The National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM) says not less than 65 monuments across the country are qualified to be listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Director-General of NCMM, Prof Abba Tijani, disclosed this at the ongoing 41st UNESCO General Conference in Paris, France. He is among the Nigeria delegation to the conference and he is in a team led by Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.
“We have a number of heritage sites that we want to propose for enlistment into the world heritage sites. We have 65 monuments at the moment and all of them are equally important. As you know, the process of enlistment into the world heritage site is cumbersome and requires financial wherewithal. We have to work towards having the fund to prepare their dozier and invite the necessary experts to come and assess the monuments before they can be considered for enlistment to world heritage site.”
Tijani said Nigeria had only two UNESCO enlisted world heritage sites at the moment – the Osun Osogbo Cultural groove in Osun and the Sukur Cultural Landscape in Adamawa.
Speaking on a presentation earlier made by the minister to the cultural sector of UNESCO, Tijani said it centred on issues of repatriation of stolen artefacts from Nigeria. He said efforts were being made by Nigeria in getting the cultural heritage that were stolen from the country.
“The minister made reference to a Nok Terracotta which was returned by France, the artefacts being repatriated by UK in Cambridge where we took possession of Okwukor Cockerel. He also made reference to Aberdeen Museum also in UK where we also received the stolen head of the Oba These are all efforts that are being made as a result of UNESCO Convention of 1972 which mandates the return of illicit trafficked cultural property to be returned to their countries of origin.”
Director-General of National Institute of Cultural Orientation (NICO), Ado Yahuza, said the mandate of his organisation is to orientate Nigerians about culture and national development.
He underscored the need for Nigerians to see the values of culture in science, education and technology and harness them for development.