Francis Egbokhare, a Professor of Linguistics at the University of Ibadan, has been elected President of the Nigerian Academy of Letters (NAL).
Until his election as President at the 20th NAL Convocation, Scientific Session and Investiture of New Fellows, held recently at the University of Lagos, Egbokhare was Vice President of NAL.
In a communique signed by Egbokhare at the end of the convocation, the autonomous and non-political body of scholars in the humanities supported calls for restructuring of the country, describing it as "long overdue".
NAL noted that while restructuring the country should not necessarily amount to "dissolution of the federation", there should be dialogue because "nation-building is a collective affair".
“The recent litany of massacres in Nigeria and its handling by the Federal Government are disturbing. It is apparent that Nigeria is witnessing socioeconomic and political travails and her national harmony has never been more bedevilled with agitations and frightening descent into dystopia and anomie than in this present decade,” it added.
“Nigeria’s corporate existence, like that of any modern state, is subject to negotiation in a rational way (and such remains the inalienable right of Nigerians).
“Nigerians of all professions and ethnic groups have a stake in the development of the country, and are entitled to its dividends. Thus, they must be allowed to contribute to her evolving political and cultural frameworks.
“A nation achieves unity, not through dictatorship, infringement on citizens’ rights or brute force but by negotiation and respect for the humanity of its citizens."
The NAL event was attended by 112 professors, and it also featured the convocation lecture entitled ’Plural Loyalties and Multiple Identities in Post-independence Nigeria’, delivered by Professor Siyan Oyeweso, a Professor of History at the Osun State University and substantive Director of the Centre for Black Culture and International Understanding, Osogbo, Osun State.
The convocation and investiture of new fellows was presided over by Professor Olu Obafemi, the then NAL President, while Professor Egbokhare, the then Vice-President who succeeded Obafemi, presided over the scientific session.
Twenty-eight new members were inducted and four new regular fellows (Professor Raufu Adebiyi Adebisi, Olutayo Charles Adesina, Isaac Deji Aiyegboyin and Godwin Sogolo) were admitted into the NAL College of Fellows.
Egbokhare, the new President of NAL, is one of UI’s fearless, upright and most respected professors.
Once the university’s youngest professor, Egbokhare was Director of UI’s Distance Learning Centre (DLC) between 2004 and 2010.
A Linguistics professor since 1999, he was an Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung fellow at the University of Hamburg, Germany, between 1996 and 1997. He was also visiting scholar to Southern Illinois University of Edwardsville from 2002 to 2004.
A key feature of his sterling service to the academia is helping to attract grants to UI, chief of which is his role as Principal Investigator/Project Leader in the $1.2m grant awarded to the DLC over nine years by the John D and Catherine T Macarthur Foundation.
Egbokhare was inducted into the Union of Campus Journalists (UCJ), UI, in 2006, and has been a fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Letters since 2012. He currently has 102 publications (books, monographs, journal articles and book chapters) to his name.