Yussuf, Uthman Adekola

A number of professors and scholars who were either one-time alumni or lecturers of the University of Ibadan have berated the societal rots bedeviling the nationhood of Nigeria.

This was during the 70th anniversary colloquium of the Faculty of Arts tagged “The Nigeria Project and Nationhood”.

The Faculty of Arts is one of the pioneer faculties with which the University of Ibadan was established in 1948.

The programme, which took place in Trenchard Hall within the school’s premises, was moderated by Prof. Obaro Ikime, and included seven discussants amongst whom were Prof. John Nnia Nwodo, Prof. Mohammed Kuta Yahaya, Prof. Bolanle Awe, Prof. Adebanji Akintoye, Prof. O.B.C. Nwolise, and Odia Ofeimun according to the order of their appearance on stage.

Prof. Obaro Ikime, lamenting the state of the nation, stated that Nigeria is yet to become a nation, as he also mentioned that certain higher institutions are under the control of particular ethnic groups.

“Nigeria is yet to attain its nationhood. A particular ethnic group controls certain higher institutions” he said.

He also spoke about the threat which religion also poses to the nationhood of Nigeria, as he posited that religion has the tendency of leading the country into problems.

“Religion, if not handled with care, will lead the nation to peril. Who is in government should not make policies that favour only one of these two religions.” He stated.

Prof. John Nnia Nwodo, who was the first discusant, maintained the stance that Nigeria can still be one despite the threats surrounding the country.

Nigeria is a country “with different cultures and traditions. It is possible to have such diverse nation as one.”

He went on to give an instance of how he was once a Students’ Union President in U.I., saying the Yoruba are “accomodating and cosmopolitan even when their actions challenge their traditional norms”.

Taking about Nigeria’s economy, he said, “We are in deep shit”.

The second discussant, Prof. Mohammed Kuta Yahaya, talked about how ethnicity and tribalism debar our nationhood.

He narrated a story of how he had gone to University of Calabar as a prospective undergraduate and was told, “You will not make it here. Go back to where you rear cattle.”

Speaking about the need for indusrialisation, he said we need to learn from successful countries of the world.

“We must learn from countries that have made success— Malaysia, Indonesia.”

Prof. Bolanle Awe, who spoke largely about the plights of women in the country, was the next to speak.

She lamented the issue of patriarchy which she said “is still much alive” while she discussed “The Situation of Women and the Significance on the Development of the Nation”

She mentioned such women as Omolara Ogundipe Leslie and Prof. Gbenga Omoyale who have contributed to the hoisting of the country’s flag both nationally and internationally.

The professor also spoke about early marriage, female genital mutilation and more including the fact that many children in Ibadan are out of school, as she added, “most of them are probably girls, although there is no statistical data”.

Next was Prof. Adebanji Akintoye who also bemoaned the state of the country and explained that Nigeria is in rot and that it is not a nation on its own but a country housing different nations.

“Nigeria has become a rubble. That’s the truth of the matter. Nigeria has become something unbelievable that most people marvel at in the world.

“We do not know our country. We refuse to know our country. Nigeria is not a nation. It is a country of many nations.

“The aim to suppress a nation or language only leads the country into problems. We need a radical change of mind.

“It’s hard being a Nigerian today. It’s hard watching one’s country going down.” He stated.

Then, Prof. O.B.C. Nwolise posited that Nigeria was “programmed to fail” as a country, as he indicted the British colonialists whom he said plunged Nigeria into “forceful amalgamation” and whom he described as “our common enemy”.

“Nigeria was born into the inequity of election rigging. Instead of us to come together to solve our problems, we started fighting one another. We’re supposed to fight our common enemy.” He said.

He continued by stating that Nigeria is a country with no vision in its constitution and that even the functions of the police force are not highlighted in the constitution at all.

“The police has no function in the constitution; only the military has. Go and check the constitution.

“We were given a federal police (by the British colonialists), no state police. Nigeria is the only federation without state police.”

Further supporting his claims, he quoted the autobiography of a Briton, Arold Smith, whom he said was deported to Britain because he refused to rig elections in Nigeria in 1959.

Moreover, he mentioned that injustice is the only thing dividing the country, as he spoke against marginalisation of women, nepotism, violation of rule of law and political irreverence.

He advised that the solution to our problems is that we “enthrone justice and celebrate competence”.

Odia Ofeimun, who was the final speaker, encouraged that Nigerians should live as citizens of a single nation.

He explained that “we are actually one people” and that most Nigerian languages have certain words which are linked by the same roots.

In addition, he expressed bitterness about the economic and other problems bedeviling the country.

“Every child born in Nigeria is a child being trained to be a slave. A large percentage of the national budget is wasted on irrelevancies.”

He also added that free education and free health care are possible in Nigeria, saying it will help “bring back our good doctors forced into expatriation.”

“It isn’t by accident that we are put together. We should all work towards the progress of the country. We owe the black world a duty. We need to make the black man proud.” He concluded.

The discussions were followed by a question and answer session after which the colloquium gradually came to an end.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *