By Adagbo Onoja
On Friday, March 8th, 2013, at Lady Bank Anthony Hall of the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan, it was announced that former Vice-President, Atiku Abubakar, was coming to deliver a lecture on Wednesday, March 13th, 2013.
The circumstance in which the announcement came was as interesting as the announcement itself. A woman politician had told the women dominated audience at the occasion the details of her harrowing experience as a woman in politics.
Professor Osisioma Nwolise, the Head of Department of Political Science who was chairing the occasion said such details were very important for students of politics and that it is in pursuit of such that Atiku Abubakar had been invited by the Department to deliver a lecture on internal democracy.
Being Ibadan based, it was the kind of occasion to attend if one were not traveling out of the campus the next day for a pre-scheduled engagement that could not be adjusted. Of course, I have since got a mental transcript of what transpired there, including Atiku’s taste of the irreverent tongue of those who keep the mandate of knowledge alive on our campuses today.
And it is Atiku’s boldness in submitting himself to such an academic audience that is the justification for this column. We must recognise a fine example from every quarter, especially in the context of the imperative for tendency coalition against bunglers in 2015.
All those who seek to rule this country should be able to go to any university and submit themselves to the scrutiny of Nigerian intellectuals. If the woman mentioned earlier could do it, anyone else could also do it, irrespective of age, education, class or religion.
Among others, such interaction tests a politician’s story line against the pitfalls of discourse politics. Every major politician has a story to tell, but every story suffers from one pitfall of discourse politics or another which only a critical audience can help a politician filter.
One hopes that other major politicians will follow suit but not by going to pontificate on bogus topics on which they have no epistemic authority or to universities where they are the local champions.
Everyone delivering lecture or going to tell his own story should do so in a university where s/he is not a tin god. In other words, if Atiku Abubakar had delivered his lecture at ABTI University, Yola, it wouldn’t have been worth anything.
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