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THE COST OF IGNORANCE — HOW POOR KNOWLEDGE OF THE PAST HAS NEGATIVELY IMPACTED NIGERIA – ADAMU FIKA

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I recently stumbled on a very brilliant lecture delivered by one of the most outstanding public servants that Nigeria has produced, Alhaji (Dr)Adamu Fika, CFR, who ended his glorious public service career as Secretary to the Government of the Federation & Head of the Civil Service. AlhajiFikabelonged to the class of civil servants who were brought up in the British tradition in First Class civil services nursedby highly respectedregional heads of civil services – Chief Simeon Adebo for the Western Region, Chief Jerome Udoji for the Eastern Region, and Sir Kashim Imamfor the Northern Region (all of blessed memory)  The thought-provoking lecture highlighted the importance of bureaucracy to the proper conduct of governance at a period that could be safely described as ‘the golden years of the Nigerian Civil Service’.The occasion for the frank talk characteristic of the first generation of Nigeria’s civil servants was theYear 2011 edition ofBarewa Old Boys Association Annual Lecture. And the lecturer:  Alhaji(Dr) AdamuFika. The title:‘Going Back to Basics: The Past as Prologue’. One could safely speculate that there may be no patriotic soul that would go through the speech that would not ponder over its contents, out of genuine love for our dear country and our collective responsibility to build a greater nation. The contents of this document sourced from Governor El-Rufai’s collections speak very eloquently about the need for us all to use past occurrences as lessons for moving the polity forward along the envisaged path of progress.It is the type of document that makes one think about the place of History in Public Policy; and to recall the submission of a Canadian public Historian, Jean-Pierre-Morin, who stated that: ‘’As someone who must wear both the “historian” and the “policy analyst” hats, I’ve come to realize that what I’m doing is applying the historical thinking I’ve learnt through my historical training to the process of policy analysis. ‘’This adds value to an often convoluted and complex policy process. ‘’For example, when making policy recommendations on the Canadian government’s approach to Indigenous issues, I use historical methods and approaches to provide the best possible contextual information. ‘’I aim to use the tools from my “historian’s toolkit,” to borrow from Alix Green, to better organize information, challenge assumptions, and use historical approaches to help fill the information gaps in the policy making process.’’ This is exactly what AlhajiFikaadvocated for in the lecture under reference.Adamu Fika…

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