Nigerian lawmakers on Thursday threw out a bill seeking to make history a core learning subject in the nation’s primary and secondary schools.
The proposed legislation was rejected by the House of Representatives after members raised concerns about the implication of a language in it.
The bill, titled “A Bill for an Act to Make History a Core School Subject in Nigeria’s Primary and Secondary Schools and for other Related Matters,” was proposed by Ayodeji Oladimeji from Ekiti State.
Mr. Oladimeji said he crafted the bill to address widespread ignorance of Nigerian history – and even major historical events around the world – among Nigerians in primary and secondary schools.
“I have a secretary who did not even know anything about former Head of State, Murtala Muhammed,” Mr. Oladimeji, an APC member, said. “Colleagues, we need to do something about this situation because history is highly essential for nation building.”
But Mr. Oladimeji’s proposal quickly met an opposition, first in the person of Zakari Mohammed and later from other lawmakers.
Mr. Mohammed, an APC lawmaker from Kwara, said the word ‘core’ in the heading of the bill was problematic and blocked it from passing a second reading.
“I know it’s important for a people to know their history, but the word ‘core’ in the title of the bill is somehow,” Mr. Zakari said.
His position was later echoed by a few other lawmakers who demanded the bill be stepped down —even when they spoke highly of its importance.
The opposing lawmakers further stated that the parliament does not need to pass a bill strictly for the purpose of mandating history.
They said other key subjects such as English and mathematics are being taught in schools without special legislative backing.
But Mr. Oladimeji said he proposed the bill because he understood that history used to be in Nigeria’s early education curriculum but had since been removed.
The Nigerian government reportedly removed history from key subjects in schools in 2009.
Mr. Oladimeji said enacting the adoption of history into law should make it stringent for education administrators to expunge from the curriculum.
Speaker Yakubu Dogara, nonetheless, overruled Mr. Oladimeji’s prayers and urged him to go and rework the bill.
The defeated proposal came on the heels of relentless calls by academics for history to be restored into the curriculum for pupils.
In August, Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka, decried the removal of history which he believed would result in a lack of adequate education for teenagers.
“I learnt not so long ago that history has been taken off the curriculum in this country. Can you imagine that? History?” Mr. Soyinka, a professor, said. “What is wrong with history? Or maybe I should ask, what is wrong with some people’s head?”