Director General, National Arts and Culture Council (NCAC), Otunba Segun Runsewe
By Cecilia Ijuo
The Chief Executive of the National Arts and Culture Council (NCAC), Otunba Segun Runsewe, has expressed concern about how the preference for foreign languages is affecting Nigerian languages.
The NCAC boss told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in an interview in Abuja that the growing trend was worrying.
He said, “unless something drastic is done to protect Nigerian languages, many of them will disappear in the near future.”
He said the problem was more pronounced with the use of the English language, as it is the official language of the country.
“Today, if you go there for an occasion and you speak bad English, people will laugh at you.
“But, if you speak Hausa, Igbo or Yoruba in this way, no one will know that you made a mistake because it flows. It’s natural.
“The problem is that parents want their children to speak English phonetics.
“Today, parents who know their children can speak good English would make sure they go out to interact with them so their visitors know where they are spending their money.
“It’s unfortunate, but that’s where we end up,” he said.
Runsewe called for adequate enlightenment to let parents, schools and relevant agencies know about the danger that misuse of Nigerian languages poses to the maintenance of Nigerian culture.
“When you learn that a child has credit in English, that child will be celebrated, but a child who credits in Igbo, Yoruba or Hausa will not be recognized.
“If you go to places like China and Dubai, English is not their national language.
“In Europe, for example, once you leave London for Ireland, you’ll find they don’t speak English.
“I am a bit concerned that it is difficult to sort this out in Nigeria except that there is legal support that the English language should cease to be our national language,” he insisted.
Runsewe said the thirst for foreign culture has generally contributed greatly to the country’s level of moral decay.
He said while there was nothing wrong with learning about the culture of others, the rate at which some Nigerians were imbibing negative foreign values was concerning.
He said: “This attitude kills our cultural values to the point that today some of our young people are steeped in immorality.
“I actually saw something recently that amazed me and it was men wearing lipstick.
“Our young people were now soaking up the culture of others, which affects us as a people and for me, it just shows complex.”
Runsewe called for adequate sensitization on the importance of parents teaching their wards Nigerian languages and the dangers of their children not understanding these languages.
The NCAC boss expressed his optimism that in the near future there will be a better language strategy on how to reach people more.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that according to Wikipedia, there are over 525 native languages spoken in Nigeria.
English is the official language, while over 60 million people speak Nigerian English and Nigerian Pidgin.
While Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba are considered the three main
languages, other languages like Igala, Efik, Edo, Nupe, Fulfulde, Tiv, Izon, Idoma, Kakanda are also spoken by large number of people.(NAN)
Edited Basir Rabe Mani