Vice Chairman committee on Education, Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon. Yishau Gbolahan in this interview x-rays the need of having national instead of indigenous language in a country like Nigeria.
Our indigenous languages seem to be fading away especially amongst our children, what is your opinion?
It will be wrong to be debating on why our indigenous languages are fading away. In the first place, we are not one as a nation and that is why we are not united.
We need a lingua franca that would bind us together as a nation and people. But, the more we clamour for indigenous languages, the more our differences continue to stare us in the face. Presently, we are not speaking as one nation because of our diversities both in the language and culture. But, I want to categorically point out that, we need a national language that would enable us stay together as a nation and people.
For us to think as one nation and people, we need one national language. Some nation speaks German, English, French respectively, yet there are ethnic groups. I believe, if they have been emphasizing their indigenous languages, they would have suffered. There is no way we can survive as a nation if we don’t have an identity.
For the purpose of oneness, we should adopt one national language. But, if the argument is that we have forsaken our indigenous language or thrown our culture away, then we can start thinking of our indigenous languages as secondary.
Which language do you think can be our national language?
The national language should be English and French. The importance of the universal basic education is to ensure that everybody speaks basic English. As a government, we should come up with a national language. Nigeria is said to have over three hundred ethnic groups and languages.
Therefore, it will be difficult to survive if we are advocating indigenous language. There are lots of immigrants in different parts of Nigeria who are doing businesses and therefore, national language will be of great advantage for them to communicate effectively. Having a national language does not necessarily mean that we have forsaken our culture and heritage. The Americans did not have culture or religion, they have survived as a nation.
For a nation to move forward, it must have a national identity. I am not saying indigenous language is not good but I am saying, to be together as a people, the language must be the same. If we have national language, there will be no discrimination.
Our native languages must not die for our posterity — Hon. Olulade
Meanwhile, a lawmaker and Chairman, House Committee on Information, Strategy and Security, Hon. Segun Olulade shared different opinion on the issue. According to him, there is need for urgent attention to be placed on the value of indigenous languages especially in public and private schools in the country. To him, teaching of native languages at both primary and secondary is in line with the provisions of the Basic Education Curriculum Structure.
What is your view on our native languages?
Languages are most powerful instruments of preserving and developing tangible and intangible cultural heritage in every human civilization.
Our wealth of cultural and traditional heritage has the potential to translate into socio-economic gains and promotion of Arts and Culture, Textile and Clothing, Festivals and Tourism, Food and Hospitality as well as Language and Education. Parents should be joined in the campaign to regularly interact with their children in native language.
Interacting with indigenous language should start from the homes. It is unfortunate that most parents have deviated from communicating with their children in their native languages. There should be educative programmes broadcast in native language so as to bring back our values, culture and norms. There is need for everybody irrespective of tribe or culture to educate their children in their local languages.