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Ambassador Leonard’s Remarks For  Reception For The Ambassador’s Fund For Cultural Preservation (AFCP)  On Monday, November 8, 2021 At The U.S. Consul General’s Residence, Ikoyi, Lagos



Ambassador Leonard’s Remarks For  Reception For The Ambassadors Fund For Cultural Preservation (AFCP)  On Monday, November 8, 2021 At The U.S. Consul General’s Residence, Ikoyi, Lagos
L-R: Director General, National Commission for Museums and Monuments, Professor Abba Isa Tijani; U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Ambassador Mary Beth Leonard; with CyArk Director of Conservation Programs, Kacey Hardick, during the MOU Signing Ceremony for the digital documentation, training and conservation planning for the Osun Osogbo Sacred Grove on Monday in Lagos. 

Hello everyone, I am Ambassador Mary Beth Leonard.  I am pleased to participate in today’s signing of the Memorandum of Understanding to launch this new Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation Grant to preserve the Busanyin Shrine within the Osun Osogbo Sacred Grove.

I want to first recognize our esteemed guests from CyArk:  Director of Conservation Programs Kacey Hardick and her colleagues Chris Milbern and Avidan Fernandez.

I would also like to acknowledge Professor Abba Isa Tijani, Director General of the Nigerian Commission of Museums and Monuments, and Robin Campbell, Co-chair of the Management Committee of the Adunni Olorisha Trust. The signing of this Memorandum of Understanding demonstrates the United States’ commitment to partner with Nigeria to preserve its rich history and culture.

Ambassador Leonard’s Remarks For  Reception For The Ambassadors Fund For Cultural Preservation (AFCP)  On Monday, November 8, 2021 At The U.S. Consul General’s Residence, Ikoyi, Lagos

L-R: Founder, Nike Art Gallery, Chief Nike Davies-Okundaye; U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Ambassador Mary Beth Leonard; Co-Chair of the Management Committee Adunni Olorisha Trust, Robin Campbell; with U.S. Consul General, Claire Pierangelo, during the MOU Signing Ceremony for the digital documentation, training and conservation planning for the Osun Osogbo Sacred Grove on Monday in Lagos.

The Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation (or the AFCP) grants program is administered through annual competition by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.  The grants support the preservation of major ancient archaeological sites, historic buildings and monuments, and major museum collections that are accessible to the public and protected by law in a host country.

Through the AFCP, the U.S Mission has partnered with the Nigerian government to preserve cultural landmarks and sites for over a decade. As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation, the United States is proud to say that we have funded projects worth over a million dollars across Nigeria.

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Prior to this project, the U.S. Mission funded the conservation of the late 14th-Century Sungbo’s Eredo (ER RAY DOE) monument, the famed system of fortifications designed to protect the ancient Ijebu (EE JAY BU) Kingdom in Southwest Nigeria.  Starting earlier this year, the $400,000 AFCP project is using three-dimensional laser scanning technology to generate a precise topographic map covering a thousand square kilometers of the area occupied by the monument.  This 3-D map will be the most detailed map of any archaeological/architectural feature in Nigeria.

Today, we are proud to announce the launch of our 2020 AFCP award to digitally document and conserve the Busanyin Shrine located within the Osun Osogbo Sacred Grove.  CyArk and its local partners were awarded a $125,000 grant under the AFCP small grant program to help document a series of shrines within the Osun Osogbo Sacred Grove and provide training to local professionals to build capacity in digital documentation skills and cultural heritage management.

The Busanyi Shrine has been significantly damaged throughout the years due to extreme flooding. The 3D digital documentation of the shrine is the necessary first step to provide the most accurate record of the current conditions of the site to effectively plan a restoration project to increase resilience of the site during a natural disaster or extreme weather conditions. This will allow for the Busanyi Shrine to remain intact as a cultural landmark for many years to come.

Through projects like the one in the Sacred Grove, the United States and Nigeria are actively cooperating on means to protect Nigeria’s cultural heritage.   We’re also initiating new ways as well, including discussion of a bilateral agreement that would establish restrictions against the import into the United States of prohibited items of cultural property. The agreement would also encourage public and private cultural institutions and law enforcement agencies in both countries to work together on repatriating trafficked objects and fostering the cultural exchanges.  In this way, the U.S. would demonstrate its commitment to protect and preserve Nigeria’s cultural heritage and Nigeria’s rich religious and ethnic diversity.  I am looking forward to many more opportunities like this to strengthen our combined efforts in the future.

