|Picture Coutesy Novo Isioro|
NIGERIAN NATIONAL MERIT AWARD ACCEPTANCE SPEECH
BRUCE ONOBRAKPEYA ASO ROCK ( PRESIDENTIAL VILLA ABUJA) 7/12/2017
NNOM ACCEPTANCE SPEECH BY BRUCE ONOBRAKPEYA
I thank Your Excellency Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, for awarding me the Nigerian National Order of Merit.
It is a great honour and a very high point in my career as an artist. This recognition will enhance the role of the arts in the development of our nation. It will also inspire other artists to create great art works that will do the country proud.
Going back two thousand years, Nigeria had created the timeless Nok Terra Cotta sculptures. These were followed by Ife, Benin, Igbo Ukwu, Esie, and other classical arts. Indeed, Nigeria was first introduced to the outside world through these art pieces. Then came the colonial era when indigenous artworks lost their significance. We are fortunately, now at a period of artistic renaissance. I use the opportunity provided by this award to ask Mr. President to help accelerate this upward swing. First we ask for the ratification of our cultural policy to empower the artists. We need good working spaces in terms of studios and artists’ villages. The artists will be happy to receive abandoned structures in Lagos, Abuja, and other parts of the country.
We urgently need infrastructure and set-ups for modern art museums and galleries where we can showcase our best pieces as well as prevent their loss to foreign collections.
Art museums and galleries are self-sustaining and our tourism will benefit very much from them.
In addition to what will make artistic production strong and add to national economic and social benefits, we request that our President put aside some funds for informal art education through workshops. The annual Harmattan Workshop which I started at Agbarha- Otor in Delta State about twenty years ago brings in young professional artists from across the country for hands-on workshops directed by experienced artists. Such workshops empower Nigerians to live on the artworks they create; they help to develop the areas they are situated in and bring friendship and peace among different ethnic groups who participate in them. The Federal Government should encourage individuals and corporations such as the NLNG to establish prizes for artists to spur young and experienced ones to reach greater heights.
Once more I thank Mr. President for the award which I promise to hold in trust for fellow artists, other individuals, groups and establishments, all of whom have worked very hard to elevate our art to have global recognition and sharpen the consciousness of fellow Nigerians to be proud of our culture.