[lg policy] We are ready to give Nigeria a good language policy says committee

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Thu Aug 12 14:58:03 UTC 2010

We are ready to give Nigeria a good language policy says c”ttee
Education Aug 11, 2010

By Olubusuyi Adenipekun

During the formal inauguration of the National Technical Committee on
the development of a national language policy which recently took
place at the headquarters of the Nigerian Educational Research and
Development Council, Sheda, Abuja, the members of the committee, who
are professionals in languages, promised to come up with a language
policy that will bring about rapid development of the country.

Professor Halliru Amfani, who is the chairman of the committee as well
as the president of the Linguistic Association of Nigeria assured that
his committee would not disappoint Nigeria, giving kudos to NERDC for
spearheading the effort which, according to him, Nigerians have long
been yearning for.

His words: “We are ready to give Nigeria a good language policy within
the stipulated three months period and we will do justice to our terms
of reference. A language policy Nigeria is necessary because we
realised that the people who were behind the development of the
advanced countries of the world were taught in their native languages.

This has been confirmed even by research conducted over the years.
There is no way Nigeria can develop if we continue to use English as a
medium of instruction.

Professor Amfani, a Board member of NERDC and a lecturer at the
department of Nigerian Languages, Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto
assures that his committee will not foist any language on Nigerians as
a national language, explaining that the committee will only develop a
language policy that will cater for all Nigerian languages.

He says: “Right now, we have English and French as the national
languages in Nigeria and there is no Nigerian language considered as a
national language. So, our work as a committee is to actually see to
the development of all Nigerian languages. Our own idea is that we
don’t want to endanger Nigerian languages. Nigerian languages are
endangered because they are about dying.

And since nobody wants to lose his or her tribal identity, then every
Nigerian language must be developed. Ths is the essence of the
exercise we are undertaking now. However, it is left to Nigerians to
decide whether to have a particular language as the national language.
But then, you can have as many national languages as possible.”

Dr. Harrison Adeniyi, a member of the technical committee and a
lecturer at the department of African Languages, Literature and
Communication Arts, Lagos State University, LASU, reiterated the
readiness of the committee to carry out its assignment diligently.

According to him, the members of the committee met on June 1, this
year, immediately after the end of the roundtable of stakeholders on
the development of a national language policy which held at the
Sheraton Hotel and Tower, Abuja, where he was mandated to send e-mails
to Nigerian language professionals all over the world, intimating them
with the on-going efforts at formulating a language policy in Nigeria.

He says further’ “All the people I contacted were very happy with the
development. So, we have no option than to produce a language policy
that will be useful to the country.

The move in this regard by NERDC is highly commendable. Many other
nations have done something similar. We have language technology
experts among us who will give us their expertise and the present
effort will not go the way others had gone.”

Mr. Aminu B. Muhammad, a member of the technical committee and the
Controller of Human Resources at NERDC, also spoke about the readiness
of the committee to deliver to the nation an acceptable national
language policy.

Muhammad, a language specialist, enthusiastically said: “We have been
yearning for ths policy for a long time. We need a language policy
more than anything else because with it we can successfully address
anything. It is very important to the development of our country.

We will do everything possible  to give Nigeria a very good language policy.”

Professor Godswill Obioma, the Executive Secretary of NERDC, who
inaugurated the technical committee on July 13, this year, did not
mince words of the strong commitment of the Minister of Education,
Professor Ruqayyatu Rufa’i and the NERDC to the language policy
project, enjoining the committee to live up to their billings.

Obioma’s words: “The importance of and need fr a national language
policy for Nigeria cannot be over emphasised as it is better
encapsulated in the set objectives that give impetus to this laudable
project embarked upon by the NERDC.”

He charged the committee to study and synthesise all the reports of
the roundtable earlier held, consider other relevant information and
materials and develop a draft national language policy within three
months from the date of inauguration.

He added that the committee is expected to strategise and work out
modalities for developing the draft language policy, develop a
defailed work plan as well as procedures for the activity and produce
a language policy that is “comprehensive, simple, well articulated,
well structured, implementable and acceptable nationally, assuring
that the NERDC will give all the necessary support needed by the
committee to execute its assignment.

The membership of the technical committee is drawn from relevant
ministries, Nigeria Arabic Language Village, Nigeria French Language
Village, Institute of Nigerian Languages, department of Languages and
Linguistics of tertiary institutions, parastatals, the six
geo-political zones of the country, experts and other


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