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