The Nigerian Army on Monday advised its personnel to adapt French as their third language to help them execute international military missions effectively.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika, gave the charge at the inauguration of a French Language Laboratory at the Nigerian Army School of Finance and Administration (NASFA) in Lagos.
He enjoined them to acquire French language because of their deployment within the West African sub-region.
Ihejirika, who noted the importance of the language, said Nigerian troops deployed to francophone countries could not operate easily without the understanding the French language.
According to him, 80 per cent of Nigerian troops deployed to Mali lack the basic knowledge in French language, adding that it made the operation of troops in such areas very difficult.
Represented by Maj.-Gen. Jack Nwogbo, the Chief of Training and Operations, Ihejirika decried the security problems in the country, considering the fact that Nigeria was surrounded by French speaking countries.
He, however, said that effort had been put in place by the force’s hierarchy to address the problems, adding that one of such efforts was the introduction of French Language.
Ihejirika said that the students of the new language class were expected to spend eight weeks to get the basic knowledge of the language.
``Those who perform exceptionally well in this area will be moved to the next level,” Ihejirika said.
He said that other schools of the Nigerian Army had also introduced French language and army personnel were being trained on the basic use of the language to enhance smooth operations within theatres of war.
Similarly, the Commander, Nigerian Army Corps of Finance, Maj.-Gen. Abdullahi Muraino, commended the efforts of the force, adding that the commencement of the programme was based on well informed advice.
The Coordinator of the French Language course for the Army, Mena Nwogbo, admitted that eight weeks would be short to really learn the language.
She, however, said that intensive work would be done on the students to ensure they got the basics of the language at the end of two months.
----------Augustine Aminu, Daily Times Nigeria