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Language and Political Crisis a Study of the Nigerian Situation

Language and Political Crisis a Study of the Nigerian Situation

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Abstract

The study investigated language and political crisis: a study of the Nigerian situation. To guide the study, three research questions and three hypotheses were formulated and tested. Survey research design was employed in the study.

The population of this study consisted of three thousand two hundred and four (3204) students in eight (8) public Secondary Schools. A sample size of one hundred Senior Secondary two (SS2) students was selected through simple random sampling technique.

The instrument used for data collection in this study was a researcher made questionnaire tagged “Language and Political Crisis Questionnaire (LPCQ)”. Findings showed that: the extent in which language causes political crisis in Nigeria using the response from Nsit Ibom Local Government Area is very high.

Also that the analysis of research questions two showed that the extent language relates with politics in terms of unequal power relations in Nigeria is very high and that the proffered solutions toward the language and political crisis in the Nigerian society are the Nigeria should learn to adopt a general language to use during political process, the language use in Nigeria during political campaigns should be interpreted to enable the people who do not understand participate, there should be encouragement of mother tongue usage during political process,

political parties should be encourage to develop adopt a universal language during sensitization of voters, and that mother tongue should be incorporated in the guidelines of political process. Based on the findings of the study, it is recommended that political candidates should strive to practice politics without bitterness by making frantic efforts to inform or persuade electorates rather than deceive them with enticing words. 

Language and Political Crisis a Study of the Nigerian Situation

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background to the Study

Language and politics cannot be separated in the society. Language is indispensable to initiating, justifying, legitimatizing and coordinating action, as well as negotiating conflict and, as such, language is intrinsically linked to the area of politics. Language exists as a means of promoting the values of the society.

The society, on the other hand cannot function effectively without the use of language. Politics is one of the spheres of social life where language plays a vital role. With such power that discourse possesses, language planners, political actors fabricate linguistic and semantic images to seek connection with the aspirations of their audience.

To this end, the best way to use language becomes not only important to linguists and language philosophers, but to the political actors who desire to present their views, policies and programmes in a manner acceptable by the people. Nigeria is a heterogeneous society owing to its multilingual nature. Language, according to Oderinde (2005), is one of the indices or makers of culture.

According to him, language is a vehicle for thought. Feelings and thoughts are expressed through language. Gee (2015) describes language as a body of words and the system of their use common to a people of the same community or nation.

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Moreover, Nigeria is an example of a multilingual, pluralistic and heterogeneous African state with a history of British colonization. The natural implication of these diversities is that language becomes a principal source of individual identity and also a social-political capital for interaction across different cultural and political borders.

To further complicate this milieu is the colonial language bequeathed to the nation by the imperialist (Adetugbo 1979). The debate therefore has been what language(s) should function in the lives of the people given the various political, cultural, cognitive and economical role language plays in the socio-political architecture of nation.

Different scholars have taken different contentious and contestable positions on this polemics. Earlier debates on the language policy in Nigeria had centered on the conflicting importance of indigenous and exogenous languages in Nigeria (Banjo 1995 and Oyetade 2003). These studies have argues from a different trajectory of diaglossic on language policy such that it gives functional roles to both exogenous and indigenous languages.

In the same vein, language and political crisis are two major issues confronting the Nigerian situation both academically, politically, socially and religiously at the national level. Language is at the centre of every human activity. Both the social and political actors explore, deploy and manipulate language to create a new atmosphere for the actualization of their goals and aspirations.

Language and Political Crisis a Study of the Nigerian Situation

For instance, political crisis in Nigeria are enormous. Nigeria has witnessed many political crises from the time of her independence till date. These crises may have resulted from wrong use of language in addressing political situation by the civilian leaders. Each of the disenchanted leaders seeks power control and masses’ support to authenticate and or legitimize his reasons and ideological positions.

In order for the political actor to seize power, maintain dominance, inequality and support, he employs language as the veritable tool. Language is a tool for expressing man’s social reality (Taiwo,Rotimi, 219).

Bourdieu (1991) in Michael (10) also sees language as a symbolic system of power entrusted with the “latent ability to make people see visions of the world that either confirm or transform their perceptions and beliefs of the world” thereby influencing not only their own actions in the world, but also of the world itself. Political actors and text producers use emotive language.

