L-R: Mr Obasa Taofik, Lagos State Coordinator, Yoruba Youth Assembly (YYA), Mr Tunde Oladeinde, YYA President, Mr Olarinde Thomas, Chairman Ikeja Branch, Nigerian Society of Engineers, Mrs Funmi Akingbagbohun and Mr Olalerun Folorunsho, Public Relations Officer of YYA during presentation of award at NSE Ikeja secretariat on Saturday in Lagos.

The Yoruba Youth Assembly (YYA), an umbrella body of Yoruba youth groups globally, on Saturday called for protection and preservation of the nation’s indigenous languages, heritage and cultural identities.

The group also called for the implementation of local content in order to build the capacity of local engineers to secure contracts and stop capital flight for speedy technological advancement of Nigeria.

The group made the call while presenting an award to Ikeja Branch Chairman of Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), Mrs Funmi Akingbagbohun, in Lagos.

Akingbagbohun was honoured with YYA Hall of Fame as its 2019 Yoruba Youth Ambassador for her humanitarian services and societal development.

YYA President, Olarinde Thomas, said that the group’s 38 affiliates in Nigeria and diaspora honoured Akingbagbohun for making the Yoruba nation proud in the engineering field.

“This award is meant to celebrate the achievements of our mother; she has tried a lot to manage this branch as a female engineer and her formidable effort as chairman of NSE, Ikeja Branch.

“We are here to represent the views of Yoruba youths both in Nigeria and diaspora. We need your ideas as a technocrat to be able to drive the agenda for development,’’ he said.

He said Akingbagbohun, who is also National Vice President of Nigerian Institution of Mechanical Engineers, had supervised several major projects in the country.

He called on all tiers of government to patronise local engineers to create jobs, stop capital flight and grow capacity of local engineers to tackle development issues in the nation.

He added that NSE had the solution to pipeline vandalism because it could use technology to trace activities on pipelines and solve most other problems slowing down Nigeria’s growth.

He urged the government to make the study of their languages mandatory for other nationals who migrated to their countries.

“Why can’t we make the study of our language mandatory in tertiary institutions,’’ he queried.

Thomas said that many Yoruba children globally could not speak the language properly and stressed the need to reverse the trend to preserve the cultural heritage.

The YYA president said that efforts by the group birthed the use of Yoruba language on the floor of the Lagos State House of Assembly, adding that similar efforts were ongoing in other states.

He explained that Nigeria made technological progress in various sectors which included the media and construction above some developed economies when it relied on indigenous languages.

Thomas commended efforts by some youth groups in other regions in the country, noting that such efforts should be sustained for the preservation of cultural identities, languages and heritage in the nation.

He described the regional community policing introduced by South-West Governors, ‘Amotekun’ as an important initiative which should not be politicised but should be given support.

“Amotekun has come to stay to ensure the unity of Nigeria,” he said.

Also speaking, Olalerun Folorunsho, the group’s Spokesman, called on parents to ensure children spoke Yoruba and other local dialects.

“We are no longer teaching our children our language, we celebrate English language but the English people celebrate and promote their own language,’’ he said.

Responding to her award, the NSE chairman praised the visionary leadership of YYA and prayed for the growth of the group for the progress and unity of the Yoruba nation and Nigeria.