Moremi: Historical society of Nigerian, academy of letters to intervene
In an effort to put an end to the tearing apart some Obas in Yoruba land, a high level panel of historians and academia is to convene a meeting to examine and shed more light on the past and present life of the Ugbo and Ile-Ife people. Professor Jide Osuntokun, Nigeria’s former ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany, would chair the meeting.
Professor Toyin Falola of the University of Texas in the United States, who himself, is a historian and Fellow of the Historical Society of Nigeria, prompted the Nigerian Society of Historians to examine the issues at stake without any further ado saying: “Nigerian historians must wake up and address some of these issues in a very sound academic manner without any bias.”
The dialogue, which is billed to hold at the University of Lagos, in the second week of January 2017, is being put together by three institutions namely; the Department of History, University of Lagos, the Department of History, University of Ibadan, the Historical Society of Nigeria and the Department of History of Adeyemi College of Education in Ondo State.
Six eminent Professors of History are being invited to deliver papers, while Afenifere, the socio-cultural organisation of the Yoruba people, the Oodua Peoples’ Congress (OPC) and other stakeholders, are also invited as observers to the event, so that they could throw more light and better educate the people about the facts of the matters at stake.
The Head of Department of History and Strategic Studies at the University of Lagos, according to investigations is already busy writing letters of invitation to all concerned. Professor Asiwaju and Falola are some of the high profile guests expected to grace the event.
Professor Olukoya Ogen, who is the Provost of the Adeyemi College of Education in Ondo State, is one of the co-coordinators of the event. He told The Palace Watch that, “the essence of the dialogue as historians and academicians and as members of the Historical Society of Nigerian and Academy of Letters, is just to let the people know about the past of the Ugbo and the Ife. The history of Ugbo and Ile-Ife is what we are concerned about; we are not concerned with who is the superior among the two kings, what we are about to do is purely an academic exercise and the Historical Society of Nigeria will never take side on the tussle for supremacy between the two kings.
According to him, the dialogue would thoroughly examine all the available evidence. What the people know about the past history of the Ugbo people, where are they, who are they and where are they coming from. Where are they located now? What is the culture and customs of the Ugbo people; what relationship do they have with other groups in pre-colonial Nigeria are also going to be examined. At that same event, the history and past of the Benin and Ife people will be examined in this same manner.
“We are going to do the same for all other groups in Nigeria. So we do not want to zero our planned dialogue to the present controversy between the Olugbo of Ugbo land and Ooni of Ife. If we do a thing like that, it will be very very un-academic. As this will be regarded to be in the realm of politics, we are not going to address such issue at all. Our position and the essence of the planned dialogue is to revisit the facts of the matter. What are these facts, from archeological evidence, from other historical sources? What do we have? That is why we are inviting people who will present papers and these are people, who have been researching on these issues. What we want to do is something that has depth, so that anybody that picks any of the papers does not need to argue again, the facts will be there, for all to read. Cartographic evidence, linguistic evidence, evidence from oral sources, from anthropology and what have you, will be presented.”