Language is not the invention of yesterday; it is one of the most precious heirlooms bestowed by the divinity at the moment of creation. IN PRINCIPIO ERAT VERBUM (in the beginning was the word) – Herbert Spencer, Philosophy of Style 
At first glance, it would appear that when we speak of Nigeria’s ascension to greatness, language is nothing but a rickety ladder if not a fiery meteorite which is constantly drawing us back. However, is this truly the case? Can our dialectical diversity or linguistic import ever be a viable tool in our quest for national development? If yes, which is the way? Many have, with good cause, criticised Nigeria’s adoption of an exoglossic language. They say it has caused a massive erosion and corrosion of our culture. They even say it is one of the instruments of neo-colonialism. But then have we ever paused to consider that this may in fact be a blessing in disguise?
Statistics tell us that of the 7106 known languages of the world, as many as 527 are present in this tiny country called Nigeria. This much heterogeneity in the fundamental medium of communication may no doubt be likened to the Sword of Damocles as far as the unity and progress of the country is concerned. Put differently, there is no way a community can develop if the commonalty cannot communicate in unity. A unifying language is indispensable especially in a country like Nigeria where there exists deep-seated inter-ethnic antipathy.
In school, for instance, I cannot imagine what the experience would be like if I could not converse with my friends easily regardless of their tribe. A friend of mine even once remarked that there is nothing stopping him from marrying a lady from the North if not that he fears she may not be able to converse freely with his family. Thanks to our English lingua franca, his fear is trimmed down to a considerable extent.
Above is however just one end to the rope. In spite of it, I still believe we must be wary. We must be wary of the prevailing and potential dangers inherent in exalting the Whiteman’s language when it is not that we have none of our own or that ours are in anyway inferior. We must be careful lest we end up as strangers in our own land and illiterates of our own tongue.
For me, Nigeria can develop at the same pace and even faster without the sanctification of the English language. And one of the reasons this is so is that the English language has constantly constituted a glass ceiling to the youth’s educational advancement. You cannot further your studies to the university level unless you pass English language, a feat many do not find easy. The West African Examinations Council said in August, for instance, that only a meagre 39% of candidates who sat their examination obtained credits in five subjects including English and Mathematics while in 2012, 57% of the students actually failed English language. If this course is made voluntary and is substituted with familiar indigenous languages, it will prevent the dashing of hopes and quashing of dreams merely because of lack of English proficiency.
An understanding and promotion of our indigenous languages can also help to strengthen the amity between us as a people. It will lessen feelings of hatred and distrust. Nelson Mandela clearly understood this when he remarked that if you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart. Thus, if students are encouraged to learn the three major languages in Nigeria during their basic education phase, then we will not have to grapple with situations wherein a Hausa man would think a Yòrùbá man is calling him a thief (bàràwó) when he is actually saying báwo (how are you?). We have even heard of one who murdered his friend because he called him aboki, a word meaning ‘friend’ in Hausa but which Yòrùbás take to mean ‘a dullard’.
Furthermore, indigenous languages can also assist in the preservation of our culture. Marcus Garvey said; a people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots; but I feel obliged to add that without roots, it is unthinkable for a tree to germinate or develop. Sadly, we presently live in a generation where mothers tongue-lash their children for speaking in their mother tongue, where pupils are fined for speaking in fine vernacular and where the youth rely on Android applications to get native proverbs. Also, we live at a time when of our 527 languages, 7 are extinct, 27 are in trouble and 43 are dying. All this must change for there can be no national development or even tourist investment if there is no unique national embodiment.
I would say that rather than wait to see how the language of our former slave masters will miraculously help us to become more developed than them, why not preserve and propagate our made-in-Nigeria dialects so that they may equally become foreign languages to other lands? Our fathers often say that no matter how long a log stays in water, it can never become a crocodile. Would it not then be wise for the log to ditch impractical fantasies while it works towards betterment?
DELIVERED IN REPRESENTATION OF THE FACULTY OF LAW AT THE 1ST SCOLA INTER-FACULTY ORATORY CONTEST ON APRIL 1,2016.
