By; Bayo Akamo, Ibadan.
A Professor of Language Education at the University of Ibadan, Oyo State, Professor Clement Kolawole Friday said no fewer than forty three (43) indigenous languages are on the verge of extinction across Nigeria.
Professor Kolawole stated this while delivering his inaugural lecture titled “Language, Education and the Curriculum Nexus: Pathway to Archiving Sustainable Development in Nigeria” held at Tranchard Hall, University of Ibadan.
According to the Professor, the 43 indigenous languages were fading out because of the negative attitude of some Nigerian to their indigenous languages, avoidance syndrome, the influence of English Language and non recognition of these languages.
Kolawole stressed that Nigeria “is blessed with many indigenous languages and ranks third in terms of the countries with the highest number of languages in the world,” blamed the fading situation of Nigerian languages on the influence of western cultures, elitist policies among others.
“The language situation in Nigeria is described as follows: 520 are living, 7 are extinct, 20 of the living are institutional, 77 are developing, 353 are vigorous, 27 are in trouble and 43 are dying,” he said.
Speaking further, the Don advocated immediate recognition of all the Nigeria indigenous languages and that they be assigned roles in the effort at developing, saying, “our indigenous languages have to be recognized and be assigned roles in our effort at developing, since we cannot achieve sustainable development in the medium of a foreign language and we have abundance of languages in Nigeria. Efforts have to be made to allow them to be used as major media of communication and as subjects in schools up to the secondary school level”.
“These languages have to be formally recognized as medium of communication in the national and state Assemblies. Major national broadcast by the President, Governors or Ministers as well as messages in religious assemblies should be through indigenous language (the language of the people). Where it is not possible for whoever is delivering the speech to use the indigenous language concerned, interpreters should be used”.
Also, the Don tasked the department of Linguistic and African Languages and Teacher Education of the university to emulate institutions like ABU Zaria, OAU and UNN where writing Ph.D thesis in the indigenous languages are allowed, saying, “as a practical step to giving recognition to our indigenous languages, the department of Linguistic and African Languages and Teacher Education of this university should immediately commence writing Ph.D thesis in the indigenous languages concerned”.
“Whatever has made that impossible up till now should be addressed and removed. Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife and University of Nigeria, Nsukka allow Ph.D thesis in Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo languages respectively. All the Sustainable Development Goals, policies on improved health delivery services, economic empowerment programmes and sustainable agricultural practices should be immediately translated into several indigenous languages that have standard orthographies, be taught at both primary and secondary schools and be available to our people”.
Emphasizing that brilliant students across the country should be encouraged to study education, he added that “education and not engineering, law, medicine, pharmacy and technology that will drive sustainability in Nigeria”.
Professor Kolawole however advocated that “curriculum developed in the country should be based on the well-tested bottom-up approach to create room for those concerned with implementing the curriculum”.
43 indigenous languages going extinct in Nigeria – Don
By; Bayo Akamo, Ibadan.