In closing, I look forward to meeting you this evening as we celebrate our partnership with the signing of this very important Memorandum of Understanding to launch the project.


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For The Record

The Youths In Leadership: Are They Living Up To Expectations?



The Youths In Leadership: Are They Living Up To Expectations?

By Stella Omonigho
The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) observed that youth is best described as a period of transition from dependence of childhood to adulthood’s independence and awareness of our interdependence as a community. Although being youth is a more fluid category than a fixed age group age remains the easiest way of defining it. For statistical consistency the term youth is defined by the UN as “persons between ages 15 and 24 years”. African Youth Charter however defined a youth as a person between the ages of 15 and 35 years. The common wealth defines youth as persons between 15 and 29 years while the Nigerian National Youth Policy defines youths as anyone between the ages of 18 and 35 years. In Nigeria especially in the political arena we have come to identify youths as those who claim to be youths irrespective of their chronological or biological ages. Most youth organizations and political wings have been hijacked by adults who are far older than the defined age limits assigned to youths. The implications are mindboggling and progress- stilling.

With nearly 70% of Nigeria’s population below the age of 35, it is therefore crucial that young people are represented in the country’s political systems and since politics is a game of numbers young people have an advantage which is not well-harnessed by them. In May 2018, Nigeria passed a new law which lowered the age limits for political office from 35 to 30 years in the Senate, and 30 to 25 years in the House of Representatives and State House of Assembly. Known as the “Not Too Young to Run” bill, the move was intended to reflect the changing demographics of Africa’s most populous nation and help usher in younger leaders. While this is a great step towards youth inclusion in politics, it is clear that more still need to be done to put young people at the very heart of politics, governance and decision-making in Nigeria.  Despite the new law in Nigeria paving the way for more young people to be inducted into the leadership framework of the country, none of President Muhammadu Buhari’s ministerial nominations fall within the new policy’s definition of a young person. Indeed, while the National Youth Policy defines young people as being between the ages of 15 and 29, the youngest member among the list of nominees is 43 years old Sadiya Umar Farouq.

Young people are also energetic and are less afraid to take risks because they have less commitments. Youths constitute a veritable political resource that only old politicians have learnt to explore.

READ ALSO: Political Insanity Or Harvest Of Greed

Political participation:
There is absolutely no way youths can attain leadership without political participation. So what is political participation? This is the action or activity of engaging passively or actively in the political process by making his or her opinions and beliefs known. The importance of citizens’ participation in politics cannot be overestimated as it is vital to good governance and an egalitarian democracy. Verba, Nie (1972); Easton (1953:134) for instance, stated that when post-war American political scientists thought about political participation, they quite simply thought about acts intentionally aimed at influencing governmental decisions (Ekman, Amna, 2012). Citizens’ participation in politics is very important because it determines how much power is controlled (Verba, 2001). For Verba, Nie, Kim (1978:1) by political participation we refer to those legal acts by private citizens that are more or less directly aimed at influencing the selection of governmental personnel and/or the actions that they take (Ekman, Amna, 2012). It is the action taken by a citizen to influence the outcome of a political process. Sadly, in Nigeria there is vivid exclusion of youths from active and conventional politics and leadership positions. Currently, youth exclusion is strongly evident, often crossing with other forms of marginalization linked to gender, location, culture and/or community and even economic status. Despite the ‘not too young to run bill’ passed into law many youths obviously can’t run for electoral position thus giving rise to the need for what I call “not too poor to run” bill. Poverty is one of the greatest challenges faced by young people. This problem is further compounded by a number of other factors such as poverty, youth restiveness, political violence and more worrisome youth’s involvement in rituals and internet fraud.

What is leadership?
Leadership is the ability to inspire a team to achieve a certain goal. It’s usually discussed in the context of business or politics, but leadership is also how you, as an individual, choose to lead your life. The definition of leadership is to influence, inspire and help others become their best selves, building their skills and achieving goals along the way. The definition given by Dwight D. Eisenhower gives a clearer picture especially within the context of our discussion: “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” So, leadership is influence. What then is influence? It is the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behaviour of someone or something, or the effect itself. Hanah Miller (2021) on leadership argued that in defining leadership we need to understand what leadership is not. For her leadership is not commanding authority, it is not management and it is not one size fits all. So, leadership entails the ability to cause the needed effect in the most effective way through influence.

