In Understanding Modern Nigeria, Falola Directs Our Noble Cause
At the book presentation on Understanding Modern Nigeria written by Professor Toyin Falola, University Distinguished Teaching Professor, and the Jacob and Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair in the Humanities, the University of Texas at Austin, USA, held at the Trenchard Hall, University of Ibadan, on Thursday, 18 November 2021, scholars, friends, mentees and admirers of the author gathered to dissect and discuss modern Nigeria’s peculiarities, problems, and ways to understand the country. This was to seek solutions to the myriads of challenges currently facing the country.
Understanding Modern Nigeria is interesting because of its detailed exposition on critical issues that have affected the country since independence about six decades ago. It is also remarkable in that, rather than just critiquing, it prescribes very robust solutions to mitigate these challenges. This means that the author has given readers a template for transforming Nigeria at all levels of government if we, as a people, are serious about democracy and development. It serves as the icing on the cake to understand Nigeria’s political trajectory and what has rendered it incapable of attaining the heights expected of it going into the third and subsequent decades of the 21st century.
READ ALSO: Communique Issued At The End Of The Presentation Of Understanding Modern Nigeria
The focus of the event centred on the two themes promptly articulated in Understanding Modern Nigeria – ethnicity, and democracy and development. Part of the major highlights of the event was a review of the book by Professors Osisioma Nwolise, who recently retired from the Department of Political Science, University of Ibadan, and Olufunke Adeboye of the department of History and Strategic Studies, University of Lagos. While Nwolise’s position was centred on the need for the leadership in Nigeria to have a rethink on the strategic governance of the country, Adeboye was particular about the issues raised in the book on gender and its role in effecting positive changes in all facets of life.
The second major highlight included two panels that drew participants from diverse fields of human endeavour. The first-panel session was chaired by Prof. Ayo Olutokun, the Oba Sikiru Kayode Adetona Professorial Chair at the Department of Political Science, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, and moderated by Edmund Obillo, on-air personality, and presenter of the State Affairs radio show. 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; and Prof. Michael Afolayan, the co-founder of M & P Educational Consulting International.
Others include 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 focus of the panel session was on ethnicity, which welcomed very robust responses and comments from each panellist. In dealing with the subject, some of the panellists agreed that there was still no firm understanding of what ethnicity entails and that ethnicity becomes a problem when it is weaponised for political gains. One position indicated that many Nigerians see themselves first from the lens of their ethnic group before considering themselves as Nigerians.
The second panel focused on the theme “Democracy and Development” was chaired by Prof. Tunde Babawale, the Acting Provost of the Anti-Corruption Academy, and was moderated by Seun Akinola of Splash FM. The panellists include 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; and Prof. Isaac Albert of the Institute of Peace and Strategic Studies, University of Ibadan. Others were Mr. Precious Ibeh; Prof. Jumoke Yacob-Haliso, Department of Political Science at Babcock University; and Prof. Muktar Bunza, the Commissioner for Higher Education in Kebbi State.
One of the panellists focused on the role of education in Nigeria’s development trajectory by recommending critical funding in the sector. His observation came against the backdrop of the incessant strikes by unions in the university caused by the government’s failure to prioritise education. He also decried the disturbing trends of a powerful cabal in the nation’s ivory towers, which have given rise to inefficiency and clout chasing. In his view, Prof. Muktar stressed the need for Nigerians to have a positive mindset towards the government rather than always being critical of it. A greater percentage of the panellists, however, agreed that there was a need for a true developmental blueprint for the country if it would attain the status of a developed nation.
READ ALSO: BOOK REVIEW: Pathways To Nigeria’s Future: A Review Of Toyin Falola’s Understanding Modern Nigeria
Participants flooded the panellists with questions, while diverse comments provided room for robust engagements with the subjects of discussion. One interesting recurrent issue raised by some members of the audience was the fact that Nigeria does not seem to work, and this was attributed in large part to the failure of leadership at all levels of government, from the federal to the local. There was a call to find swift solutions to the myriads of problems facing the country. It was observed that solutions must go in tandem with whom democracy works for and how it operates. To chart the path that works for everyone, the political leadership must reorganise the country’s politics and put structures in place that will concretise the future the people envision.
