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President Buhari, Kankara Boys and the Imperatives of History

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President Buhari, Kankara Boys and the Imperatives of History

On the 17 of December 2020, President Buhari addressed 344 schoolboys of Government Boys Science Secondary School, Kankara, who were freed by their abductors after six days in captivity. The President, in his words of encouragement, admonished the traumatized children about the futility of historical studies compared to their chosen field of science. According to him, science is the bedrock of civilizational progress, stressing that those those who study history and English language have no prospects in the job market. Such derisive commentary, on the professional value of history, is tragic and scary to say the least. At a time when the teaching of history is being restored in our primary and secondary schools, following decades of moratorium, such dispiriting commentary by number one citizen of the country, could have disastrous consequences on the minds of aspiring historians.

The President’s vote of no confidence in history has ignited a panic regarding the job prospects of historians. However, I am writing this piece neither in defense of history nor to edify the president on the values of history. Historians do not require any presidential validation to be taken seriously in a sane country. My interest in commenting on Buhari’s verdict on historical studies is borne out of the social responsibility of historians to assuage the fears of concerned history students who are constantly haunted by the specter of ahistoricism. Whether we like it or not, we cannot escape from history because our lives are governed by what happened in the past. History, in the words of Peter Furtado, “is in the air we breathe, in the cities we inhabit and in the landscape we roam”.

History as an “Endangered Species”

Ever since the birth of history as an intellectual pursuit in classical Greco-Roman tradition, the discipline has encountered and endured manifold epistemological and social challenges. It has survived the naturalism of the scientific revolution, the cultural arrogance of Enlightenment period, the nihilism of postmodernism and the bellicosities of neo-liberal ahistoricism. President Buhari’s historical pessimism is thus a familiar rhetoric, which represents a crude version of the neo-liberal assault on history. In neo-liberal thinking, the value of knowledge is measured in terms of tangible deliverables. This is the governing philosophy of capitalist consumerism. With the ascendancy of science and technology as the only reliable ventures that could guarantee material prosperity, history and other associated disciplines are treated as “endangered species”. We are seeing a growing trend towards “deregulation of cultural production” in which humanities disciplines, hitherto seen as the cornerstone of national values and citizenship education, are neglected in favor of applied sciences. In postcolonial Nigeria, history, which should serve as the moral compass of the nation, has become a national liability. Those who choose this career path are doomed as less fortunate among their peers in the pure and even social sciences. This is the neo-liberal thinking that undergirds President Buhari’s needless admonition to Kankara Boys. As students of science, there was no need for the president to give them any career lesson on the “uselessness” of historical studies.

One of the tragic cultural assaults committed against Nigeria is denying Nigerians the opportunity to learn and appreciate the rich cultures and histories of the different ethnic groups that constitute the nation. Nigeria is gasping for air in the wake of endemic crisis of nationhood and poverty of historical consciousness, but President Buhari thinks that historians are liabilities to the nation. Nigeria needs more historians today more than ever before! What the country requires is a heavy investment in cultural engineering in order to create a shared narrative of unity that values and celebrates diversity as a national treasure.
The relegation of history in Nigeria goes back to the late 1980s. The Structural Adjustment Program set in motion a trajectory of fiscal crises, which led to drastic cuts in public expenditure on education. The Federal Government gradually lost its initial proclivity for cultural engineering. The glaring evidence of this was the removal of history from school curricula. A new national policy on education which came into effect in 1977, and revised three times thereafter (1981, 1998 and 2004) successively excised history from the syllabi of junior secondary schools and introduced Social Studies in its stead. The suspension of historical instruction in Nigerian schools has had profound repercussions on the teaching of history at the university level by cutting supply of candidates to the universities. It also created incentives for the use and abuse of history for ethnic, religious, regional and sectional propaganda. It was under such anti-historical didactic climate that we studied history – as endangered specie.
What President Buhari told the Kankara schoolboys is capable of not only worsening the public misconception about the utility of history, but also emasculating the current drive towards the restoration of history at the basic education level and its disarticulation from social studies curriculum. Historians, under the auspices of the Historical Society of Nigeria, have come along way in convincing the government to reinstate history teaching in Nigerian schools.

