In News by Oluwaseun Samuel on the 12th, July, 2020

How I Wore Similar Garments, Slept On Naked Ground For 96 Days In Army Detention

How I Wore Same Clothes, Slept On Bare Floor For 96 Days In Military Detention

Obaro Ikime

Obaro Ikime

Venerable Obaro Ikime is a retired professor of historical past, a fellow and former president of the Historic Society of Nigeria. The retired priest of the Anglican Communion and former member of the College of Ibadan Governing Council tells ALEXANDER OKERE about his educational and profession experiences, together with his ordeal with the army

Did you may have your date of start documented, having been born within the 1930s?

I used to be born in 1936 in a village referred to as Anibeze in Arohwa clan within the Isoko South Native Authorities Space of Delta. My elder brother, who was then at Dennis Memorial Grammar College, Onitsha, Anambra State, was at residence after I was born. He stored a document.

How would you describe your expertise as a college boy on the Authorities School, Ughelli?

It was fascinating. In these days, authorities schools had been well-looked after. We bought new college uniforms yearly. My happiest day at college got here after I was in my closing 12 months and I used to be a college prefect. The principal despatched for me at evening and informed me the academics had determined that I must be the pinnacle of faculty (head boy). I used to be not anticipating it; it got here as a shock.

What impressed your resolution to review historical past on the College of Ibadan?

It was the one college at the moment and our previous boys who had been there used to go to us on the faculty to inform us how fantastic the college was. So, our ambition then was to move the doorway examination for the College School, Ibadan, because it was at the moment. At the moment, there was no Regulation on the college and my brother didn’t have the cash to ship me overseas as a instructor. Historical past was my finest topic at college and my historical past instructor had boasted within the workers room that considered one of his college students would have an A1 in historical past. However I solely made a credit score within the frequent entrance examination and it was the worst day of my life.

After I went to the instructor’s home, he refused to see me. His spouse needed to beg him earlier than he listened to me. He informed me I made him a liar and suggested me to point out the world that I do know historical past. That was a problem to me. By the point I graduated from college, he was already an inspector of schooling. I made a second class (higher division) and went all the way in which to Benin, Edo State, to inform him that I bought a level in historical past. He checked out me, smiled and informed me to point out the world that I do know historical past.

Did you aspire to make a firstclass?

At first, I believed I’d make a primary class, although nobody had made a firstclass in historical past at the moment. However I didn’t; nobody made a firstclass in my class.

Have been you disenchanted?

I used to be proud of my outcome as a result of it was sufficient to entitle me to do analysis. I didn’t consider another job than analysis and, fortuitously, the Federal Authorities awarded me a scholarship. My instructor didn’t congratulate me till I completed my PhD.

What kind of parenting did you obtain?

My mother and father had been unlettered. My father was a fisherman, farmer and canoe builder. My mom was additionally a farmer. My father had just one spouse. They had been strict. My father laid down the guidelines and was strict in guaranteeing that no unhealthy report reached him about us. My mother and father informed us what we might do and never do. For example, they warned us to not shame them or the household. We, the youngsters, went to the farm with them earlier than we went to highschool. My mother and father’ strictness stored me on observe and helped me grow to be who I’m as we speak, although I lived with my elder brother from the age of seven and he was stricter. They helped me to be centered.

What are the fond recollections of your early years as a lecturer?

 

Getting the job was an issue to me. At the College School, Ibadan, which I attended in 1956, the Igbo and Yoruba had been the bulk within the educational realm, so the few of us who weren’t needed to be cautious. The top of division then suggested me and one other applicant to use to different universities because the college might not take in these it skilled. So, I utilized to the College of Lagos and College of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo College, Ile-Ife). I attended an interview at OAU and bought a job supply however I didn’t settle for it as a result of I used to be ready to get a job at my alma mater the place I utilized to educate. After I went in for the interview in Ibadan, I discovered that all people on the panel, besides one, was Igbo. There have been two of us and considered one of whom was Igbo.

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They requested whether or not I’d settle for a fellowship at UI or lectureship at UNILAG or OAU. However I didn’t reply as a result of I noticed it as a entice and I knew that the phrases of the job can be said. The vice chancellor was on the panel and he insisted that I should reply the query. However one of many panellists, a white man, supported me. On the finish of the interview, I believed I wouldn’t get the job. However after they went to London (as a result of all of the interviews had been reviewed in London), they had been instructed to supply me and the opposite particular person the job. So, my early years as younger lecturer had been thrilling. I determined that I’d do my finest among the many different Nigerian lecturers at the college at the moment.

