of Federation and Abuja bringing the number to 33. However, only 23 had galleries.
Research works on Nigerian cultural heritage were successfully published. They include "An Introduction to Nigerian Traditional Architecture ( 3 volumes)" by Professor Dmochowski; 2000 Years of Nigerian Art by Ekpo Eyo; Nok Terracottas by Benard Fagg; Nigerian Images by Benard Fagg; Yoruba Pottery by Mrs. A. K. Fatunsin and many other related publications. Successful collaboration with foreign and local institutions resulted in the reprint of highly valued museum publications funded by the European Union via Lome 4 Convention grant; these are Japanese Government Cultural Grant of Photomechanical Reproduction Equipment and a 530 KVA Diesel generator installed in the National Museum, Lagos in 1988.
1992 marked the birth of "Nigerian Heritage: Journal of the National Commission for Museums and Monuments". Eighteen (18) volumes have so far been published.
Listing of two Nigeria Heritage Sites namely Sukur Cultural Landscape and Osun Oshogbo Grove as World Heritage Sites. Hence, the values of our heritage have enhanced the promotion of domestic and international tourism.
Ancient manuscripts (Arabic) and ancient publications (Pre-Colonial, Colonial and Post Colonial) are being preserved in museum libraries.
Sensitization/Awareness of our Cultural Heritage which encourages cultural industries and skill acquisition is creating jobs for our teaming youths, and has significantly reduced youth restiveness amongst them.
Enhancement of professionalism through adequate long term and short term training of museum staff. This encompasses in-house seminars, localized workshops and international conferences.