THE ROLE OF ENGLISH LANGUAGE IN BUILDING A UNITED, STRONG AND SELF RELIANCE NIGERIA
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1.1 Background of the study
English language is Nigeria’s ‘second’ language. A second language is one that comes after one’s primary language. Ironically, it is also Nigeria’s dominant language, with the use of English being taught at various levels of the Nigerian educational system Pre-Nursery schools, Nursery schools, Primary schools, Secondary schools and Tertiary institutions of learning. English language has taken the position of a national language in Nigeria. There is no gain saying the fact that English has become a Nigerian language (Adegbite, 2004: p. 56). The language has become an invaluable legacy of the British colonial masters. Several years after independence, English still survives and has assumed a more important status in Nigeria. These are very important avenues for meeting the much needed sustainable development that we all need in Nigeria. English language is equally seen as the language of national stability. The retention of English has eliminated the political tension that would have arisen in choosing are of the ethnic languages. Political problems like mutual suspicion and fear of domination would have resulted in choosing one of the ethnic languages. Nwachukwu, (2001) has this to say “if we remove English from our educational system and our polity (and replace it with an indigenous Nigerian language) ,we have cut the strongest string that holds the country together). In the words of Emonyionwu (2000) quoted in Osuafor (2002). The choice of a national language has been a more political issue. Ethnic groups in Nigeria interpret the language as the country’s lingua Franca as a way of conferring political domination on that particular group. They maintain that the best option is to live with English, notwithstanding its colonial reminiscence than to delve into “the explosive issue” of making a choice from one of the ethnic language in the country. English language therefore is used as a natural language as a result of its neutrality. In another dimension, Ogu,(1992) reaffirmed the role of English language as: The English language brought into one linguistic umbrella people of diverse language and ethnic group. Hence was a language that was based on one ethnic group or one geographical area. People found in it the unobtainable linguistic unity that they so much crave for. Its non-ethnic nature provided them with a means of peaceful co-existence and communication. The role of English language is so pervading and total that one may begin to battle in his/her mind whether English is still a foreign language in Nigeria. This is because English language has been adopted and appropriated by Nigerians, used as the language of education and has been made to fill the roles reserved for the native language. Without language skills, it will be impossible for an instructor to transmit instructional knowledge and train certain skills. When instructions are understood because of acquisition of language, the learner is filled with joy and this motivates him/her to acquire both mechanical and technical manpower. The mastery assures an individual of being productive in other spheres of life. It equips an individual for a better tomorrow. English language serves as a tool for sustainable development in the area of national unity in Nigeria. Amidst the compounding complexities and wars in the northern part of Nigeria, the only language that still emits the spirit of oneness in Nigeria is the English language. More often than not, activities conducted in indigenous languages are seen as being ethnic or tribal, except in cultural celebrations or ethnic displays. This explains why, even during the first republic and during the colonial era, when English had not attained its present level of ascending in national and international affairs, political parties were formed in English language. However, the parties might have regional bases but the fact that they were named in English entailed their national identity. The Northern People’s Congress (NPC), The Action Group (AG), The National Council of Nigeria Citizen (NCNC) after the excision of Southern Cameroun, National Elements Progressive Union (NEPU) etc, were formed to integrate all Nigerians and give them a sense of belonging. This trend has necessarily survived until today with all the national political parties formed and sloganeered in English. English is equally the language of nationalism Hanna (2008). The love of a country has to be manifested through the language that everybody can understand lest the ethnic agenda be implied. This was why, even in the old political days, nationalists like Herbert Macaulay, Obefemi Awolowo, Ahmadu Bello, Nnamdi Azikiwe etc. had to use English language as a weapon of nationalist struggle. A nationalist bases his patriotic views in English. If English language is not used to express the same ideas for which he is known as a nationalist, he is seen instantly as a tribalist and not a nationalist. English is the language of authenticity in Nigeria. Collective identity of Nigeria is stamped on national institutions through the medium of English language. The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) which is aimed at bringing together all the educated Nigerian youths from the universities is a great ideal of the Nigeria government. This ideal would not have been possible without the English language which binds all together at the camps and at their primary places of assignment. The idea of the National Youth Service Corps is geared towards reinforcing the spirit of oneness among Nigerian youths. However, on-going challenges of security and national unity which the vicious Boko Harams have caused in