By Rotimi Ijikanmi
The Egyptian Government has offered to assist Nigeria in the preservation of the 1,130 looted Benin bronzes being expected in the country from Germany.
The artefacts, with the least weight of 30kg each, looted by British troops in 1897, are to be repatriated from Germany to Nigeria this year.
Egypt Minister of Tourism and Antiquties Dr Khaled El-Anany made the offer in Cairo, Egypt when the Minister of Information and Culture , Alhaji Lai Mohammed paid him a visit.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the meeting was on the sidelines of a bilateral discussion with Africa Export Import Bank (Afreximbank) on how Nigeria can access funding to support its growing creative industry.
NAN reports that Mohammed had led some private sector stakeholders involved in Digital Switch Over (DSO), to Afreximbank to assist them on how they can source fund to complete the wholly private sector financially driven project.
The Egyptian minister said they were willing to deploy their wealth of experiences in antiquity preservation management to assist Nigeria in preserving the treasure being expected from Germany.
El-Anany disclosed that tourism contributed not less than 30 per cent to Egypt Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the Department of Antiquity alone under his Ministry employs 32,000 personnel to manage their Museums and Monuments and archeological sites.
According to him, Egypt has more than 2,000 tourist sites and 60 per cent of the tourists visit historical sites, museums and Opera.
The minister also offered to help Nigeria in the areas of capacity building, museum management and tourism statistics.
He said Egypt suffered similar fate and they had successfully repatriated a lot of their antiquities stolen and transported outside the shores of the country.
The minister urged Mohammed to work with the Nigerian Ambassador to Egypt, Malam Nura Rimi and some key members of his staff to develop the framework to actualise the offer for assistance.
He extended invitation to Mohammed and Heads of relevant agencies in his Ministry in Nigeria to attend African conference on Antiquities and Tourism, being organised in June in Cairo.
Mohammed who said he was at the ministry to compare notes acknowledged that Egypt was one of few countries with world richest and oldest historical and religious sites.
He said Nigeria was willing and ready to learn from the rich experiences of Egypt in tourism development and management.
Mohammed who accepted the offer and invitation of his counterpart said he would direct the relevant agencies under his Ministry to work out the areas of collaboration.
NAN reports that the minister and his team also visited the Secretary-General of the Supreme Council, Dr Hisham Azzmy, and Minister of State for Culture of Egypy to exchange views and share experiences in the areas of his portfolio
The interaction of the two ministers centred on how culture could be used as veritable vehicle for national unity.
The minister was accompanied on the visit by the Ambassador, the Directors-General of Nigeria Television Authority (NTA), Yakubu Ibn Mohammed, FRCN, Dr Mansur Liman, and Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria, Malam Balarabe Ilela among others.(NAN)