By Stephen Oladele
National President of Nigeria Academy of Letters (NAL), Prof. Olu Obafemi has advised the Federal government to promote literacy and reading culture to aid realisation of the dream of a socio-economically Nigeria.
Obafemi said that literacy and reading culture in the country still remained poor 58 years after the independence and that this is one of the factors responsible for the stunted growth of the nation.
He spoke when he delivered a keynote address at the first National Conference the Department of English, University of Ilorin, organised with the theme: “Dynamics of Language, Literature and Culture in the New Age.”
The scholar said if the country is not to be relegated behind socio-economically it should promote literacy greater than it has done.
“We are in a knowledge-driven, global world in which literacy is a critical element of economic and socio-cultural development.” He stated.
The NAL president also urged the government and other stakeholders to commit resources and resource-input to the nation’s creative enterprise and creative community saying this would enhance and ennoble the country’s civilisation and humanity.
He said: “Literature is the soul of the society and no subsidy to develop, sustain and nurture it would be excessive.”
Also speaking at the occasion, Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof. Sulyman Abdulkareem, highlighted the symbiotic relationship which exists between language, literature and culture.
Abdulkareem commended the English Department for organising the conference saying that the dynamism or the English language has made it to emerge as the most dominant language in the world today.
He stated: “The reality of our lunguistic world is that it is between English and the rest of us. The lesson therein is that, if we are as dynamic and accommodating as English is, the sky shall always be our beginnings not even our limit.”
“When all is said and done, what is contestable is that, when we use language better, we achieve better result. It is in this regard that I enjoin Nigerians to take English more seriously in order to compete well in the global economy without neglecting our own language, literature and culture through English and other languages so that the dynamics of the new age will not submerge us.”
In his address of welcome, the Acting Head of the English Departments, Dr Abdullahi Abubakar states that the conference was organised to proffer solutions to challenges within the society.
Professor Olu Obafemi is also Chairman, Governing Board of Reproduction Rights Society of Nigeria (REPRONIG)