History as a Career

Despite the official disdain for history, there are boundless career opportunities for historians in both public and private sectors. Graduates of history have gone to make great careers for themselves in different sectors of national development. There are historians at various levels of education, banks, media, civil service, the police, the military, museums, archives and heritage, and the publishing industry. Historians also provide consultancies for businesses and public agencies. Employers in public and private sectors value the skills and competencies that students of history acquire in the course of their study: research and writing skills; the ability to assemble and evaluate multiple/contradictory evidence; critical thinking capacity; independent perspective; the aptitude to assess diverse interpretations; a good appreciation of different factors that influence the activities of groups and individuals in society; and a broad perspective that gives them the range and flexibility required in many work situations. Armed with these skills, there are countless historians who have done very well in the banking industry, education, media and other critical sectors of the economy. The first indigenous vice chancellor of the University of Ibadan, Professor Kenneth Dike, was a globally acclaimed historian and an accomplished administrator. Adamu Ciroma, a graduate of history from the University of Ibadan, has had a successful career in the media and banking industry. He was Managing Director of New Nigerian and Daily Times before he became Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria. Ciroma was particularly proud of his history background to which he attributed his success as CBN Governor. He was also three-times minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. In the same vein, the present INEC Chairman, Professor Yakubu Mahmood, who validated Buhari’s electoral victory in 2019, is a first-class graduate of history from Usmanu Danfodio University, Sokoto. He was also a onetime Executive Secretary of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND). Other examples of historians who made great careers outside the historical profession abound.

Personally, I am profoundly indebted to the historical profession for availing me with opportunities I never envisaged in my life. Apart from qualifying me for a job as a university academic, historical practice has, with all sense of modesty, afforded me other prestigious professional opportunities: international fellowships and research grants; participation in various international networks of scholars across humanities, social and even natural sciences; and the opportunities of presenting my work to international audiences at some of the best universities around the world.

History as Statecraft

The value of history goes beyond individual career development. How nations are governed and administered is not only a function of politics and economics. Nations are creations of a “system of cultural signification” through which they are reified into what Benedict Anderson calls “imagined communities” or what Homi Bhabha refers to as “nations as narration”. The process of how nations are imagined, narrated, taught, archived and exhibited is largely a function of what I call the “History Machine”, through which the state sponsors and supervises the production of official history in schools, archives, museums and heritage sites. Historical knowledge serves as the necessary foundation for patriotic citizenship and nationalism.
History provided the necessary ideological justification for the independence of Nigeria from colonial overrule. The role of nationalist historians such as Kenneth Dike in the struggle for decolonization in Africa is well documented. In addition to their intellectual contribution towards decolonization, historians were responsible for the founding of major national cultural institutions in Nigeria such as the National Archives and the National Commission for Museums and Monuments.

Between 1960 and the 1980s, the Nigerian state was privileged as a historical subject. Historical practice was organized mainly as a state enterprise, performing the function of manpower production for the state. In 1952 a visitation panel to the University College Ibadan underscored the significance of history as a source of personnel for the public service, when it recommended the introduction of honors degree in history. The panel also stressed the importance of the History Department not only in humanities scholarship but also in assisting the work of the faculties of science and medicine.

Therefore, history is essential for effective statecraft as it offers insights and analogies that are useful to making informed policy decisions. This is why the United States created the Office of the Historian as a unit of the Department of State to make informed policy recommendations, prepare and produce official history of US foreign policy. President Buhari should be properly advised on the indispensability of historians and the imperative of historical knowledge in state policy and governance.

The Economy of History

Nations that do not appreciate the importance of history not only risk the danger of missing out on its social engineering utility, but also the enormous economic advantages associated with historical conservation. History matters for economic growth as well as it matters for statecraft! There is a huge economy around it. Historical artifacts and landmarks have enormous potential for revenue-generation and job creation. The symbolic significance of history, as a tangible cultural capital, feeds into the real sectors of the economy in terms of tourism, business and trade. In tourism theory, historical curiosity is considered as a critical factor, which influences tourists’ initial decision to travel to different destinations.

