A don, Prof. Imelda Udoh, of the department of Linguistics, University of Uyo in Akwa Ibom State, has called for the protection of all Nigerian indigenous languages to enable the government speak to the people in the languages they understand.
Prof. Imelda, who made this known at the weekend in Uyo while delivering the University’s 81st Inaugural Lecture with the theme “Nigerian Indigenous Languages As Bricks For A National Identity,” said that protecting indigenous languages will foster national identity and integration.
Udoh, who explained that language is a relevant tool in the process of achieving national identity, prestige, unity, and development, advised that the number of languages in the country should not be seen as a challenge, rather, protecting them could improve development in the country.
She said multilingualism should be treated as an asset, maintaining that there is need for the indigenous Nigerian languages to be used properly and should be recognised.
According to her, there was the need for language issue to be brought to the attention of both the government and everyone to ensure that just and democratic decisions are taken on them, as a matter of right.
“Nigeria should protect the existence of both the major and minor linguistic groups. They all have identities that are peculiar to them, and when these identities are promoted individually, each group, without misgivings can feel a better sense of belonging to a center that is sensitive to its individual identity,” she added.
In his remarks, the vice chancellor of University of Uyo, Prof Nyaudoh Ndaeyo, commended the 81st inaugural lecturer, for disclosing that in Nigeria, no state or geopolitical zone has homogeneous language and her insightful revelation, which according to him, through the lecture people are now aware that the highest number of languages spoken in Nigeria are found in North-East geopolitical zone, followed by South South and North-Central.
He also thanked Prof. Udoh for disclosing the fact that Cross River State has the highest number of languages spoken in South South geopolitical zone of Nigeria.
The vice chancellor added that the Inaugural Lecture was a serious academic business, promising that his administration will continue to sustain the annual lecture in order to maintain the existing cordial relationship between the gown and town.
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