Friday, 12 April 2013

Old, young artists in race for Lagos SNA head


By Tajudeen Sowole

When members of the of Society of Nigerian Artists {SNA}, Lagos State chapter go to poll for the chairmanship race on Sunday, April 14, 2013 at the Aina Onabolu Building of National Gallery of Art {NGA}, National Theatre, Iganmu, it would be a supremacy struggle between the old and young.

Typically, the SNA election 2013 reflects how young artists fight their way for recognition against the hold of the masters. In this context, one of the most vocal voices in Lagos art scenes and a well-known art academician, Dr Ademola Azeez is up against Dotun Alabi, a young, though established artist, but not so new in artists’ unionism terrain.

It’s a bye-election, necessitated by the vacuum created by the exit of the former chairman, Oliver Enwonwu who, against all odds - including a waiver of a crucial section of the SNA constitution – emerged as President of the artists’ national body while he was a sitting chairman of the Lagos State chapter. More interesting, the two candidates for the bye-election are from the academia, indicating that the leadership of the association is going back to the academic section of the professional body where SNA has its root. In fact the third candidate Kolawole Kosoko who was said to have withdrawn for one of the two major contenders is also from the academic.

Aside practicing from the academic wing, Azeez and Alabi have other things in common: they were ex-secretary general of SNA,  and currently art teachers at Federal College of Education, Technical, Akoka. For coming from the same work place to contest for the chairmanship, they have been advised to have dialogue so that one, steps down for the other. The pressure to step down seemed to be more on Alabi, being the juniour of the two contenders.
Ademola Azeez

“With due respect to the older artists, we the young ones have always proven that we have a lot to offer SNA”, Dotun argued during a chat few days ago. He therefore insisted that “I am going ahead to contest the chairmanship of the SNA, Lagos”. In fact, he fancied his chance of winning, claiming that “the third contender, Kosoko has stepped down for me”.

Having served in the executive once and stayed away from the politics of SNA unionism for quite some years, what exactly is attracting Azeez to the top leadership of SNA? “My intention to run for SNA Lagos is borne out of my genuine desire to lend my contribution to the development of our professional association, SNA Lagos”, Azees said. Among Azzez’s wish-list if voted in are: “to institute a culture of support, discovery of talent, mentoring of young artists and mutual respect between senior artists and young ones; use my experience, intellect, exposure and connection to increase visibility for Lagos artists;  indulge in positive engagement of artists to make them more socially relevant; have an effective and functional Secretariat that will drive most art activities for artists.”
Dotun Alabi

Parts of Alabi’s manifestoes reads: “Making members’ health one of my priorities, I wish to start health insurance scheme for SNA Lagos members; stronger membership drive that will increase in population so that we have more people paying their annual dues for us to execute several projects; art exhibitions that would recognize the uniqueness of every genre such that we have segmented exhibitions rather than have every artist show under the October Rain yearly exhibition; to get a befitting office for SNA, enough of squatting at National Theatre, Iganmu.”
  The election was scheduled to hold last month, but ran into hitches, which some members described as in-house politics of the succession battle ahead. 
 


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