By Ignatius Ushie
The Director-General of the National Gallery of Arts (NGA), Mr. Ebeten William Ivara has called on the National Assembly to amend the National Gallery of Arts Act 2004, to make it a revenue-generating outfit for it to have the financial muscle to carry out its functions diligently.
Ivara made this call Thursday when he hosted members of the executive committee of Cross River State Journalists Forum (CROSSJOF) Abuja, led by its Chairman, Gabriel Odu.
The NGA boss expressed disappointment that had the Act granted the organization a revenue-generating status, the paucity of funds suffered consistently would have been resolved, pointing out that today, all activities in the 25 state offices including the FCT Headquarters, are grounded.
The DG was also piqued that there is nothing on ground to show that the NGA was meant to survive as even while making a case in the National Assembly, he was referred to Lagos when he demanded for the establishment of a viable National Gallery of Arts in the FCT.
According to him, “I insisted that Abuja is the capital of Nigeria and so should have a befitting NGA and this goes to show why there no is such edifice on ground to coordinate activities in this sector. That is why the over 5000 artworks are scattered all over.
“I told them that we can do what I call embellishment where our art works would be displayed at strategic locations like on bridges, highways, on some big buildings among other places where money will be generated for the economy.”
The DG disclosed that his office has approached the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to help make available a property that is void of encumbrances where the national gallery of arts will be situated adding that this facility will house a sculpture garden with conference rooms for exhibitions as well as other activities that will guarantee income generation.
Iwara lamented the paltry sum of N1.9 billion as budget for the NGA for 2021, adding that this amount was a drop in the ocean if the government is to diversify the economy from over-dependence on oil.
Earlier in his address, CROSSJOF Chairman, Gabriel Odu had pledge the association’s commitment to work towards realizing the goals of the organization going forward. He frowned at the absence of a viable National Gallery of Arts, saying, “We’re ready to work with you, your predecessors failed to use the media to achieve their goals. You need to partner the media to succeed.