NBA Portrait Saga: Past Administration Opens Up


The Oladele Olubakin’s claim that NBA without his knowledge and approval presented his painting to President Buhari was trending on social media a few days ago.

Many had blamed the NBA for being reckless with intellectual property right. While the issues were on the front burner, DNL Legal and Style reached out to Oladele Olubakin who stated that he would prefer to let his Statement of Claim do the talking. It was also revealed in the course of our investigation that the portrait saga was actually inherited from the Alegeh SAN’s administration.

DNL Legal and Style spoke with a member of the National Executive Council of the Austin Alegeh SAN’s  Administration.

The Past NEC member told DNL Legal and Style that Oladele Olubakin was introduced to the NBA by his friend Mr. Tunji Salau who wanted to assist him to showcase his talent. He stated that on his plea, Oladele was commissioned to paint some portraits and was remunerated.

Hear him:

“During the 2016 NBA Conference, the fellow showed up and said he has a portrait he would like to be presented to Buhari at the conference since he was going to lead the opening ceremony and was politely told that the presentation could not be made during the opening ceremony.

“Subsequently, this fellow, on his own and unsolicited, brought that portrait  and delivered it to NBA that we should give it to Buhari. From day one he intended the portrait to be a gift to the President to be presented by the NBA which was why he had the logo of NBA inscribed on the painting. So, he brought the painting again and it was Chief Alegeh SAN that promised him that if at all an opportunity present itself for us to pay a courtesy visit to the president,  that we would take the painting and invite him along as the artist not that he would present it. He cannot be the one presenting because he would not have been the one paying a courtesy visit.”

“Because it is not a condition for the gift that Olubakin must be present while the painting is presented, there was no need to make mention of the portrait in the hand over note. The promise made to Oladele of accompanying the EXCOs in the event that there was a courtesy visit was made after he had given the gift unconditionally to the NBA. Acknowledging the gift he was told that he would be invited during the presentation.

The curious question people should begin to ask is; how did the portrait get to the NBA? Did he claim NBA requested that he brings it? Does the President of the Federal Republic work in NBA? He just wants like all artists to gain some cheap popularity by creating the controversy because controversy sell their works.

He knows that there is nothing in his allegation. Initially that painting was in the conference room of the NBA old secretariat. When NBA moved to the new secretariat it was taking into storage. So, of course naturally when A.B Mahmoud had the opportunity of visiting the president, the gift was a natural thing. He was informed that there is a gift to the President and that was how the portrait was brought into the picture.

Now to Adegbite’s mischievous claim that Prof Ojukwu, Afam Osigwe and Chief Arthur Obi Okafor were consulted, I cannot even remember Ojukwu and Arthur Obi Okafor saying anything. But the point is that when that painting was brought out, Chief Kanu Agabi SAN asked what the gift was for, and he was told it was a gift to the president, he objected to it and said we cannot give him anything.

It was on that basis that the President asked whether it was proper to give a gift  and the majority view there was yes that there is nothing wrong in giving a gift. That it was even a painting of himself.

The painting was presented to the President and the Man suddenly woke up and started claiming

People say intellectual property theft. How can you claim intellectual property theft when his name is on the artwork and if he brought the art work by himself to NBA for the President? If you remove his name on the artwork it would be a different thing.

And when A.B Mahmoud presented the artwork of course he said and I quote “this painting was done by a colleague of ours. A young lawyer.” If they have the video clips they should play it.

Having said this, I must also mention that this could have been handled a lot better by whoever the young man met at the NBA. It would have been resolved if he was well received and his grievances addressed. The NBA leadership should have listened to him and as much as possible make inquiries about the painting to be able to know how to engage the young man.

When a member of the administration start saying things like we know those behind this, it starts sounding like PDP and APC. There is no political undertone here. When issues like this occur, Leadership should be able to give such a person some sense of importance by listening and not just dismissing him with a wave of hand. After all nobody is disputing the fact that he did the painting.

It may just have been as simple as discuss with him and offer him another platform or commission him for some jobs rather than dismissing him.

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