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Nigeria’s dearth of emerging social thinkers portends danger



PENULTIMATE Saturday, a university in South East held its 2022 Mass Communications Day where some experts in the field were keynote speakers. They  delivered seminal lectures in red-hot issues on very current issues in the communication industry  as a discipline and practice. After the lectures that lasted for over 40 minutes each, no single question was raised on any of the  topics by anyone among the students numbering over 200 – not even a stimulating topic as ‘Death of Newspapers: A Fallacy’ which was delivered by Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Anambra Newspaper and Printing Corporation (ANPC), Sir Chuka Nnabuife or the relevance of Mass Communication study by the Managing Director of Anambra Broadcasting Service(ABS), Sir Chido Obidiegwu.

  A SIMILAR scenario had earlier played out during a press engagement event held to mark activities marking Gov. Chukwuma Soludo’s 100 Days in office  on Saturday, June 25, at Governor’s Lodge, Amawbia, Awka South LGA, Anambra State, where no single question was asked by members of the media, save a correspondent of News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), when the cerebral governor finished his press briefing and questions were invited.

THESE two  case studies quickly smother into insignificance when interfaced with experiences elsewhere crassly symptomatic of Nigeria’s lack of budding talents to succeed its erudite, evanescing thinkers and communicators.

 TWO disconcerting questions connect the embarrassment presented by young communicators at the two events conundrum that stick out painfully like a bone in throat is how  the topics did not   stimulate enough intellectual engagement from them? Or the shocking  lack of requisite interrogatory faculty on their own part.

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  PERHAPS, even if proffering answers to the two questions may end up as guesswork , the real issue in the puzzle  is a growing trend of aloofness in current generation which establishes the need to urgently  liberate  Nigeria from a sword of ignorance dangling before the country like a hangman’s noose. Hence, another question scores the bull’s eye. How did the country come to this sordid pass?

  ALTHOUGH many factors share the  blame in this depressing phenomenon, the bulk of the flak goes to Nigerian policy makers and minders of education system who give little or no hoot to faculties or studies that open up mines and encourage,  think or bother what the  literary arts offer in social cohesion and national development. This trend began a  few decades ago, dating back to late 1980s. Since then, policy makers in education have consistently reduced study of courses in the field of  humanities to the  level of infra dig amid competing interests in tertiary education. They don’t care that the study of say  literature prepares the mind for deep intellectual thinking, and still grooms him or her to flawlessly communicate his or her thoughts, since with expert guidance an immersion in great novels, plays or poems delivers a sense of spiritual headroom that rubs off on integration which lasts a lifetime through the social connection it gives. Or how can two or more minds operating on different analytical scales connect paripassu in cognitive skills and deliver concomitantly? When one, as Socrates said, leads  an unexamined life that is not worth living, while the other consistently aligns to this wise counsel everyday?

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  APART from our society’s reward system which has contributed , our  recruitment policy into the teaching system  is also treated with kid gloves. Hence, nobody cares that most of those recruited to educate students of humanities are ‘teachers’ in need of education themselves.

  OF COURSE, an alibi for this is that tertiary education policy makers regularly evaluating the degrees schools award   on the basis of what job and salary they lead to in line with deliberate commercialisation of higher education. Given this line of thinking,  stem subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), as many believe nowadays, tick the boxes  as they are assumed to be of higher worth than those of the humanities and allied disciplines. But this explanation is not only too simplistic, it has dangerous and socially destructive potentials of squaring off arts and science in a needless rivalry that often favours the latter. Notwithstanding that across country, schools lack  well-equipped laboratories and research centres which is the least required to breed good scientists.

  BUT  the approach is both wrong-headed and shortsighted. We predicate our stand on the empirical fact that the arts and entertainment has become most profitable  productive subsectors of the nation’s economy from which Nigeria has been decorated on global stages. From Prof Wole Soyinka to Prof. Chinua Achebe, and now Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, to Nigerian artists, musicians, film makers as well as socialists in the  humanities have become world beaters and  made Nigeria walk tall in comity of nations. Why then will the nation allow its humanities’ talent pool to run dry?

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MORE so, it is well known wisdom that thinkers and innovators transform nations and civilisation. The Scandinavians and Europe proved this true after World War  I and II. Nigeria and Africa’s redemption lay in the humanities.

  NATIONAL Light calls on policy makers to get back to the drawing board and rediscover the study of humanities in the nation’s tertiary education. Doing this requires no rocket science, but just tweaking every subset of disciplines in a multi-dimensional approach.

  WHILE schools tweak their arts syllabus to meet current global needs,  governments and philanthropists should come handy with endowments to ensure  pools of funds to  keep running. Prizes and competitions should be increased, not only to keep artists busy but also as  pecuniary incentives. Governments should also ensure that residencies, peerages and other mentorship initiatives are encouraged by assisting mentors to take up as many young ones as are willing to go through their tutelage and creative firmaments.

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