- As Ekwe kuo Ama Agbaa hosts Mother Tongue Day
By CYRIACUS NNAJI
Chief (Dr) Solomon Ogbonna Aguene, the President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Lagos State, has made the advocacy that only those who can speak the three major languages of Nigeria (Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba) should be allowed to aspire to the position of President, governors and federal appointments in Nigeria.
Ogbonna took the position during the United Nations Day of Mother Tongue hosted by Ekwe kuo Ama Agbaa, an Igbo Newspaper outfit, Ohanaeze Lagos Office on Robertson Street, Surulere penultimate Sunday.
Ogbona maintained that the only way to kill and bury ethnicity and tribalism in Nigeria is for the people to learn a language that will guarantee peace and unity in the country.
“I have said it time without number, the only way we can get back our native language is by government support, and making it mandatory, from Councilor to the president of the country, if you don’t have this language where you come from, you cannot be the governor of any state without speaking your language, your mother tongue and if you want to kill tribalism that is ruining us in this country we must make sure that before you become a president of this country or become a governor or you hold anything at federal level you must speak the language WAZOBIA, Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo, because you cannot take the position of Pope without at least having 11 national languages,” Ogbonna advocated.
Speaking on how he intend to monitor and ensure the advocacy is achieved, he said “This is not automatic, we can give ourselves 20 years, that if you don’t have this qualification you cannot contest any electoral post or work in anything federal government or even state. You must speak these three languages. If we want to kill and bury tribalism in this country, if you give us 20 years from today, most of us above twenty years are free from that law, but we can give it from now, those that are born from 2022 or 2021 must speak this language.”
Ogbonna stated that there is no way a nation can achieve total unity without having a central language “We have to be honest to ourselves, there is no way we can get the unity of this nation without us speaking a language. There is no country that has unity if it doesn’t have a language they understand, check it all over the world. There is no country as big as Nigeria that would have unity without having this three major languages that rule the country, no matter how you do it, unity of what? Every day we talk about unity and things are still going the same thing, if it is Hausa you want to establish as our general language, Yoruba, or Igbo that will even be better, but without us having these three major languages that rule this country we cannot have unity in the next 100 years.
“Tell me how we can get unity if you don’t understand my language? How do you cope with the country, how do you get a good job? If you want to get a good job in Germany you must understand the language, unless you want to do a job called black job,” he asked.
Speaking on the theme of the programme, ‘Igbo language: A dying language of a living people’ he encouraged his people to speak the language, with a promise to making it compulsory in every gathering of Ndigbo. “Part of it is the reason we are here, to ensure that our language is still flying the way it is supposed to be and also carry our culture which has been as undiluted and as old as Ndigbo since time immemorial.
“Most of the activities of our people here, not only in Lagos even down East, they use English language to host their meetings, so their meetings are no longer secret, because any warrior who is going to war, has set a strategy before going to the war, so if you are speaking English language, and you want to fight an English man, where is your strategy, you have already told them your secret. Where are the tricks to win the war? You will fail. So we need our language.”
Mrs Nneka Chimezie, Director, Ekwe kuo Ama Agbaa said the conference was being held because of United Nations’ prediction that Igbo language is going into extinction. “So what we intend to achieve with this is to spread the news around to tell our people to embrace our language and to do whatever we can to save it, it is only a tree that you would tell you want to cut it and it still stands in the same place. She said Igbo Language is a dying language of a living people, so since we are still alive we want everybody to join hand, this language is our own, you can learn it, nobody else can preserve this language for us, so this programme is designed to call on all well meaning Igbos to join hands and see what we can do to save our language from going into extinction.
She revealed other plans to ensure the language continues to fly “Plans are underway to offer scholarship to whoever is willing to study Igbo language in tertiary institution, to be able to have teacher that can teach in schools, we want to establish Igbo language schools in every corner, every state in Nigeria, to give access to our children, bring Igbo language to their door steps. If God helps us, we want to have Igbo language schools in every street, not just in Lagos but all over the state in Nigeria,” Chimezie said.
John Chukwu Ezenwa Founder and Initiator of Indigenous Language and Culture Initiative that gave birth to Ekwe kuo Ama Agbaa, which is an Igbo language Newspaper, stated that the annual programme has been going on for the past 10 years, he added that as the day progress there would be more people on board to create more awareness, to make people understand what United Nation Mother Tongue means and the importance and value why the society need to embrace it.”
Speaking further on the challenges faced by the group he said “Challenges include awareness, support has been limited, if people understand what we are doing, it will strengthen our goals and aspiration. We launched the first Igbo language newspaper and we have successfully published first and second editions and now we are on the third publication.”
On the area of coverage, he disclosed “In December period we were able to print over 10, 000 copies of the newspaper, we toured all the Southeastern states and two other states in the south-south. We visited Omu of Anioma in Okpanam, we had a rapport with her in the area of promotion of culture and language; we were also able to meet Alaigbo Development Foundation, also part of promoting Igbo ideology,” he said.
Eminent Igbo leaders that graced the occasion include Hon. Chief Obinna Ugwu, Vice President, Igbo Speaking Community; Nze Henry C Dim President General Akpo Development Association; Chief CFC Obih (Ugoabata) Market Leaders Association of Nigeria; and Chief Chris Ekwilo, one of the critical stakeholders of Ndigbo in Lagos.