I remember… Changing terrorism narrative from Boko Haram to Boko Halal
The search for knowledge is perhaps the most noblest endeavors man discovered. And this pursuit, it would seem, has aided man in overcoming the most complex, perplexing of situations; building bridges across nations, and charting courses for development.
The import of such pursuit of knowledge and how it became personalised in a man and documented for others to glean and learn from underscored discussions last weekend, at the public presentation of Prof. Ladipo Adamolekun’s autobiography entitled ‘I Remember,’ held at the Nigeria Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Victoria Island, Lagos.
The hall was animated with banters, as guests exchanged pleasantries, first over Lagos’ terrible traffic and the lingering fuel queues despite the hike, and later, on the issue of the day, the launch of the book. Live soft music at the background set the stage for the compere, Tayo Ekundayo to begin with the proceedings, which involved a row call of heavyweights from Nigeria’s ivory towers, politicians and illustrious civil servants.
Dignitaries at the event include former Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Alani Akinrinade; Publisher of the Vanguard Newspaper, Sam Amuka Pemu; Retired Federal Permanent Secretaries, Dr. Goke Adegoroye and Dr. Tunji Olaopa; Professor Kole Omotosho and former Managing Director of Daily Times, Dr. Yemi Ogunbiyi. Prof. Ajibola Meshide, who’s a bosom friend of the author, gave a beautiful rendition adapted from John Keats.
The chairman of the occasion, Professor of Geography, Akin Mabogunje, in his remarks, said that the book tells the story of embracing the ideals of Boko Halal — the love of knowledge, learning, books and building intelligence.
However, he noted that Nigeria is confronted with the sad tales of Boko Haram because it tuned away from such ideals.“In this book, we trace how our problems began. Our problems started in the late 1970s. It was this period that we started to derail from the trajectory of greatness,” he said.
According to him, “Our problems started, first of all, with the decapitation of a well trained Civil Service. This happened in the late 1970s. From that point on, we started going at sub-optimal pace. And then we started with what we call the federal character, and things nosedived. Having decapitated those who really know anything, we ended up putting people in office based on the fact that they came from a particular part of the country. We ended up later with a group that said ‘why strive for this things at all; we don’t like books.’ It is a very unusual title for a group. That process from the 1970s was what brought us to that point.”
The author, he said, “paints a sharp contrast from this picture and is an acknowledgement that if we follow his examples, the sky is not just the limit, but we can go into space. So, we are gathered today for the autobiography of Boko Halal.”
The book reviewer, Professor of Political Science Adele Jinadu, said the book identifies education sector crisis as spanning from over centralization of tertiary education, which copied from the military’s principle of centralization and climaxed in the creation of the National Universities Commission (NUC); implementation failure, and emphasis on the value of education and decline of the teaching profession.
Noting that the author did not shy away from providing solutions to identified problems, Prof. Jinadu said, “The decline in the tertiary education sector can be arrested by enhancing the autonomy of universities. This means a review of the functions of the NUC; immediate end to the control of the universities by both the NUC and the Federal Ministry of Education and an end to centralized admission so that the universities can regain the right to admit students.”
He said the author also touched on the state of the Civil Service — its rise and decline over the years— and how it can serve as the engine of an effective public service delivery in the public interest.
The author, he said, distinguished among the three generations of civil servants, noting, “while the first generation saw the idea of the service as ethos close to the classical ideals of the British, the second and third generations were highly impacted by military rule, which introduced significant distortions to the concept of public service and its ethos that were inherited from the first generation but now replaced by politicization, abandonment of security of tenure and primacy of federal character over the early driving principles.”
He added that it is an open book that contains a rich amount of information and experiences in politics, culture and government, which is profitable both to the specialist and general reader.
Prof. Omotosho said the author, who is his bosom friend, has greatly impacted enviable values in him, noting that a lot of people often wondered how he was able to cope with Adamolekun’s strict lifestyle.
The book’s publisher, Chief Joop Berkhout, said that the yanking of history from the country’s educational syllabus was detrimental to development.
He stressed that a lot of young Nigerians are deficient in requisite vocabulary to meet with the challenges in the modern world, adding that primary school pupils are worse off compared to their counterparts in the 1960s.
According to him, there is need to purse far-reaching reforms in the schooling system to ensure that Nigerians are prepared for the task ahead, as well as, to ensure that there is capable hands to take over from the illustrious professors and academics that the country currently boasts of.
In his remark, the author, Adamolekun said there was need to cherish and maintain friendships, especially those that are developed early in life, as such relationships help individuals in leading memorable lives.
He called for the building of boarding facilities in secondary schools to foster the growing of relationship among young people, which would serve them later in life, adding, “Some of my friends today were the people I met and became friends with almost 50 years ago. So, I see this as a way to create cohesion in society.”