By Toyin Akinosho
Frank Okonta, the Nigerian art collector known for advocating for the interests of gallery owners, has died in London.
Everyone, it seems, called him Uncle Frank.
He was a personable, charming man, with never a scowl on his face, and he loved to laugh.
Mr. Okonta ran the Nkem’s Gallery from his home in the Lekki Suburb, in the east of Lagos.
It was the platform he used to advance the case that Gallery owners were a highly worthy part of the value chain.
For most of the past 30 years, the Nigerian art ecosystem thrived most at the level of collector-artist relationship.
The gallery part of the chain has developed since then and galleries and dealers now drive a significant part of the overall worth. But it is still much a work in Progress.
Okonta co-founded and presided over the Art Gallery Owners Association of Nigeria (AGAN), the umbrella body of gallerists.
AGAN hosted an annual art expo for a brief while.
Mr Okonta died in the 20th year he retired from the Federal Ministry of Information as Deputy Director.
He was Secretary-General, Nigeria Olympic Committee and served as Special Assistant to the former Minister of Information, Senator Uche Chukwumerije.
He was also a member of the VISION 2010 during the regime of late General Sani Abacha.
While at the Ministry of Information 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.