In many countries around the world, history is a big business! In the United Kingdom for example, businesses around heritage buildings contribute over £47 billion to the British economy and generates over 1.4 million jobs. In Scotland alone, the heritage sector is worth £11.6 billion to the economy, and the cultural splendor of Scottish antiquities attracts most of the tourists who visit the country. It is the mainstay of the country’s tourism economy, with 53% of the tourists visiting to experience the history of a particular town or city at least once a year, and 42% of them visiting museums and heritage sites. Historical conservation is a thriving business even in developing countries, including Egypt, Kenya, Senegal and Ghana. Even war-torn nations, like Iraq and Syria are committed to safeguarding their historical sites and monuments for cultural as well as economic reasons.

While the economy of history is flourishing and generating billions of of dollars in other parts of the world, the Nigerian heritage sector is in utter state of defacement. We are sitting on the ruins of classic monuments and heritage sites that are fast disappearing from our cultural landscape. Nigeria boasts of over 65 national monuments such as the Sukur Landscape in Adamawa, Kano Ancient City Walls and Gates, and the tomb of Shehu Usman dan Fodio in Sokoto. Most of these monuments are dilapidated due to general lack of government and private sector support and poor conservation practices. At present, the dismal condition of historical conservation in Nigeria costs the country heavily in real fiscal terms. According to Nigeria Tourism Development Master Plan, spending by international tourists has a direct impact on the Nigerian economy estimated at US$280 million.

On the final note, I want to reassure history students that historical career aspiration is not pointless. In any case, the success of an individual is not essentially predicated on one’s academic background. The sky is your limit as long as you get the hang of historical research, critical thinking, interpretation and communication, which are necessary requirements in multiple work situations.

As for the humanities as a whole, I would posit that the survival of humanity depends on the humanities as evident in the growing existential crisis associated with industrial capitalism and the threats of post-humanism. The erosion of human values in the wake of rapid technological advancement in today’s world is visible everywhere. Human happiness and compassion are fast dissipating. The future of humanity would remain bleak as long as we promote the notion that humanities do not matter.

A masterpiece by an intellectual giant, Samaila Suleiman Yandaki, PhD.

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Opinion

HACFO on how Aisha was forcefully abducted, converted, and married off with consent of emir

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HACFO on how Aisha was forcefully abducted, converted, and married off with consent of emir

Rafin Iyaka Sabuwar Kasa, Kafur LGA of Katsina State is a mixed community of both Christian and Muslim Hausas, but the Christians continued to live in pains and bondage perpetrated by the Muslim side that constantly enjoys the protection of the District Head of Kafur and the Emir of Katsina.

These two Islamic traditional rulers do everything possible to stop the constitutionally recognized law enforcement agencies like the Police from rightly carrying out their statutory duties. That is why any crime committed against the Christians will always be swept under the carpet.

Due to the previous experiences of the Christian community of Gidan Dandada Rafin Iyaka on the abduction and forceful conversion of their young girls which Aisha happens to be the 9th person, the Family of Aisha didn’t hesitate to report some strange moves of one Mohammed Samaila around their 15 year old daughter to their village head.

As usual, the said Mohammed Samaila and his father kept denying having anything to do with Aisha. These strange moves continue for about two years and the village head was not willing to take any action against the said Mohammed Samaila. When the family of Aisha could no longer tolerate what they were seeing, they decided to relocate Aisha from the village Gidan Dandada Rafin Iyaka, to Funtua for Aisha to be staying with her elder sister.

On 10th February, 2021, Aisha went missing from the house where she stays. When the elder sister and her husband searched everywhere possible and could not locate Aisha, they quickly reported it to the Funtua Police Station to help them find Aisha.

Two days later, on 12th February 2021, Aisha’s Parents received a call from the District Head of Kafur telling them to stop searching for Aisha because she is safe with him in his house. He claimed that one Idris Shehu brought her to his house. On hearing that, Aisha’s family went to see the District Head of Kafur at his palace in order to bring their daughter back home, but to their dismay, it was not possible. He refused releasing her on the ground that she wanted to convert to Islam. Aisha’s parents insisted but the District Head refused them access to their Daughter.

Ten days later, the District Head called Aisha’s parents to tell them that one Mohammed Sama’ila wants to marry Aisha their daughter. When Aisha’s parents went to the District Head’s palace, they rejected the issue of the marriage. They insisted their daughter be returned to them and continue with her school and if anyone wants to marry her, he should follow the due process. The District Head ignored Aisha’s parents and went ahead to arrange marriage between Aisha and Mohammed Samaila without the consent and approval of Aisha’s Family.

