Most of the monuments, historical buildings and sites that still exist in Nigeria are of immense significance, albeit many of them are not well preserved and there is lack of documentation. In this article we focus on the preservation and maintenance of our monuments, historical buildings and sites.
Earlier in the year, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode expressed the resolve of his administration to continue to preserve cultural and historical sites across the state and develop them to international standard to boost tourism, employment generation and relaxation.
Since then, there has been an upgrade of Tinubu Square Fountain in Lagos Island, and only this week, a 20 feet Awolowo statue to immortalize the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo was unveiled.
The imposing iconic statue of the late sage and nationalist located on Obafemi Awolowo way by the Lagos Television (LTV) junction in Ikeja was erected to replace the old statue of a man whose image adorns our 100 naira notes.
The old statue of Awolowo was detached from the Allen Round-about in Ikeja. Governor Ambode’s efforts at maintaining and preserving monuments, historical buildings and sites in the state is a step in the right direction and worthy of note; a feat that should be adopted by those in the helm of affairs of the country.
Hence in this article our focus is on the preservation of monuments, historical buildings and sites.
Nigeria is made up of over 250 ethnic groups and has over 500 dialects validating her rich cultural diversity and resources. Yet its cultural industry has not been properly harnessed and as a result, Nigeria is fast losing her cultural heritage or history to cultural colonization and westernization.
Consequently, Nigeria faces the possibility of cultural usurpation by cultures that are foreign to her cosmology.
Significant aspects of our cultural heritage as a people play important roles in the expansion of tourism; the most important attraction for travelers.
Our monuments, historical buildings and sites are national monuments under the National Commission for Museums & Monuments. These monuments connect the people to certain social values, beliefs, religion & customs, and helps them to identify with others of similar mindsets & backgrounds
Monuments, historical buildings and sites also provide an automatic sense of units & belonging and helps for a better understanding of previous generation.
Also it helps us to be reminded of our collective individual journey coupled with the aesthetic significance of these monuments
The museums have not been able to do much in the preservation of our national monuments because there is no strong existing legal back up for the museum to carry out its functions. While the locals more often than not have no interest towards national heritage preservation
That notwithstanding, our monuments, historical buildings and sites must be saved from extinction due to what they represent. They are tourist sites and can be a source of revenue generation for the country.
Important National histories are attached to our historical monuments and buildings e.g, Oke Idanre Cultural Landscape in Ondo State, Osun-Oshogbo Sacred Groove, Ogbunike Cave in Anambra state, Kano city wall and Benin bronze heads.
What can be done to ensure their preservation?
- Awareness campaign.
- Programs that will help us to know these sites belongs to us all.
- Collaborations with Locals, Corporate & International bodies.
- To help museums & other stakeholders to have access to the maintenance of monuments & heritage sites.
- An overall development strategy that will aid in the identification, protection & enhancements of monuments & sites for a sustainable development.
- Heritage education should be developed in schools, infused into school curriculum and even informal schools.
- Free will donations should be encouraged to advance the course of heritage protection.
- No one should be denied the pleasure of learning about his/her past and their roots.
There is an urgent need to establish a data bank of historical important monuments, buildings and structures in Nigeria. The regulatory bodies should ensure that there is a proper documentation of historical sites in Nigeria.
The criteria for listing and delisting of building, object or structure should be properly guided as some buildings, objects and structures have been delisted from the National Commission for Museums and Monuments list without the set guidelines for delisting.
There should be a regulation to preserve the special architectural or historic character of monuments, historical buildings and sites within conservation areas because the cumulative effects of a large number of minor alterations can result in a serious loss of character to historic buildings.
There should be a regular maintenance of listed buildings, objects or structures as lack of their maintenance can lead to the rapid decline of decay and structural deterioration of the historical sites.
The National Maintenance Policy should be formulated in Nigeria to determine the minimum standards for maintenance of our monuments
In conclusion, it is important to regularly preserve and where possible reinstate original features of a building, object or structure that is protected due to its special historic/architectural interest.
The regulatory body in Nigeria, which is the National Commission for Museum and Monuments should take the opportunity of securing and preserving these buildings, objects and structures for the benefits of the wider community and enable future generations to experience the buildings, objects and structures that have been declared as National figures as they are an important part of the history of Nigeria.
Finally, the government should ensure that our cultural heritage is preserved in order to attract foreign investment, thus enhancing nation building.