READ ALSO: Saving INEC, EFCC, ICPC From Treason

The role of Nigerian youths in political leadership

Historically youths have always been actively involved in politics in Nigeria. The unequal political participation across gender has been linked to various factors. Individual involvement at various levels of the political process is a function of several factors such as education, political socialization, sex differential, socioeconomic status occupation etc. Nigeria has witnessed levels of youth participation in politics in the following era:


Most of those who fought and agitated and struggled for independence in Nigeria were youths in their 20’s, 30’s and a few in their early 40’s. Herbert Macaulay, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Chief Anthony Enaholo, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Mrs. Funmilayo Ransom Kuti amongst others.

Independence Nigeria

The moment Nigerian gained independence more young persons both in the political parties and in the military took active roles in politics with a few elderly persons in their 50s. We can say that independence Nigeria encouraged conventional political participation. This was mainly because young people were more educated as at that time, they were interested in building an ideal country; they were zealous and committed to the Nigeria project. Young people at that time believed in the Nigerian vision and had hope that the vision was realizable. Despite these great advantages the young people at that time were self-driven, ethno/tribal/religious driven and each had a desire to cling to power.

Post-independence Nigeria

The challenge created by these crop of politicians who are now elderly and some diseased of clinging to political power and refusing to retire or take the back stage is mainly responsible for relegating young people to unconventional political participation.

The idea of youth leadership has become a contemporary sociopolitical issue in every part of the world and it is evidently clear that youths’ participation in leadership processes relating to electioneering and governance often end at the polls and during campaigns .

READ ALSO: Nigeria At A Crossroads: Moment For Lamentation And Ambivalent Reflection

There are a lot of unfavorable forces deterring youths from effective engagement in leadership which include lack of internal party democracy, systemic discrimination against the youths by political parties, god-fatherism, and lack of funds to sponsor sustainable political machinery and a lot more (Muhammad Sani Kassim). So, in post-independence Nigeria young people no longer believe in the Nigerian dream or project, young people have lost hope in Nigeria and are driven by self-ambitions, young people have different sets of values and very importantly can’t compete effectively with the well-established, rich, popular, experienced old politicians. Finally, most young people are poor, mal-educated, unemployed and given more to violence and aggression rather than peace and dialogue. The resultant effect is increase in unconventional political participation of youths in Nigeria, increase in crime such as money rituals, internet fraud and other vices.

Youths in leadership: Challenges
Nigeria:Participation in Constitution-review process UNDP supported youth based CSO coalition to actively participate in the Constitution review process, including submission of memorandum to the constitution review committees of the National Assembly. A Nigerian Youth Agenda on Political Participation has been developed together with a Nigerian Youth Inter party Forum. The forum is used by youth members across party lines to come together and deliberate on issues of common interest and challenges among other things one being expanding the frontiers for youth political participation.

The desire of young people to take over leadership in Nigeria may not manifest anytime soon because in my opinion I think the young people in Nigeria are not ready. They are waiting to be given power not knowing that power is not given, power is taken. The young people are clamoring for youth’s takeover of the leadership position in the country without adequate preparation. Despite their population advantage young people in Nigeria are faced with the following challenges:
Lack cohesiveness in their ranks to mobilize for national integration to achieve oneness of purpose.
Political thugs/assasins
Political errand boys and appointees
Lack of ideology

Youths in leadership: Are they living up to expectations? Any hope?

The desire for an effective leadership is what has necessitated the clamour for youths involvement in leadership. Most blue chip companies globally are headed by young people and some national governments are ably led by young people. The Prime Minister of Finland Sanna Marin is 36 years old amongst others. As noted earlier Nigeria was led by young people:
General Gowon (19/10/1934) Ruled 1/08/1966 – 29/7/1975 was 31 years old when he ruled Nigeria – It was characterized by civil war
Gen. Murtala (8/11/1938) Ruled 30/7/1975 – 13/02/1976 was 37 years old when he ruled Nigeria- characterized by high handedness
Gen. Obasanjo (05/05/1937) Ruled 13/02/1976 – 01/10/1979 was 39 years old when he relued Nigeria – Characterized by austerity.

