THE DEPUTY VICE CHANCELLOR (ACADEMIC)
Prof. Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma
Profile of Professor Barclays
Foubiri AYAKOROMA (BFA)
(PhD, Fsonta, fta, fimc, cmc, mnipr, mnim, DGN)
Born on Monday, 13th February, 1956, in Toru-Angiama, Sagbama Local Government Area of present day Bayelsa State, Nigeria, Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma (BFA, as he is popularly called by friends and colleagues) attended CMS Primary School, Bulu-Angiama (1961-1967); L.A. School, Agbarho (1968); and St. Enda’s College, Agbarho (1969-1973), all in Delta State, Nigeria.
His love for concert in his primary and secondary school days and the ‘new wonder’ of television dramas propelled him to read Theatre Arts at the University of Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria (1979-1983), graduating with a second class honours (upper) division. This was followed with a Master’s degree, also in Theatre Arts, from the premier University in Nigeria, the University of Ibadan (1988-1989).
His quest for knowledge, academically, propelled him to register for a doctoral programme at the Department of Theatre Arts, University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria, where he obtained a PhD in Film Studies (2002-2007).
BFA did his mandatory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) primary assignment at the Programmes Department of NTA Enugu (1983-1984). Subsequently, he had a stint at Professor JP
Clark-Bekederemo’s PEC Repertory Theatre, Onikan-Lagos, in early 1985. He later joined late Bassey Effiong’s ANANSA Playhouse, based then at the National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), National Theatre Annex, Iganmu-Lagos, where he functioned as the Assistant Director and helped to train young school leavers, who were interested in the practice of theatre. He later took up appointment with Rivers State Television (RSTV Channel 55 UHF, later Channel 22 UHF), Port Harcourt (1986-1992). He was among the pioneer staffers of the station, where he held various positions, such as, Operations Supervisor, Head of Programmes, and Head of News and Current Affairs.
In October 1992, BFA went into academics, as an Assistant Lecturer in the then Department of Creative Arts, University of Port Harcourt. During this period, he was appointed Consultant with Living Earth Nigeria Foundation (LENF), Port Harcourt, where he pioneered the Bayelsa Community Theatre Programme. His collaboration with Arikpo Arikpo (his course mate at the University of Calabar), produced three collections of plays: Our Forest, Our Future and Other Plays; All for a Canoe and Other Plays (including “The Golden Goose” and “A New Dawn”); and Inebha (Endurance) (including “A Farm for Two,” and “Fishing in Muddy Waters”). He also collaborated with Arikpo Arikpo and Emmanuel Emasealu of the Department of Theatre Arts, University of Port Harcourt, to execute an MPP3 Enlightenment Campaign through drama, under the Consultancy of LENF. The play, Once Upon a Letter, which the trio scripted, was performed in many communities in Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers States.
BFA was appointed the Executive Director of the Bayelsa State Council for Arts and Culture on Monday, 26th August, 2000, by the first Executive Governor of Bayelsa State, Chief DSP Alamieyeseigha, JP; and he contributed immensely to the development of the State Arts Council as its chief executive. He has the credit of redesigning the ultra-modern Gloryland Cultural Centre (now Dr. Gabriel Okara Cultural Centre), located in Ovom-Yenagoa, in line with best global theatre standards. Today, the Dr. Gabriel Okara Cultural Centre, which hosted the maiden edition of the prestigious Africa Movie Academy Award (AMAA) in 2005, and many other later editions, stands as an iconic edifice, and a reference point in Nigeria’s culture sector.
His nine years’ tenure as the chief executive of the Bayelsa State Arts Council transformed the Troupe. BFA also opened several international doors for cultural troupes in the State. He was the Leader of the Bayelsa State Delegation, when the Egbelegbele Cultural Troupe of Amassoma, participated in the 2002 edition of the International Children’s Festival of Culture and Art in Tianjin, China. He also led the Bayelsa State Cultural Troupe in performance tours to London, Paris and Algiers, among others
cities. Furthermore, BFA made history by designing a website: www.artsbayelsang.com, for Bayelsa State Council for Arts and Culture, the first website in Bayelsa State, and publishing a quarterly in-house newsletter, Owoye: A Newsletter of Bayelsa State Council for Arts and Culture, as well as Abalabala: A Journal of Bayelsa State Council for Arts and Culture. He also formed The Glory Beats Band, a collection of very talented music artists that he groomed to record three music albums at Beat-On Studios, Owerri, Imo State, Nigeria, namely, Auntie Maria, Unity and Life Partner.