Why had been you that concerned with analysis?

Lots of the books used to show at that time had been written by Europeans. So, I used to be decided to analysis and write books like those I learn as an undergraduate.

Two of your books, ‘Management within the 19th Century Africa’ and ‘The Fall of Nigeria,’ revealed in 1974 and 1977 respectively, centre on governance. Would you say the failure of governance in Nigeria as we speak may very well be traced to its basis?

Sure and no. The primary e book was a assortment of writings by numerous students; I merely served as editor. It checked out folks like Shaka of Zulu Kingdom, and different African leaders within the 19th century. I’ll say colonial rule had its issues as a result of the colonial authorities had been in Nigeria to advertise the curiosity of their nation, not likely the curiosity of Nigerians. Though they gave us coaching in language and politics, their curiosity was their very own curiosity. The Sokoto Jihad occurred within the 19th century. When Usmanu Danfodiyo and his males conquered Hausa land and put Fulani emirs, the majority had been Hausa however the minority had been Fulani. When the Jihad moved to the Center Belt space, it failed there as a result of the folks there lived in small items and couldn’t be conquered; the Jihad solely partially succeeded.

When the British got here to the Center Belt, they tried to ascertain the emirate system which they had been accustomed to within the higher North. They’d appointed numerous folks emirs over sure teams who had totally different languages however that solely partially succeeded. I referred to as it the British Jihad. As we moved into independence, what we had was the North dominated by the Fulani who had not succeeded in conquering the Center Belt. You will see that the Center Belt was the house of the Northern Components Progressive Union which was against the Northern Peoples Congress. However the British had been enamoured by the emirate system as a result of it gave them a single ruler and made them simple to manage. The lack of the Fulani to beat the Center Belt remained an issue.

Do you suppose Nigeria would have been higher with out colonial rule?

Sure and no. A lot of the nations of the world had been below colonial rule at one time or the opposite. It’s not unusual that Nigeria was conquered by the British. However the British have left a legacy chargeable for a part of Nigeria’s drawback. They made it attainable for northern Nigeria to be bigger than different areas of the nation, which was not honest. That means northern Nigeria can all the time win. That inequality has virtually resulted in oppression, like the problem of herdsmen within the southern components.

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What was your thought when historical past was initially faraway from the Nigerian college curriculum?

I believed it was unwise. I used to be the President of the Nigerian Historic Society at a time and we protested towards the choice to abolish historical past as a topic. I led a delegation to the then minister of schooling, who felt historical past was not related to improvement. However I reminded him that he had written a e book concerning the historical past of his folks and encourage them to be engaged in self-development and that bought him offended. He packed his books and walked out of the assembly. We met with a former President, the late Shehu Shagari, and he promised to look into it.

When Dr Goodluck Jonathan was the President, I used to be a part of the delegation that met him and defined the significance of historical past in improvement. No nation ignores its historical past besides at its personal peril. Historical past is the reminiscence of human progress. Whether it is forgotten, we stop in that measure to be human. With out historical past, we haven’t any data of who we had been or how we got here to be, like victims of collective amnesia groping at nighttime for identification. It’s the occasions recorded in historical past that has generated all of the feelings, values, concepts that make life significant. Historical past offers you one thing to reside for and battle for. However the perspective of the federal government was that one can’t use historical past to supply issues like autos, electrical energy and different materials issues. However it’s not materials issues that give a nation its standing; it is concepts and the way folks relate with their nation. We tried all we might till the current authorities returned historical past to varsities.

Many could marvel what implication the absence of historical past as a topic would have on younger Nigerian within the current and the longer term. What’s your tackle that?

It would imply that they don’t know their nation. Nigeria is multi-ethnic. Historical past teaches how totally different folks lived prior to now, how they’re inter-related, how they associated with foreigners and bought independence. These phases of improvement are what we name historical past. Colonialism adversely affected Nigeria’s tempo of improvement. The pact initiated by the colonialist deceived us into pondering that we had been united when now we have totally different languages. All people didn’t see themselves as Yoruba, Ijaw, Igbo, Hausa or Fulani. So, when you attempt to mix all these tribes as one entity, you create issues. There are pockets of ethnic teams that haven’t benefitted from authorities as their neighbours have. Now, folks speak about Yoruba nation, Ijaw nation, Igbo nation.

