Connect with us

For The Record

A Tribute To Our Chairman Professor Emeritus Nimi Dimkpa Briggs

Published

on

Prof. Nimi Briggs

By Members Of The Government Team – FGN/ Universities-based Unions Re-negotiation 

We, the members of  the Renegotiating team of Government under the dynamic, committed, patriotic and visionary leadership of our Chairman, Professor Emeritus Nimi Dimkpa Briggs, pay this short elegiac Tribute to our departed leader. We stand with him, along with the larger body of the Committee of Pro-Chancellors, even in his transcendence to immortality, in his total dedication to and advocacy for the triumph of education–tertiary education in particular–and the rebirth of our dear country from the present doldrums and travails, which he faithfully served to the last drop of his breath.

We jointly say, ‘Adieu’ to the inspiring, selfless and  humble leader of our GROUP. We worked by his side, during the tortuous, hazardous months of our  renegotiating task, for the rescue of the soul of our universities and the education sector of our nation in general. We found him an enviable leader of men and ideas, a genuine national patriot and alluring hero– in a nation in dearth and dire need of heroes.

Professor Emeritus Nimi Dimkpa Briggs, our Chairman, you live forever in our  memory, even as we struggle to live down a regime of denial and disbelief, that you a man of such magnetic presence and prescience could be taken away from our midst so suddenly and with such unpardonable ease. If we got a premonition of your demise, we would have borrowed your lai lai to lai lai dictum–your never- ever sing-song in combating the impossibility of failure, a signal of rejection of the suggestion that evil/people can triumph over good/people. Your passionate belief in human possibilities–the triumph of humanity–that every good thing will happen and that the Negotiated Agreement, based on a proposal of Quality Education in the Nigerian academy as the bedrock of civilization, will see the bright light of the day and its implementation will come to pass– all reveal, distinctly, your persuasion of the indomitability of the human spirit.

Here then is the leader, our leader, of the last Re-Negotiation team, who led us with alluring humility, taught us leadership in humility and who has gone to join his ancestors, unbeaten, unbowed. Here is Nimi Dimkpa Briggs, an indomitable patriot and genuine national hero with a remarkable pedigree who believed and lived in the belief that the Nigerian Project is doable and will be done. He approached the Negotiation with the unions on that principle with unquestionable panache and eloquent integrity. Realizing that a different approach must be adopted to continue the earlier effort of preceding negotiators, and contrary to the lie that we didn’t, he ensured that all the critical agencies of government were carried along in the process. He ensured that government itself was constantly consulted and briefed at every critical stage of the Re-negotiation to get their buy-in. On the basis of the confidence that our team had the ear and approval of government, the Unions, especially the ASUU, worked with us, participated in drawing the final Draft of the Agreement and committed to it appreciably. Not stopping there, they went ahead to prepare their principals, and their Congresses, for the actual signing of the Agreement. With a positive turn-of-mind, that Agreement was realistic and acceptable to government, especially at the Ministerial level, we submitted it.

And even when it was obvious that, contrary to our expectation, the Agreement was not going to receive the blessing of the ultimate authority, Professor Emeritus Nimi Dimkpa Briggs led us on in the conviction that the document will sail through eventually, because, as he drummed it into our willing ears, there was no alternative to  accepting the well-wrought document, if the university system will be rescued from its present doldrums, decadence and  declining standards. He refused to be daunted or ruffled when the patently distracting legal process was entered into by an agent of government and a court injunction was obtained when the easiest option was to get the two parties to sign the Agreement. The Committee of Pro-Chancellors, following our Chairman’s Report to it, set up a small team to further seek audience with government at the highest level to obtain a minimal consent of government by a slight shift of position to salvage the system. The failure of that effort did not lead to despair or despondency. Until he breathed his last, the apostle of human possibility, a global scientific intellectual and clinician par excellence who, additionally was a man of letters, who believed in the arts as a curative and redemptive instrument, Nimi Dimkpa Briggs held us together, undaunted in his belief in the irresistibilty of such a solution-laden document. He was ready for any other opening that will bring resolution to the crisis of education in our country that our Committee was set up to address and which he embarked upon with dogged commitment and genuineness of purpose.

