Nigerians have been told to stop paying lip-service to the use of Nigerian indigenous languages, and that it was high time the languages were used in all spheres of Nigerian life, cautioning that drastic and aggressive measures should be taken within a decade so that the effect would reflect among Nigerians.
Dr. Peter Matemilola of the Department of Nigerian Languages, Federal College of Education, Zaria, Kaduna State, stated this in a lead paper, “Nigerian Languages, Education and Development: A Yoruba Perspective,” he delivered at a National Conference on “Nigerian Languages, Education and Development,” organized by the University of Nigeria Institute for Nigerian Languages, Aba Campus, Abia State.
Matemilola noted that part of the problem was that the provisions in the Nigerian Policy on Education (NPE) restricted the use of Nigerian languages as media of instruction at the basic level, and called for an urgent review of the NPE to cover up to mid-basic education, in the first instance, and later to cover the upper basic education level, and so on.
He posited thus: “Nigerian language as a matter of urgency be restored back on the curriculum of senior secondary schools as a core subject. A credit pass in Nigerian Language should be a prerequisite for admission into tertiary institutions. The language policies of countries like Germany, Japan, Russia, Egypt, China, France and others, whose developments are dependent on the use of their indigenous languages should be urgently adopted and adapted in Nigeria for meaningful development to take place.”
He stated that for indigenous languages to permeate into Nigerian life, and among the populace, the business of various State Assemblies should be conducted in Nigerian languages, just as commerce, religion, education, research, publishing, entertainment and other areas of human endeavour.
“It is commendable that Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba, Ondo State, gave her Convocation Lecture in the Yoruba language. Other universities should emulate Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, that has made Igbo compulsory course in General Studies and make Nigerian indigenous languages spoken in its area compulsory. Researches should be done in Nigerian Languages to make them highly relevant in information Communication Technology (ICT) to span through handsets, computers and the Internet. If there is French Village and Arabic Village in Nigeria and with plan to have English, it is only reasonable that National Institute for Nigerian Languages should be fully restored,” he stated.
Nwagbo Pat Obi