Nigerian Army orders all personnel to learn Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba before 2019

Tukur Buratai
Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai

The Nigerian Army has directed all its officers and men to immediately commence the learning of the three major Nigerian languages.

A statement by army spokesperson, Sani Usman, on Wednesday morning said all personnel are expected to be proficient in Hausa, Igbo, and Yoruba by December 2018.

Mr. Usman, a brigadier general, said the directive is part of the new language policy by the army.

Read full statement below.

NIGERIAN ARMY INTRODUCES NEW LANGUAGE POLICY FOR OFFICERS AND SOLDIERS

1. The Nigerian Army has introduced a new Language Policy. The study of foreign and local languages is world-wide practice among armies, in which officers and soldiers are encouraged to be multi-lingual. The Policy will foster espirit-de-corps and better communication with the populace to enhance information gathering, civil-military relations, increase understanding between militaries when operating abroad and assist officers and soldiers to perform their duties professionally.

2. It is to be noted that English remains the official language in the Nigerian Army. Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa languages could be used during Civil Military Cooperation (CIMIC) activities or interrogation. Therefore all Nigerian Army personnel have been given one year to learn the three major Nigerian languages. Invariably, by December 2018, all Nigerian Army personnel are expected to learn the three major Nigerian languages. The standard of proficiency to be attained is the basic level. Certificated proficiency level will attract Language Allowance.

3. The ability to speak the 3 major Nigerian languages will be an added advantage to those applying for recruitment or commissioning into the Nigerian Army. Therefore, prospective candidates are encouraged to learn Nigerian languages other than their mother tongues.

4. Before now, the Nigerian Army officially encouraged the learning of French, Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese and Swahili. French language is an assessed subject in some career courses and examinations for Nigerian Army personnel.

Brigadier General Sani Kukasheka Usman
Director Army Public Relations


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  • TAWANDA INCOMMUNICADO

    The Nigerian Army urgently need to train on fundamental human rights and their constitutional roles as a military operating in a 21st century democracy. That is more important than local languages, the military police and intelligence units may need to learn languages but not the entire Army.

    The Army’s role is mainly the protection of territorial integrity, it must not be exploited and manipulated into being a tool of political, tribal and religious vendetta. The Police force must be reorganised ,decentralized and empowered to carry out it’s duties amongst the civilian population. The Army must not usurp police duties and in the process committing crimes against humanity as it is presently doing .

    • Capt

      Very good point.

    • Olusola

      very valid point. Besides, 1yr is way too short to learn three languages except they will not do any other thing for the whole year. They can adopt it and commence teaching these at NDA, NMS and its sister schools, short service commissions and general training of rank and file at sign-up stage. Most soldiers in those days speaks all three languages, The colonial masters understood this and even cascaded same to civil schools, most independence leaders speaks at least the three. You may not know because English as official language was also enforced. I remember back in the days, once you set foot in school no more vernacular. Azikiwe, Awolowo, and the rest speaks these languages fluently, Ojukwu, Bola Ige speaks all three languages.

      • Dr Bunmi Binitie

        They only need to learn the languages for general communications not for pasing exams. Few months will do once they are also speaking them to each other on a daily basis

        • kinsly

          Thanks bro.

        • So oju abe niko

          Dr. Binitie, with all due respect, you have no idea. Even for general communication language is not easy as ABC. Other than Yoruba and English, in which I can communicate fluently at any level, I have been exposed significantly to 3 other languages, and I still cannot communicate in any of them. I have been exposed to French on a daily basis for 25 continuous years, I cannot hold a simple conversation in French. My parents and many relatives spoke Egun frequently (we are 100% Yoruba by the way) in my formative years, when it would have been easy to pick it up, but I doubt that I can even recall a simple phrase in Egun. I lived off and on in a completely Hausa milieu for 5 years cumulatively, but I cannot carry a basic level in Hausa. That reminds me of an Efik uncle of mine, who arrived in Lagos as a young man in 1940s lived in Lagos continuously for the next 50 years, but cannot carry out a simple conversation in Yoruba. Myself and the uncle are considered highly intelligent people – I have PhD in applied science and other degrees in social sciences; the Efik uncle was a barrister.

          Army has no business in enforcing Nigerian languages on non-speakers – it is a cultural hegemony. Let everybody learn to speak pidgin, the genuine Nigerian Lingua Franca. Besides, this is merely a ruse. The only language that NA has enforced indirectly for over 50 years is Hausa beginning from Saudana’s Hausanization days. Over 80% of Nigerian soldiers can speak Hausa – and any smart soldier knows that you cannot make any significant headway in the army unless you speak Hausa.

          As I didn’t intend my response to be this long, I will also edit it slightly and post it independently

    • Patriotism

      Situation may require python to dance, crocodile to smile, etc. this is to enable local to tell army where the criminals hide. Abi you be one of them?