When Aisha’s Family did everything possible and peaceful for Aisha to be returned to them and they were ignored and humiliated, they decided to engage the services of a law firm; A. U. Ajodo & CO. Legacy Chambers to help them bring Aisha back.

The Law Firm immediately wrote a petition against the District Head ( Alh. Abdulrahman Rabe and Mohammed Sama’ila to the Katsina State Commissioner of Police through the Malumfashi Area Command demanding the immediate arrest, investigation and prosecution of these two suspects and the immediate release of Aisha back to her Family.

Unfortunately, the Police did not arrest these two culprits or do anything to ensure the return of Aisha. They only summoned the District Head of Kafur without the said Mohammed Samaila. The Area Commander told the District Head not to go ahead with the marriage plans between Aisha and Mohammed Samaila, but the district head ignored the police directive.

They later agreed for the girl to be brought to the police station and be returned to her family but the District Head refused to comply. Instead, he decided to take the girl to the Emir of Katsina at Katsina on that same day he was to bring the girl to the police station. On reaching there, the Emir of Katsina joined Aisha and Mohammed in marriage without the consent of her parents.

As it is now, the Katsina state police command are not willing to carry out their statutory duties as enshrined in the Nigerian constitution and ensure justice is done.

It is very important to note that this is not the first time such a thing is happening. The said District Head of Kafur is known for such … acts right …. .

The village of Gidan Dandada Rafin Iyaka, Sabuwar Kasa, Kafur LGA, Katsina State has suffered such unjust treatments from the District Head of Kafur who is also backed by the Emir of Katsina. Till date a total of nine Hausa Christian Girls have been abducted, forcefully converted to Islam and forced into early marriage.

The following are the names of the girls that were abducted, forcefully converted to Islam and forced into marriage from this village by the same District Head:
1) Jamima Solomon
2) Christiana Mamman
3) Deborah Habila
4) Phoebe Dankano
5) Rifkatu Markus (Rescued)
6) Saratu Isah (Returned her when she went mad after two years)
7) Dije Yakubu Nalami (Abducted as a married woman, and returned when she died)
8) Rebeccah Ado (Returned Pregnant)
9) Aisha Mani (Currently in captivity)

It is on record that any time this Christian Community agitates against the injustice done to them, the Muslim youths will violently go after them and threaten to burn down the Church and houses of the Christians.

The Hausa Christians Foundation (HACFO) is working tirelessly to ensure the safe and unconditional return of Aisha Mani and to ensure that justice is duly served.

We covet your prayers and support to ensure that Aisha is reunited with her family. Kindly pray for the Northern Christians especially the families whose daughters have been abducted, forced into Islam and marriage. Northern Nigeria is becoming hell for Christians to live in.

▪︎The Hausa Christian Foundation (HACFO) can be reached via missions@hacfo.org and admin@hacfo.org

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Yinka Odumakin: The Exit Of A Convinced Humanist

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Yinka Odumakin: The Exit Of A Convinced Humanist

By Rauf Aregbesola

The circumstance of his demise were quite unusual. Though a picture he took with Papa Ayo Adebanjo, indicating he was not in the best shape of health had appeared on the internet not quite long ago; still, it caught us by surprise. The human mind has the incredible capacity to suppress morbid suggestions on loved ones, bordering on denial. But now, as the dust is settling and the tears are drying, we are beginning to reconcile to the fact that Yinka Odumakin is gone.

February 20, earlier this year, was the last time I had a telephone conversation with him. He was his natural self. He could be vivacious when excited and could also be dead sober, if the matter requires it. I never had any premonition it would be our last conversation.

Odumakin straddled the political spectrum, breaking into public consciousness as a students union activist at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, then practiced journalism at The Punch newspaper; was also part the struggles for military disengagement and deannulment of June 12, 1993 Presidential election won by Chief Moshood Abiola. In the post military era, Yinka retained his public presence with his participation in the politics of AD, AC, ACN, CPC and reportedly flirted with former President Goodluck Jonathan. He later consolidated his activism in Yoruba nationalism, being a highly visible spokesperson of Afenifere. He was a tenacious advocate of his convictions; never gave up on whatever he believed in, regardless of the opposition.

