Two weeks ago, Nigeria’s minister of culture and tourism, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, was in Lagos and took to the media to lament the very unfortunate but slow response by certain foreign powers to return Nigeria stolen artifacts in their custody. Knowing Lai Mohammed very well, something must have pricked him into this action and it is not our business today to really find out why this politician from Kwara would want to take on the global mafia running underground the very lucrative business on artifacts and heritage resources.
Even though this underground business cuts across the entire world, Africa, Nigeria in particular remains the feed pole of this scandalous illegal business generated and supported by certain crooks and their collaborators in the foreign mercenary army of colonialists and modern day economic exploiters.
Early this year, I was in Edo State and spent close to a week running from pillar to post discussing, engaging and driving a new process of trying to fully understand the full damage not only done by the British colonial army against Bini ancient kingdom but also understanding the sustained plundering of Edo’s rich heritage resources by modern day colonial capitalists and their apologists.
To avoid jeopardising my investigation into this act of brigand, it is unbelievable the level of socio-economic damage visited on the Edo kingdom, its people and Nigeria in general. Today going forward, the first step is for our government through the minister of culture and tourism to properly evaluate the extent of our heritage resources, the intrinsic value, lost benefits driven by it assumed status either locally or in foreign hands.
Years ago, a certain Late Director General of National Museum and Monument, took to researching these same process and as part of that window of operation which was expensive and certainly risky particularly outside the shores of Nigeria, the quest to strategically retrieve our heritage resources must be professionally done, must be seen as a patriotic venture, must be seen as an agenda to return back to our country our “lost souls” represented in our arts and crafts, history and tradition of our people.
There’s no denying the fact and it has been proven all over the world that Nigeria arts and crafts are unique and certainly tells a lot about the various achievements and socio-economic development of our fore-bearers. The local and International artifact mafia understands that every looted heritage material returned to Nigeria will be relooted again by internal conspirators and therefore are not willing to listen to our voices of reparation from the wilderness.
It is very sad that at this age and time, that Nigeria does not have the true total face value of stolen, smuggled or looted heritage resources from the 36 states of this country. Certainly, nobody is asking why there have been an upsurge or proliferation of private heritage museums, arts and crafts galleries and uncensored and unregistered crafts markets all over the place in the last two decades.
Who are the owners of this galleries, what are their objectives and who are the patrons?. The truth is that over 90% of this windows of crafts and heritage resources engagement are either funded by foreign mafia outreach or used as fronts to research, discover and illegally export out of Nigeria certain unique and exceptional creative works belonging to Nigeria and Nigerians.
There are no doubt that the Nigerian custom service and other security agencies have their hand full in tackling sharp trade practices and development related security matters, thus neglecting the desire and need to police our borders in other to arrest and discourage the illegal export of our heritage resources.
Let us for the sake of our discussion today, look beyond our art and craft heritage resources and focus a little bit on our natural resource environment. There is also no denying the fact that our pristine fauna and flora resources had been visited for many years with massive looting and destruction repositioning Nigeria on the red list countries were endanger species can never find rest.
About a decade ago, the founding father of Nigeria National Park Service, Alhaji Lawan Marguba, strategically choose and invited select securities outfits, stakeholders in the marine and environment architecture not excluding the then flourishing non-governmental organizations concerned with nature protection and management in Nigeria to a meeting to arrest the plundering of our nature resources.
The meeting which held at the then Yankari National Park was sequel to uncomfortable reports that certain natural resources particularly the fauna resources were fritted out of our protected areas environment in Cross River to Ebonyi, transported through the lands to Bini, flown out in light aircrafts to Kano, same process also mapped out the Taraba region, using same strategy to end up in Kano which is a transit point in the escalation and looting of illegally sourced natural resource endowments to the nature crime capitals of the world.
For three days, the meeting lasted, strategic mapping were not only done, the security agencies were shocked at the massive looting of our natural resources under their nose to which they have no answers to. Gorillas, chimpanzees, lions, worms, flora resources and genetic pools with resources of intrinsic values were heavily exploited unknown to the government and people of Nigeria.
As a privileged participant and nature developmental journalist, I was shocked at the findings and moved to tears that many who came to help us or provide us certain infrastructural facilities came with a heart to plunder and not to help us find our feet in protection of our natural resources for the sake of the future of our unborn generation.
That also brings me to certain stories with regards to the presence of “so called NGOs” with nature protection and management mandate. I call them modern day natural religious colonialists with one hand ringing a bell to draw attention to the need to protect our natural resources environment while on the other hand with a gun ready to steal same resources to which they claim they came to protect and help us manage.
Sadly, there is no agency of government with a mandate to either oversee, evaluate and demand accountability from these NGO’s concerning their work and presence in Nigeria.