A time of horrendous violence and crises as in contemporary Nigeria is usually a time when theories flourish and by which intellectuals sing a new and better world into being. It might be in tandem with this power of knowledge to create the reality it invokes most, especially in the context of crisis that makes a number of intellectual activities on peace in the next one week within Nigeria newsworthy.
The Inaugural Lecture scheduled for April 17th, 2019 at the Nasarawa State University, Keffi is, arguably, the most inviting of such intellectual engagements, primarily because it is about the Middle Belt which has been one of the most persistent theatres of bloodletting in post Cold War Nigeria. That day, Prof Adoyi Onoja will be looking at “Security: Framing a Middle Belt of Nigeria Perspective”. So confusing have been the spiral of violence in the Middle Belt that there are as many theories as there are speakers on it, none of whom has established him, her or themselves as the most authoritative. Responses to the spate of violence, especially the series around Jos Plateau since 1996 and which peaked in 2011 have been no less diffuse. It has been such as to have angered one of the leading peace practitioners from the region to berate the conflict management approach of regional leaders, describing them as suffering from a crisis of fighting other people’s wars instead of the region’s.
Unfortunately, the question of what should be the Middle Belt’s war in Nigerian politics has been assumed rather than confronted and defined. The possibility of this Inaugural Lecture posing it is the sensational and serious elements about it. It is possible that, at the end of the day, this might not be just another academic ritual but a voice capable of echoing in the power plotting chambers of Nigeria’s numerous shareholders in their domestic and global expressions. Depending on Prof Adoyi Onoja’s conceptual lens and empirical details, his could be a game changing voice. He has not only got an apt title, he could not have chosen a better timing for an intellectual intervention that can clear much if not all the confusion around the subject matter.
From Keffi to the University of Ilorin where a global North-South lens of “International Trends in Peace Action and Peace Research” will be delivered Tuesday, April 9th, 2019. The occasion is bringing together a diffuse set of intellectuals, among them the international peace practitioner, Prof Matt Meyer who will be the Guest Lecturer, Prof Olu Obafemi, a former Director of Research at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, (NIPSS), Kuru, Jos and Yusuf Alli, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, (SAN). The two are Special Guests of Honour while the discussants includes Professors Olawale Albert of the University of Ibadan; Olasehinde Williams; J. Fayeye and Dr. M. Adedimeji. Prof Adigun Agbaje, another University of Ibadan egghead would be on hand to review the book Connecting Contemporary African-Asian Peacebuilding and Non-Violence: From Satagraha to Ujamma. The book is scheduled for presentation on the occasion.
Lastly, the book in the offing: A Reader in Peace and Conflict Studies: Essays in Honour of Professor Isaac Olawale Albert. It is a book of essays in all imaginable realms of Peace and Conflict Studies. Such books could be problematic because of the crisis of an organizing logic arising from the diversity of coverage. Apparently aware of that, the masterminds behind it have decided to tie it around Prof Albert whom no one can deny the initiative in terms of the emergence of Peace and Conflict Studies as a formal academic engagement in Nigeria.
In the impending book, readers would be getting at two subjects at the price of one. They will come face to face with new expositions on the different realms of Peace and Conflict Studies as well as a more comprehensive insight into one of Nigeria’s leading scholars of the field. It is thus a book many would eagerly be waiting for.