Why Martin Adaji was removed as National Troupe Artistic Director

Martin Adaji

Immediate past Artistic Director of the National Troupe of Nigeria (NTN), Martin Adaji, may have lost his job for resisting moves by Minister of Culture and Tourism, High Chief Edem Duke, and others to relocate the agency to Ikoyi, Lagos as part of plans to privatise the National Theatre.

Adaji, who was appointed substantive Artistic Director in March 2011, had six months left of his four-year term before he was replaced with Akinsola Adejuwon on September 11, 2014. He would have been eligible for a second term if his supervising Minister had found his performance satisfactory.

Born in Ikanekpo, in Ankpa Local Government Area of Kogi State October 21, 1954, Adaji is a play creation major of the University of Jos, Plateau State (M.A Theatre Arts) and a graduate of Theatre Arts of the University of Ibadan (B.A Theatre Arts).

He is a member of the International Theatre Institute (ITI) and the National Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners (NANTAP)

A source at the NTN told qed.ng that nobody saw his removal as Chief Executive Officer of the National Troupe coming.

“Nothing suggested he had a frosty relationship with the Minister. It was only after Adaji’s removal that we started hearing that the Minister was not comfortable with Adaji resisting his move to perfect the privatisation of the Theatre.

“The NTN was asked to move to Ikoyi but Adaji wrote to the Minister to inform him that the Theatre is home to the Troupe and that it was wrong going by Decree 47 of 1991which established both the Troupe and the National Theatre for the Troupe to be asked to leave the Theatre like other agencies,” the source, who is a member of the Troupe, told qed.ng.

Adaji was appointed acting head of the Troupe from his position as Director of Research and Documentation when Prof Ahmed Yerima was forced to resign as Artistic Director of NTN via a letter dated January 22, 2010. He was the most senior officer after Yerima, and served in acting capacity until his substantive appointment in March 2011.

Some people in the culture and tourism sector have likened Adaji’s removal to that of former Director-General of the Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Otunba Segun Runsewe, who was relieved of his appointment after an obvious falling out with Duke.

Runsewe had a year and half left of his second term before he was kicked out and replaced with Sally Mbanefo in May 2013.

“He (Runsewe) was also removed just like that,” a senior staff with the NTDC told us. “No query, suspension, no explanation.”

Another offered: “Even if it is true that the Minister had problems with Runsewe, there are procedures for sacking a DG. You report the chap, he is suspended and investigated. If he is found guilty then you sack him.

“If Runsewe had a publicised disagreement with Duke, what was Adaji’s offence?” a performing member of NTN asked.

“They just want to bring in their cronies on board,” he continued.

“The Minister claims he knew nothing about Adejuwon’s appointment; that he was only informed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Anyim Pius Anyim, that a graphic artist had been appointed.

“But when he was informed and looked through the gentleman’s CV and found out that as a graphic artist he was best suited for maybe the National Gallery of Art (NGA), why didn’t Duke advise government on correct placement?” he concluded.