By Ola Ajayi, Ibadan

Prominent Nigerians including judges, politicians, academics assembled at the Trenchard Hall, University of Ibadan, at the launch of a book, “Of Rusts and Gold: Snippets of history”, authored by an ex-lawmaker in the House of Representatives, Mr. Femi Kehinde to lament cancellation of history subject from the school curriculum saying the decision has denied the Nigerian youths the opportunity of knowing heroic deeds of our past leaders.

Among the crème la de crème who graced the occasion were the former Speaker, House of Representatives, Ghali Umar Na’aba, Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III, Eleruwa of Eruwa, Oba Samuel Adegbola; Otun Olubadan of Ibadanland, Senator Lekan Balogun; former Nigerian Ambassador to Philippine, Ambassador Yemi Farounbi; a retired Archbishop of Methodist Church of Nigeria, Most Revd Ayo Ladigbolu; former Special Adviser to Governor Abiola Ajimobi, of Oyo state, Dr Festus Adedayo, former deputy governor of Ogun State, Mr. Segun Adesegun; Justice Ladiran Akintola and several others.

At the event, the former Speaker who held sway between 1999 and 2003 also used the forum to advise President Muhammadu Buhari that his anti-corruption crusade would attract more commendation if he could fight the causes of corruption in the country.

He said, in as much as he would throw his weight behind fighting corruption which he described as a cog in the wheel of socio-economic development in the country, the President should take cognizance of the fact that the root cause of corruption has to be dealt with while fighting those who relish in it.

He said, “I believe fighting corruption is necessary because corruption is what is dragging Nigeria back. Fighting corruption is not enough but things that bring about corruption must be fought including political corruption”.

He, however, kept mum when asked to explain what he meant by political corruption.

According to him, “It will be a curse for me if I leave this venue without addressing the issue of internal democracy within our political parties. I have been speaking on this everywhere I have the opportunity to do so because this is an issue that affects not only politicians but all Nigerians.

“The time has come when we must recognise the importance of participating in the politics of the country. This is because if we must all accept democracy as a way of life, we must be familiar with what is going on.

While implying that the ship of democracy in the country is heading for the rock unless internal democracy is given due consideration, he said, “the essence of democracy is to have good leaders and good governance for the economic, social and political development of our country. Today, the obliteration of internal democracy within our political parties has caused so much damage to our polity.

“Let me assure you that unless all of us confront this serious infraction on our democracy, our nation will continue to suffer. It does not matter if we as individuals are rich or not, but as long as members of our communities and societies are not allowed to become what they want to be through their God given endowments, this country is doomed.”

He enjoined Nigerians not to show lackadaisical attitude towards politics saying if good and honest Nigerians run away from politics, then they should be prepared to be governed by fools.

The reviewer of the 249-page book, Dr. Festus Adedayo, exemplified the importance of history as a subject.

Adedayo said, “if you didn’t know the gravity of the offence committed by those who decreed history out of the Nigerian educational curriculum, when you read Femi Kehinde’s “Of Rusts and Gold:

Snippets of history”, you will agree that they deserve to be arraigned by the public square and forced to drink a more poisonous variant of the Socratic hemlock”.

“If the Greek and indeed Western tradition, till today, still venerates Herodotus, a 5th century Greek historian, as the father of history and his contemporary, Thucydides, as precursor of modern study of human history, those who, in their venom for and hatred for history, spiked it out of existence in our schools, you would find out in this book, deserve ample pages in national book of dishonour”, he said,

According to him, historians are concerned with the quest for an interpretation of the past as vehicle for an explanation of the future describing historians as a “smog-covered old man in the smithy who is labouring relentlessly to forge a true discourse of the past, as he deploys narratives and analyses of past events and occurrences to define the future”.

Alaafin who was the chief launcher on the occasion, dazzled as he itemised historical events saying he was amazed how the writer through his book told him the history of his father, the former Alaafin. “We must recognise history if we want to be remembered in the future”, he said.

He added that “if we ask our youths today who Chief Obafemi Awolowo was, many of them may not be able to say anything about him just because we have relegated history to the background.


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