Many would find it difficult to, on the face of it, make a connection between the twosome. But there are many things that connects them, separated as they seem by career line, location and cultural identity.
Even as geographically and generationally distant from each other, the University of Ibadan shares uniqueness with Veritas University, Abuja, all in Nigeria. While the premier university in an ambitious but disorganized country such as Nigeria is, automatically, its foremost intellectual consultant, Veritas University is equally an intellectual field of play of the Catholic Church. If we follow Samuel Huntington in his controversial Clash of Civilisations, then the university of Ibadan is the intellectual voice of a country while Veritas University is a key site of the intellectual toolkit of a civilization. The incumbent Heads of Department of Political Science in each of such universities have a challenge in intellectually managing complex owners – Nigeria for UI and the Catholic Civilisation for Veritas University.
The second ground of comparison is that both Aiyede and Jooji drank from priestly training. Although Aiyede did not take it to the next level of becoming a priest, he is, by indoctrination, still basically a priest. The pastoral proclivities are there in him for anyone who can observe – no dignitarianism, no officiousness and little patience for excuses. Jooji could as well call himself Mr. Practical when it comes to administration.
There is a third point. They are both Political Scientists, albeit of different biases. While Jooji is fishing in IRs, Aiyede is the leading voice in Historical Institutionalism scholarship in Nigeria. He has the uncommon confidence of gladly introducing himself as such. In other words, he is notches away from Dr. Jooji on this point, having attained full professorship in the Ibadan academic environment. The interesting point, however, is that they are all unfolding and ‘chose’ the same time to do that.
At the Trenchard Hall at the University of Ibadan on December 16th, 2021, Prof Aiyede will be presenting the university’s 508th Inaugural Lecture on “If Gold Rusts, What Will Iron Do? Politicians, Academics and Institution Building”. It is the sort of intellection Nigerians would have been all ears a few decades back because institution building has been a big debate in Political Science since the late 1970s. Protagonists of institutionalism won the prize when Prof Robert Keohane’s question about what happens to the international order should the hegemon itself be in trouble? His substitution of the hegemon with institutionalism in answering that question, (See his book: After Hegemony) and the viability of that argument in the wake of American declinism has put scholars of institutionalism on a higher pedestal. It would thus be very interesting listening to Aiyede, an African/Nigerian voice on institutionalism, telling the story of his scholarly voyage in that ocean filled with global giants.
Dr. Jooji is not delivering any Inaugural Lecture. Not yet. But he is 35 years in priesthood and has been intellectualizing the milestone. There are many angles to the celebration but the most significant must be the Festschrift that has been published in his honour and unfolded as part of the activities on December 1, 2021.
It remains to be seen what most readers would say is their take away from the book and what it speaks to in relation to what could be said to be the emerging, dominant tradition of political science scholarship not just in Veritas University, Abuja but also generationally since the Festschrift has contributors from diverse locations. No book has one permanent import and while the title could be more conceptually rigorous and precise, the dynamics could play out in a manner that makes this Festschrift referential in one respect or another, sooner or later.
The only sustainable distinction between the two Heads of Department is perhaps that while Ibadan has a well established ‘Ibadan School of Political Science’ (but whose prediction of the current crisis in Nigeria as early as the 1960s has so come true as to have probably frightened people off from constantly referring to it unlike in the case of the ‘Ibadan School of History’ or the ‘Zaria School of History’), Political Science at Veritas University, Abuja is still finding its way in the completely stressful university environment in Nigeria.
Without the benefits of the academic environment in which Ibadan took off, the intellectual combats across Nigerian campuses between the mid -1970s to mid-1980s and without the quality and diversity of resource persons of yester years, Veritas University and the newer universities in Nigeria could be confronting challenges far too gargantuan to contemplate. The fear in informed circles may not be too farfetched and which is that, facing too gargantuan challenges, the new universities might simply opt to bring Political Science, for example, within its own horizon of understanding. No tragedy could be worse than that even as tempting as such an option could be because such is cheaper and more convenient. But it is still important to note that even the well established first generation universities are facing no less gargantuan challenges.
And the better thing to say is that there is a crisis of dated content, quality, anti-intellectual orientation among students and academics and even university authorities. Of course, everyone knows that successive governments in Nigeria constitute the gravest threat to the university system. It is not just about starving universities of (financial) resources. That can be understood. The worse attribute is governments that have no strategic ideas of what universities exist for and how to use them for national greatness and, as such, finding themselves fighting with various categories of university staff – academic and non-academic.
In that sense, there are no alternatives than to congratulate those who are still keeping the traditions going – the Aiyedes and the Joojis – wherever they may be – older or newer universities!