The immense contributions of BFA at the state level did not go unnoticed. He was eventually appointed the Executive Secretary/CEO of National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), Abuja-FCT, by President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, on Monday, 3rd November, 2009. On the expiration of his first tenure, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan approved the renewal of tenure, effective from 28th November, 2013.
With his guiding principle of “Excellence in Execution,” and what he called, The Barclays Force, BFA succeeded in lifting NICO from relative obscurity to a critical agency, positively repositioned it for effective service delivery in Nigeria’s culture sector. As an expert on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) programme, he led the Nigerian Delegation to the UNESCO Conference on the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in 2016. His adroit networking with African and other Member States Parties actualised the inscription of the Argungu International Fishing and Cultural Festival on the Representative List of the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH).
BFA’s tenure at National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), which ended on Tuesday, 28th November, 2017, recorded several milestones, some of which include:
Ø Repositioning Nigeria’s Apex Cultural Institute, NICO Training School;
Ø Teaching Nigerian language programmes;
Ø Organising quality workshop programmes and conferences;
Ø Promoting Nigerian dress culture through institution of Dress Nigeria Days;
Ø Sensitisation programmes for traditional rulers;
Ø Capacity building programmes for media professionals in the culture and tourism sector;
Ø Strong Internet presence, having redesigned www.nico.gov.ng and making it the most active website in the culture and tourism sector in Nigeria;
Ø Ensuring strong social media presence with NICO Facebook Page and NICO Social Network Group;
Ø Sponsoring workers for staff development programmes (national and international workshops/ conferences);
Ø Ensuring regular and prompt promotion of members of staff;
Ø Regular research, documentation and publication of books;
Ø Publishing of a quarterly in-house newsletter, NICO News: A Newsletter of National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO);
Ø Publishing an academic journal, CultureScope: A Journal of National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), for the cross-fertilisation of cultural ideas;
Ø Partnering both Culture and Tourism Committees in the National Assembly to carry out sensitisation and empowerment programmes in various states of the Federation;
Ø Hosting of Society of Nigeria Theatre Artists (SONTA) Annual International Conference in 2015;
Ø Actualising the affiliation of NICO Training School with Nasarawa State University, Keffi (NSUK);
Ø Initiating National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) Accreditation process for the Diploma in Cultural Administration (DCA) and Advanced Diploma in Cultural Administration (ADCA) programmes of NICO Training School;
Ø Networking with Nigeria’s Permanent Delegation to UNESCO to Inscribe the Argungu International Cultural and Fishing Festival under the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of the Urgent Safeguarding; and
Ø Several other International cultural collaborations, among others.
While functioning as the ES/CEO of National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), BFA found time to teach as Visiting Senior Lecturer at the Department of Theatre and Cultural Studies, Nasarawa State University, Keffi (NSUK). He was eventually appointed Visiting Associate Professor and subsequently Professor of Film and Cultural Studies at NSUK, upon the completion of his tenure at NICO. He was the pioneer Coordinator, Post Graduate Programme, Department of Theatre and Cultural Studies, as well as the Institute of Strategic and Development Communication (ISDEVCOM), NSUK. However, in April 2019, he answered another call of duty as he was appointed Professor/Head, Department of Theatre Arts, University of Africa, Toru-Orua (UAT), Bayelsa State, Nigeria, until his current appointment as Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic), UAT.
BFA is an artist, par excellence. He started acting in primary school concerts and was an active member of the Dramatic Club in his secondary school. This burning desire to be a star actor was actualised at the Calabar University Theatre (C.U.T), where he excelled as a student actor/director, participating in major departmental productions. Specifically, he played the role of Jackson in Douglas Turner-Ward’s A Day of Absence, directed by Gloria Hart; Oblantamana in Sam Eno’s The Blood Contest, directed by Dave Iyam; Messenger/Guard in Shakespeare’s Macbeth, directed by Dexter Lyndersay; Ishola in Femi Osofisan’s Who is Afraid of Solarin, directed by Hilary Elemi; Isaac in Yulisa Maddy’s Obasai, directed by Okpo Ita; Fenyinka in Joe De Graft’s Through a Film Darkly, directed by Anne Essien; Samson in Wole Soyinka’s The Road, directed by Bassey Effiong; and Father in Sonny Samson-Akpan’s A Son in Search of a Mother.
