Public Morality and Ethno-Religious Chauvinism in Nigerian: Why History Matters
Indubitably, history is a branch of knowledge which stretches way back to the beginning of time in human civilization and ipso facto, contributes to the shaping of a society’s past and future as well. As Marcus Mosiah Garvey (1887-1940) puts it, a people without the knowledge of the past History, origin and culture is like a tree without roots. Therefore, since development is a product of change, and the subject matter of history focuses on continuity and change, it follows that development can only be understood and appreciated within the context of history. This article examines the relevance of history as a discipline to the nation building process of Nigeria especially in this age when developmental breakthroughs are rabidly manifest before the comity of nations. It investigates why history in Nigeria has been sacrificed on the platform of intellectual negligence and why Nigeria is disconnected from her past. The focus of this paper is on public morality – the conduct of leaders in public service – and how abrasive corruption and ethno-religious chauvinism has affected nation building process in Nigeria. While drawing lessons from Nigeria’s past, the paper maintains that in an environment where corruption and ethno-religious chauvinism are the criteria for success in public life, public morality and national integrity are often replaced by chaos and instability which in no way foster cohesive nation-building, and until Nigeria learns from history, she may well be heading to the doldrums. Finally, the paper posits that any society that hopes to be transformed progressively and eventually achieve sustainable development must necessarily turn to history which is central to the humanities.