BY BERNARD TOLANI DADA, Uyo
A university lecturer and dean Faculty of Arts, University of Uyo (UNIUYO) Prof Joseph Ushie has described as absurd the systematic growth of foreign language over Nigerian own mother tongues.
Professor Ushie stated this in his remark at the opening ceremony of the 2021 Conference of the Nigerian Languages Project organised by the Department of Linguistic and Nigerian Languages in collaboration with Linguistic Association of Nigeria with the theme: “Local Initiatives On/In Nigerian Languages” held at the 1000 TETFUND Auditorium Main Campus, along Nwaniba road, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
He said that in the course of colonisation, Nigerian indigenous languages had contact with the language of the colonialist; the latter was more favoured than the former and then became the language of colonial administration.
2At independence according to him the language was bequeathed to Nigeria as a nation, because it was the only language that was used for administration, missionary work and later education.
and after attaining independence Nigeria has not been able to have language policies that could create functions for the indigenous languages.
He said English Language has since continued to gain so much prominence in the country that its dominance has stifled the growth and even led to the extinction of some of the 529 indigenous languages in Nigeria and berated Africans for not being able to realise the invaluable role of language as they allow indigenous language to go into extinction.
The university don who commended the organisers of the programme for their vision to embark on such historic project, which he said, has yielded the fossilization of many endangered languages and thanked the organisers for the choice of Uyo as the host for the conference.
“In a sense, therefore, this conference symbolizes a patriotic, radical, revolutionary and iconoclastic effort to rescue our indigenous languages from the jaws of English,” he stated.
On her parts, Prof Imelda Udoh who gave brief insight on the Nigerian Languages Project, said that the project provides arrangement value to all Nigerians who speak this special language including; policy makers in government, lawmakers, all tiers of government, students, teachers, journalists, tourists, linguists, and others.
She also disclosed that the project will provide data-base to help in decision making for national language policy for Nigeria, adding that the plan is that entire report will be published under the title “Languages of Nigeria: A Geo-political Profile”.