He was also Co-Director (with Affiong Usani) in Sophocles’ Antigone; Director of Femi Osofisan’s Who is Afraid of Solarin, entry of UNICAL at the Nigerian Universities Theatre Arts Festival (NUTAF ’82) in Jos; and Director of Femi Osofisan’s Once Upon Four Robbers, as a final year practical project. Furthermore, as a member of Rockie Theatre, University of Calabar, he played the role of Onita in Bode Sowande’s The Night Before, directed by Imaikop Orok.
At the then Anamcorps Theatre (old Anambra State NYSC 1983-84), BFA acted in and directed all the plays produced by the NYSC Troupe. He played the role of Ichela in Elechi Amadi’s Pepper Soup; Stranger in Sonny Samson-Akpan’s Found and Lost; Detective in Sylvanus Onuoha’s Frustration; John in Athol Fugard’s The Island; and the role of Father in Wole Soyinka’s Childe Internationale. His excellent performance and strategic repositioning of the NYSC Drama Troupe earned him the then Anambra State NYSC State Merit Award (1984).
At Professor JP Clark’s PEC Repertory Theatre, Onikan-Lagos, BFA played the role of Tonwe in the premiere of JP Clark’s The Return Hond the role of Priest/4th Shepherd in Akin Euba’s Bethlehem, directed by Jab Adu. Apart from being the Assistant Director of Anansa Playhouse, he acted in all the plays directed by Bassey Effiong: 1st Chief/Aderopo in Ola Rotimi’s The Gods are not to Blame; Ananse in Efua Sutherland’s The Marriage of Anansewa; Ezeani/Ezeudu in Bassey Effiong’s stage adaptation of Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart; Scapin in Moliere’s That Scoundrel Scapin; and Uriah Iseli in Bertolt Brecht’s Man is Man. While he revisited Femi Osofisan’s Once Upon Four Robbers, as the Director.
As a staffer of Rivers State Television, BFA was actively involved in theatre productions at the Cultural Centre, Port Harcourt, as both organisations were under the leadership of Comish Ekiye, whose fine acting in the then popular TV drama series, The Village Headmaster, had influenced his choice of theatre as a course of study. BFA produced the television promos for all productions by the Arts Council, as well as, CultureScope, a weekly television entertainment programme. This explains why he played the role of Professor Ilori in Rasheed Gbadamosi’s Behold My Redeemer, directed by Adonye Omubo-Pepple; Chaza in Dreams of Motherland, a joint play project with Uriel Paul-Worika and Abraham Aimakhu for Sete Productions, Port Harcourt. He also played the role of Doctor in Yulisa Maddy’s Allagba, directed by Adonye Omubo-Pepple; and Chidi in Emeka Nwabueze’s Spokesman for the Oracle, which he directed, for Delta Heritage/Eureka International, Port Harcourt.
During his days at the University of Ibadan, BFA played the role of Baba in Wole Soyinka’s Opera Wonyosi, directed by Professor Dapo Adelugba for Unibadan Theatre; while at The Crab, the University of Port Harcourt Arts Theatre, he was Ola Rotimi’s first choice for the role of Ise in Grip Am. He also directed Emeka Nwabueze’s Spokesman for the Oracle; Sonny Samson-Akpan’s Found and Lost; as well as the premiere of his play, A Matter of Honour, as a Convocation Play, at The Crab.
At the Bayelsa State Council for Arts and Culture, BFA was not a chief executive who was content with sitting on his table and giving directives. As a well-trained and disciplined Thespian, he led by example, acting in or directing plays to motivate and build the confidence of the artists. Apart from playing the role of Chief Josiah Kori in The Family, written and directed by Comish Ekiye, and the role of Ichela in Elechi Amadi’s Pepper Soup, which he directed, his directorial ingenuity was brought to the fore in several other productions: Simon Ambakederemo’s Isaac Boro and some of his plays, namely, Dance on his Grave, A Matter of Honour, Castles in the Air, “Dreams of Motherland,” “The Chief Engineer,” “Strangers in the Land,” “A Night Out Hotel,” and “Battle Royale,” among others.
CREATIVE WRITING/EDITORIAL WORKS
BFA is an accomplished playwright, author, critic, editor, and astute cultural administrator, who has many plays, books and articles to his credit. He is the author of the ground-breaking Trends in Nollywood: A Study of Selected Genres, as well as Theatre Management in Nigeria: An Introduction and A Collection of Folktales for Nigerian Children. He has edited several books and has also co-edited works with some erudite theatre professors. He has co-edited four books with Professor Olu Obafemi Perspectives on Cultural Administration in Nigeria (2010); Culture, Leadership and Accountability in Nigeria (2013); Culture, Peace and National Security: The Role of Traditional Rulers and Local Government Chairmen (2013); and Culture and the Socio-Economic Transformation of the Local Government System in Nigeria (2013).
