By; Bala B. Bitrus, Minna.
In order to sustain our cultural identities, heritage and origins, Nigerian parents must learn to speak and teach their wards in their mother tongue, Niger state Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Mr. Jonathan Tsado Vatsa has said.
Vatsa expressed worry that over time, some ethnic dialects and smaller lingua groups had been swallowed up by larger ethnic groups largely because such dialects were not used in communication by their owners.
He opined that in order to safeguard Nigeria’s multi lingual diversities and ensure that no Nigerian language goes extinct, parents must ensure that they teach their children and wards their own languages, culture and ways of life.
The Commissioner revealed that from available statistics on many Nigerian languages, the English language was fast eroding some local dialects not only as a medium of communication but as means of expression in many homes across the country.
Speaking in an interview, the Commissioner regretted that most homes have become captives of the English language as it has become the lingua franca in most homes today while native dialects have been subsumed to a second fiddle option.
Vatsa cautioned that the trend if not checked, would do more harm than any good to indigenous tribes across in the country.Vatsa explained that though the English language could be used in official communications as a lingual franqua and when it becomes absolutely necessary in public discourse, the veracity of the use of English could in a long run, leads to the misplacement of some smaller linguistic groups.
The Commissioner disclosed that the present administration in the state was tinkering with the idea of introducing deliberate policies and programmes that would promote and encourage the use of first languages in schools across the state.
“My Ministry is looking at ways to collaborate with the Niger State College of Education, Minna and the Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida University, Lapai to develop courses in the major languages in the state as first language, so as to boost the cultural heritage of the diverse ethnic nationalities in Niger state” he said.
He said the “essence is to ensure that our children can read and write in major languages such as Nupe, Hausa, Gbagyi, Kambari and other local languages”. He added that this way we can help in building in them a better understanding of the various cultural heritages in the state.