The Pan-African Cultural Congress Bureau (PACCB) on Monday urged the three tiers of government to give all Nigerian languages prominence by encouraging their use to prevent their becoming extinct.
Dr Ferdinand Anikwe, President of the Bureau, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos that prioritising three languages out of the 520 languages which existed in the country was a bad development.
NAN reports that the PACCB is a platform for Pan-African Cultural Institutions and Civil Society Organisations working in the arts, culture, and heritage field to provide their contributions to the policy making process of the African Union (AU).
He called on governments to avoid the gradual death of the many Nigerian languages, saying the fact that they were not currently in good use was a sign of extinction.
“Each Nigerian language contains ideas, philosophies and wisdom which people, especially children, need to learn from.
“However, it will be impossible to learn from a language, if it is not spoken.
“We have over 520 languages in Nigeria and we have only prioritised three, which are Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa languages.
“It is not fair that these are the only languages given the opportunity to be developed,’’ he said.
Anikwe urged the federal, state and local governments to introduce cultural programmes that would help in grooming those languages at different levels of engagement.
He said that the owners of the languages would suffer inferiority complex and refuse to speak them because they are not prioritised.
The PACCB president pleaded that efforts should be made to guard against the death of most indigenous languages, saying that guarding the languages ought to be a collective responsibility of the government and citizens.
“When a language dies, we lose the expression of a unique vision of what it means to be human; we lose memory of the many histories and cultures and we lose some of the best local resources for combating environmental threats,’’ he said.
Anikwe restated the need to guard the nation’s languages jealously to collectively make remarkable progress as a nation.
By Taiye Baiyerohi