To be or not to be. That was the question that bothered the mind of Young Hamlet in the day of Shakespeare. It is a question which has lingered in our hearts for centuries without an answer. But it is not our problem today. Today the question is – has it been or has it not. Students’ rights: a myth or a reality?
Ladies and gentlemen, speaking is Adebajo Adekunle Adefisayo, a representative of the faculty of law here to dance with my lips to the melodious question – student rights: a myth or a reality. Do students really have freedoms? And if they do, do they have them merely by a stretch of imagination or in the actual recognition of our dear nation?
You may ask – what do we speak of here. What even are students’ right? Well, students’ right is our right to attend classes and not have to leave home extra-early because the hall is not big enough. Students’ right is our right to peacefully express our grievance and not get served a hot meal of SDC letters. Students’ right is our right to an environment that is conducive for learning, where there is ventilation, whether from ACs or fans. And I do not mean hand fans. Ladies and gentlemen, it is our right to pay tuition and not have to struggle to pay attention while getting doses of education.
Kay Granger once said, ‘human rights are not a privilege granted by the few, they are a liberty entitled to all.’ And so, students have rights just like everyone else. But the point is; are we getting them like everyone else? For it is one thing to have a first class pedigree and it’s another to have a first class degree. It’s one thing to be eligible for bed space according to the porter and another to be eligible according to UI portal.
Fellow students, today’s topic calls to mind some agonising ironies in our world.
Do we have rights in reality? Yes we do. In the reality of section 295 of the Criminal Code which provides in clear terms that everyone above the age of sixteen may not be corrected by a blow or other force; and that excessive force shall not be used in any case. However, in the reality of NASU members, students are never too old to get a taste of the cane. In the reality of Professor O.M. Ndimele of the University of Port Harcourt, there is no wrong in tattooing the skin of students with parallel lines.
Do we have rights in reality? Yes, ladies and gentlemen. Yes we do. In the reality of section 36 of the constitution which guarantees for every person the right to fair hearing. But then in the reality of Almighty Student Disciplinary Committee, a student case is nothing but a case of two foxes and a sheep voting on what to have for breakfast. In the reality of our lecturers, you are not innocent until proven guilty. Rather you are guilty with no chance to prove your innocence.
Do we have rights in reality? Yes, we do. We do in the reality of the case of Garba & Ors v University of Maiduguri where the Supreme Court held that the expelled students were not granted justice by the university. But what we find in the reality of the school? We find numerous miscarriages of justice and somersaults of fairness as we found again two days ago in the case of MOTE & Ors v. the SDC. One wonders if the Disciplinary Committee itself has discipline. One wonders if it is even a committee or a martial court.
Friends, the rights of students sometimes is like a dancing mirage which dances energetically in the pages of our laws and on the tongue of our leaders; but which never gives an harvest of laughter. When it comes to our rights, our politicians and professors have a high blood pressure of vocal expression but an anaemia of profitable actions. Our rights are the cars which ferry Student Union leaders to their coveted offices during elections. But after elections? After elections, we will hear that there is hike in fuel price and so this car can no longer move. We hear that the bank of justice has been robbed and is bankrupt. We hear that the buttery of impartiality and welfarism has caught fire. Ladies and gentlemen, we hear all kinds of things.
When I saw the topic, what came to my mind was – how can we reduce something as fundamental as fundamental human rights to the fabulous tales of Ijapa tiroko oko yanibo? How can we reduce it to the fantastic legends of the seeker? Why should we have to doubt and debate whether or not we have rights? Why do we even need SCOLA to advocate vehemently for our rights? Why? Well, I’ll tell you why. We need them not because our rights are a myth or a reality. We need them because our rights are a myth in reality.
Malcolm X once said; nobody can give you freedom. Nobody can give you equality or justice or anything. If you’re a man, you take it. And so, ladies and gentlemen, greatest Nigerian students, if you want to see your rights in 3D and not just on paper. If you want freedom, you must take it. If you want victory, you must struggle – why because as we all know; aluta continua victoria ascerta.
