Nigerian vice-president Yemi Osinbajo has acknowledged that Afrobeat originator Fela Kuti deserves national recognition.

Nigeria vice-president Yemi Osinbajo.
Speaking at a town hall meeting in Benin City at the closing of the National Festival for Arts and Culture last weekend, Osinbajo said the decision could not be made by him alone.

A member of the audience put the question to Osinbajo, suggesting that the National Arts Theatre in Lagos should be named after the Afrobeat legend in honour of his immense contribution to Nigerian music.

“Well I don’t see any reason why not,” Osinbajo said. “The only problem, of course, is that it is not in my place to decide what national monument should be named after any individual.

“But I must say that I agree with you that Fela is as deserving as any to have such a preferred monument named after him”.

Fela, a frontline social crusader and iconoclast, was at constant loggerheads with Nigeria’s military leaders in the 1970s and 1980s. He suffered more than 200 detentions in dehumanising conditions and Kalakuta Republic, his home, was razed to the ground in 1977.

A campaign led by the Nigerian Union of Musicians to rename the National Arts Theatre in honour of the musician has been gaining momentum.

“We are getting the Nigerian people, groups and celebrities involved and we seek their endorsement for the movement to name the National Theatre after Fela Kuti,” Osahon Chris Odia, the youth leader of the union, said.

“We are reaching the appropriate quarters in Abuja already in line with th house committee on culture and tourism and also the director-general of the National Council of Art and Culture.”

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