[lg policy] Blueprint Underway For Nigerian Language Policy

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Tue Jul 27 14:45:28 UTC 2010

Blueprint Underway For Nigerian Language Policy
By Innocent Oweh, Correspondent, Abuja

Efforts to save Nigerian Languages from extinction and foster a deep
sense of nationality may compel the Nigerian Educational Research and
Development Council (NERDC) to develop a stringent language policy for
Nigerians. Survey by NERDC revealed that Nigeria has over 500
languages but does not have an explicit language policy besides mere
statement, none of which has been adopted as a national language. The
development led to the inauguration of a technical committee on the
development of a national language policy recently in Sheda, Abuja, by
the Executive Secretary of NERDC, Godswill Obioma.

He noted that unless drastic measures are taken to preserve and
promote them, all Nigerian languages might be abandoned in favour of
English in the next century.  Obioma said development of a national
language policy would accord the country greater recognition, bring
about unprecedented growth as well as protect and promote the various
languages that are indigenous to Nigeria. “Nigeria does not have an
explicit language policy, but only statements. In a recent language
survey carried out by NERDC, it was noted that Nigeria has 500
languages but none of these has been adopted as a national language.

“Some Nigerians abandoned their own languages in favour of those that
are more useful to them and some members of the elite group do not
speak their mother tongue to their children, there by resulting in
children speaking only English,” he lamented. He remarked that
existing policies have failed to address urgent need to develop and
preserve all Nigerian languages, arguing that there is a need for a
policy that will cater for Nigerian languages, because presently no
Nigerian language is national. “We don’t want our languages
endangered. They are about to die. The government must not allow any
Nigerian language to die. This is the essence of this exercise. “There
are12 national languages in South Africa.

The issue is not about one single language but the attempt to have a
policy. In Indonesia, they have 750 languages spoken by communities
but they have one national language for diplomacy and education
businesses. They teach them with that. “Papua Guinea has about 800
languages but adopted 400 to encourage their growth and development.
We have 500 languages but we need now ask ourselves what will be the
focus of Nigeria? Which of them do we adopt? Can we evolve one so that
we can cohere and understand ourselves as done in other developed
climes?” Obioma asked.  He said students could be taught in Nigerian
languages when the policy is adopted. The committee is expected to
submit the blueprint in three weeks.


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