The National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO) has pledged to partner NNO SANUDAZUWA EKABO, a socio-cultural organisation, which is collaborating with the Grace of God’s Schools, Mararaba, Nasarawa State, in the promotion of Nigerian indigenous languages in schools towards having a unified language in Nigeria.

Executive Secretary of NICO, Associate Professor Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma, who made the pledge while receiving a delegation from the organisation and the school in his office in Abuja, on Wednesday, 21st September, 2016, said it was in line with Institute’s mandate of re-orientating Nigerians culturally and that since language was pivotal to national development, the Institute will be delighted to work with them towards finding a unified Nigerian language.

Ayakoroma, who maintained that the only way to reduce the language barrier currently existing amongst Nigerians was for these languages to be taught, especially at the primary and secondary school levels, disclosed that NICO in her modest way has continued to use its Nigerian Indigenous Language Programme (NILP) as well as NICO Cultural Clubs in Schools platforms to create a sense of cultural direction in the citizenry.

His words: “We want to ensure that the language barrier is reduced in Nigeria to the barest minimum. For us, as an Institute, we have made a case that our children and foreigners as well should learn the language of the immediate community, where they are schooling to reduce the communication barrier”.

Continuing, he said: “We will always make this case that there is need for indigenous languages, especially the three major languages and the language of the immediate environment to be taught in our schools vigorously. That way, a child could be in Cross River and he or she can learn Hausa or Igbo and before you know it, anywhere they go, they can speak in these languages”.

He decried the situation where two Nigerians, who should ordinarily be seen as brothers, cannot communicate in one indigenous language, saying despite our diversity, if Nigerians can come to a point where we speak one language, it will go a long way in unifying us as a nation.

Speaking earlier, the leader of delegation, Nze Chidi Uchendu, while presenting their request for collaboration with NICO and indeed the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture on a unified Nigerian language, stressed the need for Nigerians to learn their indigenous languages in order to effectively communicate among them and to reflect a people who are from one country, saying that it is only language and culture that can differentiate us from others.

According to him, there is no doubt that the ills in the country as we have today, emanated from our dependence on the use of foreign languages, which has kept us in the state of people from different nations, averring that unless Nigeria rises against this trend, future generations will never forgive her.

While acknowledging that establishing a new language is very difficult, Uchendu opined that since Nigeria has so many languages, the major three languages recognized in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria should be developed and upheld for people to use.

Caleb Nor & Grace Imomion

Corporate Affairs Unit

NICO, Abuja