Reps kick against new language policy by Nigerian Army

House of Reps
House of Reps

The House of Representatives on Wednesday kicked against the new local language policy proposed by the Nigerian Army.

The House also urged the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, a lieutenant general, to stop the implementation of the policy.

The House noted that the policy sought to compel all personnel to be proficient in three major Nigerian languages: Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba by December 2018.

The resolution was sequel to the unanimous adoption of a motion, sponsored by two members, Abiante Dagomie and Diri Douye.

Moving the motion, Mr. Dagomie reiterated the need for the Army to continue with the practice of communicating in English language in a multi-lingual Army.

Mr. Dagomie, who said that the policy infringed on the fundamental rights of the minority languages in the country, added that it would serve no purpose beyond fractionalisation and marginalisation in the Army.

He said, “Nigeria is home to languages, numbering about 400 and that language gives insight into the personality and culture of a people.

“Therefore, such a local language policy proposed by the Nigerian Army infringes on the fundamental rights of the minorities not to be foisted with the linguistic and cultural hegemonies of major languages

“This situation, should it continue unabated, will lead to discrimination and exclusion from employment opportunities, promotion and ambush of the legitimate aspirations of overwhelming numbers of non-native speakers of Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa in the Army.

“Nigerian society is heterogeneous and as such, in contemplating policies, care must be taken to steer discourse to what is integrating, progressive and amenable.

“This is to ensure mass involvement in the national development and democratic processes rather than pandering to primordial or tribal biases

“The policy flies in the face of an increasingly globalising world where proficiency in an international language is the current inclination.

“When we all use the same language, we have a common understanding of precisely what we mean and what is expected.’’

The Deputy Speaker, Yusuf Lasun, presided over the plenary, referred the motion to the Committee on Army to interface with the Chief of Army Staff on the policy with a view to ensuring a stop to it.

The committee is to report back in four weeks.



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  • Otile

    What happens to the billions of Naira Barutai earmarked for the quick implementation of the project, are they going to compel him to refund the cash?

  • Kay Soyemi (Esq.)

    Methinks these same set of legislooters would equally have opposed the NYSC scheme when it was established, were they to have been given the chance.

    Personally, I think the policy should also be extended to all politicians, particularly if we agreed that the late Great Zik was one of the most successful politicians that ever arose in Nigeria. Was his greatest attribute not down to his proficiency in the 3 main languages of Nigeria?

    You would need to get close to someone in order to learn the language and in the learning process is a greater appreciation of the other’s culture developed.

    Not everyone will become a polyglot, but this direction is a step towards a more cohesive Nigeria Army that’s totally unitary in structure.

    Left to me, the teaching of these 3 main languages should be made compulsory to all pupils till they leave secondary schools.