We, on the Re-Negotiating Team left behind, stand firmly behind the Briggs’ ideal, that visionary leadership, committed to the triumph of education as a bedrock of human civilization and the imperishability of the regime of merit in national growth, will still emerge and our educational system, nay our beloved country, which Professor Emeritus Nimi Briggs laboured tenaciously and died for, will come to be.

Adieu then, leader of our Group, champion of thought and ideas, Chairman of the Re-Negotiating Team of the FGN/University-based Unions Committee, Chairman of the Committee of Pro-Chancellor, foremost educationist, inimitable university administrator and immortal national hero.

You live on in our memories.

By the Remaining Members of the Team;

  • Senator Chris Adighije,

Pro-Chancellor, Federal University  Lokoja, Lokoja, Kogi State.

 

  • Professor Emeritus Funmi Togonu-Bickersteth,

Pro-Chancellor, Federal University Birnin Kebbi, Birni Kebbi,     Kebbi State.

 

  • Arc Lawrence-P. Ngbale, FNIA,

    Pro-Chancellor, Federal University Wukari, Wukari, Taraba     State.

 

  • Professor Zubairu Iliyasu,

    Pro-Chancellor, Aliko Dangote, University of Science and Technology, Wudil, Kano State. 

 

  • Barr. Matthew  Seiyefa, mni

    Pro-Chancellor, Niger-Delta University, William Wilberforce     Island, Bayelsa State.

 

  • Professor Olu Obafemi, FNAL, NNOM.

Pro-Chancellor, Federal University of Technology, Minna, Niger     State.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

For The Record

  UNILAG: An Acceptance Speech Upon My Conferment With The D.Litt. Of The University Of Lagos

Published

on

Prof. Toyin Falola

By Toyin Falola

Distinguished members of the faculty, esteemed guests, and the vibrant student body of the University of Lagos, it is with immense humility and profound gratitude that I stand before you today. As I accept this honorary doctorate, a powerful emblem of scholarly eminence, I am reminded of the incredible journey this prestigious institution has undertaken in the realm of higher education. In 1973, I was admitted to study Law at the University of Lagos, just as I was admitted to Ahmadu Bello University, the University of Nigeria, the University of Ibadan, and the University of Ife. I did not study Law in Lagos for reasons that would be told at the appropriate time. I am now an alumnus by another route. Your University of Lagos is henceforth Our University of Lagos!

The University of Lagos has consistently served as a symbol of hope and a catalyst for optimism among countless individuals throughout Nigeria since its establishment. It symbolizes more than just a place of learning but a transformative environment where the mental abilities of persons who will take on leadership positions are developed and improved upon. The institution has consistently pursued a future-oriented perspective, seeking to challenge the existing conventions of its era and set new standards in higher education. This vision is not solely focused on transmitting knowledge; it is centred on shaping the personalities and futures of those who enter its premises, not only in obtaining one of the best credentials in the academic world but also true to its motto, equipping them to serve humanity “indeed and in truth.”

The institution’s steadfast commitment to safeguarding our diverse cultural legacy and unwavering efforts to achieve social fairness exemplify its core ideals. The University of Lagos is not merely a physical infrastructure with classrooms but rather a vibrant hub where varied ideas intersect and flourish, fostering the development of some of Nigeria’s most exceptional minds. This achievement has been facilitated by a dedication to offering a thorough and balanced education to every student.

Within this enclosed space, students encounter an atmosphere that not only supports studying but also encourages the development of intellectual abilities and the pursuit of new knowledge. Education is regarded here not merely as the accumulation of knowledge but rather as a profound and changing experience. Students see a significant transformation in their intellectual abilities, emerging as individuals who can think critically and take on leadership roles, capable of successfully navigating the intricacies of our constantly evolving world.

The University of Lagos has created an environment that promotes intellectual engagement, where students are actively encouraged to address the urgent issues of their time. They are not only passive recipients of knowledge but rather active participants in a dynamic and interactive learning environment. This educational method guarantees that students have abundant opportunities to communicate their thoughts and ideas, not just in the classroom but also through participation in debates, dramatic performances, and other kinds of expressive arts.

