The public Hearing of the Draft Bill of the Nigerian Institute of Translators and Interpreters (NITI), which has been at the National Assembly for passage into Law, was held on 17th November 2009. A strong NITI Bill Defense Team was at the occasion and successfully defended our Bill against all vicissitudes. The team comprised Chief Union Edebiri, NITI Legal Adviser, Prof. Ekundayo Simpson, immediate NITI past President and Ex-Oficio Committee member, Prof. Tundonu Amosu, NITI National President, Mr. Wole Ajiboso, NITI National Treasurer and Mr. Joachim Okeke, NITI National Secretary.Three powerful defence presentations were made, first by Prof. Amosu, who laid a concrete defense foundation with his introductory speech; Prof. Edebiri next consolidated the edifice with his legally fortified defense memo, then Prof. Simpson laid on the cupola on the edifice with his protective and finishing presentation, which was based on his keynote address at the 2005 International Translation Day celebration. All three presentations sought to convince the Honourable members of the Committee to convince the National Assembly to pass our Draft Bill into Law.
Honourable Farouk Lawan, Chairman of the House Committee on Education, presided over the Hearing, which started at 11 a. m. He agreed with the need to regulate the profession of translation and interpretation in Nigeria in order to separate the wheat from the chaff and keep the profession in its high and dignified position. He recalled a public event where the service of a sign language interpreter was hired because some deaf people were in attendance. Nobody in the audience suspected any foul play on the part of the sign language ‘expert' who was throwing his hands up and down like a choir master until the deaf people at the event protested the antics of the sign language clown. It turned out that the language ‘expert' knew nothing of sign language and had to be removed from the event.
The Honourable members of the Committee, who had read the Draft Bill, then threw a number of questions at NITI, seeking answers and clarifications:
- What is the relationship between the Nigerian professional who goes abroad to translate and interprete, say, with a government delegation, and a foreigner who comes to Nigeria to do the same thing?
- Will all those religious interpreters in mosques and churches be certified by NITI before they can practice what they have been practicing?
- How does NITI intend to check professional mischief by bad eggs, who exist in all professions?
- Since this profession has an international outlook, who are the members? Are there going to be some form of entrance examinations?
- Some interpreters have no formal training but have gained experience through practice. How are these people going to be regulated?
- How does the NITI compulsory registration of language practitioners reconcile with the Nigerian Constitutional clause which guarantees freedom of association?
- How about those Islamic interpreters of the Koran, how will NITI treat them?
The National Secretary gave the vote of thanks to the Honourable House for Hearing us out and promising to take further action. Proceedings were adjourned at 12.40 in the afternoon. The Chairman offered NITI refreshment, snacks and lunch. It was indeed a memorable day.-------------------------------------
Ladies and Gentlemen of the NITI fold, when a Draft Bill journeys through a Legislative House up to this stage, that Bill is usually as good as passed. Therefore, get ready to become a Chartered Translator and Interpreter as soon as our Bill is passed into Law, and that comes with greater demands of responsibility and professionalism. NITI is embarking on a nationwide registration of translators and interpreters who are not yet in our register. So please pass on the word to any language professionals around you to take this Professional Body serious now - register and pay your dues - because NITI is about to start functioning like the ICAN, NMA, NBA, NSE and professional bodies like that. More details will follow later.