      • TAWANDA INCOMMUNICADO

        Those dances should be done by the Police force .

    • kinsly

      Protection of fundamental human rights will become much easier when there is good communication.

      • TAWANDA INCOMMUNICADO

        When they massacred 3000 Shiites in Kaduna, most of them spoke good Hausa yet they killed the Shiites who spoke Hausa.

  • Anonymous

    Such order is discriminatory, if a minority ethnic group can speak his own dialect or pidgin so what is the issue? Is it only these 3 languages that are spoken in Nigeria? Pidgin shoukd be our lignua franca and even matters.

    • john

      That is right.

  • Tare Daniel

    Misplaced priorities. Teach your soldiers rules of engagement and respect for human rights. I believe more communities will be willing to work with our Armed Forces if they dont act like thugs leaving death and destruction everywhere they operate. Beside, if the Army is serious about this directive they woulf have invested in language schools like their counterparts abroad do instead of issuing worthless decrees.

    • Patriotism

      This part of the rules of engagement and respect for human rights. This will enable efficient communication between the army and local citizens. The Nigerian army are more than educated and discipline than you.

      • kinsly

        Teach the blockhead. Thanks bro.

      • Tare Daniel

        The Nigeria Army is dominated by Hausa speaking soldiers and officers yet cases of extra judicial killings/human right abuses are reported daily in the North. Please explain to me how speaking hausa helped those communities burnt by the N.A in retaliation for death of soldiers?

      • Otile

        Not so, soja has no business communicating efficiently with local citizens, that is the work of police in civilized societies. Soja belongs to the barracks or war front. Present Nigerian army is backward.

  • grand maze

    Good tactical move for internal operations

    • Gov. Okowa Mouth

      I wish our education ministry and FGN could make it a ‘COMPULSORY’ subjects in schools from primary to secondary, it must also be a condition for admission into schools and uni and professionally change our constitution and educational materials into those major languages, my apologies to the minority groups in Nigeria of which I fall into. When these are done, Nigeria integration will be faster and smooth, in addition remove completely from our our national curriculum ‘STATE OF ORIGIN’ and ‘RELIGION’ respectively then replace it state of origin with ‘NATIONALITY’, it will go a long way to heal the nation and integrate us quick.

      • thusspokez

        Nigeria continues to be run by fruitcakes who lack the ability to think things through. I wonder if there was any debate and discussion among the senior army officers before this policy was even adopted.

    • thusspokez

      “Tactical”, “internal operations”. What do these even mean?

  • MilitaryPolice01 [Joint Chief]

    While this policy is commendable with seeming good intentions; but I call it an exercise in stupidity! Why do I call it so? The deadline is 2018 and is not realistic. How do you expect a Tiv soldier for example to learn, understand and speak Igbo, Yoruba and Hausa within 12 months ? Can Buratai and his senior officers achieve such feat? It takes a genius with the best of IQs to achieve such and such are rare.

    So I wave aside this policy as an attempt to make what I will call ‘well intentioned but farcical noise’. The policy will be jettisoned in two months time.

  • john

    Has Nigerian Army become an Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba Army? I made bold to say that my language (Idoma) can never go down for other language in Nigeria. That is why I impress it upon my children that any other language they learn at school is just to pass their exams and discard it.
    Idoma first, Idoma second and Idoma third. Tomorrow somebody will come up with this policy in the civil service.
    It is an exercise in futility.

  • thusspokez

    The Nigerian Army has directed all its officers and men to immediately commence the learning of the three major Nigerian languages.

    Nigeria is not the property of three ethnic groups. If this is the road Nigeria wants to take, then Ijaw, Kanuri, Ibibio, Tiv, etc., — some with population larger than population of some African countries — should all demand that their languages be learnt too.

    Why should members of the 99% of Nigerian ethnic groups learn the language of other ethnic groups and not theirsWhat gives Nigerian the constitutional right to impose their language on other ethnic groups? This is a dangerous policy and the nincompoop policy makers in the army are planting the seed of division that will cause a lot of problem for the army as a united fighting force.

    The British divided Nigeria into three tribal groups and ignore 99% of Nigeria’s ethnic group. This led to civil war and disaffections that continues to this day. Appeasing these three ethnic groups, whether in state creation or imposing their language on the rest of Nigeria, is counter intuitive to promoting unity in the country.

    To unite people requires bringing people together and avoiding any divisions, but Nigerians — whom nature had deprived of critical thinking ability — interpret unity to mean promoting ethnic nationalism and consequently, division.

    What exactly is the Nigerian’s army’s rationale for imposing this nonsense on the army? What better way to create further division in the Nigerian army than to encourage tribalism in the army which should be apolitical, religion neutral and tribal neutral.