PRESENTED AT JAW WAR 2015 QUARTER-FINAL ON THE 7TH OF OCTOBER, 2015.
GEORGE C. Kimble said; the darkest thing about Africa is not its black people, its black magic or even its shocking history of slavery and colonialism. The darkest thing about Africa has always been our ignorance of Africa. Many persons cannot fathom what Africa truly is, the great qualities she possesses and the magnificent things she is capable of. And so when it is asked that: can Africa fight terrorism, as a matter of reflex and inferiority complex; we tend to forget the facts and even flex the index – all in a bid to say no.
JUDGES, fellow warriors in this tournament, ladies and gentlemen: Good evening to you all. Here stands an African, Adebajo Adekunle Adefisayo, from the faculty of law proudly saying yes to the question – DOES AFRICA ALONE HAVE THE CAPACITY TO FIGHT TERRORISM?
FOR the sake of clarity, the United Nations General Assembly in 1994 described terrorism as criminal acts intended or calculated to provoke a state of terror in the general public, a group of persons or particular persons for political purposes…
OUR Yoruba elders often tell us that a society without laws is a society without sins and flaws – ilu ti o ba ti sofin, ko le si ese. You see, though social scientists may not wear suits on a normal day, they do so by all means today because it is then law, the way of public speaking. Premised on this, I can confidently say that Africa’s legal weaponry is a perfect start in the fight against terrorism. This is evidenced by Article 23, Section 2, Paragraph (b) of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights which categorically provides that for the purpose of strengthening peace, solidarity and friendly relations, state parties to the present Charter shall ensure that their territories shall not be used as bases for subversive or terrorist activities.
MOVING ON, the existence and re-emergence of the Central Multi-National Force against Boko-Haram between Nigeria, Chad, Niger, Cameroon and Benin shows that Africa has the unity and solidarity necessary to fight the monsters in our territory.
MOREOVER, what could be more convincing of our capacity to fight terrorists if not the 2014 Global Terrorism Index which places as many as 10 African countries in the list of top 32 countries with least cases of terrorism.
ALSO, it is as clear as the Zik River that the social values in Africa are a nightmare for terrorism. It is these values of justice and equity that propelled the formation of the Civilian Joint Task Force which has been doing a wonderful job in North-Eastern Nigeria fighting and ousting the menace of Boko Haram.
FURTHERMORE, the great Marcus Cicero once remarked – to know nothing of what happened before you were born is to forever remain a child. Thus, the question begging to be asked is: has Africa ever fought or won any fight against terrorists? Besides, how better to judge Africa’s capacity other than through the caps in Africa’s reality? Africa has indeed won several battles against terrorism. And a good instance is the 1985 total obliteration of the Yan Tatsine. We also have the Lord’s Resistance Militancy of Uganda, the Revolutionary United Front of Sierra Leone and the Die Boermag of South Africa ALL of which are heard of no more today. And ah, not to forget our dear Niger Delta Militants who by the way promised us a Civil War should Uncle Jonathan lose the election. Six months later, it is apparent they only had the jaw but not the means to start the war.
IF my friends from the Social Sciences claim that Africa lacks military might to fight the blight of terrorism, please tell them that according to the 2015 Global FirePower list which ranks countries by military strength, India has the fourth best military in the world. However, this does not stop the same India from being ranked number six of the most terrorised nations of the world by the Global Terrorism Index.
FINALLY ladies and gentlemen, before I leave the stage, I must warn us. I fear that my opponents will soon come here to dish out a perfectly prepared delicacy full of the red herring fallacy. I fear that they will present an irrelevant item in order to divert attention from the original problem. And so, let us remember that the topic of today’s debate is not do individual African countries have the capacity. It is – does Africa, the continental land of milk and honey, have the capacity to fight terrorism. Therefore, my answer remains yes, yes and yes! If we combine the acuity of South Africans, the practicality of Egyptians, the numerical capacity of Nigerians, the martial vitality of Kenyans and the positive peculiarities of the 50 other Africa nations, we will not only fight the terrible terrorists terrifying our terra firma, we will in fact win that fight.