the northern part of Nigeria are causing a lot of threat to this good scheme of the Nigerian government because the youths are now afraid to go to the northern part of the country for the service scheme. We believe that with providence on our side, the English language will continue to bind us together. The constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is written in English to create a level playing ground for all Nigerians. The National flag, the National Anthem, the National Independence Day, the National Associations as well as several national monuments are designed in English and all of these “assert” that English is the foundation of the giant structure called Nigeria. All these have the effects of reducing what (Adebayo, 1985: p. 2) refers to as “deep rooted mutual suspicion that result in prejudice, stereotypes and subtle linguistic hostility among various linguistics groups”. English language remains a very big tool in building a united, strong and self reliance Nigeria.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
There is no gain saying the fact that Nigeria has multiplicity of languages because many small nations were merged indiscriminately to form the nations and countries we have in Africa and elsewhere today. In other words, most colonized nations are made up of various races, tribes, tongues or blood stocks. Nigeria has over four hundred (400) languages, each confined to ethnic borders. The small nations, clans, tribes, tongues that constitute Nigeria were living in organized societies and each had her culture, tradition, norms. Fodeh (1990:6) described her as a ‘conglomerate of nations’. The amalgamation of the Northern and Southern protectorates of Nigeria in 1914 created the problem of multiplicity of languages and particularly the problem of which of the languages can unite all the tongues and tribes in Nigeria effectively. It is in view of this that the researcher intends to investigate the role of English language in building a united, strong and self reliance Nigeria.
1.3 OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
The main objective of this study is the role of English language in building a united, strong and self reliance Nigeria. But for the successful completion of the study; the researcher intends to achieve the following sub-objectives;
- To examine language situation in Nigeria
- To assess the role English language play in building united Nigeria
- To assess the relationship between English language and united Nigeria
- To examine the extent of interaction using English language in Nigeria
1.4 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
For the successful completion of the study, the following research hypotheses were formulated by the researcher;
H0: there is no role English language play in building united Nigeria
H1: there is role English language play in building united Nigeria
H02: there is no significant relationship between English language and building united Nigeria
H2: there is a significant relationship between English language and building united Nigeria
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
It is believed that at the completion of the study, the findings will be of benefit to Nation. The study will show the role English language play for building a united and strong Nigeria. The study will also be of great benefit to the researchers who intends to embark on research on similar topics as it will ser ve as a guide. Finally, the study will be of great importance to academia’s, lecturers, teachers, students and the general public.
1.6 SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
The scope of this study covers the role of English language in building a united, strong and self reliance Nigeria. In the course of the study, the researcher encounters some constrain which limited the scope of the study;
- a) AVAILABILITY OF RESEARCH MATERIAL: The research material available to the researcher is insufficient, thereby limiting the study
- b) TIME: The time frame allocated to the study does not enhance wider coverage as the researcher has to combine other academic activities and examinations with the study.
- c) Organizational privacy: Limited Access to the selected auditing firm makes it difficult to get all the necessary and required information concerning the activities.
1.7 DEFINITION OF TERMS
ENGLISH LANGUAGE: English is a West Germanic language that was first spoken in early medieval England and is now a global lingua franca.
ROLE: A role is a set of connected behaviors, rights, obligations, beliefs, and norms as conceptualized by people in a social situation.
BUILDING: A building or edifice is a structure with a roof and walls standing more or less permanently in one place, such as a house or factory.
UNITED: Joined together politically, for a common purpose, or by common feelings.
STRONG: Having the power to move heavy weights or perform other physically demanding tasks.
RELIANCE: Dependence on or trust in someone or something.
1.8 ORGANIZATION OF THE STUDY
This research work is organized in five chapters, for easy understanding, as follows
Chapter one is concern with the introduction, which consist of the (overview, of the study), statement of problem, objectives of the study, research hypotheses, significance of the study, scope and limitation of the study, definition of terms and historical background of the study. Chapter two highlights the theoretical framework on which the study is based, thus the review of related literature. Chapter three deals on the research design and methodology adopted in the study. Chapter four concentrate on the data collection and analysis and presentation of finding. Chapter five gives summary, conclusion, and recommendations made of the study.
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