The expectations are high but few young people like Dimeji Bankole, Governor Yahayah Bello and a few others who attained leadership position have not fared differently. There is still this feeling of dissatisfaction among Nigerians thus calling to question the clamor for “Youths in leadership in Nigeria”.

Honestly, in this dispensation it is too early to judge the youths in leadership as far as politics in Nigeria is concerned. Youths have really not been given a fair opportunity but we can assess the youths in terms of youth culture of leadership and followership in Nigeria.

First, let me begin with the youths in student union leadership in Nigeria. I believe that some of the youth leaders on our campuses need to be schooled on true leadership. A situation where an SUG president of a higher institution in Nigeria (name withheld) will appoint over 50 personal assistants is laughable and worrisome. Most student unions take advantage of their fellow students, buying cars, travelling and spending recklessly just like the traditional politicians. They appear to have learnt wrongly.

READ ALSO: Nigeria’s Elections: Our Tempestuous Past Towards A Vacillating Future

Cultism and gangsters among young people in Nigeria is taking a worrisome dimension. The ease with which they kill and maim themselves in pursuit of superiority and dominance leaves one worried if these will make good leaders.

The rise in ritual killing for money, kidnapping for money, banditry, terrorism, rape and other vices chiefly spearheaded by young people in Nigeria makes you fear if there is any hope for Nigeria. The most devastating of all these is the craze for wealth. The excuse is usually that of poverty and unemployment but wait a minute. You are sacrificing your family and friends for your comfort. That is not leadership.

Taking up subservient roles from old politicians, manipulating the electoral process for financial gains and appointments.

These and many others combined with the unfriendly political, economic and social atmosphere created by our current leaders make it difficult if not impossible to see any hope for a better Nigeria.

How to increase youth participation in politics and leadership
The lines of action of the Youth Strategy on youth participation in politics are (

Recreate the psyche of young people in Nigeria through education, reorientation and reconstruction of values.
Create a healthy and friendly social, economic and political atmosphere that encourages inclusiveness, growth, employment and fulfilment
Create more opportunities for youth participation in community life;
Support/attend seminars, conferences and similar events to promote adolescent and youth participation;
Promote successful models of participation to encourage youth to get involved in community life;
Present to youth and parents the benefits, competences and skills they may gain through volunteer engagement;
Reward the best initiatives and decisions involving youth participation at local level as part of project competitions;
Set up research and consultation groups consisting of young people at the level of territorial and administrative divisions (communes, towns, counties);
Increase youth motivation to participate in community life through project involvement;
Create funding opportunities for setting up or improving sustainable youth facilities at local level;
Develop civic education in the formal education system and in communities;
Promote activities of interest for young people and tailor volunteering opportunities to various youth groups;
Improve youth policy regulation, governance, transparency, and accessibility;
Ensure that, at the level of youth centres, student cultural centres and leisure facilities for youth, strategic management is primarily conducted by youth representatives and that executive management is exclusively appointed based on competence and utmost transparency;
Create platforms that enable young people to report cases of abuse, corruption and fraud in public institutions and run campaigns to encourage the use of such platforms/social media;
Measure the impact of volunteering on individual performance and the personal perception of gained experience from the economic agents’ perspective.
Add political education notions to the civic education curriculum in the formal education system;
Actively involve youth-led and youth-serving non-governmental organisations in working to introduce civic and political education in the formal curriculum;
Increase voter turnout among young people with the help of mass media and information points;
Ensure students’ right to vote in the community where they live throughout their studies;
Encourage youth involvement in mock decision-making processes to facilitate their understanding of democratic mechanisms.
Make transparent decisions in the areas that directly affect young people;
Promote the involvement of youth-led and youth-serving non-governmental organisations in the co-management of youth work and programme implementation;
Start and establish a dialogue with young people, allowing all stakeholders to contribute with ideas in order to develop, agree on, implement and monitor youth policies and programmes at all levels;
Promote a structured dialogue between political decision makers and the civil society in order to effectively ensure youth involvement in the decisions that affect them.

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As young people we must eschew violence and the culture that promotes the love of money. We must understand that we can’t afford to become accidental leaders, we must begin to take responsibility for our present and our future by consciously developing capacities, competences and build communities. Leadership is more than the position and sharing. We must start unlearning what our leaders have taught us, we must begin to start learning to build the Nigeria of our dream where brotherhood is not determined by tribe or religion but by our national fraternity of one indivisible Nigeria. God bless you and God bless Nigeria.

