Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom has inaugurated an arts gallery in the University of Uyo in honour of his mother in-law, the late Professor Stella Idiong. Mrs. Idiong was the first female professor of Fine and Industrial Arts in the country, hence, the building of the arts gallery by her family to showcase her works.
The gallery was built ten years after her death as a memorial, to also promote art in the institution.
Speaking at the Main Campus of the university, Emmanuel commended the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Enefiok Essien for allowing the sponsors of the gallery build the arts centre.
He promised to connect the gallery to the national grid.
He said: “I also want to thank you for the peace in the campus. Not all campuses are as peaceful as the University of Uyo. Whenever you see peace of this nature, it is leadership. Let me thank the members of this committee that put up the fine and international work here, the family, and everybody.
“I thank the University community for giving us the space, the Vice Chancellor, Senate and the entire governing council of this university for this honour done to a great woman, who touched lives, who meant so much to a lot of people who are living and can still bears testimony to the quality of life that she lived.
“In memory of the first ever female Professor of Fine and Industrial Arts in this country and the first ever female dean of the University of Uyo, Late Prof. Mrs Stella Idiong, I commission this Arts gallery to the glory of God the Father, and I pray this will serve as a resource centre for industrial arts, and people that will study here will make meaning into this country and into the continent at large.”
Wife of the governor Mrs. Martha Emmanuel, who is also a daughter of the late professor, said the gallery was built to satisfy the desire of family members to immortalise the late Idiong, and promote the achievement of students in the university.
She described her mother as “an artist, a great teacher who distinguished herself in a seemingly male dominated career; who also exhibited discipline and love in her motherly role to us and a pillar of support to her husband despite her academic attainment”, and appealed that the gallery be maintained.
Continuing she said, “Today, on behalf of my siblings and family, we stand here to fulfill a longing in our hearts to immortalize our role model, our shining star, a one in a million mother by providing the University of Uyo the first of its kind Art gallery which I believe will support innovation, encourage exhibition by showcasing the achievement of students in the University.
“It is my hope that this gallery will facilitate collaboration between the teachers and students. By establishing this arts gallery, we have established an enabling environment for the development of painting, sculpture as well as developing the graduates of this department for social and economic gains”.