The Nigerian Century… Echoes of 100 years of nationhood keep pulsating

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ALMOST two years after curtains fell on the year-long centenary celebration of Nigeria, the echoes of attaining 100 years of nationhood have kept on pulsating. The latest effort is a 500-page compendium on Nigerian history, entitled The Nigerian Century. Published by Gaskia Media Limited, the public presentation of the book holds tomorrow at the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Centre in Abuja by 10.00 am.

Expectedly, President Muhammadu Buhari, who wrote the Prologue of the compendium, is to lead top Nigerians to the presentation ceremony that will be presided over by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, while former governor, Lagos State and national Leader of All Progressive Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu will serve as chief presenter.

The Ooni of Ife, His Imperial Majesty, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Ojoja I, is also expected to grace the occasion as the Royal Father of the day. He would be joined by other royal fathers including Oba Gbadebo Adedeji, the Owa Ooye of Okemesi, Ekiti State and Oba Dokun Abolarin, the Orangun of Oke Ila, Osun State. Bashorun Dele Momodu, the publisher of Ovation International will anchor the review of the book.

Other dignitaries expected at the book presentation are the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara, Ministers, members of the National Assembly, state governors, speakers of Houses of Assembly and commissioners.

Eminent media historian and former Executive Director of Tell magazine, Mr. Dare Babarinsa edited the book. Babarinsa is also Chairman and Editor-In-Chief of Gaskia Media Limited, publishers of the book.

Other contributors include former governor of Ekiti State and now minister of Solid Minerals, Dr. Kayode Fayemi; Economics historian and lecturer at Obafemi Awolowo University, Dr. Adetunji Ogunyemi; lecturer at Lagos State University, Adeyinka Olarinmoye; as well as a journalist, Omotayo Fajorin-Oyediji; and Funmilayo Fajemisin, an educationist.

The Nigerian Century is written with the Nigerian youth in mind, according to a release signed by Senior Associate Editor, Gaskia Media Limited, Tunde Animasaun. “The book will expose Nigerians, especially, the youths to the wealth and depth of Nigeria’s history. Thus, they will begin to appreciate their country and know that they are heirs to the rich, indomitable and dynamic spirit that make us Nigerians.

“We have tried to capture in one document, the colour and majesty of our great country and present for posterity the footprints and landmarks of past generations. We are also presenting to our readers, the vast spectrum of great men and women who give Nigeria its character and populate its dynamic spirit and the sheer strength of its peculiar identity,” Animasaun said.

The book has 13 chapters and seven special focus on selected national institutions. The chapters include Prologue, written by President Muhammadu Buhari; Milestones of a Remarkable Century; The Making of an African Giant; Faces of Power and the Class of 2015. Others are, Living Legends, Titans, Thinkers and Outsiders, Faces of the Future and Epilogue.

The Faces of Power provides snippets on those who have been at the helms of affairs in Nigeria from 1914 till date. Living legends takes readers through a list of eminent and prominent Nigerians whose legendary achievements are stars that adorn Nigeria’s firmament.

These include, Prof. Wole Soyinka, Africa’s first winner of the Nobel Prize for literature; Alhaji Aliko Dangote, richest black African; Chief Gabriel Igbinedion, the Esama of Benin; Chief Emeka Anyaoku, first African Secretary General of the Commonwealth of Nations; Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the new dean of Nigerian politics; Sam Amuka Pemu; Prof. Grace Alele Williams, first female Vice Chancellor in Nigeria; Dr. Yusuf Maitama Sule; Femi Falana; Tony Elumelu; Otunba Mike Adenuga; Nuhu Ribadu; Femi Otedola; Ibukun Awosika; Stella Okoli; Chief Wole Olanipekun; Segun Odegbami; and 250 others.