Thank you and God bless you!

.Omonigho, PhD, made this presentation at a youth forum.


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For The Record

Communique Issued  At The End Of The Presentation Of Understanding Modern Nigeria



Adetola Babawale: Completing A Circle Of Life


Dele Ashiru, PhD

(On behalf of the Organising Committee)


The University of Ibadan, in conjunction with Cambridge University Press, Pan-African University Press, and the Toyin Falola Interviews, organised the presentation of Professor Toyin Falola’s latest book, Understanding Modern Nigeria, aimed at discussing modern Nigeria, its peculiarities, problems, and how to understand the country in order to find solutions to its current challenges. The event was held on Thursday, 18th November 2021, at Trenchard Hall, University of Ibadan, with 400 participants in attendance.

READ ALSO: Ibadan: My City of Fame – Toyin Falola

The event focused on discussing modern Nigeria from two lenses: ethnicity, and democracy and development. Initially, two reviews were presented by Prof. OBC Nwolise and Prof. Olufunke Adeboye. Following the presentation of the book reviews were two panel sessions. The first session, themed “Ethnicity,” was chaired by Prof. Ayo Olutokun, the Oba Sikiru Kayode Adetona Professorial Chair at the Department of Political Science, Olabisi Onabanjo University. Edmund Obillo, on-air personality and presenter of the State Affairs radio show, moderated the panel session. Discussants on the first panel were Prof. Remi Ayede, the Head of the Department of Political Science, University of Ibadan; Dr. Nathaniel Danjibo, a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Peace and Strategic Studies, University of Ibadan; Prof. Michael Afolayan, the co-founder of M & P Educational Consulting International; Prof. Akin Alao, professor of African History at Obafemi Awolowo University; Kunle Afolayan, filmmaker and CEO of Golden Effects Pictures; and Oluwaseun Sanwo-Olu, a final-year student of Philosophy at the University of Ibadan.

The second panel with the theme “Democracy and Development” was chaired by Prof. Tunde Babawale, former Director/CEO of the Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilization, and was moderated by Seun Akinola of Splash FM. The panelists were Prof. Adigun Agbaje, former Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academics) at the University of Ibadan; Dr. Festus Adedayo, a lawyer and journalist; Prof. Francis Egbokhare, former President of the National Academy of Letters; Prof. Isaac Albert of the Institute of Peace and Strategic Studies, University of Ibadan; Precious Ibeh; Prof. Jumoke Yacob-Haliso, professor of Political Science at Babcock University; and Prof. Muktar Bunza, the Commissioner for Higher Education in Kebbi State. Following extensive discourses and comments on sub-issues under the themes, the participants made the following observations and recommendations:


  1. Ethnicity always surfaces in all spheres of Nigeria’s operations. One is first Yoruba or Hausa or Efik before they are Nigerian. This is not inherently bad, especially if it can be channelled towards the development of the country.
  2.  There is a marked difference between the concept of the Nigerian bulb and the Nigerian state. The Nigerian nation consists of the Nigerian people, who are not disunited in every sense of the word. These people do business with each other and have other affairs; however, the problem surfaces when it comes to discussion about the Nigerian state.
  3. There is obvious weaponization of ethnicity in Nigeria, which has led to the fight and scramble for resources.
  4. There is also the demonization of the Fulani ethnic group, which has become aggravated in recent times.
  5. Ethnic dominance in Nigeria is not based on the strength of resources, as is conventional in other parts of the world. In Nigeria, it is not the ethnic group that houses the most dominant and ruling resources.
  6. Identity can be instrumentalized, leading to the politicization of ethnicity.
  7. Nigeria has a pseudo-democracy where elections are organised periodically, yet there is no unity of purpose.
  8. There is need for true development in Nigeria.

