Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says the future of a Nigeria that works for all, regardless of religion or ethnicity, depends on full and accurate knowledge of its histories.
Osinbajo’s spokesman Laolu Akande, in a statement in Abuja, said the vice president virtually joined the inauguration of the Nigeria History Fund by the James Adekunle Ojelabi Foundation on Monday.
The fund is dedicated to, among other things, supporting history students with a scholarship scheme.
Osinbajo said that the reintroduction of history into the curriculum of primary and secondary schools across the country in 2019 by the Federal Government received a commendation from many.
He said that the decision was not just borne out of the need to restore the subject in schools but in recognition of its contribution to the socio-political, economic, and cultural development of Nigeria.
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“When the Federal Government decided to reintroduce history into the curriculum across primary and secondary schools last year, it was a decision borne out of the recognition that first our children must know where they are coming from and have an understanding of the life that preceded them.
“History is far too essential for us to deprioritise; it encourages us as individuals not to restrict ourselves to thinking in the short-term, but to remember that we too are living histories.
“We cannot surefootedly chart a course forward without understanding where we are coming from. Vision is important but so too is memory.
“Nation-building requires us to develop both faculties of imagination and remembrance. Indeed, this stewardship of national memory is a cardinal civic obligation.
“The future of a Nigeria that works for all of us, regardless of religion or ethnicity, depends on full and accurate knowledge of our histories.”
Osinbajo said the nation’s diversity as a unique strength for promoting national development would not be realised without a thorough understanding of its different cultural practices and social norms that are embedded in history.
He said that Nigerians were blessed to belong to a nation that possessed such a rich history of art, technology, trade, metallurgy, political administration among many fields of human endeavour,
The vice president regretted that the bountiful inheritance was often underexplored and underappreciated.
“History is a vast reservoir of cultural, spiritual, and social capital waiting to be mined by a generation that will not neglect the ancient landmarks of our odyssey as a people.
“Whilst our ethnic diversity is a great strength, one of the biggest challenges to nation-building is this same ethnoreligious diversity which can also engender detrimental social conflict.’’
He said that the Nigeria History Fund was a befitting tribute to the late historian, James Adekunle Ojelabi.
Osinbajo said that, as black people, as Africans, Nigerians must reclaim their histories and nurture academic environments that made that possible.
“As someone for whom so much of his life was dedicated to ensuring that the stories of our past were given the attention they rightfully deserve, supporting history students with a scholarship scheme is a thoughtful tribute to his legacy.
“ I am also delighted to hear that the fund will keep conversations alive about the importance of history for modern-day Nigeria,” he said.
In his remarks, Pastor Ituah Ighodalo of the Trinity House, Lagos, who was a guest speaker at the occasion, underscored the importance of history in the development and affirmation of people and their communities.
The event, which coincided with the first anniversary of the James Adekunle Ojelabi Foundation, featured the presentation of awards to deserving individuals, including eminent historians like Prof. Bolanle Awe, Prof. Banji Akintoye among others.