Some of his other co-edited books with erudite theatre professors are:
1. Dress Culture and National Development (2011) (with Rasaki Ojo Bakare);
2. Difficult Dialogues in Development – A Festschrift: Charity Ashimem Angya (2012) (with Gowon Ama Doki);
3. Gender Discourse in African Theatre, Literature and Visual Arts: A Festschrift in Honour of Professor Mabel Evwierhoma (2015) (with Tracie Chima Utoh-Ezeajugh);
4. Repositioning Nollywood for the Promotion of Nigeria’s Cultural Diplomacy and National Security (2015) (with Ameh Denis Akoh);
5. Culture of Peace and National Security: Critical Perspectives (2019) (with Emeka Nwabueze);
6. National Language Newspapers and Development in Nigeria (2019) (with Emmanuel Samu Dandaura); and
7. An Actor for all Seasons: The Francis Duru Nollywood Narrative (2021) (with Femi Okiremuette Shaka).
Furthermore, his sole edited works include:
1. A Handbook on Living Human Treasures in Nigeria (2010);
2. Literary Perspectives on Culture, Leadership and Accountability in Nigeria (2014);
3. Cultural Administration in Nigeria: A Book of Readings (2015);
4. Effective Cultural Administration in Nigeria: A Critical Source Book (2015); and
5. Perspectives on Cultural Festivals and Economic Development in Nigeria (2017).
All the books are published by the flagship publisher in Nigeria in the Humanities: Kraft Books Ltd, Ibadan.
BFA has over 100 publications, including articles in reputable national and international journals, book chapters, monographs, and conference proceedings; just as he has 13 published plays to his credit. Two of the plays, A Matter of Honour and Dance on his Grave have been recommended texts in Bayelsa State Junior Secondary School syllabus for over 20 years now; while The Rejected Ones, one of the plays in his collection, A Chance to Survive and Other Plays, took the 2nd Prize at the 2003 edition of the ANA-organised NDDC/J.P. Clark Prize for Drama. From 2017 to 2021, he served as the Editor of the Society of Nigeria Theatre Artists (SONTA), and edited Nigerian Theatre Journal (NTJ): A Journal of Society of Nigeria Theatre Artists (SONTA) (Vols. 18.1 & 18.2; 19.1, 19.2 & 19.3; 20.1 & 20.2; 21.1 & 21.2), and SONTA News: An In-house Newsletter of Society of Nigeria Theatre Artists (SONTA) (2018, 2019, 2020 & 2021), thus, raising the ante in the editorship of SONTA.
BFA had exhibited sentimental attachment to television/film; and he found ways to go to the Community Viewing Centre in Agbarho, when the then Mid-West Television Service started operations. He was also a regular commuter from Agbarho to Warri, just to watch films in cinema houses like Delta Cinema, New Rex Cinema, Odeon Cinema, and so on. While in Lagos, he was enthralled with the acting of Comish Ekiye, Melville Obriango and Solomon Ayagere, all of Ijaw background, who featured in Segun Olusola’s Village Headmaster and some other Nigerian Television Service drama programmes. Consequently, his desire to act on television was so strong that he had the vision to feature on television one day. It was the impetus that made him opt for Theatre Arts, as a course of study at the University of Calabar. This vision made him to always go to NTA Channel 10, Victoria Island, Lagos, for live audience participation programmes.
The first step towards the realisation of his dream to feature on television was playing the role of Orok in The Concubine, a one-off television drama, written, produced and directed by Jumoke Kalejaiye for NTA Calabar. This was taken a step further in 1982, when he went to NTA Port Harcourt to interview Abraham Aimakhu, then the producer/director of a drama serial, Inside Out, as part of his final year project. Coincidentally, Abraham Aimaku was recording an episode of Inside Out that day and he just gave him a role to play alongside Barbara Soky (Rosemary).
Furthermore, BFA played the role of Adonye in Bassey Effiong’s The Fault is not in our Stars, a television drama, produced/directed by Rowland Henshaw for NTA Channel 10, Victoria Island, Lagos. The drama episode enjoyed repeated broadcasts, due largely to the paucity of good quality programmes. This drama made him to be a popular face in Ajegunle in the mid-80s.