READ ALSO: Fountain University Holds Colloquium In Honour Of Toyin Falola


The participants recommended the following as solutions to the problems of Nigeria:

  1. The use of ethnic unification to solve Nigeria’s problems and develop the country at large. Development-focused initiatives and projects should be carried out in ethnic groups. If we ensure that each ethnic group is effectively developed, Nigeria will eventually be developed. Through ethnic development, there will arise an all-round development of the country.
  2. The youth should be proactive. There have often been clarion calls for the youth to take charge, but this can only happen if they are willing to take charge and make an effort. Also, there should be adequate youth development; the youth should be prepared and trained for governance and leadership. It is only through this that they will truly take charge.
  3. The issue of the cost of governance has to be addressed in Nigeria, as extravagant expenditure serves as one of the motivations for biased political engagements.
  4. We must find solutions along the lines of who democracy works for and how it operates. To ensure that Nigeria becomes great tomorrow, we must reorganise our politics and put structures in place to bring about the future we envision.


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For The Record

Lokoja: Reminisces Of History And Culture



Lokoja: Reminisces Of History And Culture Gratitude Speech Following The Award Of A D.Litt. Honorary Doctorate From The Federal University, Lokoja

Gratitude Speech Following The Award Of A D.Litt. Honorary Doctorate From The Federal University, Lokoja


Toyin Falola

On this glorious day, November 13, 2021, I reminisce on my memories of Lokoja and how they form a part of an ever-growing history of the Meeting Point, the capital city of Kogi State, Nigeria. As I traveled from Ibadan to Kaduna, and from Ibadan to Makurdi in the 1970s and 1980s, Lokoja was the favorite food center between the South and the North, I had crossed the ferry at Lokoja before there was a bridge. I have been to Lokoja multiple times, and now, I have come to make my own history here.

Society. Culture. People. These are the core elements of human civilization and existence, and at the heart of the triad is a human-discovered natural phenomenon – history. As long as time passes, people interact, cultures mingle, and societies exist, history will always be, in whatever form, whether pure or corroded, written or oral. Therefore, the importance and study of history is unquestionable, for history is a phenomenon bound to exist as it helps shape human civilizations. A people and a nation who wish to grow and progress will never joke with their history or with the history of others around them. Their history will give them insights into how things were, what has changed, and what needs to be done to either match up to how things were or to do better than before. In history lies pride and glory, the fulfillment of knowing about the exploits of one’s predecessors, and the interconnectedness of the world even in a pre-internet era.

History is life in itself – the long bridge that links the past to the present and the present to the future. Through history, which brings us a knowledge of what was, we can draw insights into why what is, is as it is, and also imagine what will come. Such is the intellectual beauty of this field of human endeavor to which some of us have chosen to dedicate our lifelong learning and research. To be a student of history is to be a student of life. Thus, we all are students and custodians of history. Have you seen a group of people fiercely defend their tradition and talk about how things were done and upheld in times past? Have you watched the fire burn in their eyes as tales are recounted? History is life – lived, breathed, and reminisced on.

Lokoja: Reminisces Of History And Culture Gratitude Speech Following The Award Of A D.Litt. Honorary Doctorate From The Federal University, Lokoja

Lokoja is a city clothed in history. The history of Nigeria as a nation cannot be complete with Lokoja missing. Of course, there is the pre-colonial history of the city, one that links several ethnic groups, including the Igbo, Hausa, Nupe, Ebira, Jukun, Tiv, Yoruba, and many more. It is no surprise that the people of modern-day Kogi State and their neighbours have many things in common – including the love for pounded yam. Pre-colonial Lokoja dwellers were mainly hunters and gatherers who found a haven in the Patti Hills, which served as their abode of security.

In the mid-1800s, the Europeans began their expeditions on the African soil, and with these explorations came attraction and their presence on Lokoja soil, then industrialization. The first sign of alien presence in Lokoja was for commercial purposes when European merchants set up trade there. It was easy for them to do this, seeing that the city was close to two mighty rivers and had its own port. Colonial history wrongly credited William Baikie for establishing the city that we now know as Lokoja, that prior to his coming, there was only an expanse of land and a people who lived on the hills rather than in the valley. In the colonial records, it is stated that Baikie, an explorer from Scotland, convinced the people to descend and occupy the plain ground that we call Lokoja today. But the truth is, Baikie met people in Lokoja, and that was why he could live there!

