Reviewing a project of which one was part and to which one contributed is no doubt rare and is interesting. Even more interesting is the fact, that most of the contributors are successful septuagenarians with a wealth of private and public sector experience, who chose to put into writing their reminiscences of childhood days with a touch of the present. My task is to give a balanced and thorough assessment of the efforts put in by the authors.
The 552-page book The Independence Class of Government College Ughelli, Nigeria: Recollections and Perspectives is a collection of random thoughts and happenings of the past brought together by a group of like minds, within the same age grade who passed through the same experiences in a given time frame in the glorious era of a prestigious Nigerian secondary school.
Admittedly, each of the contributors told his own story, yet a centre point can be discerned. The focus was the officialism, and camaraderie in the College and how these concepts were fused for the management and upliftment of its members for the good of humanity. Officialism was symbolised by the discipline upheld by the College administration; camaraderie was symbolised by the relationships between the students. Both officialism and camaraderie were in turn propelled by the almighty “school bell” which, at once, was the mouth piece of the administration and “order” for all College constituents. The bell made administration less cumbrous and shaped the culture of the College community.
Nigeria has something to gain from the College in time consciousness, discipline and accountability. These are the hallmarks of development. The success story of the contributors is testimony to the bedrock of their upbringing. Nigeria needs discipline and self reassessment to move forward. The submissions in this book, albeit, about the past are appropriate for today’s Nigeria, because they are timeless. Discipline and accountability in which the college excelled are the benchmark of development and Nigeria needs development as a political and economic entity.
From all indications therefore, Nigerians across the board can benefit from this book. It can be used by both casual and serious readers. The recollections and perspectives can be useful also at the various levels of government. From the federal to the state and local government authorities, something useful can be picked from the book.
Contemporary lower and higher institutions of learning will need the book. Libraries should store copies for even those yet unborn. Collective works written by advanced, very lettered wisemen about their earlier days and experiences are rather rare. The presentation of the past with the advance experience of the present is uncommon. This book is being published at a time it is most needed, and no opportunity should be spared in accessing it. It is the foundation Nigeria requires for a ,successful take off, because no one can put something on nothing and expect a meaningful result; neither can one give out what he does not have; (Nemo dat quod non habet).
For us to move on positively, we must address our problem of discipline, the solution to which is proffered in this project. Pick copies now, archive same for future generations, because the submissions in this project will survive quite some time. A stitch in time saves nigh, I dare say!
The book, The Independence Class of Government College, Ughelli, Nigeria: Recollections and Perspectives, will be launched at the Government College, Ughelli Old Boys Association, Lagos Branch GCU100 Gala Awards Dinner holding at 1.30 pm, today (December 4) at Eko Hotels and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos.
-Professor Orobator is a professor of Politics and Collective Violence