It is pertinent to note that at NTA Enugu, where BFA was posted to for his NYSC primary assignment, he worked diligently Aniteze Enebeli, who taught him the basic of analogue film editing. This appeared to have prepared him for his job as producer/director at the then Rivers State Television (RSTV Channel 55 UHF). He was a dependable editor, editing programmes for others, including Ken Saro-Wiwa’s Basi and Company, directed by Uriel Paul-Worika. He is the pioneer director (and film editor) of Hour of Victory with Dr. Sam Amaga, then produced by Pastor Segun Akinola.
Regarding acting during his RSTV days, BFA played the role of Dr. Abraham in Comish Ekiye’s Rainbow, produced/directed by Abraham Aimakhu, in 1987. He also played the role of Jack in Abraham Aimakhu’s Against the Wind, where he was associate producer as well as film editor. This drama, producer/directed by Abraham Aimakhu, in 1989, could have been among the first commercial video films in Nigeria, if it had been packaged for home viewing.
Upon his resignation from RSTV, due to the then tense political atmosphere in the establishment, BFA was involved in several private TV productions. He was the director (and film editor) of Adonye Omubo-Pepple’s Ifoko (1992), produced by Abraham Aimakhu for Hamchard Productions, Port Harcourt; and Emmanuel Odiofele’s Husbands and Wives (1997), a comedy series produced by Victor Bunting for ATMA Productions, Port Harcourt. He played the role of Alabo Black Fubara in a Nollywood film, King Jaja of Opobo (1999), produced by Sanctus Okereke and directed by Harry Agina for Stone Cold Productions.
In his days as chief executive of Bayelsa State Council for Arts and Culture, he adapted one of his plays, Castles in the Air, for the screen, as Forty Million Naira Wahala (2003). He was also an executive producer of the film, produced by Okiemute Ezewu and directed by Chuks Oparaocha for Mutez Productions. Furthermore, he produced/directed some musical videos, including, Esuevie Eweri’s Izibeni-Gilimini (2007) and Elder Dempster Tokoni (2008), all for Fountains Productions.
MEMBERSHIP OF PROFESSIONAL BODIES
BFA is a Fellow of the Society of Nigeria Theatre Artists (SONTA), National Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners (NANTAP), and the Institute of Management Consultants (IMC). He is also Member of Board of Trustees to three bodies: University of Calabar Alumni Association (UCAA); University of Calabar Theatre Arts Alumni Association (UCTAAA); and Nollywood’s Creative Designers Guild of Nigeria (CDGN). Other professional bodies he belongs to include: African Theatre Association (AfTA), Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR), Nigerian Institute of Management (NIM), and Nollywood’s Directors’ Guild of Nigeria (DGN), among others.
BFA has received several awards for his exemplary service in academics as well as the arts and culture sector. They include: Award of Excellence, University of Port Harcourt Alumni Association (UPAA), Bayelsa State Chapter (2017); Award of Excellence, Let’s Celebrate Barclays Group (2017); Special Recognition Award, Theatre and Cultural Studies Students Association (TACSSA), NSUK (2017); Award of Excellence, Nengi James Foundation (NJF) (2017); Award of Excellence, NICO Training School, Abuja-FCT (2016); Award of Excellence, Bush House Nigeria @ 12 (2015); and Award as NICO Ambassador, AUPCTRE, NICO Chapter (2014).
Others are Award of Excellence in Promotion of Arts and Culture, Nnamdi Azikiwe University Centre for Excellence in the Arts and Humanities (NAU–CEAH) (2013); Award of Artistic Excellence, Society of Nigeria Theatre Artists (SONTA) (2013); Award of Excellence in National Integration and Cultural Diplomacy, Akwa Ibom Community, Abuja-FCT (2012); Goodwill Ambassador, University of Calabar, Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria (2012); Lifetime Achievement Award, Society of Nigeria Theatre Artists (SONTA) (2011); Distinguished Ambassador of Nigerian Art, Society of Nigerian Artists (SNA), Abuja-FCT (2010); and Award of Excellence, University of Port Harcourt Alumni Association, Bayelsa State Chapter (2007).
BFA is widely travelled. He has been to African countries like Algeria, Benin Republic, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco and South Africa. Other countries he has travelled to include: Azerbaijan, Brazil, China, Dubai, France, Germany, Holland, Indonesia, Israel, Qatar, South Korea, Turkey, United Kingdom, and the United States of America.
A kind-hearted and amiable personality, Professor Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma (BFA), was Head, Department of Theatre Arts, University of Toru-Orua (UAT), Bayelsa State, Nigeria from 2019 to 2022. He is currently the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) of UAT. A man who has an aptitude for diligent work ethics, he is married to Letty Ayakoroma (nee Rex-Ogbuku), a broadcast administrator; and their marriage is blessed with children.