The state of Nigeria’s socio-political development was the subject of discussion at the maiden edition of the Dean’s Forum of the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Lagos which was held at the Faculty Boardroom II on Friday, August 11, 2023.
The hybrid event themed ‘’Understanding Nigeria’’ featured two prominent academics of international repute: Professor of History and African Studies, Toyin Falola and Professor of Political Science and International Relations, Babafemi Badejo as Panelists.
Other participants included a former member of the Faculty and Executive Director, Centre for Advanced Social Science (CASS), Port Harcourt, Professor Adele Jinadu; Provost, Federal College of Education (Technical) Akoka, Dr. Wahab Ademola Azeez; current Dean. School of Postgraduate Studies, Professor Abraham Osinubi; Head, Department of Political Science, Professor Derin Ologbenla; former Dean, Student Affairs Division, Professor Ademola Adeleke and former Dean School of Postgraduate Studies in the University, Professor Solomon Akinboye amongst many others.
Moderated by Professor Tunde Babawale of the Department of Political Science, the discourse is the first to be organized under the Professor Laja Odukoya leadership of the Faculty of Social Sciences. It afforded participants a platform to gain deep insights into the intricacies of Nigeria’s societal dynamics, culture, and challenges.
Delivering his welcome remarks, the newly elected Dean, Faculty of Social Science, Professor Laja Odukoya appreciated the participants for being part of the inaugural forum, and set the tone for the discourse. He stressed that the event is expected to serve as an active springboard of ideas to help analyse issues as it affects the Nigerian people.
While x-raying the theme, Prof. Odukoya described Nigeria as a complex and pluralistic society with the conglomerate of people laced with multiple languages, cultures, education, and divergent orientations. He decried Nigeria’s structural and institutional challenges as well as several irregularities which are now seen as normal in Nigeria.
In his presentation, Professor Toyin Falola of the University of Texas, Austin, United States of America attributed Nigeria’s vast challenges to selfish and greedy politicians. He posited that the country has suffered more from the uncalculated and emotional decisions of its leaders.
Professor Falola also identified ethnicity as one of the most serious issues that emerged in the closing decades of the colonial period, and which has played a very huge role in the political tragedy that befell Nigeria post-independence.
He analysed the terms: ethnicity, democracy, and development, to make sense of how to “understand” how Nigeria reached its peculiar state of global concern.
On his part, Professor Babafemi Badejo of Chrisland University, Abeokuta expressed sadness at the state of the nation especially with its wobbly security architecture amongst others.
He opined that Nigeria has long teetered on the precipice of failure, with its inability to keep its citizens safe and secured. According to him, “The failure of Nigeria matters because the peace and prosperity of Africa and prevention of the spread of disorderliness and militancy around the globe depend on a stronger Nigeria.”
He provided a historical context to understanding Nigeria from its colonial phase, which was marked by zealous nationalism and introduction of regionalism to the independent phase that triggered one of the most brutal civil wars in the mid-20th century, a post-civil war phase that grounded military dictatorship upon the country, and then a post-military civilian phase since 1999, which left some distressing imprint on the country.
Professor Badejo who recently delivered the first Inaugural Lecturer at Chrisland University emphasized the need for Nigeria to retrace its steps to reclaim its stature as the giant of Africa.