    Due that lack of thinking skills, let alone an ability to taking a holistic view of their problem/solution, policies and decisions made by Nigerian policy makers are often counter to the intended result — as we see in this case.

  • Netanyahu

    My goodness, if every Igbo soldier understands yoruba and or awusa language, the yorubas will be asphyxiated, matter of speaking. They can’t survive without gossiping against non-yoruba right in your presence. Oh, it is like oxygen to them. A friend was working under a yoruba boss and few other yoruba colleagues. Each time any task comes up, the boss will use yoruba to explain a solution to his brothers. At the end, the Ibo boy will combine what their boss told his brothers with his own native intelligence and came out tops. None knew he understands yoruba. He concealed this perfectly well until one day, he responded to a question his boss posed to his brothers in Ijebu dialect, not plain yoruba. The man almost fainted and shouted aahhhh, do you understand yoruba? When the boy responded in the affirmative, he screamed again, aaaahhhh, you are a wicked man oh. The boy’s fate going forward? Your guess is as good as mine.

  • marcos avelino

    There is blatant partiality and sectionalism here – why two southern languages and only one northern language. They should add at least one additional northern language say Nupe or Tiv or Kanuri or Fulfulde to give a balance.

    • Chuma Anierobi

      Little brain. Is it necessary to start with. Nigeria belongs to all language group and for that non should claim prime position.
      A language to serve as the nations language should be articulated and must be one very rich among all our languages.

    • Abdulmojeed Nojeemdeen

      Abeg go sleep

  • Chuma Anierobi

    What will this do with AK47?

  • Kitunde

    This is so funny……

  • thusspokez

    A more useful language for the a more modern Nigerian army is Sign language. Useful for communicating with deaf people in the general population; and at war front, to silently communicate with one another when enemies are within hearing distance.

  • Niger DELTAN

    This is a slap in the face of the Noble peoples of the Niger Delta. Any Niger Deltan in the so called Nigerian Army who ever enters a classroom to study any of these foreign languages MUST be stoned to death at sight and banished from ever stepping foot on his/her capital city. What kind of humiliation is this? Who forces another to learn his language and abandon his own. BUT some of our own useless leaders in the Niger Delta are to blame. They keep telling the fighters to exercise restraint and negotiate peace but all we get from Nigeria is insults here and there.
    What makes Yoruba a major Language in Akwa Ibom where 99% of the people speak Ibibio? This is pure madness. Instead of investigating and identifying the suicide bombers to attack citizens everyday you focus on forcing others to speak alien languages. Rubbish.

    Norway is 4.2 million people and their President speaks Norwegian when he arrives at UN general assembly. The last time I checked;
    Norway, Costa Rica, Ireland, New Zealand, Lebanon, Croatia, Panama, Uruguay (2 time FIFA world cup winners), Biotswana, Jamaica, Namibia, Kuwait, Oman etc all have populations of less than Delta State (4.6m people). So Every state in Niger Delta can exist as a separate Nation. This is why the Niger Delta Avengers and other freedom fighters in the region must expedite action, and make life extremely difficult for the invading Nigerian Army who are stationed to protect the Nigerian state and its accomplices in crime (foreign oil companies) as they illegally extract crude and rape our people of our resources. If we (Niger Deltans) don’t act now, then our end is near.

    • TAWANDA INCOMMUNICADO

      Meanwhile the Nogerian Army insignia is written in Arabic …..what a hypocrisy ?

      ENGLISH SHOULD BE THE ONLY COMPULSORY LANGUAGE IN THE ARMY IN THE INTRREST OF PEACE.

      • Abdulmojeed Nojeemdeen

        Go do your research,Arabic remains the most spoken language in Africa.

        • TAWANDA INCOMMUNICADO

          Arabic is not the most spoken in Nigeria by any stretch of the imagination. That insignia has origins in the Uthman dan fodio jihad and was adopted by the British Army based in the north in the early part of the 20th century.

          Only a few Shuwa Arabs remain in the NE, Arabic is used as the lingua franca of Islam and Nigeriais not an Islamic state, it is a secular democracy.

        • Biafran 1967

          Is Arabic Nigeria’s official language?

        • Kay Soyemi (Esq.)

          Actually, it’s Swahili, Bruv.

    • suleiman

      Please find a life for yourself. We are sick and tired of the threat to secede. Other parts of Nigeria can do without your oil. The Middle Belt is the food basket of Nigeria. You will starve without their food. The Middle belt can do without Nigeria or your oil because they have the highest concentration of mineral deposits in Nigeria. They have the second largest deposit of iron ore in the world. This is apart from other solid minerals. And if we add the arable and rich agricultural land, we don’t need your oil. We will import oil or produce electric cars. So enough of this bla bla about oil.

