From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari has approved a new National Language Policy which makes mother tongue a compulsory  medium of instruction from Primary 1 to 6.

Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, disclosed this while briefing State House Correspondents on the outcomes of the council meeting held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Wednesday.

Even though he acknowledged that the government is aware that implementation will be challenging, he nevertheless revealed that for the first six years of education, mother tongue will be the only medium of instruction, and that it will then be combined with English starting in junior secondary school.

Adamu said even though the policy has officially taken effect, it can only be fully implemented when government develops instructional materials and qualified teachers are available.

Adamu explained that the mother tongue to be used in each school will be the dominant language spoken by the community where it is located.

The Minister lamented that so much has been lost owing to the extinction of some local languages and stated that government is determined to preserve cultures and their particular quirks.

He assured that all Nigeria languages are equal and will be treated as such.

He said: “A memo on national policy was approved by the council. So, Nigeria now has a National Language Policy and the details will be given later by the ministry.

“One of the highlights is that the government has agreed now that henceforth, instruction in primary schools; the first six years of learning will be in the mother tongue.”

The Minister said the decision is only in principle for now because it will require a lot of work to implement it.

“Theoretically, this policy starts form today but and the use of mother tongue is exclusive but we need time to develop the material, get the teachers and so on. Since the first six years of school should be in the mother tongue, whereby the pupil is, the language of the host community is what will be used.

“Because we have 625 languages at the last count and the objective of this policy is to promote, and enhance the cultivation and use of all Nigerian languages,” he added.

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Adamu said the council also approved consultancy services agreement between Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) and a private company, for the upgrade of the portal on which the Board records candidates seeking for admission into higher institutions of learning.

The Council also approved N630 million for the engagement of a consultancy services firm that will assist the nation in the deployment of technology that will help reduce risks and damages associated with the award of contracts.

Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami said  the memo presented by his  Ministry will help address all forms of deficiencies associated with contracts that expose the nation to higher risks and damages.

“This memo is intended to bring about a new development in contract administration in Nigeria, by way of deployment of technology, building capacity and specialisation, developing a continuous check list of all existing contracts and ensuring that the interest of the Nigerian government in all contracts to be considered by Ministries, Department and Agencies, are adequately addressed, to ensure that the government is not subjected to higher risks as it relates to damages and deficiency in contracts that it may sign with third parties.

“So, the Federal Executive Council considered the memo and granted approval for the engagement of a consultancy service firm that will now assist in the deployment of technology in building the capacity of the relevant departments in the Federal Ministry of Justice that are responsible for providing technical services in the formulation of contracts and to ensure that the necessary clauses and protection is provided for the government in the drafting of agreements so as to reduce to the barest minimum the level of digression witnessed recently in some contracts.

“At the end of the day, the council approved the contract for consultancy services in the sum of N630,132,750 inclusive of the 7.5 percent value added tax, with a completion period of six months,” he stated.

The council also approved police property in Maitama in the Federal Capital Territory to be developed for benefit of senior officers, through PPP arrangement with  Cosgrove Consortium.

The Federal Executive Council has given approval for the development of a property of the Nigeria Police located in Maitama District of Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city.

Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said the project will be executed through a private-public partnership that will at the end of the day see the police taking 15 out of the 39 houses while the private sector that will provide the funding taking 24 of the houses.

He said: “Council considered and approved a public private partnership arrangement whereby the police property in Maitama will be developed for use by the Senior Officers of the Police. It’s an arrangement between a private company, the Ministry of Police Affairs and the Nigeria Police Force.

“39 apartments will be re-developed and 24 of them would be taken by the private sector that provided the funding while 15 will be used by the police over a period of time. But the beauty of the arrangement is that it is at little or no cost to federal government because all we have offered is our land and after the expiration of the lease agreement the entire 39 buildings reverts to the Nigeria Police Force.”

Minister of Science and Technology, Adeleke Mamora, who also spoke to Journalists, informed them that the council approved another public-private partnership arrangement on research and development of satellite technology and equipment for the provision of cost effective satellite broadband service to rural areas in Nigeria.

The Minister of State Finance, Budget and National Planning, Clement Agba on his part said, the council discussed the 2022 GDP indicators and performance for 3rd quarter. He said there was 2.25% improvement, though lower than 4% of same time last year.