BRIEF HISTORY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF RELIGION AND PHILOSOPHY
The idea of establishing Benue State University was first conceived by the first civilian Governor of Benue State, His Excellency, late Mr. Apollos Aper Aku in the early 1980s. The idea was translated into a feasible project during the regime of Governor Fidelis A. Makkah. The University was made real by the second civilian Executive governor, His Excellency, Rev. Fr. Moses O. Adasu who on 8th August, 1992 inaugurated a 13 member steering committee and charged it to (1) plan for and (2) seek for and obtain approval from the Federal Government for Benue State to have its own university. The approval was granted and on Monday, 15th February, 1993, Benue State University started her academic activities with an inaugural orientation commissioned by the visitor to the university, the Governor of Benue State his Excellency, Rev. Fr. Moses Orshio Adasu.
The Department of Religion and Philosophy is one of the pioneer Departments that took off at the beginning of the University in 1992 with a pioneer Academic staff of four lecturers with Dr. J. S. Moti as the first Head of Department from 1993 to 1997. The other academic staff included: S.D. Shishima, J. T. Kerker and A.S. Ihuah. At this humble beginning, the Department mounted two academic programmers: B.A. Religious Studies and B.A. Philosophy.
However the Department was later merged with History Department and it became known as the Department of History, Religion and Philosophy from 1997 to 2001 with Dr. Yakubu Ochefu as Head of the enlarged Department. At this time, the B.A. Philosophy programme was shelved due to poor staffing. Subsequently, the department was demerged in 2002 and S.D. Shishima was made its Head from that year till 2004. J.T. Kerker was appointed as the Head of Department 2004 to 2007. Dr. James Moti was again appointed as the Head of Department from 2007 to 2010. Between January and October 2011, S.D. Shishima was appointed for the second time as the Head of Department. At the expiration of that tenure, late Professor Joseph Sarwuan Gbenda was appointed in October 2011. He ran the office until his passage in January 2016. In view of his sudden death, Dr Victor Terna Igbum stood in for the late Head of Department from January to February 2016. Prof. Emmanuel Ordue Usue was appointed as the Acting Head of Department for the month of March 2016 and became the substantive Head from March 31st, 2016 to date.
The Department is currently offering two undergraduate programmes which include, B.A. Religious Studies and B.A. Philosophy. Efforts are on the way to introduce part-time undergraduate degree programmes in Religious studies and in Philosophy. The Department which took off with less than 20 students and four Academic staff in 1993 has more than 1000 students and 31 Academic staff as of March 1st, 2016.
Names of past and Present HODs and year (tenure)
Dr. J. S. Moti - 1993 - 1997
Dr. S. D. Shishima - 2002 - 2004
Dr. J. T. Kerker - 2004 - 2007
Dr. J. S. Moti - 2007 - 2010
Prof. S. D. Shishima Jan 2011 - October 2011
Late Prof. Joseph Sarwuan Gbenda - 2011 - 2016
Prof. Emmanuel Ordue Usue - 2016 - Till date
Aims and Objectives
As a Department of Religion and Philosophy of a university in a religious pluralistic society, it is the main objective of the Department to expose students to the various religions of the world, their origin, development, teaching and place in human development and their impact on the Nigerian society in particular. The Department also provides a solid foundation in philosophy, aimed at formation of a critical mind in readiness to grapple with reality in all facets of life.
The programme has in view products that go into teaching, administration and social work. It may also be steppingstone to further training for entry in ministry of the church.
The aims and objectives of the programme are as follows:
1.to train people with critical minds that shall be able to solve the problems facing the contemporary Nigerian society in particular and the entire world.
2.to train students for professional Religion/Philosophy and encourage interdisciplinary approach to Religious/Philosophies.
3.to inculcate the knowledge of Religion/Philosophy in students to help them live the truest life possible and a life of wisdom.
4.to train students for academic jobs and other jobs, and
5.to serve as a stepping ground for further and higher academic pursuits.
The Department has four journals which are published annually. The journals publish highly researched articles in the area of culture especially as it relates to religion and philosophy in Traditional African Society. These include: SWEM: Journal of Religion and Philosophy, ATE: Journal of African Religion and Culture and LOSI: African Journal of Local Societies Initiatives and ORCHE-UMA: Journal of Existential Philosophy.
The Department of Religion and Philosophy which took off at the beginning of the University in 1992 with four academic staff and less than 20 students now has over 700 students and about 28 academic staff. The Department has hosted several Academic Conferences both National and International. Also the Department has published a Research Report in African Religion undertaken in Benue State. The Book is entitled “The Traditional Religions of the Benue People” A Research Report in the Department houses four Academic Journals. Again, efforts are in top gear to introduce new Academic Programmes at the Postgraduate level in Religion and Philosophy.
Programmes offered with admission requirements and course duration
(UTME, DE & PG)
Academic programmes in the department:–
(A) Undergraduate Programmes
(i) The Bachelor of Arts (B.A) Degree in Religion and Philosophy.
(ii) Bachelor of Arts (B.A) Degree in Religions Studies
(iii) Bachelor of Arts (B.A. Degree in Philosophy)
(B) Postgraduate Programmes:-
(i) Master of Arts (M.A) Religious Studies (African Christian Studies)
(ii) Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D) Religious Studies in
(a)African Traditional Religion
The Department of Religion and Philosophy offers the Bachelor of Arts Degree (B.A) in Religion and Philosophy. The degree places emphasis on the academic content of Religion and Philosophy with a view to producing minds of a broad spectrum conducive to a pluralistic society such as Nigeria. The stress is on the content of major religious traditions in Nigeria, namely Christianity, Islam and African Religion. The programme does not represent any particular religion as sui-generic exclusivist system.
In the area of Philosophy, a foundation for those who want to do professional/academic philosophy is provided. Apart from the formation of critical minds, the programme will also serve as the basis to all learning, thus providing courses that will be of interest to other departments and disciplines as a way of encouraging an inter-disciplinary approach to studies.
Admission requirements into the study programme of the Department are generally the same as for the entry into the Faculty of Arts, Benue State University. The Department admits two categories of students; those for a Four-year degree programme and those for a Three-year Degree Programme.
(a) 4-Year degree programme
Candidates for this category shall have a minimum entry requirements of five credits including English language, at the Senior School Certificate Examinations (SSCE), National Examination Council (NECO) or their equivalents. The examinations shall not be in more than two sittings with a satisfactory UME scores as shall be decided by the University.
(b) 3-year degree programme
Candidates for this category must possess the following qualifications;
(a)Five credit in General Certificate of Education, at least two of which must be in the Advanced level, including Christian religious knowledge. African Religion or its equivalent.
(b)A pass in two principal subjects in the National Certificate of Education (NCE) plus three subjects at a credit level in GCE including English language and a General paper.
(c)A three or two year diploma in Theology, Philosophy and Religious Studies recognized by the University, plus five credits at GCE O’Level including English
JOURNAL: TIV COMPREHENSIVE ORTHOGRAPHY