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22 February 2018
The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) condemns a new law recently signed by the Lagos state governor Akinwumi Ambode that makes passing Yoruba language at Secondary School Leaving Examinations a requirement for admission into any of the tertiary institutions owned by the Lagos State. We call for its immediate abrogation as it is discriminatory and a violation of the fundamental rights of residents of Lagos state who are not Yoruba.
To be clear, we welcome all policies aimed at promoting and safeguarding indigenous languages including Yoruba in Nigeria. However, such policy must not promote discrimination and social exclusion of Nigerians to whom the language in question is not their mother tongue.
To us, this new law is discriminatory and an attempt to introduce apartheid in a cosmopolitan city like Lagos which has a huge population of residents who are non-Yoruba. Besides, these non-Yoruba residents are also taxpayers. So, enforcing the law would mean that they will be denied enjoying the benefits of their taxes that are used to fund the state tertiary institutions among other government responsibilities because of their language. More so, public education is largely underfunded such that Yoruba language is not well taught at public primary and secondary schools for the benefit of those who want to learn it. This also goes for other subjects which explains why top government officials, including those in the cabinet of Governor Ambode, do not have their children in public schools.
We also see this law as a continuation of orchestrated attacks on the poor and ordinarily people by the successive administrations in the state which have witnessed demolitions of workplaces, markets and houses without adequate compensations or alternative provisions. This is because it is the non-Yoruba children from the poor and working people background, who cannot afford expensive private university education as the rich, that will be disproportionately affected by this law.
We call all the working masses irrespective of ethnic backgrounds as well as trade unions to reject this anti-poor and apartheid law as injury to one is an injury to all.