By Taiye Olayemi
The Nigerian National Committee of the International Council on Museums and Sites (ICOMOS Nigeria), has expressed displeasure over the demolition of the Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS) gate in Onikan, Lagos.
Mr Aliyu Abdu, President, ICOMOS Nigeria, in a statement on Friday said the tourist site remains an historical monument that should not be tampered with.
Abdu said ICOMOS is the organisation that seeks to advance the sustainable conservation of cultural heritage sites in Nigeria in line with global best practices.
“It is surprising to see that the Lagos State Government who recognised and listed TBS as an important state monument has allowed this to happen under its watch.
“It is disheartening that such a negative activity could take place in day light without fear of any consequences,” he said.
Abdu referred to the Lagos State law of listed sites for preservation enacted by the state House of Assembly in 2011.
”It states that as from the commencement of this law, no property, site or monument location to which this law applies as a monument site under grade I, II, and III shall be altered demolished or improved upon as is necessary owing to normal wear and tear or minor repairs without the prior issuance of listed site consent of the governor in accordance with the provision of this law.
“Any alteration to any listed site shall take into consideration the character and special interest of the site,” he said.
According to him, the site is a rectangular 3.9615 hectares ceremonial ground originally called “Race Course” in Lagos Island, where the Union Jack was lowered to mark Nigeria’s independence in 1960.
He said that subsequently the site had hosted the inauguration of the governors of the state.
“This monument undoubtedly habours attributes that demonstrates historical, architectural and artistic values of the TBS, worthy of preservation, promotion and transmission.
“Therefore, ICOMOS-Nigeria stands by the National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM), in its statutory mandate to enlist, protect and preserve the important national monuments and heritage in the country.
“We urge NCMM to deal with this matter swiftly and decisively, particularly as TBS is proposed for enlistment as a national monument.
“We further call on the NCMM to be proactive in protecting and preserving other monuments proposed for enlistment,” he said.
He also called on local communities, professional urban planning agencies, organisations and other cultural heritage and conservation groups to take interest, join hands with government agencies in protecting monuments and heritage sites within their localities.
“ICOMOS-Nigeria is ready to partner with all stakeholders to protect and preserve important monuments across the country,” he said.
Meanwhile, Prof. Abba Tijani, Director-General, NCMM, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the TBS had yet to be listed as a national monument.
“We have waded into the demolition of the gate, we have spoken with the management of TBS and they have expressed their innocence and promised to stop everything they are doing there,” Tijani said. (NAN) (nannews.ng)
Edited by Folasade Adeniran