Nigeria: Igbo Language Law Debuts in Anambra
By Chukwujekwu Ilozue, 7 June 2010
Onitsha — Principals of secondary schools in Anambra State who promote pupils from Junior Secondary School III (JSS III) to Senior Secondary School I (SSS I) without the pupils passing Igbo language are to be removed from their positions and fined N5,000, for each of the pupils so promoted.
Also, any state or privately owned tertiary institution in the state which is found not to have established an Igbo language department or made Igbo language a mandatory general studies course by September, 2011 shall pay a fine of N100,000 for every month in which the offence continues.
These are some of the punishments prescribed by the newly enacted law, which is cited as Igbo Language Enforcement Law, 2010, which came into force on May 11, 2010.
It would be recalled that Governor Peter Obi signed the Bill into Law on the day he launched Suwakwa Igbo (speak Igbo) designed to enhance wide usage of Igbo language to save it from extinction.
At the public signing of the Bill into Law Obi also announced the stoppage of corporal punishment to students who speak Igbo in schools in the state and announced that Igbo Language would henceforth be compulsory in all the categories of educational institution in the state just as English and Mathematics are.
Among other things, the law prescribes that Igbo language as a subject must be passed by an Igbo student before he can be promoted from JSS III to SSS I in all secondary schools in the state; every state or privately owned tertiary institution in the state must establish an Independent department of Igbo language a mandatory general studies course in the institution and that any state or privately owned tertiary institution within the state and which is found not to have established an Igbo language department, or made Igbo language a mandatory general studies course in accordance with the provisions of the relevant sections by September, shall be liable to a fine of N100,000 for every month in which the offence continues.
Also, a head of the relevant department who finds a staff of that department dressed in Western attire in contravention of the provisions of a particular section of the law shall send that staff home to change into an Igbo traditional attire.
Also, from the commencement of the law, every Wednesday in every week shall be observed as Igbo day. That means that every staff of the state public service shall dress in Igbo traditional attire and all businesses and transactions in all offices and departments of the public service, including proceedings in the legislative chamber shall be conducted in the language.
However, the law excludes some professional bodies like judicial officers and nurses which are bound by the law.
The explanatory note of the law states that it is meant to ensure and enforce such level of fluency and vibrancy in the usage of Igbo language as befits its status as one of the three officially recognized indigenous languages of Nigeria pursuant to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 such that the language will once more be proudly spoken and written by Ndigbo in Nigeria and the Diaspora, and used for broadcasts in reputable international media.
Recently, Governor Obi also promised to build Chief Chiedozie Ogbalu Igbo Language School that will cost the government N50.5 million for specialized and holiday programmes in Igbo.
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