By Osa Amadi
Chief Francis Chukwuma Okonta, renowned art collector and pioneer President of Art Gallery Owners Association of Nigeria (AGAN) has died in London on Wednesday, August 28, 2019, at the age of 80 after a brief illness. He played a significant role in the formation of Nigeria’s most popular visual art festival, Art Expo, in Lagos in 2008, in collaboration with Joe Musa-led National Gallery of Art.
The late Okonta, born in 1939, retired in 1999 from Federal Ministry of Information as Deputy Director. He was appointed into VISION 20:10 team during the regime of late General Sani Abacha.
Okonta was also Secretary-General, Nigeria Olympic Committee and served as Special Assistant to the former Minister of Information, Senator Uche Chukwumerije.
From the Information ministry, he was appointed Chairman, Nigeria Boxing Association; President, Cycling Federation and Secretary-General, Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC). Until his death he was Chief Executive Officer Nkem Gallery, Lekki, Lagos.
In 2011, Okonta told Vanguard in an interview: “We need to really sit down and think well for this country to move forward and be great.” Sadly, he died watching the country being run down as never before.