A speech delivered on November 4, 2015 and which got me the “King of the Podium” appellation (2015/2016) as far as Kenneth Mellanby Hall is concerned.
It is said that when the head is too big, it cannot dodge blows… The head of today’s event, Nigeria’s education, is bigger than its body and thus must endure being constantly discussed.
Good day fellow Mellanbites, kingmakers, fellow speakers and the audience. Before you is Adebajo Adekunle Adefisayo, an aspirant for the crown of the podium. And I am here to take the floor on the question – Nigeria’s education: a theorised knowledge?
Ladies and gentlemen, Terence once said nothing is said which has not been said before. It has, before now, been argued that our education system is not laden with theorised knowledge because we have various practical sessions like industrial training, teaching practice and chamber attachments. It has also been argued that the presence of quality private schools has greatly reduced focus on theory. It may even be argued that our knowledge is not theorised because we not only have theory questions in our examination, we also have German and objective ones. But we all know that these arguments may not hold air let alone water.
Finding an irrefutable assertion is like finding a popular YouTube video with no dislike. There are always two sides to a coin and two ends to a rope. And so it behoves me to examine the other side to this argument which in fact appears to be heavier. To compare it with the former is to compare Mellanby hall to a boys quarters.
The reality today is that our education system is crude and lacks exposure. It not only focuses on theory but off-base, out-of-date triviality. Our lecturers for instance find nothing wrong in using pre-colonial lesson notes 55 years after independence. We have engineers who do not move near engines, doctors who know no better than conductors and Professors of Mechanical Engineering who still take their engines to the mechanics for engineering. Our students can define the internet but cannot use it, they can define a laboratory and in fact list 10 apparatuses it contains but have never entered one, they can describe a wind turbine but have never seen one; they can talk all day about how the tractor works but we have not for once driven one.
In 2012, investigations carried out by Vanguard Nigeria revealed that many schools in Nigeria lack up to date computer technology and the few that have lack access to electricity. For instance, out of a class of about 60, only one claimed to have once worked on a computer – his uncle’s laptop.
Just last month, the cerebral Dr Olisa Godson Muojama of the History department was on air at Splash FM and he declared that Nigeria is operating mercantile, commercial capitalism and not true industrial capitalism. Meaning we import virtually everything but we do not ourselves create or construct anything. Even the things we manage to create, we still import the raw materials from overseas. Does this then mean Nigerians are too dull or lazy? No, of course not! It is only because our education system does not encourage creative thinking. It only reinforces routine robotic reasoning. The problem is not intelligence but lack of experience. And this cannot help us. It will only cast us in a state of motion without movement, activity without productivity.
You see, when Nigerians go abroad to learn, their genius often becomes manifest because of the change in environment. Almost a 100% of Nigerians who ever invented anything worthy of international recognition benefitted substantially from foreign education – from Saheed Adepoju who invented the Inye tablet to Seyi Oyesola who invented the ‘hospital in a box’, from Jelani Aliyu who made General Motors leading auto-brand to Cyprian Emeka who holds more than 160 patents worldwide. Last May, we also heard about Mr Ufot Ekong who made a speedy electric car while studying in Japan. He definitely would not have achieved that had he studied in University of Ibadan.
Fellow Mellanbites, what I am trying to say in essence is that we have the perfect intellectual pool, but our schools lack the perfect intellectual tools. School is not just about pen and paper; it is about ken and actual encounters. School is not only about learning and character; it is about knowing and being a master. School is not about la cram la pour la pass la forget; it is about la grasp la tour la surpass la recollect.
Gentlemen, I shall close by quoting from Benjamin Franklin, a foremost American statesman. He said tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn. And so if our education sector is truly interested in the impartation of knowledge, then it must provide not just updated theory but engaging practicality and actual intellectual activity.
