The Lagos State House of Assembly has summoned Obafela Bank-Olemoh, Special Adviser to Governor Akinwunmi Ambode on Education; and the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information, Fola Adeyemi, over a press statement perceived to be against a proposed law on Yoruba language.
The House directed the duo to appear before its committee on education to explain the statement credited to the Ministry of Education, seen to be against a bill on compulsory teaching of the language in schools.
The development followed a motion moved on the floor of the House on Monday by the Chairman, House Committee on Education, Olanrewaju Ogunyemi, condemning the statement issued by the ministry.
Mr. Ogunyemi said that the House had done so much to protect the native language from going into extinction and the press statement was unfounded.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the press statement issued by the Ministry of Education had condemned reports on social media that teaching of Yoruba language had been made compulsory in schools, starting from the 2017/2018 session.
The statement read in part: “The reports trending on social media that the government has directed that teaching and learning of Yoruba are now compulsory from Primary to Senior Secondary Schools (SS.III) as from next session is false and unfounded”.
The statement said the clarification became necessary following stories on the social media which have been generating reactions.
According to the statement, such reports are capable of misleading the pupils, students, education stakeholders and the general public.
The ministry reassured the public that Lagos State Government does not implement policies without far-reaching consultations and communication with relevant stakeholders.
The ministry, therefore, enjoined members of the public to disregard such stories trending on social media platforms.
Mr. Ogunyemi, however, considered the release of such a statement without consulting the House Committee on Education as a “setback” to its drive in preserving Yoruba Language from going into extinction.
“The ministry of education cannot claim ignorance on what the House has been doing on the need to protect Yoruba Language from going into extinction.
“We held a Public Hearing where Mr Speaker directed the ministry of education to sensitise all stakeholders, including the six education districts.
“We must avoid unnecessary acrimony; we must not be seen by the public as working at cross purposes.
“The release is in bad taste to undermine the efforts of the House,” he said.
While supporting the motion, Rotimi Olowo, the Chairman, House Committee on Budget and Economic Planning, urged the House to set up an ad-hoc committee to look into the matter.
Mr. Olowo said: “It is imperative we set up an Ad-Hoc committee to look into this. I see no reason why another organ of government should frustrate this effort.
“Those behind it should be brought to book.”
Meanwhile, the Speaker of the House, Mudashiru Obasa, who differed from the submission of members, said that such release should be disregarded since the House was in the process of making the law.
“It does not matter what the release states, when the Bill is passed, we will send it to the executive and if they turn it down, we will come back here and do the needful,” Mr. Obasa said.
He, however, agreed with members that the ministry of education ought to have consulted its counterpart in the House before issuing the statement and said the affected officers should appear before the committee.
The House adjourned its plenary until Tuesday.