Posted by Mayowa Okekale, Ibadan | 15 March 2014 | 4,220 times
Another day of reference was recently marked at the Large Lecture Theatre (LLT) of the Faculty of Social Sciences, as it was filled to capacity during the third Annual Inter-university Debate, organised by the National Association of Political Science Students (NAPSS), in honour of the Director of the Distance Learning Centre, University of Ibadan,
Professor Bayo Okunade. The five-member institutions were: University of Ibadan, Ibadan (U.I); University of Ilorin, Ilorin (Unilorin); Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife (OAU); Babcock University (BU), Ilisan, and Olabisi Onabanjo University, (OOU), with the theme, ‘1914: A mistake or manifest destiny?’
The UI NAPSS president, Oluwatosin Babalola, in her welcome address, admitted that the aim of the debate was to bring together intellectual minds in a battle of wits and words on burning political and social issues, adding that this year was significant because of the celebration of Nigeria’s 100 years of amalgamation.
Representative of the University of Ibadan, Titi Oyeola, a student of Political Science Department, indicated that Nigeria’s amalgamation was a grave mistake which has created a series of disasters which claimed many lives even on a daily basis in the country. She said: “We are in trouble, but the mistake of the amalgamation could be corrected by the time we realise it is our problem as a nation.”
However, representatives from Unilorin also argued that the amalgamation was a mistake, emphasising that it was made for the selfish interest of our leaders, advising it is about time we moved beyond the mistake and live together as one. In their words, “We can still live together despite the mistake. At least, the country has produced enough giants from various ethnic groups in the country. We can all move to salvage this country together.”
The other four institutions, however, argued that the 1914 amalgamation of the Northern and Southern protectorates was a manifest destiny, maintaining that it was not a mistake but what we built on it made it a mistake, and the personal interest of our political leaders has caused our underdevelopment. “Over-centralisation of power is heating the polity and we should blame the leadership.”
Chairman of the occasion, Engr Femi Babalola, admitted it was a privilege to have been invited for such an occasion, saying: “Some of us are passionate about this school that has made impact in the lives of many. So we have to indicate our interest so much in participating. More so, the topic at hand is so much germane to our national development, especially when several terrible things are going on in the country.”
Speaking at the event, the honouree, Prof Bayo Okunade, expressed gratitude to the organisers of the event, for honouring him in a spectacular way. He noted: “I subscribe to a school of thought that holds the view that Nigeria was great in the time of the nationalists, but now, the negativities of the country are dramatically coming out in greater dimension due to our failures.”
He added that what we have failed to do in this country is the act of respecting the primordial law and civic culture, explaining that America started as 13 states and it is blossoming. This is happening because they have come together to subdue their differences.
He proved that the amalgamation should not deter us from moving to the next level. In his view, “even if amalgamation has been the problem with us, we should have strived to manage it. Ordinarily speaking, there is nothing bad with amalgamation, but the fact is just that Nigerians are unable to consummate its expectation and, as a result, we have failed ourselves in trying to work together as Nigerians, due to lack of focus of the Nigerian leadership.”
At the end of the debate, University of Ibadan came first; Obafemi Awolowo University came second, leaving the rest positions for the other institutions.
•Photo shows Prof. Okunade
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