Post scriptum: Paragraphs 3, 4, 8 and the last sentence weren’t part of the final delivery due to temporal inadequacy.
🔔 🔔 🔔 🔔 🔔
‘Hello Everyone, we know you cannot wait for the next season, thank you for your messages and support. Please stay tuned to this page as something really exciting is coming your way soon. Oratory … the power to change [Posted on Facebook on the 5th of July, 2011]’.
And that was the last we heard of The Debaters, a reality TV show which once kept thousands upon thousands of Nigerians glued to their Television sets while its two seasons lasted. This captivating and educative programme was a first of its kind as it gathered some of the country’s best youthful brains, trained them in the almost-lost-art of polemics and enlightened a broad audience sitting in the confines of their home while so-doing. It was a unique programme which rewarded intellectual growth and showed the world that Nigerians aren’t just fantastic on the football pitch or in amphitheatres.
Sadly and to everyone’s dismay, after the completion of the second season, the third never came. For four long years, we’ve waited but it still is not here. That lovely programme vanished into thin air without a word of explanation. But of course, it can easily be assumed that someone got tired of sponsoring it perhaps because it brought no financial gains.
However, this gloomy disappearance and intellectual homicide ensued in the same era where Big Brother Africa has been held for nine years consecutively and with the winner getting a whopping sum of US$300,000 last year. This tragedy is occurring in the same era Nigerian Idol, another Reality show, has been held for five years running. It is happening in the same time where MTN Project Fame has been annually held 7 times in the past and 18 contestants are presently battling it out in the 8th edition. We also have the Glo Naija Sings, Guilder Ultimate Search, Maltina Dance All amongst many others.
The importance of these entertainment shows is not in any way being undermined. But then the non-existence (and premature death) of equally top-class intellectually flavoured programmes (such as ‘The Debaters’ and Zain Africa’s Challenge) depicts the lopsided nature of our priorities.
In the year 2009 when ‘The Debaters’ made its debut, Lola Odedina (Group Head, Communications and External Affairs, GTB) said that GTB’s support for the programme was predicated on the fact that the development of the mind and the intellect is a tool for sustainable development. She also added that if the country would reproduce the like of Anthony Enahoro and Wole Soyinka who had through their oratorical skills been agents of positive change at one time or the other, there is the need for a well-structured system that would breed such agents.
To conclude therefore, I am humbly using this medium to call on Nigeria’s rank and file to strongly demand for the resuscitation of ‘The Debaters Reality Show’ and other programmes like it. Similarly, the bigwigs and large corporations in our society should also support intellectual activities as much as they do for recreational ones.
Particularly, the National Orientation Agency, the Ministries of Education and Youth Development and finally, Inspire Africa (which initiated it ab intio), should all strive to revive ‘The Debaters’ soon and in earnest. It will cost virtually nothing, yet the intellectual drive that we stand to benefit is simply enormous.
Bring Back The Debaters! Bring it back. Make it bigger and better.
God bless Nigeria! ✊
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This movement is not just about THE DEBATERS , it is to correct the general insouciant attitude of government and society to intellectual activities.
24-11-2014; UCJ FRANCIS EGBOKHARE INTER-PRESS DEBATE; SEMI-FINAL
Robert Anton Wilson once said; ‘Intelligence is the capacity to receive, decode and transmit information efficiently. Stupidity is blockage of this process at any point …’
Good evening judges, fellow pressmen, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Adebajo Adekunle Adefisayo, an ambassador of the Mellanby Hall Press Organisation. And I stand here today to advocate the motion that cyber space usage should be based not on censorship but on freedom.
13-12-14, UCJ INTER-PRESS DEBATE, FINAL ROUND
In the year 2009, 23rd of January to be exact; we heard a shocking and quite embarrassing news caption – ‘Police parade goat as robbery suspect in Kwara for attempting to snatch a Mazda car’. This headline incidentally came at a time when the nation started her head-to-head with insecurity; a time when terrorists had carved out headquarters in our territory. It only makes us wonder; whether our journalists are in the business of exposure, or that of mere humour.