At this esteemed establishment, education transcends the conventional confines of lecture halls. It functions as a channel for students to develop new skills and build long-lasting social connections. The University of Lagos acknowledges the significance of comprehensive development, which encompasses several programmes and disciplines such as athletics, social welfare, and cultural pursuits. This comprehensive strategy enhances the pool of knowledge and expertise, not just within the country but also globally, promoting the development of individuals with a global perspective. The university’s impact reaches beyond its campus and into the wider society, mainly through its substantial research productivity and its graduates, who are known to take key roles in academia and corporate establishments around the world. The impact of the work conducted within these premises extends beyond these boundaries, exerting influence on society discussions and the formation of policies. The university’s commitment to attaining research excellence is apparent in its strategic collaborations with diverse academic institutions, government agencies, and worldwide organizations. These relationships have not only increased the influence of the university’s research but have also offered vital opportunities for students and staff to actively participate in addressing global concerns.

The University of Lagos holds the belief that education is a catalyst for significant transformation, which is central to its character. This university equips its students not only with knowledge but also with the skills and values required to implement positive societal progress. Within this dynamic educational setting, students are actively encouraged to inquire, to create new ideas, and to take charge. As earlier noted, the institution fosters in its students the conviction that they possess the ability to effect change on a global scale, a conviction that is seen in the exceptional accomplishments of the university’s graduates.

Standing here now, I am greatly inspired by the University of Lagos’ steadfast dedication to achieving greatness in every aspect. This dedication extends beyond achieving academic distinction and encompasses the holistic development of individuals in terms of their intellect, emotions, and ethics. The comprehensive education offered at this institution aims to provide students not only with the necessary skills for their future professions but also with the knowledge and abilities required for their personal development and overall life experiences.

The University of Lagos stands out as a distinctive and esteemed institution due to its comprehensive approach to education. At this institution, students are not merely acquiring knowledge from textbooks; instead, they actively participate in addressing real-world problems and devising solutions to both local and global crises. The institution has continuously exhibited its capacity to adjust to the changing educational environment, incorporating pioneering pedagogical approaches and state-of-the-art research while upholding traditional principles of honesty and determination.

The University of Lagos has had a noticeable effect on the achievements of its former students, who have emerged as influential figures in several industries both in Nigeria and internationally. These individuals exemplify the university’s aim by effectively utilizing the knowledge and skills they have gained here to make substantial progress in their respective fields. Not only are they pursuing their personal goals, but they are also making valuable contributions to society, exemplifying the principles of service and leadership promoted by this great university.

Furthermore, the university’s dedication to tolerance and diversity is praiseworthy. It has established a setting in which students from many backgrounds, cultures, and beliefs converge, promoting a sense of harmony amidst their differences. The active embrace of other cultures in this environment not only enhances the student’s encounter but also equips them for the international arena, where comprehension and appreciation of varieties are crucial for achieving success. This University will continue to provide a haven for the mosaic of cultures needed to promote and sustain the progress of humanity in the twenty-first century and beyond.

The University of Lagos combines rigorous academic standards with a lively campus environment to shape students into versatile individuals. In addition to academic pursuits, the institution provides a wide array of extracurricular activities and organizations, encompassing several fields such as law, arts, literature, science, and technology. Extracurricular activities offer young minds the chance to investigate their interests, acquire new abilities, and interact with their peers in significant ways.

Building upon our previous discussion, the University of Lagos has always prioritized the significance of community involvement and societal obligation. The institution not only imparts knowledge to its students but also motivates them to contribute to their communities. The institution cultivates a strong commitment to service, which permeates all aspects of campus life and motivates students to utilize their knowledge in ways that have a good influence on society. This method guarantees that the advantages of higher education go beyond the individual, penetrating deep into communities and promoting a culture of social responsibility.

The university’s research activities are closely interconnected with practical applications in the actual world. The emphasis on pragmatic and influential research conducted here not only contributes to scholarly dialogue but also tackles the urgent demands of society. The research coming out at the University of Lagos is advancing groundbreaking answers to complex problems in several fields such as law, medicine, engineering, the arts, and the social sciences.

