Language multiplicity, not Nigeria’s problem

From Okey Sampson, Umuahia

A Professor of Linguistics and Chairman of the Governing Council of the National Institute for Nigerian Languages ​​(NINLAN), Aba, Abia State Prof. Francis Egbokhare has said Nigeria’s more than 500 languages ​​is not her problem, but an asset.

Speaking in Aba during the 27th Regular Meeting of the NINLAN Governing Council,
Prof. Egbokhare said he disagreed with people who see Nigeria’s multiple languages ​​as a liability.

“The truth is that language is an asset; what you have to know is how to use diversity to your advantage. It is not language that is the problem; it is the management of language; it is the politics – the political process that is the problem.

“It is the policy framework that makes diversity an asset or a problem. For us as Nigerians, I think we have to take advantage of this diversity.”

The University of Ibadan Linguist, who is also the immediate past President of the Nigerian Academy of Letters (NAL), regretted that Nigerians had hitherto focused on the negative side of multilingualism.

They counseled that Nigerians should rather look at the potentials of language itself and see it as a vehicle through which all things hold together.

The NINLAN’s Governing Council chairman said the Council was taking steps to improve the lot of the Aba-based language institute.

“We are redirecting energy to look at the potentials and benefits of language. We are moving away from the old logic, and we are moving towards a new Logic of language and development by Integrating and interweaving language with every aspect of human life; and then looking at the Nigerian needs and seeing exactly how language can integrate with business, safety and security, and of course expose the wide potentials of Nigerian languages ​​in catalysing development.”

Prof Egbokhare disclosed that Council was approaching strategically the issue of the institute awarding degrees to her graduates as she was statutorily mandated.

On the Institute’s quest to be funded by the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), Prof. Egbokhare said there must be a window of opportunity for TETFund to provide some interventionist funding to NINLAN.

“What we need to do is, find a creative partnership that will allow us to benefit from some of TETFund’s funding. And we are working on those things.”

At the meeting, three professors and other staff were promoted in line with the laid down procedure.

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