The internet has been succinctly defined by ‘Webopedia’ as a global network connecting millions of computers. It allows for the swift exchange of information, whether written, audio or pictorial, between its users. The internet no doubt remains one of the most fascinating and highly influential inventions of the 20th century, with well over 2 billion beneficiaries world-wide. This truth is aptly captured in these words of Bill gates; ‘the internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow’. And this matter even becomes more interesting on realising the fact that it is something that is virtually free and which is under no monopoly. It is open to everyone, old and young, rich or poor.
Indeed, the internet has evolved significantly since its inception. No doubt, it has come with a lot of advantages, for all classes of people. For students, it has made research a lot simpler. I can only imagine how solving take-home questions and essaying must have been in the pre-internet years; herculean no doubt. Intelligence and visits to the library were then inseparable friends, but today, you can get as much information as you need to become a genius on a subject and to write a perfect thesis on a given topic, simply by paying Google a visit, anytime of the day. Websites such as Wikipedia, Gradesavers, Google Scholar and NOUN open courseware contain readily available free academic contents for willing readers.
Furthermore, the internet has also proven to be an indispensable tool to entrepreneurs. Why, because it provides the perfect platform to publicise any merchandise, no matter how odd. Some companies, in fact, depend primarily on the net for survival; companies such as Amazon, eBay, Konga, OLX and Jumia. These are establishments which allow persons to window-shop on the net and then order for any product at their convenience. With the internet, any Tom, Dick and Harry can make a living simply by harnessing the on-hand market inherent therein.
The internet is now part of our reality; anyone who attempts to do without it only does so at his own peril. It can both make and mar an individual; be him a politician, journalist, or even a fraudster.
It cannot be gainsaid that the internet has been a veritable social, academic, economic and political tool. It can be used for a plethora of things including seeking knowledge, fostering unity, tackling irregularities and creating awareness. However, it would be very deceitful to suggest that the use of the internet has been a jolly-good ride thus far, as that is far from the truth. The internet also has its downsides. Just like Jimmy Wales said on Al-Jazeera’s ‘Head-to-Head’, ‘the internet is a tool, it is not automatically a tool for good.’
One of the challenges posed by the use of internet is that of massive time wastage. This is because many pages and networks on the net are very addictive. After all, there is a good reason Blackberry used to be called ‘Crackberry’, alluding to crack cocaine. You want to keep liking, sharing, tweeting, commenting, uploading, fighting for ‘front-page’ or ‘first-to-comment’; and there’s really no end to it. Take a look at Nairaland, which has a feature of displaying the number of hours, days or months each member has spent on the forum, perhaps to serve as a yardstick of seniority. We find some who have spent as much as 6, 7 months, and they are still active. Any serious-minded business-oriented person will know how much can be monetarily achieved over this span of time.
People, most especially the youths, are ceaselessly glued to their browsing gadgets, just to know if anything new has come up. And sure enough, there is always something new. People even go as far as pinging in toilets, while crossing the street or even during interviews. That’s how bad the situation is.
What’s more, pornography and exposure to nudity is another key problem constituted by the internet. There are already tons of websites committed to misleading millions of people by exploiting their carnal weakness. It has been statistically proven that 12 percent of all sites are porn-oriented and 35 percent of all downloads.
The internet equally allows a fast spread of hate speech, propaganda and all sorts of fallacious information. A bored faceless individual sitting in his bedroom can just decide to cook up a story about Boko-Haram infecting beans and sending them to the South, a planned attack on the University of Ibadan, a suspected gay caught around town etc., and before you say Jack, the story goes viral and is believed by tons of people.
To conclude, I wish to re-assert that the internet is nothing but a tool, and like a knife, can either be used for good or evil. We must all be careful how we go about using the things the virtual world has got to offer, so that we may avoid hurting others, and at the same time, avoid getting hurt by others. Noam Chomsky once remarked that the internet could be a very positive step towards education, organisation and participation in a meaningful society. But then all that depends on us; for the internet can only go as far as we allow it.
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 13,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.