Some of the nation’s professionals in education.

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 stakeholders.

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