February 21, 2024

Professor of History, Siyan Oyeweso will deliver lecture at a conference organised in honour of Dr. Segun Osoba – historian, Marxist scholar, constitutionalist, trade unionist, social justice activist.

Osoba, a former governor of Ogun State, will be marking his 89th birthday in January 2024.

The conference will be held at Tai Solarin University of Education (TASUED), Ijebu-Ode. The co-conveners of the conference are Dr. Osoba’s mentees, admirers, former students and the Yusufu Bala Usman Institute (YBUI). The conference will critically examine Osoba’s writings and other academic contributions. It will pay special attention to the discourses surrounding Osoba’s intellectual engagements, most especially his ideas regarding the political economy of nation-building, constitutionalism, labor unionism, human rights, economic freedom, social justice, and the ways they are energized by intellectual and historical imaginations. The overarching theme of the conference is “History and the Persistent Struggle: Social Change, Nation-Building, and Constitution-Making in Post-Independence Africa.” These are among the subjects on which Osoba has written, and they constitute subjects on which papers and addresses will be delivered.

There are two keynote addresses. The first keynote address will be delivered by Professor Siyan Oyeweso, FHSN, FNAL, Professor of History, Osun State University and Executive Director, Centre for Black Culture and International Understanding, Abere, Osun State. The topic of his address is “Segun Osoba: Encountering a Historian and Radical Ideologist in Modern Nigeria.” It will be delivered on Monday, December 18, 2023.

The second keynote address will come from Dr. Ebenezer Obadare, formerly professor of sociology at University of Kansas and now the Douglas Dillon Senior Fellow for Africa Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in Washington DC. His address, which is entitled, “Rekindling the Scientific Spirit: Historical Criticism in the Age of Sacred Authority,” will be delivered on Tuesday, December 19, 2023.

In addition to the keynote addresses, fifty academic papers and a workshop will be presented over the two days. Presenters include both eminent and emerging scholars from Nigeria and other parts of West Africa, and from the United States of America. These presenters are too numerous to list here, but I call attention to a few. Osoba’s compatriots at Ife, ably represented by Professors Omotoye Olorode, Idowu Awopetu, and Olasope Oyelaran are scheduled to present papers and share reminiscences at the conference. Many younger scholars currently teaching at Ife are also presenting papers. In addition, several of Dr. Osoba’s former students are presenting papers. They include Professors Femi Taiwo (Cornell University), Akanmu Adebayo (Kennesaw State University), Rasheed Ajetunmobi (TASUED), Olutayo Adesina (University of Ibadan), and Dapo Thomas (LASU). Professor Lai Olurode, retired professor of sociology at the University of Lagos and a national commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), will deliver a paper. Ms. Norma Perchonock, Director at the Yusufu Bala Usman Institute, Zaria, will examine the relationships between Osoba and the late Yusufu Bala Usman. That promises to be interesting!

Osoba moved to Ijebu-Ode after his retirement from Ife in 1991. Now advanced in age (he will be 89 in January 2024), Osoba’s fighting spirit has not diminished one bit. The conference’s main theme, “history and the persistent struggle,” is a fitting title that mirrors Osoba’s life and career. Earlier than most scholars, Osoba recognized the menace, even crime, of neo-colonialism, corruption, capitalist development, and military autocracy. Today, he remains a leading advocate for pro-people policies and a persistent voice against bad governance, executive lawlessness, criminal graft, abuse of power and impunity. Osoba is a legend, a fearless critic who speaks truth to power, a historian who holds every leader accountable, and an inspiring teacher who has motivated several generations of students. He is a scholar worth celebrating.

We look forward to seeing you at TASUED in Ijebu-Ode on December 18-19. The program starts at 9:00 a.m. each day. For comments and/or to contact the organisers, please send email to osobaconference@gmail.com.

Professor Akanmu G. Adebayo teaches history and conflict management at Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, Georgia, United States.

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