The National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO) says some Nigerian Languages may go into extinction if urgent measures are not taken to reverse the trend.
The Executive Secretary of NICO, Mr. Ado Muhammed Yahuza, said this at the 2nd edition of the Nigerian Indigenous Language Programme (NILP) on Monday in Abuja.
According to him, some Nigerian languages including Igbo and Yoruba, may not survive in the next 50 years.
“The alarm has been raised in socio-linguistic circles that over 90 per cent of the world’s 7,000 languages are likely to go into extinction in the next century; the situation is not different for Nigeria.
“According to experts, more than half of over 400 languages in Nigeria are endangered.
“More alarming is the speculation that languages such as Igbo and Yoruba, may not survive the next 50 years if urgent measures are not taken to reverse the trend,” he said.
Yahuza said that the Nigerian Indigenous Language Programme (NILP) in the Barracks was one of the Institute’s platforms to address the critical issue of language extinction and promote the people’s interest in the use of indigenous languages.
“The barracks, as we all know, is home to officers, men and family members of the military, police and several para-military establishments.
“The barracks is a mini-Nigeria, as occupants are from different parts of the country with diverse ethnic and linguistic backgrounds.
The programme will be of enormous benefit in fostering peace, unity and social integration.
“It will also enhance espirit-de-corps, promote cordial relations between officers and their host communities and finally, through their understanding of the indigenous languages, intelligence and information gathering would be enhanced,” he said.
Also speaking, Alhaji Abdullahi-Gana Mohammadu, the Commandant-General, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), commended NICO for training officers of the corps in major indigenous languages in Nigeria.
He said that the corps relates directly with the grassroots and, therefore, learning the different languages would help officers in intelligence gathering and effective discharge of their duties.
“The core mandate of the corps is intelligence gathering, disaster management, provision of security, among others. Therefore, the knowledge of indigenous languages will help officers in disaster and population management in their different states of posting around the country.
“There are culture variations and cultural differences which if well tolerated and harnessed, will bring about unity in diversity and peace among the various ethnic groups,” he said.
According to him, NICO has a lot to offer in the promotion and preservation of Nigeria’s diverse cultures which are embedded in indigenous languages.
Mohammadu, however, said that NICO, should through its various advocacy programmes, should particularly orientate the youths about the negative effects of drug abuse and addictions, as well as foreign cultural nuances such as nudity, which had infiltrated the Nigerian culture.
Mohammadu enjoined the officers of the NCDC to take advantage of the programme to foster better relations with the people.
In his remark, the Gomo of Kuje, Alhaji Haruna Tanko Jubrin, emphasised the need for security officers to speak languages other than their own, considering the magnitude of the security challenges facing the country.
He said that the language programme would help in the area of surveillance and intelligence gathering, while encouraging security institutions to adopt culture-oriented lifestyles.