The University of Lagos has gained prominence in the educational sphere of Nigeria and Africa due to its exceptional academic standards, strong social awareness, and dedication to innovation. The university has emerged as an emblem of optimism and advancement, not just for its students but for the entire nation. As we contemplate the future, the significance of institutions such as the University of Lagos in influencing that future becomes increasingly vital.

Upon receiving this honorary degree, I am well cognizant of the weighty responsibilities it entails. It serves as both an acknowledgement of personal accomplishments and a reminder to actively contribute to the important goals of education and society’s progress. The University of Lagos has set an excellent standard in this area, one that I am determined to sustain in my future undertakings.

To conclude, I would like to convey my utmost gratitude to the University of Lagos for bestowing this prestigious recognition upon me. The university’s steadfast commitment to greatness, dynamic culture of innovation, and profound passion for creating a better world inspire me. May this valued institution persist as a source of knowledge, a connection to the future, and a driving force for beneficial transformation in Nigeria and beyond.

Continue Reading

For The Record

Great Ife And The Making Of Greatness 

Published

on

Dele Jegede In Conversation With Prince Yemisi Shyllon
Prof. Toyin Falola

By Toyin Falola

Ladies and gentlemen, esteemed faculty, revered alumni, and the spirited students of Obafemi Awolowo University, it is with profound gratitude and a sense of immense honor that I stand before you today. As I accept this honorary degree, I am reminded of the rich tapestry of history and resilience that this great institution embodies. The legacy of Great Ife, particularly during the tumultuous military era in Nigeria, is a testament to the unyielding spirit of knowledge, justice, and courage. In those challenging times, when the fabric of our nation was tested, this university emerged not just as an academic institution, but as a fortress of intellectual resistance and a beacon of hope. The students and lecturers of this esteemed university, against overwhelming odds, stood tall. Their resilience in the face of oppression, their unflinching commitment to truth and justice, did not just shape the contours of our nation’s history, but also activism in the path of fairness and justice.

The university’s role in championing the causes of Nigerian youth and students during these trying times is particularly noteworthy. It was here, within these walls, that critical voices rose against injustice, that debates and discussions fueled a movement for change, and that the clamor for justice found its most resonant echo. This institution did not merely witness history; it made history as it actively bent the arc of our national narrative towards justice, equality, and freedom.

As a product of this institution, my memories are not just of academic rigor, but of a vibrant community where the spirit of inquiry knew no bounds, where every lecture, every seminar, was an invitation to explore the vast realms of knowledge. The vibrancy of the student body, their engagement with complex sociopolitical realities, and their unwavering commitment to societal transformation, have always been the hallmark of Obafemi Awolowo University. 

I recall with fondness the eclectic academic environment that defined my years at Obafemi Awolowo University. In my time in the early 1970s, Ife was more than a mere assemblage of classrooms and lecture halls; it was a crucible where minds were molded, where horizons were broadened, and where the seeds of multifaceted knowledge were sown and nurtured. During my time here, the breadth of academic exposure was truly remarkable. Students were not just confined to their specific disciplines; we were encouraged to delve into a myriad of subjects, gaining considerable knowledge in sociology, religious study, languages, history, epistemology, philosophy, political science, and economics. This interdisciplinary approach did not merely equip us with facts and theories; it cultivated in us a holistic understanding of the world, fostering a sense of interconnectedness and a deeper appreciation for the diverse perspectives that shape our global narrative. Today, I write on a wide range of disciplines, including Literature, Economics, Political Science, International Relations, Creativity, History, Religious Studies, Political Economy and the interfaces and intersectionalities. The foundation of my multidisciplinary control of the Humanities started at Ife. Today, I occupy a distinguished professorship of Political Science at the University of Pretoria, and a Professor of Human Rights in the Faculty of Law at the University of the Free State. And on my campus in Texas, I am a Professor of History while I hold a Chair of Humanities. Without Ife and its renaissance tradition, the unique achievements would not have been possible. We owe our intellectual foundation a loud applause in such unparalleled spate of achievements.