Prof. Falola enthrals us with his intellectual contribution to Nigeria in Understanding Modern Nigeria. Exciting as it appears, the book provides a sombre reflection on Nigeria’s historical trajectory from independence to contemporary times, which citizens in the country and the diaspora are all too familiar with. Is it the twin-crisis of Boko Haram and banditry in the north or the recent surge in secessionist agitations in the south? Nigeria’s crisis appears intractable if the worsening security situation across the country is anything to go by. While these occurrences are not new as they go back many decades, Falola has given us a 672-page book, the most voluminous single-authored book on Nigeria’s postcolonial history, which touches on, explores, and critically analyses three fundamental challenges that have often eluded our path to progress. Despite its sombre tone, Understanding Modern Nigeria offers an interesting perspective on how to resolve the country’s many fault lines, which is found in the section titled “Pathways to the Future”.
Although the book presentation has since come to an end, the event will, undoubtedly, continue to reverberate in the minds of the 400 attendees and many more who participated virtually. In light of the recent predictions that Nigeria may not exist by the next national election, the drivers of the country and, most importantly, the citizens need to save it from any act that will truncate its already shaky foundation. Falola directs our noble cause in Understanding Modern Nigeria, and every citizen owes the nation a duty to do the same.
Oluwafunminiyi, a social commentator, based in Osogbo and can be reached via email@example.com
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BREAKING: PDP Crisis Worsens As Chairman Ayu Steps Aside, Deputy Takes Over
As an indication of a worsening crisis in the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) , its National Chairman Iyorchia Ayu on Tuesday stepped aside.
Ayu was replaced by the Deputy National Chairman, (North) Umar Iliya Damagum.
Damagum will assume office as the Acting National Chairman of the PDP, pending the determination of the case in court.
A High Court in Makurdi, the Benue state capital, had restrained embattled Ayu from parading himself as chairman of the party pending the determination of the substantive suit which has been adjourned to April 17, 2023 for hearing.
A member of the PDP from Benue, Terhide Utaan, who is the plaintiff before Justice W. I Kpochi, obtained the order restraining Ayu from parading himself as national chairman of the party.
Addressing journalists in Makurdi after obtaining the court order, the plaintiff said following the suspension of Ayu by his Igyorov Ward Exco on Sunday, it was wrong for him to keep up with the office of national chairman and further disunite the party.
Ayu was suspended late last week for anti-party activities in the wake of the party’s loss in the presidential election.
But in a Monday statement by his media aide Simon Imobo-Tswam, the former lawmaker argued that only the ward lacked the powers to suspend him.
Ayu’s political rival in the PDP and Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike on Monday, said he was elated that a Benue State ward exco passed a vote of no confidence in him.
“I am not from Benue State, but I am happy, and now that Benue State has done it, we would now come out and say we are in support of it,” he said.
Prior to this development, there had been intense calls for Ayu to step aside for a Southerner to take over as the Chairman of the party.
BREAKING: Obi Speaks On Joining Tinubu’s Unity Government
Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, has given insight into what his position will be if he is invited to join Bola Tinubu’s Government of National Unity.
Tinubu, the president-elect and his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) have been taken to court by Obi over the outcome of the February 25 election.
The camp of the APC candidate had hinted that the former Lagos Governor would form an all-inclusive government to carry all his opponents along in his government.
While featuring on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Thursday, Obi was asked what he would do if he was called upon to be a member of Tinubu’s Government of National Unity.
In his response, Obi said he was still challenging the process of the election and the declaration.
According to him, the process of the election should be put right first before anyone could talk of the Government of National Unity.
“The first thing I want to see is that the process is right. The process through which you achieve anything is far more fundamental than what you do thereafter. Let us go back first, I am challenging the process and the declaration.
“Until we get it right, then we can talk about a government of national unity. Otherwise, we would go and sit down and say that those who stopped a train and kidnapped people can call us to discuss peace when they have people in captivity. Until things are done rightly, we will be encouraging what we don’t need to encourage,” he said.
When he was asked whether or not he would accept the outcome if it is not in his favour, Obi said he would be shocked if the court upholds Tinubu’s election.
