“Of Wailers and Hailers of the Nigerian Space: A Roundtable” is the topic of a high profile conversation at the University of Ibadan, (UI) in Nigeria coming up January 22nd, 2019. Although built around the current political landscape in Nigeria and the way(s) forward, the organisers are warning it is neither for mud-slinging nor for character assassination of any personality but “strictly an intellectual discourse on the current political landscape in Nigeria”.
Attendees at the Roundtable will be hearing the voices of six discussants made up of four professors and three others. These are Prof. Olabode Lucas; Prof. Francis Egbokhare; Prof. Olusegun Ajiboye; Prof. Idowu Farai; Dr. Gani Adeniran; Dr. Kemi Ademola-Aremu and Mr. Wale Akinremi. Prof. Remi Raji-Oyelade will moderate the occasion which promises to be a critical and highly intellectualised intervention rather than fact-hugging, consensual analogies.
Each of these names has his or her own folk rating around the huge university community. While Professor Olabode Lucas is generally regarded as properly educated, true intellectual and encyclopedic, Francis Egbokhare enjoys the reckoning of being an extremely disciplined person, one of those who got UI professorship comparatively very young; Olusegun Ajiboye carries with him the image of the pedagogue as a rebel but that is said only at his back. Wealth of experience from exposure to the Southern African intellectual ferment as well as former Chairman of the ASUU are his other defining features. Idowu Farai, a quiet physicist, insists on maintaining standards and conventions, (of the university) and punishment of breaches. He is, to that extent, coming from the conservative end of the spectrum and thus a guardian of orthodoxy. Gani Adeniran is of Veterinary Medicine about whom there is some consensus as the man who cannot see truth and not say it. Dr Kemi Ademola-Aremu is credited with being an amazing burst of energy, extra-ordinary ability to empathise with the underprivileged such as out of school children for whom she organises soccer as well as a mastermind of the War Against Rape, (WAR) movement. Trained in Toxicology, she is also a communications expert, particularly broadcasting, making her a scholar-activist to the core. Mr. Wale Akinremi, a former president of the Senior Staff Association of Universities brings the non-academic side to the rich ensemble of voices that would be heard at the Roundtable.
Put together by the Senior Staff Club of the University of Ibadan, the occasion is scheduled to take place at the UI Senior Staff Club which, in spite of decay in the system, is likely to still be the most functional Staff Club across Nigerian universities. With enough lodging facilities for those on transit, a national sample of musical legends, (from Rex Lawson to Bongos Ikwue to Bala Miller and so on), a separate space for those who have nothing to do with alcohol, a swimming pool, a children section, medical attention for certain category of retirees, provision for games/exercises and three separate kitchens (on the basis of tastes), the UI Senior Staff Club is a case study in systems die hard.
In the hey days of UI, the UI Staff Club was a well structured space similar in every respect to the organisation of that culture in, say, Oxford and Cambridge, marked by hierarchy and associated conventions such as an exclusive zone or room for professors, for example. Such spaces were arranged in a way that is intimidating to lesser mortals who might be inited in there. A former editor who experienced the UI Staff Club as a guest of a former Vice-Chancellor of UI as late as 2010 said it still had elements of the old and was much better than many other campuses where nothing better than local cooks and broken chairs greeted a visitor.
The two hour long discussion starts by 4. 00 pm prompt.