This month, history will be made again as the University of Ilorin spotlights the historic city of Ilorin as a paradigm for what is urgently needed in Nigeria: peace. This spotlighting is coming through the first national conference of the Centre for Ilorin Studies. The Centre, I understand, has been working round the clock to make the conference a reference point in the annals of the University.
From all indications, making Ilorin the cynosure of all eyes, academic and otherwise, is a compelling desideratum as the city is both like and unlike Nigeria of today. Like Nigeria, Ilorin is a melting pot of diverse cultural and linguistic traditions. Unlike Nigeria, Ilorin is a bastion of peace and harmony where diversity has been converted to the beauty that is usually associated with a rainbow.
With the security challenges facing the country today, it is pertinent for all Nigerians to pause and cast their looks at Ilorin and Ilorinise their various cities and communities. What this means is that despite differences as the case is here, Nigeria can still be a peaceful and harmonious country with more efforts on the part of the leaders, who have obviously not been doing enough to stem the tide of violence ravaging the nation.
By drawing our attention to “Ilorin: History, Culture and Lessons of Peaceful Co-existence” between the 26th and 29th of this month, the Centre for Ilorin Studies is blazing the trail in directing our attention to issues that appertain to our survival as a nation. Nigeria certainly needs to understand and appreciate her history, promote and nurture her cultures and draw appropriate lessons from the peaceful co-existence that characterises the capital city of Ilorin.
By conceiving such a timely and relevant conference, the Centre for Ilorin Studies under the pioneering leadership of Prof. A.G.A.S. Oladosu deserves a pat on the back for thematising issues of national significance from the standpoint of its mandate and setting agenda for other Centres in the University. One recalls that the Centre has become a beehive of activities of late: apart from collaborating with the Faculty of Arts to organise the International Conference on the Life and Works of Shaykh Adam Abdullahi Al-Ilory (1917 – 1992) in August 2012, which resulted in the publication of a book of over 1,200 pages in two volumes, one of the biggest books anywhere, the Centre also organised a successful public lecture in December 2012.
As the University of Ilorin awaits the arrival of scholars from all walks of life who will be drawing from their various academic backgrounds to espouse and analyse crucial issues of national importance, it is pertinent to emphasise the need to always be conscious of history in whatever we do while remaining cultured and peaceful.
It is also important for the entire members of the University community and the larger public to participate in the programme especially the opening ceremony coming up on May 27. This is because as the words of the elders are words of wisdom, the participants will be tapping from the judicial and academic wisdom of two accomplished octogenarians and statesmen and a world renowned peace scholar.
In other words, while the pioneer Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Hon. Justice Mustapha Akanbi (rtd.), who is the keynote address presenter, will be speaking on the conference theme, “Ilorin: History, Culture and Lessons of Peaceful Co-existence”, the retired Professor of the University of Ibadan and Executive Secretary of the Muslim Ummah of South-Western Nigeria (MUSWEN), Prof. Dawud Noibi, will be making a lead presentation on “Ethno-religious Plurality and harmonious Co-existence in Nigeria: the Ilorin Lessons”.
Also on hand to make another lead presentation during the conference on “Rethinking Peaceful Co-existence in a Multicultural Setting” is the pioneer Director of the Centre for Peace and Strategic Studies, University of Ilorin and Director of the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan, Prof. Isaac Albert, apart from other leading intellectual lights who have been slated to address various sessions of the conference.
As there can be no development without peace, looking for models outside the Nigerian borders may be counter-productive because there are institutions and paradigms here that can inspire and galvanise Nigeria to glory. And, when it comes to peaceful co-existence in diversity, the most significant need of the world at large and Nigeria in particular today, there are few places that can compete with Ilorin. It is time to Ilorinise Nigeria and make her an abode of peace for all!