For Nigeria to live above the diversities that impede its growth, it must reinvent itself, Professor Siyan Oyeweso has said.
Oyeweso, a professor of History, Osun State University, said this yesterday during the 20th Nigerian Academy of Letters (NAL) Convocation, Induction, Scientific Session and Investiture of New Fellows at the J. F. Ade-Ajayi Auditorium, University of Lagos (UNILAG).
Delivering the paper entitled ‘Plural Loyalties and Multiple Identities in post-Independence Nigeria’, the NAL fellow averred that reinventing Nigeria should not be by leaders alone. “The people must pledge their loyalty to the nation and constitution.”
Recalling that it was the Olusegun Obasanjo administration that introduced the National Pledge, he said “the oath of loyalty was absent from 1960 to 1978 in Nigeria.”
He condemned the spate of killings in the country, which discourage a plural society.
“The primary purpose of government is to protect lives and property of its people. When security is weak, there is need to redefine the security architecture, so that we don’t become a Banana Republic,” he noted.
The director, Centre for Black Culture and International Understanding, Osogbo, bemoaned the role of religious bodies in the coercion of loyalty from the people. He took a swipe on Christianity and Islam for failure to accommodate other religions.
Oyeweso also fingered education as an instrument used to divide the country, noting that the currently education structure, especially the Unity Schools, “disintegrate our collective identity.”
Instead of internationalisation, Nigerian universities have become ‘villagised’, such that non-indigenes no longer become vice chancellors (VCs) in state universities, the historian said.
He commended the 1975 to 1979 Murtala Mohammed/Obasanjo era when no VC came from a university’s host community.
Canvassing a negotiated restructuring of the country, the don said: “Negotiation does not mean break-up. Let us have the best of dialogues, because nation building is a daily affair.”
The ceremony saw Prof. Raufu Adebisi, Prof. Olutayo Adesina, Prof. Isaac Ayegboyin and Prof. Emeritus Godwin Sogolo inducted as regular fellows of the academy, while Prof. Bakare Rasaki, Prof. Remi Raji-Oyelade, Prof. Emmanuel Dandaura and others were inducted as new members.