The Place of Indigenous Nigerian Languages in National Development

Ngozi U. Emeka-Nwobia


Nigeria is the most multilingual nation in Africa with about 400 to 500 indigenous languages, which have various status - developed, developing, and underdeveloped (Emenanjo 1993:3, Aziza 1998:257). Language has been identified as a conduit for transmission of culture, idea, thought, etc. from one generation to another. The work recognizes that 54 years after independence that English (the ex- colonial masters’ language) is still the language of education, governance, commerce, judiciary, etc. in Nigeria and as such has hindered equal participation of the entire citizenry in governance, access to information and full involvement in government policies and programs. The paper is a critical appraisal of the role of language in national development. Granted is the fact that knowledge and use of English provides access to trading in the global market and access to the world of science and technology; the work recognizes the place of the indigenous languages and therefore solicits that deliberate efforts should put for the empowerment of the indigenous languages to meet up with the technological drive of the 21st century and beyond.  The work is a call on government, stakeholders, and individuals to put effort towards forestalling exclusion of a representative population, language endangerment and possible extinction of the indigenous languages; this can be achieved through vigorous and regular language preservation and maintenance programmes. A lost language is a lost identity and that amount to a lost race and generation.

Keywords: Language, Indigenous language. National Development

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ISSN (Paper)2224-5766 ISSN (Online)2225-0484

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