UNILAG Sociology Dept Turns 50, Seeks Town, Gown Rapport

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Peace Obi

The Department of Sociology, University of Lagos (UNILAG) has rolled out the drums to celebrate what it described as 50 years of commitment to accomplishing the goals of transformation of society.

Briefing journalists on the activities marking the 50 anniversary, the Head of the Department, Dr. Olufunmilayo Bammeke, said the event will be celebrated with the theme ‘Sociology and National Development’.

Emphasising on the timeliness of the theme, she said the event came at a time when the country’s development crisis is deepening despite its natural and human resources. She added that the rising case of youth unemployment and the consequent increase in youth restiveness, ethno-religious conflicts and other divisive factors have posed serious obstacles to development.

“The discipline of sociology offers plausible suggestions for the understanding and resolution of these development issues.”

Bammeke said the event would provide an appropriate platform to underscore the significance of sociology in addressing Nigeria’s development challenges, adding that the department has over the years been engaged in proffering solutions to various development issues confronting the country through scholarship and research.

Highlighting some of the achievements of the department in the past 50 years, she said: “In the 50 years, we have built manpower to train teachers; to train sociologists who will not necessarily be teachers, but will be working in different parts of the society. What we have done is to train manpower for society, embarked on research, produced books and journals. That is what we are paid to do and that is what we have been doing over the years.”

The HOD however said though the department has recorded many giant strides, the gap between the academia and the town has hampered a wider impact of its contributions to the society. “The utility of research findings comes from the policy makers adopting some of these recommendations. You find out that people have very good findings, but when it comes to taking decisions, they are jettisoned. So, there is this break between the academia and the policy makers which shouldn’t be.”

Speaking on the need for sociology to be made more visible, Dr. Ndukaeze Nwabueze called for the introduction of the course in secondary schools, saying that the teaching of sociology at that level will curb the level of ignorance on social relations and interpersonal behaviour among secondary school students.

“As it is now, there is so much ignorance in the populace about the principles of social relations; and because we are becoming more complex as a society, we now have to put some more efforts to carry the youths along so that before they get into the university, they know the rudiments of social relations and interpersonal behavior.”

Reiterating the importance of sociology in national development, Dr. John Oyefara said the department has contributed significantly to the development of Nigeria. “At the natural level, we have contributed significantly in the area of reduction of HIV, maternal death, infant mortality, ideas on how to improve life expectancy, among others.”
Citing Lagos State as one of the beneficiaries of its research findings on development, he said some of its recommendations on development are still being used in the state.

On the activities marking the anniversary, Oyefara said there will be an awareness parade on February 23, while a distinguished annual lecture with the theme ‘Sociology and National Development’ will be delivered by Prof. Tade Aina on March 16. Other programmes include a round table on June 27; UNILAG Sociology at 50, September 12-14; and alumni reunion and award ceremony.