Saturday 6 December 2014


On December 1, 2014, I was at a lively debate in Abuja to mark the 60th birthday of Dr. Jibrin Ibrahim, a Political Scientist and activist. The panelists were Prof. Adele Jinadu, Dr. Jibrin Ibrahim and Prof. Okey Ibeanu. The moderator was Dr. Funmi Olonisakin from King's College, London.

Prof. Jinadu was of the view that because of the ambiguous nature of Political Science ab initio, it is fraught with problems as a social science discipline. Indeed, the debate as to whether Political Science is a "science" rages on. This lack of precision looms large over the practice of the profession in Nigeria and other climes. Inspite of the ambiguity, Political Science remains alive!

Dr. Jibrin Ibrahim said Political Science died about 1988 when many "eminent" Political Scientists joined the "transition without end" train of the General Ibrahim Babangida administration. The salaries of lecturers in the Universities were very poor at the time. It was therefore an avenue for those invited by Babangida to amass some wealth, and leave the impoverished University setting for some time at least. In fact, Jibrin delivered a paper at the Nigeria Political Science Association (NPSA) in the late 1980's titled "Political Science in Nigeria: How our Professors are gaining the politics & losing the science". According to Jibrin, Political Science has not recovered from the brain drain from the Universities.

Prof. Okey Ibeanu made a distinction between Political Science in Nigeria and Nigeria's Political Science. He said Nigeria's Political Science should be relevant to society. According to Okey, there is much adversity in the Nigerian society amid incredible prosperity. Prosperity should take care of adversity. However, if prosperity fails to do what it has to do, then Okey foresees adversity swallowing up wealth. Political Science should remain relevant to society, otherwise it will remain comatose.

These were three views of the status of Political Science in Nigeria. How do we weave all these together? The consensus was that the discussion could not be exhausted at the venue. However this important discourse could be a wake up call for the rejuvenation of the NPSA so that younger Political Scientists would at least have a feel of what my humble self (Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa), Prof. Ibrahim Gambari (present at the occasion), Dr. Jibrin Ibrahim (the celebrant), Prof. Okey Ibeanu & Ms. Julie Sanda (Defense College, Abuja & present at the occasion) enjoyed as members of an earlier generation of Political Scientists. The camaraderie enjoyed by us before NPSA became comatose cannot be replaced by pecuniary considerations.

Ms Julie Sanda, are you with me for the nucleus of the Nigeria Association of Female Political Scientists (NAFPS)? The debate continues...

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