You retired at 54, was that not too early?

I used to be retired in 1990 and I used to be not but 70. I used to be the chairman of a committee on the Chapel of Resurrection, a protestant church, and I learn a communiqué to the chapel. My crime was that I stated we must always beware lest we get into a spiritual battle. I warned that different nations had been been engaged in spiritual wars and for Nigeria to not be engaged in a single, the chapel ought to from that day start to pray. Spiritual wars have a means of not ending rapidly as a result of faith has its impression on folks. The communiqué envisaged dipping the Quran into the ocean in Lagos. I noticed this as a harmful factor and spoke about Nigeria stepping into spiritual wars if we didn’t watch it. So, I urged the chapel to start to wish. Some folks weren’t too blissful after they bought to find out about what I learn. The Federal Authorities stored me in army detention for 96 days due to the communiqué I learn. I wore the identical garments for 96 days and slept on the naked ground; I used to be fortunate that I wasn’t killed. I used to be let loose ultimately.

Did your chapel members intervene?

Even a few of my chapel members rose towards me. Luckily, a few of them had been dropped at make statements towards me however they didn’t count on to fulfill me bodily. After I was dropped at face them, they denied all they stated of their statements. I was later let loose.

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What had been the situations below which you had been launched?

I can’t let you know the situations. However after I got here out, the federal government was not comfy having me within the college system. So, they directed that I must be retired. The senate protested in useless, so I needed to depart earlier than my time in 1990. That additionally affected what I bought as pension.

You had been stated to have gotten your PhD at 29 and grow to be a professor at 37? Was that sufficient to make up to your incapacity to make a distinction in historical past in your O stage examination?

That comfort got here with my PhD as a result of I reached the very best qualification for historians. That need to make a distinction that I couldn’t make at secondary college turned a drive for me all through my service. Nevertheless, I used to be anticipating to grow to be a professor early as a result of as a lecturer, you set targets for your self, write books and work to attain the very best qualification in your discipline. After I informed my secondary college instructor that I had grow to be a professor, he laughed for the primary time and shook my palms and informed me I had proved him proper.

What did you do throughout your first 12 months in retirement?

I didn’t do a lot due to the circumstance that led to my retirement. I simply rested. It was troublesome to get one other job and that was why I couldn’t safe a job as a lecturer. I labored for a publishing firm as an editorial marketing consultant for some time. After that, I used to be ordained a priest by the Anglican Diocese of Ibadan and labored there for some years. I left after I clocked 70, which was the retirement age.

Did you meet your spouse whereas on the college?

After I was a pupil, I spent my trip in Warri, and I performed soccer. It was there that I met my spouse. We courted for so long as six years as a result of I returned to the college and couldn’t marry her as a pupil as I couldn’t have supported her financially. I married her as a postgraduate pupil at 26 and she or he was 20. She was a fantastic girl. We had a Delta College students Union and she or he was a member of that union. However what actually bought me attracted was that I realised that although she was younger, she was daring; nobody might brush her apart with questions. We simply found that we had been appropriate. When she left college she got here to Ibadan for my sake however stayed together with her uncle. However I made the error of telling the uncle that she was my girlfriend and that she used to go to me on Sundays. I thought it was proper to inform him however it turned out to be an offence in his view.

What did he say?

He informed me he had increased plans for her, that he had a medical physician who was able to marry her and wouldn’t have something to do with me. He threw her out of her home and I didn’t like that. So, she stayed with a buddy’s girlfriend at the moment. The uncle additionally bought her sacked from her job due to me. However I later discovered her a job by my former instructor.

At 83, how do you retain match?

I used to play soccer and cricket however I can not try this. I’ve been having an issue with strolling for 10 years. Proper now, I’m virtually homebound. I used to be a badminton champion at the College of Ibadan. Folks knew me extra as a sportsman than an educational. I loosen up by studying. I nonetheless do analysis at 83 and I’m about to jot down the historical past of my folks, the Isoko folks.

Do you may have any regrets?

The one remorse I’ve is that I disenchanted my instructor at secondary college. I’ve loved my life, I will say, regardless of the detention.

***

Supply: Sunday PUNCH

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