The vibrancy of intellectual life at Obafemi Awolowo University was further enhanced by the myriad of seminars and workshops organized by students and faculty alike. Those forums were not just platforms for academic discourse, they were vibrant hubs of innovative thinking, where ideas were not only shared but also challenged and refined. The university, in its wisdom, recognized the immense value of these gatherings, supporting and encouraging them as integral components of our educational journey. I was part of the tradition of seminars and workshops which led me subsequently to greater leadership in academic positions.

This culture and atmosphere of intellectual engagement, this spirit of inquiry and dialogue, have always been a defining feature of this university. It is a tradition that transcends the boundaries of the campus, influencing and shaping the broader academic and societal discourse. The impact of this inclusive and dynamic academic culture is evident in the myriad of contributions made by our alumni in various fields, both within Nigeria and on the global stage.

In the heart of Obafemi Awolowo University lies an unwavering commitment to political activism and justice, a commitment that has been the cornerstone of its identity. This university has never been a bystander in the face of societal challenges; rather, it has always been a proactive agent of change, a voice for the voiceless, and a force for societal transformation. The political activism inherent in the DNA of this institution is not just a response to external circumstances, but a fundamental part of its ethos. The university has always encouraged its students and faculty to engage critically with the social and political realities of our time, to question, to debate, and to seek solutions to the myriad challenges that confront our society. This spirit of activism is not confined to the realms of academia; it is a living, breathing part of the university’s culture, manifesting in various forms of advocacy, community engagement, and public discourse.

Obafemi Awolowo University’s role in shaping political thought and action in Nigeria cannot be overstated. From organizing symposiums on national issues to leading peaceful protests for justice, the university community has consistently demonstrated its commitment to upholding democratic values and human rights. This activism is not mere rhetoric; it is rooted in a deep understanding of the power of education to effect positive change, and a steadfast belief in the responsibility of academic institutions to contribute meaningfully to the betterment of society.

It is this unwavering commitment to justice and equality that has cemented Obafemi Awolowo University’s status as an activist institution, political or otherwise. The university has not only produced some of the finest minds in various disciplines, but it has also nurtured leaders, activists, and changemakers who have gone on to play pivotal roles in shaping the political landscape of Nigeria and beyond. The legacy of this institution in the realm of political activism is a beacon that continues to guide and inspire, reminding us of the critical role that academic institutions must play in advancing societal progress.

The intellectual vibrancy of Obafemi Awolowo University is a remarkable feature that distinguishes it as a premier academic institution. This vibrancy is not confined to the academic prowess it is known for; it extends to the very essence of life on campus, where every corner echoes with the spirit of inquiry and the pursuit of knowledge. Within the walls of this university, intellectual stimulation is a constant. The classrooms buzz with lively debates and discussions, the libraries are sanctuaries of deep thought and exploration, and the lecture theaters are stages for the unfolding of new ideas and perspectives. This dynamic environment fosters a culture of intellectual curiosity and academic excellence, encouraging students and faculty alike to push the boundaries of knowledge and understanding.

What makes Obafemi Awolowo University truly unique is its inclusive approach to intellectual engagement. Here, every voice is valued, every perspective is considered, and every idea is given the space to flourish. This approach has cultivated an environment where learning is not just a transfer of knowledge, but a collaborative process of discovery and innovation. The intellectual vibrancy of this institution is also reflected in its diverse range of academic programs and research initiatives. From the humanities to the sciences, from arts to technology, Obafemi Awolowo University offers a rich tapestry of disciplines, each contributing to the creation of a holistic and enriching educational experience. The university’s commitment to interdisciplinary research and collaborative projects further enhances its intellectual climate, making it a hub for pioneering thought and cutting-edge innovation.

This vibrant intellectual space has a profound impact on everyone who steps foot in Obafemi Awolowo University. It is a place where minds are opened, where horizons are broadened, and where the leaders of tomorrow are shaped. The university’s intellectual legacy is not just its academic achievements, but the countless lives it has transformed through its commitment to fostering an environment of intellectual excellence and innovation.

