WHAT becomes of Nigeria in the years ahead is uncertain as bad leadership, and ethnic tension generated by unequal representation at all levels are drawing the nation back.
These were the words of eminent Historian and Professor of Humanities at the University of Texas at Austin, United States of America, Toyin Falola.
Speaking at the Second Distinguished Lecture Series of the Department of History and International Studies of the Lagos State University, Ojo, on Wednesday, Prof Falola said any nation that neglects historical facts was doing so at its own peril.
Speaking on the topic ‘History and the Nation’ he said unequal representation cannot guarantee good quality of life, and without this, there would be tension and insecurity. He said the duty of any leadership is to engender development, especially among the youths.
He said, “Bad leadership and unequal representation of each ethnic group in the country’s political and social matters have led some ethnic groups to believe that there is no place for them in the country. These are logical reasons for seeing another ethnic leadership deprive the other of opportunities and development.”
According to him, “One other important national process in national development is the duty of every nation and government to ensure that the country progresses and that national development is ensured in order to guarantee good quality of life and standard of living.
“Any country that cannot do this has undoubtedly failed its purpose. The current state of Nigeria has made us doubt the development of the country, and the future is unpredictable.
“However, knowledge of historical facts and events empowers individuals with the skills to make good decisions and build purposeful leadership.”
Prof Falola averred that history was the only ingredient that could keep a nation in check because it is a catalyst to realizing national ambition, adding “History holds the nation’s memory so that when time and generations make the citizens forget their origin and how far their nation has strived so hard, history brings back the toils of past generations. With the advent of globalisation and western civilisation that has caused aggressive cultural diffusion, history has remained the only factor that keeps the nation in check and the hope of allowing the people to find their identity once more.”
The Chairman of the lecture, Oba Adeyemi Abdulkadir Obalanlege, the Olota of Ota Kingdom, in his remarks said history reflects the most fundamentals of mankind and humanity. The royal father who is a professor of communication observed, “No nation exists without history, so history should not serve as a clog to national development.”
On his part, the Dean, Faculty of Arts, Prof. Tayo Salisu, said, the lecture’s title “is just asking the question of where were we yesterday? Where are we today and where are we going to? It is a question of time and what lessons can we derive from our past, it is only via documentation because history is always about past events and if past events are not documented, you cannot talk of today.” He enjoined students to make efforts to be the best in their chosen field.
The Head of Department of History and International Studies, Dr Adewunmi Falode, who referred to Falola as the “Herodotus of African History”, said he had published several monumental works on Nigeria and African History. These include Literature, Diaspora studies, gender, and African Studies.
The lecture was attended by members of the public, lecturers as well as students.