The chapters on our heroes past tagged, Titans, Thinkers and Outsiders features such personalities as Herbert Macaulay, Candido Da Rocha, Ernest Ikoli, Babatunde Jose, Teslim Elias, Gani Fawehinmi, Shehu Musa Yar’adua, Kenneth Dike, Okunade Sijuwade, Michael Ajasin, Timothy Adeola Odutola, Sir Louis Odumegwu Ojukwu, Alhassan Dantata, Chief Theophilus Oni, Chinua Achebe, Duro Ladipo, Herbert Ogunde, Ken Saro Wiwa, Ayodele Awojobi, Babatube Idiagbon, Hannah Idowu Dideolu Awolowo, Jaja Wachukwu, Beko Ransome Kuti, Dele Giwa and Ishaya Shaibu Audu among others.

Nigeria is blessed with a big and vibrant youth population. Faces of the Future showcases some of the youths who have demonstrated, even today, that they have the head and shoulder to bear the responsibility of Nigeria’s tomorrow.

The youths featured in this chapter include, Zuriel Oluwole, Ola Orekunrin, Olutunji Ebun-Cole, Chinedu Echeruo, Jessica O. Mathews, Ladi Delano, Tonye Rex Idaminabo, Jason Njoku, Uche Pedro, Yemi Adesokan, Chudi Jideonwu and Adebola Williams, Gossy Ukanwoke, Toyosi Akerele, Victor Olanusi, Uzodinma Iweala, Dayo Israel, Abasiama Idaresit, Igho Sanomi, Grace Ihejiamaizu, Kunmi Otitoju Gbenga Sesan, Isaiah Owolabi and Nkechi Azinge among others.

From its rich content, the compendium may, as well as, serve as a response to the challenge thrown by the then Editor of The Guardian, Mr. Martins Oloja in his front-page comment of the Centenary Commemorative Edition published on March 5, 2014 declaring the grand finale of the centenary anniversary celebration held on Friday, February 28, 2014 as a “celebration of mediocrity.” Why? “As a Nigerian, one had expected to see in the grand finale some historical documents and documentaries on Nigeria in the last 100 years. Was it material poverty or poverty of the mind and ideas that deprived the Centenary Committee from doing and publishing something grand, something historic and historical, something remarkable about Nigeria for the young and old, local and foreign observers to see?” Oloja had lamented. Certainly, The Nigerian Century has taken care of Oloja’s posers two years after.

A NATIVE of Okemesi-Ekiti, Babarinsa was born some 60 years ago. He had his primary education at the Saint Andrew Anglican Primary School, Okemesi. He entered Ife Anglican Grammar School, Ile-Ife, in January 1969 when the famous Prince Israel Ibuoye, was the principal.

He left the school in 1973 and was admitted to study Education at the then University of Ife, Ile-Ife, in 1976. He left Ife in 1978 to take up a direct admission to study Mass Communication at the University of Lagos. He graduated from UNILAG in 1981 and plunged into active journalism immediately he finished his compulsory national service in 1982. He worked briefly with the defunct Drum Magazine before he was employed by the Concord Group of Newspapers, published by the late Chief Moshood Abiola. He served as National Assembly Correspondent before he was transferred in June 1983 to Akure, the Ondo state capital, as Chief correspondent.

It was while in Akure that he covered the controversial 1983 general elections which he documented for posterity in his well researched and well written book, House of War, a definitive study of the politics of Nigeria’s second republic. Babarinsa was a pioneer staff of Newswatch, founded by the quartet of the late Dele Giwa, Ray Ekpu, Dan Agbese and Yakubu Mohammed, which he joined in November 1984. He was one of the star reporters of that organisation with the likes of Dele Omotunde, Nosa Igiebor, Dele Olojede, May Ellen-Ezekiel, Onome Osifo-Whiskey, Lawson Omokhodion, Wale Oladepo and many others.

Babarinsa reached the peak of his journalistic career in 1990 when at 35, he joined four other leading journalists, Igiebor, Omotunde, Osifo-Whiskey and Kolawole Ilori, to start the award-winning TELL magazine. From his pedestal as an executive director of the magazine, he has impacted positively on contemporary events and social norms. His new love, Gaskia Media Ltd, is envisioned as a first-class integrated media firm, dedicated to harnessing its vast intellectual and journalistic resources to shed light on the laudable and profound achievements of leaders and institutions in Nigeria’s public space.

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