Soon came the infamous sharing of the African continent among European superpowers and the granting of commercial and administrative rights to the Royal Niger Company. The British government granted control of the territories around the Niger to the Royal Niger Company conglomerate, who controlled Lokoja and saw to the success of commerce in the city. Lokoja’s favorable climatic conditions and strategic location positioned it as a vantage administrative point, making it the choice city for the administrative headquarters of the Northern Protectorate in an area that would later become Nigeria. Sir Fredrick Lord Lugard, then High Commissioner of the Administrator of the Northern Protectorate, administered from Lokoja. The amalgamation of the Northern and Southern protectorates came in 1914, and the newly unified colony was named Nigeria, according to the suggestions made by a journalist, Ms. Flora Shaw, in one of her articles. The amalgamation of the protectorates into one colony was announced in Lokoja, and although Lagos served as the first official capital of the unified colony, Lord Lugard lived in Lokoja. Today, there are cultural heritages that point to the colonial period and the life and times of Lugard in Lokoja.

READ ALSO: University of Ibadan Honours Toyin Falola As He Presents Book

Federal University, Lokoja, is one of the more recent heritages of this confluence city of rivers and cultures. Founded in 2011 by the government of Nigeria, the Federal University Lokoja is one of the fastest-growing universities in the country, with a commitment to develop its engineering and medical schools. Thanks to committed and visionary members of various faculties, the university is aiming for its place among Nigeria’s bests. I am particularly interested in and delighted by the continually growing Department of History and International Relations. It is wonderful to see that the bedrock of colonial history in Nigeria is not lacking in historical studies.

When a man of history is at the helm of affairs, the difference would be clear. The simple reason for this is that such a learned person would know the importance of following the fundamental principles of historical approach – of looking into the past, how it affects the present, and how to make the future better. Professor Olayemi Akinwumi, the current Vice-Chancellor of the University, is a learned and vast man in history. Erudite, widely-published, and a cerebral scholar, Professor Akinwumi has brought his best to ensure that the wind of change drives through the Federal University Lokoja. And that is what it means to be a student of history and apply historical perspectives in addressing issues. Also, with the likes of Prof. Mohammed Audu, a seasoned academic and the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic), Prof. Emmanuel Bala, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Administration), Suleman Obansa (the Registrar), Silo Shilo (the Bursar) and Dr. Serah Yani (Librarian), Lokoja can only do better and leap beyond expectations.

Federal University Lokoja is a place where history holds sway and is highly recognized. And since I am and will forever be a man of and studier of history, it gave me immense joy when I received a notification of the conferment of an honorary doctorate on me. There are many such honorary degrees that I have received; however, this will rank among the memorable to me, knowing that it comes from a place where history is known and recognized – a place any historian could call home. I was also asked to plant a tree to mark the occasion, a tree whose growth will be symbolic of my presence. So also is the plant that I commissioned, a symbol of light to bless the University. It was a privilege to welcome the Chancellor and members of Council and other guests at the major dinner of the convocation ceremonies. Yet another of significance was my choice to thank the University on behalf of all the honorees.

It brings me joy to have the National Conference of university in my honor. Dr. Uzoma Osuala, the brain behind this idea, is first-rate organizer.  The selection of “Insurgency, Armed Banditry and Ethno-religious Conflicts in Central Nigeria” as the theme for this conference is a well-thought-out one. Seeing as the Nigerian state is currently rocked by sovereignty-threatening breaches in security, it has become expedient for us, academics, to discuss the issue at hand to generate large discourses and spark the light for change. Thus, on November 10, 11 and 13 the Federal University Lokoja gave me triple honors—a conference in my honor, an opportunity to give the Keynote Address, and an honorary doctorate—which I am sure will sustain the manifold joy I felt in a historic week.

As I journey through the humid confluence city of rivers and cultures of people, I will reflect on my days in Lokoja, on memories that help form a wholesome picture of the history that lies within the belly of that fast-growing city. Lokoja served as a route for me to Northern Nigeria during my National Youth Service year, fresh out of the university. I have always known the people of the city to be receptive and hospitable. I remember the joints where we used to sit to enjoy plates of hot and delicious fresh fish. As I returned to those joints, in front of Lugard’s resting house, to enjoy the grilled fish, Lokoja holds so many memories – of linkages and connections, through the pages and layered thoughts of history.

READ ALSO: Africa And The  Double Pandemic: COVID-19, Terrorism, And The Future Of Education In The New Normal – Toyin Falola

On this note, I greet you all and I pay homage to our collective history, and I say loud and clear, “Thank you very much!”


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