By Ikeugonna Eleke
The president of Igboekulie, an Igbo socio-cultural organization, Prince Ben Onuorah, says the group is working hard to forestall the United Nations' Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization's (UNESCO's) prediction that the Igbo Language is among those that may go into extinction by 2050.
Onuorah spoke in Awka during a prize giving event, Asusu Igbo Amaka, organized by the group to reward students who scored best grades in this year's secondary school certificate examination.
He said, 'We are motivated by the need to encourage our students to see the Igbo Language as not inferior to other subjects where prizes are regularly given to winners.
'We are motivated by the need to have more competent speakers of our language, especially among children and youth. We are motivated by the desire to have more Igbo teachers and a lot of more Igbo Language teachers, and more books published in the Igbo Language.
'Above all, we are motivated by a compelling determination to ensure that the Igbo Language does not go extinct or die as predicted by the UNESCO. We will continue to support the speaking of the Igbo Language to ensure that the prediction does not come to pass.'
This year's Asusu Igbo Amaka which was held in Anambra State, incidentally had all six winners from the state and national categories from Anambra State.
Kingsley Nwafor, Adannaya Ezeh and Chinecherem Ike, who emerged as winners in the state category, all hail from Anambra and studied at St Joseph's High School, Umuona, Aguata Local Government Area, all got varying cash gifts and plaques.
In the national category, Chinemelum Nwosu emerged as the overall best student in the nation, while Adaobi Okeke and Kenechukwu Anyichie emerged as the first and second runners up. All three are also from Anambra and are from Sacred Heart College, Uwani, Enugu.
Teachers from both schools were also presented with cash gifts for their role in ensuring that students of their school came tops in the competition.
Onuorah explained that data determining the winning students were supplied by the West African Examinations Council, WAEC, which was in partnership with the organization.
A guest lecturer at the event, Dr Mrs Ngozi Emeka-Nwobia, the Head of Department, Language and Linguistics, Ebonyi State University, who spoke on the topic: ''keeping the Igbo Language Relevant in Our Modern and Technology Driven World'', called on state governments to come up with incentives that would promote the study of the Igbo Language.
Anambra State governor, Chief Willie Obiano, stated that the state would continue to promote the study of the Igbo Language, including marshalling out incentives that would encourage teachers of the subject.
Sir Willie Nwokoye, Principal Secretary to the governor who represented him at the event said the governor had been very proactive in matters that concerned the study of the Igbo Language.
'Of course, you know that Anambra is the only state where teachers of Basic Science subjects and the Igbo Language are paid higher salaries as incentives. In Anambra too, you now that Wednesdays have been marked as days when we speak only the Igbo language, both in schools, government establishments and others.
'Even Igbo traditional attires are the only form of dressing on those days, so you can see that we have done all that we can to ensure the preservation of the Igbo language, here in Anambra.’