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Nigerian Army introduces new language policy for personnel


Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai looks on at the headquaters of Operation Lafiya Dole in Maiduguri, Borno State in northcentral Nigeria, on October 4, 2017.  AFP PHOTO / PIUS UTOMI EKPEI

The Army has given its personnel one year to learn and be proficient in the three major Nigerian languages – Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa.

“Invariably, by December 2018, all Nigerian Army personnel are expected to learn the three major Nigerian languages.

“The standard of proficiency to be attained is the basic level. Certificated proficiency level will attract Language Allowance,” according to a statement issued by the Army Spokesman, Brig.-Gen Sani Usman.


Usman said that the ability to speak the three major languages would be an added advantage to those applying for recruitment or commissioning into the army.

“Therefore, prospective candidates are encouraged to learn Nigerian languages other than their mother tongues,” the army spokesman said.

Usman explained that before now, the army officially encouraged the learning of French, Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese and Swahili, adding that the French language was an assessed subject in some career courses and examinations for personnel.

He said that the language policy was newly-introduced as the study of foreign and local languages was a worldwide practice among armies, in which officers and soldiers were encouraged to be multi-lingual.

“The Policy will foster esprit-de-corps and better communication with the populace to enhance information gathering, civil-military relations, increase understanding between militaries when operating abroad and assist officers and soldiers to perform their duties professionally,’’ he said.

The army spokesman noted that English remained the official language in the army, while Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa languages could be used during Civil-Military Cooperation (CIMIC) activities or interrogation.

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