The Senate has urged the National Commission for Museum and Monuments to upgrade the Akassa Slave Trade Centre to a National Slave Trade Museum.
The call was contained in a resolution reached by the Senate, sequel to the consideration of a motion to that effect.
The motion was entitled, “The need to establish National Museum at the Akassa Slave Trade Centre in Bayelsa State to preserve National Heritage.”
The motion was sponsored by Senator Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo (Bayelsa East).
The lawmaker, in his presentation, noted that Akassa is a settlement at the southernmost tip of Nigeria in Bayelsa State where the Nun River estuary meets the Atlantic Ocean, with a lighthouse that had stood since 1910.
Degi-Eremienyo said that due to the proximity of Akassa to the Atlantic, the settlement had always been a traditional trading site in Nigeria, especially in the business of palm oil trade during the colonial era.
He recalled that before the abolition of the slave trade, it was one of the major centres in the country where the harrowing effects of transatlantic slave trade, adding that, “during the British colonial years, it was the site of an outpost of the Royal Niger Company.”
He further recalled that, “the Akassa settlement, in the seventeenth century, now a sprouting Town, was where the Nembe People in today’s Bayelsa State waged a war valiantly against the British in 1895 with twenty-two war canoes and one thousand, five hundred foot soldiers due to the high-handedness of the Royal Niger Company and the obnoxious taxes imposed on the local people by the company.”
According to him, in the year 1899, the charter of the Royal Niger Company was revoked, an act seen as partly a consequence of the war with the effect that from 1st January, 1900 the company sold all its possessions and concessions in Africa to the British government for £865,000.
He state that some of the relics of the slave trade such as slave house; slave masters administrative block and quarters; slave jetty; slave transit tunnel; white-men grave yard, can still be found, even though erosion of past decades had eroded some of the antiquities.
The lawmaker observed that, “with the current efforts made by the government to diversify our economy, the Akassa Town is a veritable historical/heritage centre which will boost our tourism potentials and consequentially earn us foreign exchange if its heritage is well preserved.”