His words: “Issues about the election will be sorted out in court. I will be shocked if this country goes on with that situation. It will then stand that it is a corporate criminalised country. We can’t allow it. We need to start unbundling this criminality.
“When people were talking about structure, it is this fraud and criminality that we witnessed that they were talking about, and we want to unbundle it for the sake of our children.”
The former Anambra State governor said he believes the judiciary would do the right thing.
LP Chieftain Flays Return Of 1999 PDP as Ibori, Henchmen Seek Political Relevance In Delta APC
The All Progressives Congress (APC) in Delta State is gradually taking on the colouration of 1999 PDP with all of former Governor James Ibori’s ‘boys’ now leaving the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in droves and finding a new home in APC to swell its ranks ahead of the guber elections on Saturday, March 18, 2023, according to a chieftain of Labour Party (LP), Chief Delly Ajufo.
Ajufo described the development as “a gathering of vultures to consume the soul of Delta State,” noting that Ibori, who has suffered a pariah status under Governor Ifeanyi Okowa’s 8-year administration, now has a chance to reclaim his “godfather or grand commander” position over his godson, guber candidate of APC and Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege.
According to him, Ibori looks to resume his godfather position as Bola Ahmed Tinubu of Lagos State, a position that slipped out of his hands since his stint in the UK prison.
Ajufo said Deltans needed to be wary of Senator Omo-Agege’s governorship bid, and see it as a backdoor for Ibori to re-take control of the management of the state’s resources in a manner likely to be worse than the 1999 – 2007 era when he was governor. He warned that Deltans could not have forgotten how Ibori raped the fortunes of the state in his eight-year administration by corruptly enriching himself and his cronies (including Sen. Omo-Agege) that earned him a UK prison sentence. He described the APC as PDP-2 trying to upstage Okowa’s PDP-1 from power, saying Deltans should reward both of them with electoral defeat since both parties have run the country (APC – 8 years) and Delta State (PDP – 24 years) badly.
He argued that none of them deserves to occupy the seat of power in Asaba come May 29, 2023.
The Labour Party chieftain also said the gathering of Ibori’s political family under APC is dark and ominous for the state, and urged the electorate to reject both ‘PDAPC’ at the polls on Saturday, and vote for Labour Party (LP) as the only political breath of fresh air that Delta people need now.
“We must sever our links with the people from both parties that have collectively ruined the fortunes of this oil-rich state by running it aground since 1999,” he noted.
Ajulo added that Ibori trying to reclaim his faded godfather position, using APC as his new launch pad was tantamount to vultures gathering to feast on the carcass of a dying animal, a situation that Deltans should not wait to see but to halt it in its tracks outright.
“This is a gathering of vultures and it does not augur well for our beloved Delta State,” said Ajufo.
“Ibori wants to use the APC backdoor to reclaim his faded godfather status since all his allies are dumping PDP in droves and moving over to APC. The signs are not good for Deltans who have been pauperised for so many years in spite of the huge oil wealth that comes to the state monthly. I urge Deltans to see through the evil that’s about to befall them if they elect Ovie Omo-Agege. Of course, PDP is dead, going by February 25, 2023 election. There is no need to bother about it. Deltans will bury whatever remains of it in the guber elections.
“The nightmare we must all now resist is APC taking over. Sen. Ovie Omo-Agege was SSG and Commissioner under Ibori’s eight-year reign of wasted resources in Delta from 1999 – 2007. A vote for Omo-Agege is a vote for the return of Ibori into Delta’s mainstream, with his baggage of corruption and mismanagement of state resources. Delta is tired of another Tinubu returning to pillage the coffers of the state for his selfish interests. We cannot afford to ‘carry last’ on this matter.”
The chief urged Deltans to do for Labour Party what they did on February 25 when they massively voted for Labour Party and Peter Obi, saying they should do the same for the party’s governorship candidate, Deacon Ken Pela and all House of Assembly candidates. He called on all women to look the way of Labour Party’s candidate, Dcn Ken Pela for the governorship election, adding, “We also call on women to rally their own fellow woman, an educationist and erudite scholar, Prof. Nwabogo-Umukoro, to represent and champion women’s causes in government at the highest decision-making level.”
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