      • igboham

        Perhaps you should exercise that option instead of begging or killing for one Nigeria. all the time. peace.

  • suleiman

    How will Buratai steal more money if he does not introduce something that would allow large contract sums to print or buy books in the three ln languages? The defence budget is always the largest so Buratai wants to award a 2 billion naira contract, out which 1.5b will go him personally, 300 million to his unit commanders and GOCs, then 200 million for purchase of language materials during his tenure. That is the reason behind this. Of Course, Buhari will not proble him because he is fighting Boko Haram. This is the evil that has befallen Nigeria with the APC government. Big thieves being at the head of fighting corruption. Of course, only a thief knows how to catch his fellow thief.

  • Mr Integrity

    What of Nupe, Ibibio, Kanuri, Beni and the rest?

  • Whalerolex

    Another clueless fellow

  • Eluba Inas

    This is a bullshit policy. The only thing that is necessary is to teach the military to be professional and respect fellow human beings. Plus, even if there is some good in it in the long run, the duration is too short to learn 3 languages. Common sense was missing when this policy was being crafted.

  • So oju abe niko

    Nigerian Army has no business in enforcing Nigerian languages on non-speakers – it is a cultural hegemony. Let everybody learn to speak pidgin, the genuine Nigerian Lingua Franca. Besides, this announcement is merely a ruse. The only language that NA has enforced indirectly for over 50 years is Hausa, starting from Saudana’s forced Hausanization days in the Northern Civil Service. Over 80% of Nigerian soldiers can speak Hausa – and any smart soldier knows that you cannot make any significant headway in the army unless you speak Hausa.

    Learning a new language even for the basic communication is not as ABC. Some people are very good at it and many others have difficulties. Other than Yoruba and English, in which I can communicate fluently at any level, I have been exposed significantly to 3 other languages, and I still cannot communicate in any of them. I have been exposed to French on a daily basis for 25 continuous years, and I still cannot hold a simple conversation in French. My parents and many relatives spoke Egun frequently (the other language in Lagos State) in my formative years, when it would have been easy to pick it up, but I doubt that I can even recall a simple phrase in Egun. I lived off and on in a completely Hausa milieu for 5 years cumulatively, but I cannot carry a basic level conversation in Hausa. An Efik uncle of mine arrived in Lagos as a young man in 1940s, and lived in Lagos continuously for the next 50 years, but he could not carry out a simple conversation in Yoruba until he died.

  • Otile

    Jama’a Salam alekun. Utangirma Allah. Folks, this is good development. You all should thank Gen Buratai for his ingenuity. These three languages plus Efik are music to the ear, in addition they will foster good understanding among sojajin kuma mutane Najeriya.
    Gbogbo ile gba dum
    Ndi ebanyi udo diri unu

  • Abayomi Orafidiya

    There are so many Nigerian languages and imposing a few on all may not be the best option. Children have the capacity to master many languages at one time but adults are very much limited. Education is the key. If the majority go to school and learn the language used by the nation in international commerce (English), then the need to learn many languages becomes mute. While it is of paramount importance to preserve our indigenous languages, imposing them on others may not go well and may make speakers of “minority” languages feel marginalized. In lieu of a Lingua Franca, I believe the next best thing is the adoption of the english language which a large segment across the country already understands, if only in the pidgin form.

    • Kay Soyemi (Esq.)

      We don’t need to cloak everything in ethnic garbs.

      I think this is a plausible and commonsensical approach by the military and I applaud it.

      Sure there are more than 3 languages spoken in Nigeria, but if you are honest with yourself, you’d accept that anyone who can speak these three main languages in Nigeria will get by quite easily.

  • Otile

    This woman, you are evil-minded. See how you are demonizing Africans in order to please your foreign masters. You are a typical bad wo-man(woe to man).

  • Send them to igbo land to learn igbo then the igbo-biafra will eat them for food.

  • Biafran 1967

    You have claimed in previous posts to be a born again. I’m not surprised because you people tend to be extremely evil. There are 250 ethnic groups in Nigeria, not 3. Museum pieces like you and the army are the reason Nigeria is a zoo.

    • Dr Bunmi Binitie

      Son of an irresponsible mother who failed to give him home-trainning! How dare you use age to abuse anybody? How is that an abuse? You have just told God you dont want to live long. You shall have what you wish then.

      When did i claim to be born again? I dont have to. As a satanist you are bound to know becos you see the light in me from your dark world. Better repent and come out of the darkness of hatred before it is too late.

  • Iskacountryman

    hausa is the lingua franca of the nigeria army…

  • Chukwuka Okoroafor

    All these complaints aside, another problem is that the military is telling us to prepare for a long period of the military acting as the police. They are openly turning the military into an internal security force and that is a sign of a tyranny and failed state.