Former Vice Chancellor of Nnamdi Azikiwe University (UniZik), Awka, Anambra State, Prof. Peter Ejiofor has decried that 95 percent of Ndigbo cannot read or write their own language, insisting that such a development was a huge setback to the survival of the language.
Prof. Ejiofor, therefore, called on the South East Governors Forum to wade into the matter and save Igbo language from going into extinction, noting that without their intervention other efforts made to save the language would not bear fruit.
Addressing a gathering of Igbos during the southeast leadership and development summit 2016 held in Enugu, the former Vice Chancellor tasked the governors in the zone to unite and take a definite action to save the Igbo language from dying, noting that if the governors failed to unite and prevent the eventual demise of Igbo language, nobody else would save it.
He restated that most Igbos cannot read one full page of a write-up in Igbo language or even write their language, lamenting that the situation was as bad as that, hence a lot of Igbo people were ashamed of speaking their mother tongue.
In his nine-page speech written in Igbo, and entitled, “The State of Igbo language: Have Ndigbo Accepted the Status Quo?” Prof. Ejiofor declared: “The SouthEast Governors Forum should wake up and stand firm on this matter. I think there is also the need for the elders in Igbo land to join the governors in their meeting as mere observers to see how to save the language.”
He said further: “There’s no way Igbo language could have breath of life if the governors in the zone don’t show interest and commitment. Governors in Igbo land should make out time to call a meeting with members of Suwakwa Igbo so that they could create awareness about Igbo language in each state of the zone.”
Suwakwa Igbo is an association of scholars founded by Ejiofor to create more awareness for the sustainability of the Igbo language both in and outside schools in the southeast zone and beyond.
Ejiofor regretted that almost every Igbo person was aware of the gradual but steady decline which the Igbo language is currently passing through, saying that concerned scholars have warned against the language going into extinction, although it seemed that most Igbo showed indifferent attitude to the matter.
“Every Igbo person knows that our Hausa brothers usually discuss in Hausa whenever they meet with their own people. The same thing applies to our Yoruba brothers. But when an Igbo man meets his fellow Igbo man, they will begin to discuss in English instead of Igbo language. And Igbo people do this just to show off,” he said.