By Adagbo Onoja
Because no concept today can claim centrality in Political Science as much as Hegemony, especially with its further radicalization by the post-Marxists, Nigeria might temporarily overcome her disarray on Monday, August 19th, 2021 to listen to one of her political scientists take on the subject in an Inaugural Lecture.
Although neither the University of Benin where this would be happening nor the professor is in the list of the first generation of Nigerian universities and the giants in the discipline respectively, the topic is sure to compensate for that. Established in 1970, the University of Benin does not belong to the first generation of Nigerian universities. Yet, it came before the second generation by almost a decade. It is, therefore, in-between in standing. But it was a hotbed of radical nationalism in the late 1980s to the point of being where the 1989 SAP riots ignited by students began before it caught fire nationally, shaking the military regime to its very foundation. And then it was the epicenter of radical contestation of campus manifestation of authoritarianism, featuring the epic battle, for instance, between the late Professor Festus Iyayi and the then Vice-Chancellor, Prof Grace Alale-Williams.
This campus is thus a laboratory from where the concept of Hegemony is bound to be experientially informed. A great intellectual move might come buried in a ritual when the eggheads gather to listen to Prof Augustine Ikelegbe speaking later this afternoon. Irrespective of which analytical tradition – Gramscian or Laclauian – Ikelegbe brings to his discussion, an application of Hegemony to the ‘Nigerian condition’ can clarify many of the meta-babble circulated on platforms of social and traditional media.
Professor Ikelegbe might not belong in the list of extant giants and their offspring in Economics, Political Science, Cultural Studies, History, Sociology, International Relations, African Studies, Mass Communications and so on in the Nigerian context, his story of his involvement with Hegemony could land him in that club faster than anything, particularly in the light of the interpretive cum textual ‘turn’ in Political Science. “Hegemony and Counter Hegemony: The Open Wounds of a Nation” could spark an intellectual moment in Nigeria, with particular reference to the ‘real’ trouble with Nigeria.
The Inaugural Lecture appears to have established itself as the overarching paradox of the university system. That is to say it is one of the few traditions or university rites thriving nearly on every campus across Nigeria in spite of diseased condition of the universities.