The Executive Secretary of the National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), Dr. Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma, who is also a Visiting Associate Professor of Theatre and Cultural Studies at the Nasarawa State University, Keffi (NSUK), has said the teaching of indigenous languages in tertiary institutions in Nigeria should be made compulsory in other to reduce the communication barrier in the country and spread the speaking of Nigerian languages.

Prof. Ayakoroma, who said this in Abuja while fielding questions from journalists at the closing ceremony of the 2016 edition of the one-month long Nigerian Indigenous Language Programme (NILP), organized by the Institute at its headquarters located on No. 23, Kigoma Street, Wuse Zone 7, Abuja-FCT, on Tuesday, 30th August, 2016, maintained that it is in so doing that the country can encourage the speaking of Nigerian indigenous languages and save them from going into extinction.

His words: “It is our desire that every Nigerian university, College of Education and Polytechnic should teach compulsorily, the indigenous language of the immediate environment so that we can reduce the level of communication barrier that we are having in this country.

Continuing, he said, “We want to see a situation where when Nigerian languages are taught compulsorily in institutions of higher learning, foreigners who come into Nigerian schools would be made to study Nigerian languages as it is the case with most foreign institutions of higher learning”.

“For us in NICO, we have made the teaching of Nigerian languages compulsory in our Diploma, Advanced Diploma and Postgraduate Diploma programmes, so that by the time you finish the programme, you would have learnt the language of the immediate environment.”

Ayakoroma said further: “Our thinking is that if somebody is studying at the University of Abuja, for example, he has the option of studying Gbagyi or Hausa languages. If he is in Lagos, he studies Yoruba and any other Nigerian language, if in the Niger Delta, you have Izon and any other language and in the Igbo axis, you have to learn Igbo so that by the time they get a degree, they must have understood the people and their culture”.

Speaking earlier on the impact of the NICO’s Nigerian Indigenous Language Programme (NILP), Ayakoroma had said that the patronage of the programme had improved as many establishments were responding positively to the Institute’s request for participation, stressing that the more Nigerians break the language barrier, the better it is for the nation.

While reiterating the Institute’s desire to use the language training platform to ensure that every Nigerian speaks at least one language other than his or her own as a sure way for Nigerians to better understand themselves, the ES expressed the belief that with time, the patronage of the training programme will improve with the hope that well meaning organizations will be willing to partner NICO in taking the programme to places.

He maintained that, “the idea of the indigenous language programme was to meaningfully engage children during the long vacation but now the programme has gone beyond children to the level where workers are participating and that was why we have conceptualized the weekend indigenous language programme so that people can take time off Saturday and probably occasionally on Sundays to come and do the programme so that it does not conflict their jobs since most people occupy sensitive positions in their offices”.

Speaking in the same vein, NICO’s Director of Orientation and Cultural Affairs, Mr. Alex Omijie also emphasized the Institute’s efforts at expanding and repackaging the language programme to benefit workers in the public and private sector, stressing that  in furtherance of her statutory responsibility, the Institute had already taken steps in addition to the one-month intensive training course to foster and preserve our indigenous languages through the review of the Training School syllabus in order to accommodate the teaching of Nigerian languages.

Caleb Nor

Corporate Affairs Unit

NICO, Abuja