The Nigerian army has ordered its personnel to learn the three basic Nigerian languages of Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba.
In a statement on Wednesday, Sani Usman, a brigadier-general and army spokesman, said the directive is part of the army’s new language policy aimed at fostering better communication with the populace.
He said the army personnel are expected to have attained basic level standard of proficiency for the languages on or before December 2018, adding that certificated proficiency level will attract language allowance.
“The policy will foster espirit-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,” the statement read.
“It is to be noted that English remains the official language in the Nigerian army. Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa languages could be used during civil military cooperation (CIMIC) activities or interrogation.
“Therefore all Nigerian Army personnel have been given one year to learn the three major Nigerian languages. Invariably, by December 2018, all Nigerian army personnel are expected to learn the three major Nigerian languages.”
Usman further said the ability to speak the three major Nigerian languages will be an added advantage to those applying for recruitment or commissioning into the Nigerian army.
He added: “Therefore, prospective candidates are encouraged to learn Nigerian languages other than their mother tongues.
“Before now, the Nigerian army officially encouraged the learning of French, Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese and Swahili. French language is an assessed subject in some career courses and examinations for Nigerian army personnel.”