Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, has unveiled the first phase of the Edo Museum of West African Art (EMOWAA), in Benin City, during a stakeholders’ engagement.
Obaseki, who purported plans to house the recently returned Benin Artefacts at EMOWAA, insisted that there is no conflict between the state government and the royal palace; despite going back on earlier agreements to keep the artefacts at Benin Royal Palace. He directed his stance to His Royal Majesty, Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Ewuare II, whilst addressing participants at the unveiling held on Thursday.
The Edo State Governor spoke on the value of the historical works to Edo culture, and benefits of displaying them for tourist purposes.
‘What is our plan for culture? As a people, we have a lot of assets from our past and it’s our responsibility to recreate them. So, it is beyond just several pieces of artwork; no, it’s beyond that. It is about using that as the contact point to bring out the best of who we are.
‘There is a whole lot of research that still needs to be done. We can’t have things about us being explained to us from Europe. Nobody is going to do it for us.
‘That is why we must insist that when these works come, we host them here in Edo State, their home, so that it’s available for everybody to see. There is no quarrel with the palace.
‘It is not just about us but the people of the state. So, let’s facilitate it so everybody can access and benefit from it.
‘I don’t see why we cannot achieve this. So, each and every one of the century.
‘That is what we found when we came into the government. So, as a democratically elected government, we owe our people and posterity that responsibility, to first explain who we are and what we have to the rest of the world.
‘If the Egyptians are using what they have to represent the arts of Northern Africa, then we should, as a people, have something to represent the arts of West Africa. It is important to help you understand why we are doing what we are doing and why this project is very significant,’ he added.
Chairman of EMOWAA Trust, Mr. Phillip Ihenacho, also spoke on the day, touching on the core mandate of the museum; which is to preserve the heritage and culture of West Africa.
On July 9, 2019, Governor Obaseki had announced a collaboration with Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Ewuare II, and other stakeholders in Edo State, to set up the Benin Royal Museum for the core purpose of holding stolen artefacts from Benin Kingdom.
The Iyase (Prime Minister) of Benin Kingdom in a press release affirming Osarobo Ogiamien as the recognized Chief Ogiamien of Benin Kingdom on the 23rd of June 2022, Edo State Governor to live up to its pledge to support the construction of the Benin Royal Museum with 500 million naira as included in the State’s 2019 budget.
“We hereby request the Edo State Governor to live up to his promise by supporting the construction of the Benin Royal Museum instead of building another for which a part of the Benin Specialist Hospital have been demolished,” the Iyase said.
“It is to be noted that the Traditional Institutions respect the constituted authority and appeal to the constituted authority to reciprocate same,” he added.
The Oba of Benin, His Royal Majesty, Oba Ewuare II, who is the only custodian of the Benin Artifacts paid a visit to President Muhammadu Buhari at the State house in Abuja on Friday 29th of April, to thank him for his role on the recently returned Benin Bronzes and also to introduce members of the Board of Trustees of the Benin Royal Museum to the President.
“Mr. President, sir I bring warm greetings from the Benin Royal Family, the Benin Traditional Institution and the good people of Edo State within Nigeria and in the diaspora.
“I am here with some members of the Royal Court of Benin and of the Board of Trustee of the Benin Royal Museum, to thank Your Excellency for your kind intervention as it relates to the issues that bothers on the return of Benin Bronzes and artefacts to its original place of abode,” Oba Ewuare II said.
Some members of the Board of Trustees for the Benin Royal Museum Includes Professor Wole Soyinka, Prince Aghatise Erediauwa, Mr Nduka Obaigbena (CEO of Arise TV), Daniel Inneh (Former Secretary of Benin Traditional Council), amongst others.