By Dapo Akinrefon
Lagos—Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland, Dr. Gani Adams has described Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State as a foremost patriot “who will continue to receive the blessings of Yoruba leaders for his promotion of our language and culture.”Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode (right), with the Aare Ona Kakanfo-designate of Yorubaland, Chief Gani Adams
Adams, who was referring to last Thursday’s signing by Ambode of the Yoruba Promotion Bill into ‘Yoruba Language Preservation and Promotion Law’ said: “Any country or state that forgets its language will eventually forget its culture and such a political entity will soon become extinct. I thank Governor Ambode for proving that he is, indeed, a true son of Yorubaland. For what Governor Ambode has just done, the gods of our land will continue to bless him and I am sure all our traditional rulers will also pray for him for promoting our language and culture.”.
Adams, in a statement signed by his Special Adviser, Events and Strategy, Femi Davies, described the action of the governor as ‘historic’.
Last Thursday, Ambode, at the signing ceremony, declared that the law would make it mandatory for students in Lagos State to be admitted “into any of our tertiary institutions with a credit in Yoruba language and Yoruba will now become a major requirement for you to engage in normal business communication in Lagos State.”
Aare Adams said: “China is today becoming the fastest-growing advanced country in the world and as it is growing economically; its language is also advancing geometrically. As its language is advancing, its culture is also being recognized worldwide and the Chinese are not ashamed of this. They have the population and the strength to advance their language and culture.
“We have about 60 million Yoruba in the South-West, Kogi and Kwara states and about 200 million Yoruba population worldwide. If conscious effort is not made, we may, indirectly, relegate our language to the background.”
“That is why I commend Governor Ambode because the fastest way you can advance and promote your language is through education. When you are educated, research and invention will follow.
“Governor Ambode has taken a giant step in the advancement of Yoruba language through education by signing the Yoruba Promotion Bill into law. In fact, Yorubaland, since 1999, never had it so good because this is the biggest attempt by any South-West government to put our language in its right of place and this is the time for all lovers of Yorubaland to praise the governor for this patriotic idea.
“I have monitored and watched in amazement the hard-working governor exhibits traits of an ‘Omoluwabi’ since he assumed office. Governor Ambode, it was, when he came to power that Lagos became a member of Oodua Investments, a legacy left behind by the late sage and first Premier of the defunct Western Region, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, to serve as economic hub for Yoruba which past administrations in Lagos, for unknown reasons, didn’t consider important.
“Also, the Lagos State House of Assembly conducts its Thursday sessions in Yoruba language. So, the Ambode administration is clearly doing more than paying lip service to the promotion of Yoruba culture and tradition.
“The governor’s action has shown that he prides Yoruba language as the cultural vehicle for us to articulate our position and it also shows that the Lagos State Government has recognized the importance of language as a vehicle for development, just like the Chinese.
“Nigerians should not be surprised if, with this innovation, the Yoruba, in a few decades, become a technologically-advanced race
“I, therefore, call on other South-West governors to emulate this bold step and make sure that the promotion of Yoruba cultural and traditional values, including language promotion and preservation, become their priority.”