Obafemi Awolowo University, in its glorious journey, has not only been a beacon of academic and political activism, but it has also stood as a vibrant mosaic of cultural and ethnic diversity. This dynamic interplay of different cultures and traditions within the university has enriched its character, making it a microcosm of our nation’s beautiful diversity. The university’s ability to embrace and celebrate this diversity is one of its most defining and praiseworthy attributes. The campus life here is a colorful tapestry of ethnic backgrounds, languages, and traditions, each bringing its unique flavor to the university’s rich cultural landscape. This diversity is not just visible in the social interactions and cultural festivities but is also an integral part of the academic discourse and curriculum. It fosters a sense of inclusivity and mutual respect among the students and faculty, creating a learning environment that is both dynamic and harmonious.

As we look towards the future, I believe there are key areas where Obafemi Awolowo University can further enhance its impact and continue its legacy of excellence. Firstly, the establishment of an incubation system for students would be a significant step forward. Such a system would bridge the gap between academic learning and the practical realities of the labor market. It would provide students with the necessary skills, resources, and mentorship to transform their innovative ideas into viable ventures, thereby enhancing their readiness for the professional world.

Building a large body of alumni committed to making the University rely on its most valuable resources will start from the first week a student enters the campus. The system must insist on a student-friendly teaching approach to anchor the learning experience. This approach should focus on fostering a relaxed and interactive classroom environment, encouraging open dialogue, and making learning a more engaging and enjoyable experience. Such an environment not only aids in better knowledge retention but also instills a lifelong love for learning. A good memory will later open the wallets, a model known for its success in enhancing institutional foundations and alumni support.

Lastly, the running of a vibrant and functional mentorship and career office would be invaluable. This office would play a pivotal role in guiding students through their academic and career paths, offering personalized mentorship, career advice, and opportunities for professional development. It would serve as a bridge between the university and the industry, ensuring that students are well-equipped to meet the challenges and opportunities of the outside world.

In conclusion, my journey at Obafemi Awolowo University has been transformative, and the honor bestowed upon me today is not just a recognition of my personal achievements, but a testament to the indelible impact this institution has had on my life. As I look back at the vibrant history, the intellectual rigor, and the dynamic cultural landscape of this university, I am filled with immense pride and hope for its future. 

May Obafemi Awolowo University continue to thrive as a beacon of knowledge, justice, and cultural richness.

. Prof. Falola delivered this  acceptance speech upon his  conferment with the D.Litt. of the Obafemi Awolowo University.

 

Continue Reading

For The Record

Witch Persecution And Penis Disappearance: Why We Need Critical Thinking Corners In Nigeria

