From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
Amalgamation of Northern and Southern protectorates by the British colonialist in 1914 has been identified as the primary reason for the elusive peace and unity in Nigeria in the past 103 years.
This was the summary of submissions made by eminent historians present at a book reading organised by Ibadan School of Governance and Public Policy (ISGPP) held at Bodija, Ibadan, Oyo State capital. The scholars included the first female professor of History in Nigeria, Prof Bolanle Awe, Prof Olutayo Adesina; Prof Sharon Omotosho of the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan as well as Executive Vice Chairman, Ibadan School of Governance and Public Policy (ISGPP), Dr. Tunji Olaopa, among others.
The aim of the programme, according to Olaopa, was to promote reading culture among Nigerians. The highlight of the event was the review of a book entitled: ‘Nigeria: a New History of a Turbulent Country,’ written by Richard Bourne, who is a senior research fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London.
Prof Awe, who chaired the occasion, lamented the neglect of history in the school curriculum. “All these discussions about restructuring have root in what has happened in Nigeria in the past 100 years. What has happened in the past would help us appreciate where we are and where we should be. For a very long time, History was not taught in our schools. But suddenly we woke up to the reality of restoration of teaching of history to our schools,” she said.
Similarly, Prof Adesina, corroborating Awe’s view, while reviewing the book, said: “Since its founding in 1914, Nigeria has not ceased to confound a plethora of observers, commentators, political pundits and students of history and politics. Nigeria became ‘One’ country in 1914. But what did this mean for the disparate ethnic groups populating the country? The ‘Nigerian’ identity welding the groups together has remained blurred and inchoate. Each group within the country has kept almost intact, its deep fears and insidious biases.”
Bourne, the author of the book, expressed optimism that the “book will assist young Nigerians in particular to take a greater interest in the triumphs and tragedies of their nation’s past.”