By Gbenga Gbelee
The Chairman, Nigerian Oral Literature Association and Erudite Professor of Literary studies;
Professor Gabriel Darah has advocated a review of the Nigerian University curriculum to lay more
emphasis on making graduates focused thinkers and builders of the human society.
Prof. G. G Darah who spoke on the theme; ‘The humanities and the redemption of Africa’ also
frowned at what he called leap services being accorded the Nigerian education sector by government
at all levels especially when viewed against the backdrop of the lukewarm reaction of political
propietors when Ivory towers embark on industrial actions.
Prof. Darah was the guest speaker at a public lecture in Honour of Professor J. P. Clark being part of
activities marking the 55 th anniversary of the Department of English, University of Lagos which held
in the Afe Babalola hall of the institution at Akoka, Lagos.
Prof. G. G. Darah who was Chief of Staff to former governor of Delta State; Chief James Ibori was
particularly displeased with the emphasis placed on Sciences and Technology even at the expense of
Humanities’ based studies in higher institutions of learning.
While referring to various historical facts and anthropological studies, the Professor of Oral literature
buttressed the place of Philosophy as the path to understand the world especially from the non
religious perspective as against overreliance on theology.
He cited the works of philosophers such as Aristotle, Socrates, Pirates, and Plato among several others
as facts which gave credence to the emanation of University Education from Africa with emphasis on
Mathematics, Sciences and Philosophy.
The guest lecturer who expressed reservation over the shallow depth of history in Archaeological and
Anthropological studies in many Nigerian universities particularly identified the Egyptian mastery in
Grammar, Logic, Arithmetic, Philosophy and Oration as feats which drove the world to its present
state of knowledge, a milestone which he said must be well celebrated and taught far and wide in all
higher institutions of learning.
While arguing in favour of the imperativeness of a knowledge driven society, Prof. Darah advocated
an increase in the number of Universities in Nigeria from the present 170 just as he referred to the
United States of America, China and India where there are five thousand Universities each as well as
Mexico and Bangladesh which have one thousand Universities each.
Other speakers at the event which included scholars from the Department of English of the University
of Lagos and beyond also called on the Nigerian government and others across the African continent
to increase their budgetary provisions for education and vocational training.
Earlier in a remark to welcome guests and dignitaries which included representative of the former
governor of Delta State, Dr Emmanuel Oduaghan, the Vice Chancellor, University of Lagos; Prof
Rahamon Bello who was represented by the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Academic Planning and
Research; Professor Toyin Ogundipe described the lecture as another testimony of UNILAG’s
commitment towards celebrating excellence in academic milestones as exemplified by J. P Clark who
became a Professor of English Language in 1974 making him Africa’s first and adding value to
knowledge as a University of First choice and the Nation’s pride.