By Achadu Gabriel, Kaduna
A retired professor of Language from Nasarawa State University, Prof Umaru Ahmed, has said on Tuesday, that only the use of indigenous language in academic institutions would liberate Nigeria from abject poverty.
Ahmed stated this in a Keynote address, presented at the 1st International Conference with the theme, “Humanities and the Challenge of Poverty in Africa in the 21st Century,” organised by Faculty of Arts, Kaduna State University (KASU).
He said that poverty could be material and non-material, while describing non-material poverty such as intellectual poverty, lack of skills and initiative as the main driver of poverty in the country.
According to him, education is the key to ending poverty in Africa and Nigeria in particular, adding that the use of indigenous language will make it easier to educate the country’s population.
“A child learns better and faster in his mother-tongue, because it flows naturally and enables a child to express himself better than foreign language. This is evident in the developed countries of the West that uses indigenous languages in educating their population.
“Unfortunately, African countries adopted foreign languages as main means of communication and teaching, which remained a hindrance to effective transfer of knowledge in our schools.”
He called on governments at all levels to institute policies that allow the use of indigenous language in educating the people.
One of the lead paper presenters, Prof. Okpe Okpe, of History Department, Federal University, Lafiya, said that poverty is multidimensional and should not be viewed only on the bases of how much money a person has.
Okpe noted that one could be rich, but could suffer from intellectual poverty, thereby, lacking the ability to effectively manage available resources.
He said that Africa was not able to take advantage of the 21st century because the continent failed to address poverty, largely caused by lack of education.
He said that until the academics in the humanities identified its leading role of educating the populace to rediscover themselves and become creative and inventive, poverty would continue to ravage Africa and its people.
“The humanities are the creators of social values, from which science and technology emanate within the cultural and social values of a given society.
“This is because, it is the humanities that create people that think before inventions and innovations can take place,” he said.
Another lead paper presenter, Prof. Salisu Shehu, of Bayero University, Kano, said that Africa was poor because of paucity of knowledge, poor leadership, poor attitude to life and failure to plan.
Shehu said that the humanities help the individual to rediscover himself and identify his place in the society.
He however noted that the humanities have been relegated to the background in favour of sciences, adding that no society would move forward without first rediscovering themselves and their place in the world.
Earlier, chairman of the occasion, Ja’afaru Sani, who is Kaduna State Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, said that as a frontier of knowledge, KASU is transforming into a centre of excellence.
Sani commended the University for leading public discourse on the ravaging poverty affecting Nigeria and Africa.
He reiterated the state’s government’s effort in fighting poverty through provision of quality education.
According to him, there is no better way of fighting poverty in Africa than providing quality education.
Dean of the faculty, Dr Imam Isa, noted that Africa was blessed with huge human and natural resources, yet wallowing in abject poverty.
Isa said that the conference was organised to provide an avenue for the academia in the humanities to deliberate on the increasing poverty in Africa with a view to providing solutions.