Law to make Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo National Languages: Why the Bill Must die
There is new bill that will affect your history. It will raise cloud your civilisations and the indigenous values of your ancestors. The new bill is to legalise Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo as Nigeria’s National Languages. The promoters claim the new Bill will raise the status of the three main languages spoken by the three largest ethnic groups in Nigeria and make the languages the lingua franca of Nigerians.

On the surface, it looks good, but in substance, it is a threat to stability and prosperity of indigenous peoples in Nigeria, especially ethnic minorities.

One of the proponents of the bill is the Deputy Speaker of the Honourable of Representatives, Hon Benjamin Kalu who represents Bende Federal Constituency, Abia State on the platform of All Progressives Congress, (APC).
The good aspect of the bill: to ensure Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba languages are lifted to the status of the English language which is the official means of communication in Nigeria.

The promoters also think it will promote the three national languages and further legalise them as the instruments of political, cultural and economic interaction in Nigeria. Irohinoodua is appalled that at a time Nigeria is battling to cement the fragile national space, the National Assembly wants to create more cracks to weaken the structure of the country.
Languages are the repository of a people’s history, civilisation, values and heritage. Language represents the dignity of the human person. It is the custodian of a people’s spiritualty, sociological and material expressions.
It is the data bank of a people’s ideology, philosophy and faith. Language preserves a people’s epistemology.

When language is taken away, humanity is dead. One of the crimes of colonialism is the attack on the language of the conquered which the invaders first sought to destroy in order to diminish the humanity, pride, courage, confidence, being and essence of their victims.
Taking away the language of indigenous people and replacing them with the language of their oppressors is the first law of colonialism.This is the exact feature of the new bill being proposed in Nigeria.
Nigerians have the historic responsibility to oppose this bill with every legal power at their disposal. Languages represent the oldest form of human civilisation. It is the embodiment of local knowledge which ‘embraces information about location, movements and other factors explaining spatial patterns and timing in the ecosystem, including sequences of events, cycles and trends.

Direct links with the land are fundamental, and obligations to maintain those connections form the core of individual and group identity’
Promoting three languages above the remaining over 200 languages is dangerous. It is unfortunate that the defining role of language in human material and spiritual relations appear unappreciated by policy makers in Nigeria. The same argument pushed forward for the promotion of Igbo, Yoruba and Hausa languages are necessary for the remaining languages.
Language is critical to our understanding and interpretation of the world and in protecting the dignity of mankind. There are no fewer than 250 indigenous languages in Nigeria each with its own distinct history and importance.

There is no justification for making one more important than the other. By giving legal backing to Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa, the Nigerian Government will be giving legal authority to the suppression of the other languages spoken by millions of indigenous peoples in Nigeria. Language is central to the perpetuation and procreation of life on earth but human language plays these roles in different forms.

There are for instance 7million people in Nigeria whose first language is Fulfude; some 6 million Nigerians speak Kanuri, another 6 million speak Tiv while some 11 million Nigerians speak Ijaw language. Each of this nationality is bigger than many nations in the world. The Ijaw is bigger than the state of Israel; Tiv is three times the population of Kuwait; Kanuri is two times the population of the United Arab Emirate, (UAE) and far more in population than Eritrea.

The suppression of these historic identities will come to full blown with the new law that seeks to make the three largest ethnic groups the de factor cultural identity of Nigerians.
The law by all means directly or indirectly will subjugate the over 250 ethnic historical groups under the three most pronounced cultural identities in Nigeria. The bill also runs contrary to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity and the Principles of Cultural Self Determination. It undermines the rights of Indigenous peoples and seeks to colonise and enslave the identities of ethnic minorities. The suppression of culture, which is partly responsible for conflict and even violence across the world is exactly what the proposed bill represents. It is an act of high level cultural CORRUPTION.

This is the reason many plural societies give equal recognition to all existing languages as we have seen in South Africa, Canada, Brazil and many countries across the world.

The National Assembly should give equal recognition to the existing pre-historic languages and ensure that each existing Nigeria language attain the status of recognition by law. Irohinoodua calls on lawmakers in the National Assembly, especially those from ethnic minorities to reject this bill and kill it in its premature, embryonic stage.

Related Articles

Back to top button