How did we meet? Yinka Odumakin and Bunmi Omoshehindemi walked into my office as the CGS of Bola Ahmed Tinubu Campaign Organisation office at Sunday Adigun St., Alausa Ikeja. It was in November of 1998.

Both came to declare support for the candidacy of Bola Tinubu unequivocally. This was in defiant opposition to those then opposed to any form of accommodation for democratic building process without a clear resolution of the June 12 imbroglio. This was a courageous step, then considering that their position would have been considered anathema by the movement. We had since then built a robust relationship, sometimes very smooth and at times frosty, but all the time remarkable till his translation on Friday, April 2, 2021.

I said we had a remarkable relationship because Yinka was consistent in standing up to fight for democracy, federalism, justice and rule of law. These to me are the factors for defining the dignity of man. Whoever has this commitment is an ally and a humanist.

Yinka has had to publicly criticise me a couple of times, especially when I was governor in Osun, our relationship notwithstanding. I took it in good faith, as it never affected our relationship. His criticisms were consistent with his convictions on what constitute public interest.

I am therefore proud to have known, interacted and worked with a humanist that doggedly fought for the dignity of people.

Yinka Odumakin, you will wake up to joyful activities on the other side. May the good Lord support your wife, family and friends. Ameen.

Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola is Minister of Interior, Federal Republic of Nigeria

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Opinion

Nigeria: These Terrible Times and Lessons of Easter

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Nigeria: These Terrible Times and Lessons of Easter

Easter Message of YOWICAN President

This Easter, I want us all to think about the unconditional love that Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, had for us to the extent that He gave His life for our salvation.

His resurrection by God. What a lesson for young people of Nigeria and of what sacrifice can this achieve and the benefits it can bring to mankind generally and individually!

This Easter, I call on all, whether Christian or Muslim, to emulate Christ and sacrifice something for your nation, for your families and for yourselves. The young people are the change agents, let us not ask ourselves who will change our nation for the better. You and I are the ones that will cause the desired change our nation needs. Change begins with you and I. Young people of Nigeria, look in the mirror and ask how we can change our nation for better.

As agents of change, the youth should be wise enough to know what is good and bad before the law and in the sight of God. Avoid being used by politicians for thuggery; reject being enlisted into the Army of bandits, kidnappers and Boko Haram. But accept to be enlisted into God’s Army. From all what are going on in different parts of the country, it is obvious that Nigerians have declared war against themselves.

How did the weapons find themselves into private hands? Although the government has tried, the best option is to embark on a mission to mop up all the arms and weapon in circulation. While we oppose amnesty and rehabilitation of bandits and Boko Haram insurgents, we will be wrong thinking that they will turn a new leaf. That will be encouraging blackmail and putting the lives of the defenceless citizens before firing squad.

Let us emulate Christ and have a change of heart. Turn from evil ways to good. Let this Easter be the beginning of a positive change in our nation, Africa and the world at large. I join other well-meaning Christian faithful all over the world to thank God for giving us all the grace to witness this year’s Easter celebration.

As we commemorate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, I enjoin us all to imbibe the spirit of love, sacrifice, forgiveness, perseverance and tolerance that the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ taught us.

ISHIELU KILLINGS And EFFIUM/EZZA EFFIUM CRISIS

•YOWICAN condemns and frowns seriously at the intra-communal war between Ezza-Effium and Effium clans in Ohaukwu Local Government of Ebonyi State and the killing of over 16 persons aged between 18 and 56 in Obeagu community in Ishielu LGA by suspected Fulani herdsmen. We demand justice for the victims in both crises. It is surprising that brothers in Ezza-Effium and Effium clans have declared war on themselves the end of which nobody can predict.

•We also condemn the assassination attempt on Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom and a former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Prof. Charles Chukwuma Soludo in which three police orderlies were killed ahead of the governorship election in Anambra State scheduled for November 6. These are not acceptable to Nigerians. All these threats to life must stop, we must live together as one Nigeria.

I extend my sincere and heartfelt condolences to the Governor of Ebonyi State, Engr. Dave Umahi and the various families that lost their loved ones. during this heartless killing. Same for Soludo and for Governor Ortom, we are with you in prayers.

Happy Easter to you all

Sign:

Belusochukwu Enwere
Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria Youth Wing (YOWICAN)
April 4 2021

ENDS***

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