[lg policy] The Lagos Yoruba Preservation And Promotion Law

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Tue Feb 27 10:39:59 EST 2018


 The Lagos Yoruba Preservation And Promotion Law
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Our Correspondents <https://independent.ng/author/correspondents/>
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February 27, 2018
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State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, recently signed into law the Yoruba
Language Preservation and Promotion Bill. Known as Yoruba Language
Preservation and Promotion Law 2018, the law, according>

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[image: Ambode, Lagos]
<https://independent.ng/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Governor-Akinwunmi-Ambode.jpg>Governor
Ambode

Lagos State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, recently signed into law the
Yoruba Language Preservation and Promotion Bill. Known as Yoruba Language
Preservation and Promotion Law 2018, the law, according to the Lagos State
Government, “aims at providing for the preservation and promotion of the
use of Yoruba language and for connected purposes”.

The law which is the first to be enacted by any state government in Nigeria
for preservation and promotion of indigenous languages, provides that all
the laws in Lagos State will be translated into Yoruba Language while all
state-owned tertiary institutions should incorporate the use of Yoruba
Language in the General Studies (GNS) courses.

The Law also provides that: “The use of Yoruba Language shall be an
acceptable means of communication between individuals, establishments,
corporate entities and government in the state if so desired by the
concerned. It shall not be an offence for a person to speak Yoruba language
by the state government. Those who may be willing to contravene the law,
the provision of Section 2 of the law states that any institution found
guilty of flouting it commits an offence and is liable on first violation
to issuance of warning and on subsequent violation, be closed down and also
pay a fine of N500,000.00”.

There is a provision that clearly makes it mandatory for all candidates
seeking admission into tertiary institutions owned by Lagos State
Government to secure Credit Pass in Yoruba at SSCE. This, therefore,
implies that as soon as the law becomes operational, those seeking
admission into Lagos tertiary institutions must obtain Credit Pass in
Yoruba.

We commend the Akinwunmi Ambode-led administration for enacting the law
which is not only the first of its kind in the country, but would also
ensure growth and development of indigenous language and culture thereby
preventing Yoruba language from going into extinction in Lagos. We recall
that a couple of years ago, the then Lagos House of Assembly passed a law
to make it mandatory that on a designated day every week, deliberations on
the floor of the House are conducted in Yoruba. There is no doubt that the
Yoruba Language Preservation and Promotion Law 2018 is another bold
collaborative step by the Executive and the Legislature in Lagos to give
Yoruba Language its much-deserved pride of place.

It is significant that the Lagos Yoruba Preservation Law was born at the
auspicious moment the world was commemorating this year’s International
Mother Tongue Language Day which UNESCO has been organising since 1999 to
ensure survival of indigenous languages.

As good as the Lagos law is, we are not surprised that it has attracted
mixed reactions from stakeholders in the education sector. For instance,
Director of Press and Public Relations, National Universities Commission
(NUC), Mallam Ibrahim Yakassai, reportedly said although education is on
concurrent list, since admission into tertiary institutions is central,
Lagos State Government has no power to enact law that is against admissions
policy of Federal Government. However, President of Academic Staff Union of
Universities (ASUU), Professor Biodun Ogunyemi, reportedly claimed that the
Lagos law not only aims at protecting indigenous language but is also
supported by the National Policy on Education and the constitutional
provision that puts education on concurrent list.

It is noteworthy that in spite of the mixed reactions from stakeholders,
they seem to agree on the need for Lagos State government to let Yoruba be
a general study course for all students in its tertiary institutions rather
than make Credit Pass in it a compulsory prerequisite for admission into
its tertiary institutions.

While we commend government for introducing the law and call on other
states to emulate Lagos, we, however, like the law to be modified in such a
way as to allay possible fears of non-speakers of Yoruba seeking admission
into Lagos tertiary institutions. Such modification is expected to engender
mutual understanding between government and relevant stakeholders to avert
judicial litigations. Rather than make Credit Pass in Yoruba at SSCE
compulsory requirement for admission which could be perceived as
discriminatory in certain quarters, government should make Yoruba Language
one of the General Studies courses that must be passed by all students
after gaining admission.

Consequently, any modification to ensure the law is not discriminatory but
still helps Lagos State Government achieve its objective of preserving and
promoting Yoruba Language, is desirable.


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 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com
http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/~haroldfs/

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