Why Nigeria restored history to schools - VP Osinbajo

“…we cannot sure-footedly chart a course forward without understanding where we are coming from." - VP
Nigeria’s vice-president, Yemi Osinbajo

The decision to restore history to the curriculum of primary and secondary schools in Nigeria emerged not only from the need to restore the subject in schools, but also in appreciation of its contribution to the country's socio-political, economic and cultural growth.

This was confirmed by Vice President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo Monday at the launch of the James Adekunle Ojelabi Foundation's Nigeria History Fund. Among other items, the fund is committed to supporting students of history with a scholarship scheme.

He said:
“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 to not restrict ourselves to thinking in the short-term, but to remember that we too are living histories.”

Continuing, Prof. Osinbajo said

“…we cannot sure-footedly 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.”

Talking about the role of history in harnessing the rich cultural diversity of Nigeria, Prof. Osinbajo said that the uniqueness of the country as a powerful force for fostering national growth will not be understood without a comprehensive understanding of the various cultural traditions and social norms embedded in history.

He said:
“We are blessed to belong to a nation that possesses such a rich history of art, technology, trade, metallurgy, political administration among many fields of human endeavour but this bountiful inheritance is 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 ethno-religious diversity which can also engender detrimental social conflict.”

Describing the Nigeria History Fund as a befitting tribute to the late historian, James Adekunle Ojelabi, the Vice President said
“as black people, as Africans, as Nigerians, we must reclaim our histories and nurture academic environments that make that possible.”

Commending the late historian, Prof. Osinbajo said
“…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.”

In his remarks, Trinity House Pastor Ituah Ighodalo, Lagos, who was Guest Speaker at the occasion, emphasized the importance of history in the development and affirmation of individuals and their communities.

The event that coincided with the James Adekunle Ojelabi Foundation's first anniversary included awards being given to worthy individuals, including prominent historians, such as Prof. Bolanle Awe, Prof. Banji Akintoye and others.

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