Osogbo to host UNESCO centre
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, on Monday night, approved a Category Two Institute for Culture and International Understanding for Nigeria.
With this approval, the institute’s administrative headquarters will be located within the controversial Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library in Abeokuta, Ogun State.
However, according to the structure of the approval, the institute’s centre (Centre for Black Culture and International Understanding) will be based in Osogbo, Osun State, where all artefacts will be kept.
In recent times, the Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, had criticised Obasanjo and the Presidential Library over the removal of the country’s artefacts from Osogbo to the Obasanjo library.
The development came just as the Executive Director of The News magazine, Mr. Kunle Ajibade had filed a legal action on the issue.
The decision by the UNESCO Board heralded an instant jubilation among Nigerian delegates at the 180th General Session of the board holding Paris, France.
Among the delegates were the Nigerian Permanent Delegation to UNESCO, Prof. Michael Omolewa, Osun State Governor, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, a former Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission, Prof. Peter Okebukola, and the Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Culture and National Orientation, Alhaji Numan Dambatta, who represented the Minister, Prince Adetokunbo Kayode.
The board approved the institute alongside two others asked for by Argentina and the Dominican Republic.
But there was a charged atmosphere at the UNESCO headquarters, venue of the session, as a diplomatic face-off nearly broke out between the South African Representative at the UNESCO, Prof. Brian Figaji, and the American Ambassador and Permanent Delegation to the organisation, Ms Louise Oliver.
Oliver demanded clarifications on the procedural and legal issues that had trailed Nigeria‘s bid as earlier raised by Soyinka.
According to Oliver, while the US supports the idea of the institute going to Nigeria, clarifications should be made on the situation of the Memorandum of Understanding between Nigeria and the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, Ota, Ogun State , as well as the legal dispute on it.
The request, however, sparked the ire of the South African representatitive, who vigorously defended Nigeria ‘s bid to secure UNESCO’s mandate for the institute that night.