Don seeks establishment of Nigerian English council

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A professor of English, Sola Babatunde, has urged the federal government to establish the English Language Council of Nigeria, as part of measures to promote and encourage effective communication in the language.

He stated that the council should be empowered to make pronouncements and policies that enjoy government backing for promoting National English.

Babatunde who is the immediate past President of the English Scholars Association of Nigeria (ESAN) was speaking in Ilorin at the just concluded annual conference of the organisation.

Those expected to form membership of the council, according to him, are patriarchs of English Studies in the country.

Babatunde said the agitation was unfortunate at a time that complaints had arisen on the low communicative performance of students in English language.

He also called on two examination bodies in Nigeria, the National Examination Council (NECO) and the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) to stop making credit pass in English and Mathematics as prerequisites for admission into universities or polytechnics in Nigeria.

Babatunde also described the the requirement as ludicrous that would not promote effective language communication.

The 37th Annual National Conference of ESAN tagged: ‘KWARESAN 2021’ was hosted by the University of Ilorin where Babatunde also teaches.

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The conference had the theme: ‘English Language and Literary Studies in Nigeria: Realities of the New Normal’.

He also suggested the creation of National English Studies Resource Centre to carry out studies on the National English (NE) corpus; implement relevant NE policies and other related matters.

The university don said proposed centre would be an ideal corpus to implement relevant NE policies and other related matters.

According to him, “This is why the call on the federal government to NECO and JAMB not to make credit pass in English and Mathematics basic requirements for admission into universities and polytechnics in Nigeria is not only ludicrous but also very unfortunate at this time when we are complaining about the low communicative performance of our students in English Language, and when our Arabic and French speaking neighbours are eager to come to Nigeria to learn the English language.

“The emphasis should be on the improvement of the facilities and the training and employment of adequate number of teachers to teach the two subjects in order to minimise failure rates.

“My suggestion is that we need to go beyond our previous efforts if we really desire to show that we are running late in our efforts. We need a change of strategies.”

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The forum of scholars is poised to collate and store for easy retrieval of all research efforts on the English language in Nigeria, adding that they are presently scattered.

Babatunde said, “The association has done its best, and the efforts are obviously commendable. We, however, think we need more than an association to take us beyond this point.

“We are therefore proposing the need for an English Language Council in Nigeria. The council will have as its members as patriarchs of the English Studies in Nigeria.”

The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, Professor Sulyman Age Abdulkareem, who declared the conference open, noted that since the Nigerian lingua franca remains English, moving a mountain becomes ease for students if they could put words together appropriately.

He said whatever knowledge derived from the conference was supposed to prepare the participants for a better Nigeria.

The conference, which was in a hybrid form, featured paper presentations by on English language, literature and linguistics across the Nigerian academia.

It also brought about the emergence of a new executive committee to manage the affairs of ESAN for the next two years.

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Elected President was Professor Tajudeen Surakat who would be deputised by Dr Victoria Faleke.

The conference elected Dr Saidu Yahaya as Secretary while Dr Olaniyi Oladimeji would serve as Assistant Secretary.

Dr Kehinde Ayoola and Dr Hauwa M. Sani are to serve as Editor and Assistant Editor respectively.

Publicity Secretary is Dr Mikailu Ibrahim.

Also in the executive committee are Dr Rachael Bello as the Treasurer and Mrs Aisha Umar as the Auditor.

Both Professor Babatunde and Professor Rotimi Taiwo are Ex-officio members.

The committee also includes Zonal Coordinators from across the geopolitical zones of Nigeria.

For North Central, it is Dr Tosin Olagunju while the North East has Mrs Zainab I. Ciroma.

The North West is represented by Mr Tajudeen Sadiq while the South East has Dr Moses Malefa.

Dr Bode Ekundayo would coordinate the affairs in the South South while Prof. ETO Babalola serves a similar role in the South West.

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