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How Nigeria can overcome its challenges, by Afejuku

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A professor of English and Literature at the University of Benin (UNIBEN), Anthony Afejuku, at the weekend, said for Nigeria to know where it got it wrong as a nation, it should diligently study the autobiographies of its founding fathers.

Afejuku, who is also a columnist with The Guardian, argued that the reason post-colonial Nigeria was still in the woods was its failure to pay attention to the autobiographies of Obafemi Awolowo, Nnamdi Azikiwe and Ahmadu Bello, which he described as the “official records of Nigeria.”

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He made the remark while delivering the institution’s 245th inaugural lecture titled: The Autobiography of Nigeria in Benin City, Edo State.

Afejuku noted that The Autobiography of Obafemi Awolowo, Azikiwe’s My Odeyssey and Bello’s My Life, in different degrees, dwelt on the need for Nigerians of all religious creed and political leanings to discern and articulate interconnections between ethnic, religious and linguistic diversities to construct and reconstruct a sense of shared nationhood.

While supporting Prof. Adebayo Williams’ position that Awolowo was a social reformer and crusader for the inalienable rights of every citizen to access life more abundantly, Afejuku affirmed that the late nationalist was a strong proponent of a healthy attitude.

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“Regardless of any human failings, Awolowo was a key proponent of a healthy attitude and virtuous conduct of politics. He was the nearest instance of the ideal elder, leader of administration and governance conceived of, especially as a future possibility for Nigeria-going by what he did in the Western Region as Premier and was not allowed to do by the terminators of the First Republic,” he stated.

Afejuku, therefore, canvassed that to know where Nigeria got it wrong as a nation, there was the need to study the autobiographies diligently, adding: “Our failure so far to do so must be a basic reason why post-colonial Nigeria is not out of the woods yet in all respects.

“I also suggest that our steadily unprogressive omission to define the true motivations of the autobiographers and their political signs account for an important reason we have not had a standardised body of individuals or people, who genuinely see themselves as autogenous and impermeable Nigerians.”

He canvassed establishment of an independent Centre for Autobiographical Studies for autobiography to be freed from its status as “a kind of auxiliary literature that is no longer legitimised by the novel.”

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