The Nigerian Army has developed indigenous language proficiency course for its officers and soldiers to enhance communication to aid their performance in internal security operations across the country.
Nigerian Army Resource Centre (NARC), in collaboration with an Indigenous Language Institution had organised 11 weeks intensive training for the personnel at the centre in Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba languages.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, stated this during the graduation of 7th Indigenous Languages Course participants at the NARC, on Friday in Abuja.
Buratai was represented by the Chief of Administration, Nigerian Army, Maj.-Gen. Musa Yusuf.
He said that the resolve and commitment of NARC in driving the language course for the personnel was occasioned by the changing nature and transmuting threats within Nigerian domestic security environment.
The army chief said there was no gainsaying that the nation’s security environment was currently undermined by plethora of threats, including activities of the degraded Boko Haram terrorists in the Northeast.
Buratai stated that other threats like banditry, kidnapping, armed robbery, farmers-herders’ clashes among others evolving security challenges could undermine the corporate existence of Nigeria if not checked.
He added that the current domestic security reality had necessitated the deployment of the Nigerian Army troops in the 36 states of the federation including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) for internal security.
Buratai said that the ability of the army to adequately and professionally respond to these domestic security challenges, would depend essentially on credible and reliable intelligence and the ability to communicate with the local population.
“Effective communication on its part will require some level of proficiency in the local dialect of the operating environment.
“This informed why you have learnt the three major Nigerian languages of Hausa, lgbo and Yoruba.
“Proficiency in these local languages will therefore hasten your speedy integration and ability to penetrate the local operating environments,” he said.
The COAS commanded the centre and LACLIC Services Ltd for the success so far recorded in the training of the personnel in indigenous languages, as well as sustaining the policy initiative.
He urged the participants to continue to use every opportunity to improve on their current proficiency level to be able to engage in conversations at their various places of deployment.
The Director-General of NARC, Maj.-Gen. Wahab Garba (Rtd), said that the rationale behind the language course initiative was borne out of the need to enhance internal security operations of Nigerian army.
Garba said that the fact that most internal security operations were driven by information and intelligence, understanding indigenous languages was vital to every successful operation.
According to him, if you cannot speak a local language and you are operating within that environment, it becomes difficult to get the basic information you require and that is why we are having series of problems.
“But now we feel at least with this initiative, a lot of our officers and soldiers will be vast in the three major languages of Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba and that will assist them in doing their jobs.
“As individuals, it is even better for you to understand your environment which gives you an advantage over and above any other person.
“We are finalising arrangements as to how to take the language studies to the north east especially in Borno where those deployed there would be taken on Kanuri.
“The phase two will involve other languages within Nigerian environment,” he said.
Garba disclosed that feedbacks from the previous participants had been encouraging, adding that the eightieth course would commence in two weeks.
A participant, Col. Salish Adamu, from Depot Nigerian Army, said the course was good initiative introduced by the army authorities.
Adamu said that communication served as a major tool for every personnel of the military to be able to effectively discharge his or her duties.
He added that with the nature of evolving internal security issues in the country, knowledge of indigenous languages was vital for every personnel that would be engaged in operations.
He commended the centre for the initiative, which according to him is very key in discharging their responsibilities.
“I may recall from one of my experience years back in Maiduguri, some suicide bombers struck in my location as a commanding officer.
“In trying to respond to the situation we met a lady who was wrapped with a huge Improvise Explosive Devices (IEDs).
“As we were trying to identify the suspect, from the first blast we sighted her and as we trying to approach her she shouted in a local language which meant if you think you are men, come closer.
“God helped us that one of the soldiers understood the language and drew my attention to what the woman was saying.
“If that had not happened, I would have been here to share this experience with you today.
“So understanding of indigenous languages is very vital to information,” he said.
A female participant, Lt. Victoria Zira, from Depot Nigerian Army, said that the course had afforded her opportunity to learn Yoruba and Igbo languages, which according to her is rare privilege.
Zira said that as personnel of the Nigerian army, they could be posted to any part of the country and be comfortable in any part of the east or west at least with the basic. (NAN)