Published

on

Witch Burning, Impunity And Abuses Linked to Witchcraft Beliefs In Benue State
Dr. Leo Igwe
By Leo Igwe
I bring you all greetings and salutations from the Humanist Association of Nigeria and from all who value critical thinking and reasoned inquiry across the world. We commend you all for this initiative, and for staging the first edition of the hangout of the Critical Thinkers Corner in Ebonyi State. Bravo! We believe this hangout is the first of many more events to come. It is the beginning of critical things and more profound initiatives to promote a more rational and scientific approach to life in Ebonyi state. As you may be aware, critical thinking is one thing that is lacking so much in our society. Critical thinking is something that we need in a large dosage and proportion. We need to vigorously promote the ability to analyze, evaluate, and interrogate issues, beliefs, and claims.
To this end, I founded an organization, the Critical Thinking Social Empowerment Foundation, that fosters critical thinking skills in schools, and the society at large. We cannot overemphasize the fact that there is power in thinking critically; that people can be empowered, emancipated and liberated through the application of these mental habits. At the Humanist Association, we place a great premium on critical thinking abilities. Because due to the lack of critical thinking, humanity suffers. To phrase it differently, due to the lack of critical thinking corners, people perish. Our society is smoldering away. Many people cannot breathe. Families and communities are suffocating to death. People suffer terrible abuses. People are murdered with impunity. People are dying needlessly. As a matter of urgency, the Nigerian society needs critical thinking corners.
And this event is happening at a crucial time in the history of the country, at a time when the people of Ebonyi, Nigeria, and Africa are grappling with superstition and religion-based abuses in many ways, and on different fronts.
It may interest you to know that I came in for this event from Calabar, where an exhibition is ongoing at the state museum. This exhibition is the first of its kind. A Nigerian artist, Etinosa Yvonne, staged the event in partnership with the National Geographic Society and the Basic Counsel Rights Initiative in Calabar. The exhibition titled, It’s All in the Head, is an educative and enlightening program. The exhibition uses photos, images, and illustrations to show the devastating impact of witchcraft accusations and witch persecutions. We had a case here in Ebonyi state where an accused person was tortured and then thrown into a river. Nobody has seen the corpse to date. Efforts to bring the suspects to justice have been unsuccessful. Many people have died or disappeared that way without a trace. Peddlers and entertainers of witchcraft imaginaries silently eliminate many persons, parents, children and other family and community members. Superstitions have made us lose our humanity, our sense of compassion for one another. And here at the Critical Thinking Corner we should say it loud and clear: Enough is enough. Based on what transpires in one’s head, people are brutally attacked, tortured, and murdered with impunity. People are living with traumas for the rest of their lives. As the exhibition rightly said, it is all in the head. It is all in our heads. Yes. witchcraft is all in the heads of the believers, the heads of accusers, hunters, and persecutors. And the time has come to begin the surgical process to expel and disable this social, cultural and mental virus.
As you may have heard, another superstitious ill wind is blowing across the country as we gather here.  Another imaginary bug is eating up the heads, minds, and conscience of Nigerians with devastating impact on the suspects. That is the so-called magical disappearance or thieving of penises. Do penises magically disappear? The answer is No. There is no evidence that people’s private parts  disappear following a touch or a handshake. But to many Nigerians the answer is: Yes. Like all magical or superstitious beliefs, the idea of the magical disappearance of the penis is absurd. The notion of the magical theft of a private part is a figment of the mind, a mind petrified by fear, and anxiety, ignorance and superstition. It is a supposition in the ‘head’ with a external impact that is brutal. This week, a lecturer was accused and mobbed in Makurdi, Benue state. He sustained serious injuries. But you know what? He was lucky. He survived. The police intervened and rescued him. Many people accused of this imaginary offense have been beaten to death in some parts of the country. In Adamawa, the police stopped students from lynching some suspects. So our educators and educational institutions are not spared. Even in schools, colleges, and universities, people can be accused, attacked, and lynched for the magical disappearance of the penis in 21st-century Nigeria. What a shame!
So, we need to take what goes on in our ‘heads’ seriously. We need to critically examine what goes on in the minds of people around us. We need to interrogate narratives that are used to sanction and sanctify cruelty and savage acts in the communities. That is why, from time to time, we need to break, hang out, pause, reflect, and congregate at critical thinking corners. We need to create forums where we examine, ponder, and interrogate ideas, claims, and beliefs that often inform our actions and behaviors. Humanity cannot progress without a vibrant culture of skeptical rationality. Skepticism unlocks human possibilities, and guarantees hope for the future. Humanity’s best and brightest cannot manifest if we cannot interrogate ideas and beliefs.
So, skepticism is the handmaid of humanism. The skeptical outlook provides a springboard for the flourishing of the humanist cosmology. Skepticism is the driver and propeller of humanist values, and undergirds a progressive ethical living. As humanists, we need to work and campaign for a more critical thinking society. We need to invest in the promotion and application of critical thinking skills in all areas of human endeavor. At the Humanist Association, we encourage the creation of critical thinking spaces to help beat back the tide of dogma, blind faith, and superstition-based abuses. In the months ahead, the Humanist Association of Nigeria will follow, with keen interest, the activities of the Critical Thinkers Corner in Ebonyi state. The association will endeavor to provide you with all that you need to grow and develop this resource. Be assured of my personal support and that of other humanists and critical thinkers in Nigeria and beyond.
We hope you have a socially nourishing, thought provoking and intellectually stimulating fellowship.
. Dr Igwe is a board member of the Humanist Association of Nigeria.

Continue Reading

Top Stories