Monday, 20 August 2018

Professor Akinkunmi ALAO on "History, Law and Society in Nigeria" as reported by SMB Sesan Johnson

Professor Akinkunmi ALAO on "History, Law and Society in Nigeria" as reported by SMB Sesan Johnson

In an auspicious and historical moment yesterday (Tuesday, August 14, 2018) at the Oduduwa hall of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria; Professor Akin Alao delivered the 324th Inaugural Lecture of the university. Significantly, it was the 11th by the department of History of the great university. Dignitaries included the VC of the university, other key officials, and professors from all shades of knowledge and from different universities. The president of the Historical Society of Nigeria (Professor Ogbogbo Chris B N) also graced the occasion. There were traditional rulers in attendance. There was an assemblage of great academia such as Professor Oyefeso Siyan, Professor Victor Edo, Professor Abimbola Adesoji, Dr Adetunji Ogunyemi, Dr Saheed Amusa, Dr Alimi Shina, Dr Remijius Obinta, etc.

The professor of legal history themed his lecture "History, Law and Society in Nigeria". Fundamentally, the crux of his thesis is the connect between law, history and society. He professed that the constitution of the nation has arbitrating roles to play in guiding the rubrics of relationships and actions of the people in an organic society like Nigeria. While historicising his thoughts; he pointed to the pre-colonial Yoruba's belief system of 'iwa' and 'omoluwabi' that helped maintained social construct and organic solidarity, as well as tranquility and harmony within traditional legal frameworks of the Yoruba organic society. However, he berated the fact that brutality of colonialism and westernisation had eroded these and replaced these with individualism and capitalism premised on the hegemonic grandstanding of the colonial master.

Professor Akin Alao cited historical instances in the post-independence era where the Nigerian legal system had failed in its constitutional duties to correct some anomalies in Nigeria's political history and conflicts on constitutionality. But he opined that harbingers of the country's laws must use it for social change and to uphold constitutionality. In addition, the law of the nation must be utilised to orchestrate the needed developments and progress the country needs.

Professor Akin Alao frowned at the delusion towards history and the study of history. He argued that history is germane to social change and nation building. Thus, in his disquisition, he opined that, inherent in african indigenous legal and political frameworks are distinctive methodologies and epistemologies that could be used in the service of economic and political liberation of the citizenry. He advanced his thought by demanding that even within the remix of localism and globalism, there should be a distinguishable autonomous legal hybrid that is African in its imprimatur.

Distinguishably, professor Akin Alao made case for pluriversalism in African historiography. He also promised to design programs that will accentuate the study of history, particularly legal history in Nigeria.

Significantly, his closing statement was that 'history carries the soul of a nation and any nation that neglects its history is a nation without a soul'.

I use this opportunity to say big congratulations to this great, dynamic, resourceful and erudite professor of history. I am proud to be one of your students, sir.

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