Brown, Yule and George (1983) in Ouayed, Abdul-Jabbar (16) are of the view that language is very powerful and may be assigned two functions: the transactional function, which manifests in the expression of content, and interaction, which is used in expressing social relations and personal attitudes.

Thus, in the expression of content, the user’s experience of the real world and the inner world of his own consciousness are expressed. The interactional function of language helps to establish and maintain social relations. This view is in consonance with Halliday’s (1970).

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Ouayed (18) also posits that language may be said to be objective, impersonal, informative, referential or factual or subjective, emotional and affective in order “to rouse in others certain feelings or attitudes to dispose their minds in certain way, or to incite in them certain reactions”.

Political actors and manufacturers of political texts have at their disposal certain ways of expressing their views, attitudes, emotions, feelings and of trying to affect or impress their audience in certain ways.

Also, Political speeches such as the ones produced in Nigeria which is undeniably bedeviled by one political crisis after another since independence are marked by emotionally charged persuasions, threats and verbal radicalism.  Sequel to the above this research project aimed at investigating the issues of language and political crisis in the Nigerian situation.

Language and Political Crisis a Study of the Nigerian Situation

1.2 Statement of the Problem

The linguistic situation in the post-colonial Nigeria is so complex that it has been described as the biblical tower of Babel. The first tier of language found in Nigeria is the exogenous (English) language bequeathed to the nation by the Colonial rulers.

It is also obvious that, Nigeria is one of the West African countries with multiple uses of languages since her independence. This makes Adekunle (1972) to classified Nigerian languages in terms of provinces, states and local government. He also gave a picture into the language situation of Nigeria when it operated under different provincial headquarters.

 Also, politics in Nigeria has become one of the spheres of social life where language plays a vital role. In social policy, politics and language functions as a vehicle of interaction and an instrument of communication.

In the Nigeria geo-political zone of schemes and counter-schemes, the majorities who are leading always imposes political crisis while the minority struggles always erupted in challenge of domination of small cliques of men over language barrier and political domination by the majority.

With such power that discourse possesses, political actors fabricate linguistic and semantic images to seek connection with the aspirations of their audience. The language of political crisis is laden with indirectness, persuasion, and figurative words and expressions such as circumlocution, irony, symbolism, innuendos, euphemisms, and metaphors and politicians resort to them whenever they are engaged in political discourse.

This research therefore make an attempt to resolve the language and political crisis in the Nigeria situation as a result of  majority-minority dichotomy that exists along linguistic line in the nation by allocating domains for different tiers of languages that is found in the nation.  Also, there is also the need to establish the relationship between language, social actions and politics in Nigeria.

1.3 Objectives of the Study

The main objective of this research is to investigate language and political crisis in the Nigeria. Specifically, this research aims at:

  1. examining how language causes political crisis in Nigeria,
  2. investigating the relationship between language and politics in terms of unequal power relations in Nigeria,
  3. proffering the solutions toward the language and political crisis in the Nigerian society.
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1.4 Research Questions

The following research questions were stated to guide the study:

  1. To what extent does language causes political crisis in Nigeria?
  2. To what extent language relates with politics in terms of unequal power relations in Nigeria?
  3. What are the proffered solutions toward the language and political crisis in the Nigerian society?

1.5   Significance of the Study

The significance of this research is basically immense to the Nigerian government because it aims at addressing the issues of language and political policy in the country. It will also help to address the ethnicity and linguistic diversity that constructs social problems in Nigeria among the three major ethnic groups in the country through language problems and political crisis.

The findings will also help to resolve the majority-minority dichotomy that exists along linguistic line in the nation by allocating domains for different tiers of languages that is found in the nation politically.

The findings of this research will also be immense benefit to textbooks producers and curriculum planners on how to address the political crisis and language problems that often imposes fight in the country, Nigeria.

Finally, the importance of this research will also serve as a reference materials to researchers on the investigation of language barrier, politics crisis and political domination in the country by the majority.

1.6  Delimitation of the Study

This research work is delimited to Language and Political Crisis in the Nigeria. It is not concerned with any other crisis in Nigeria.

 1.7 Limitation of the Study

This research was limited by a number of factors including finance, the duration for which the research was allowed and other constraints all of which limited the scope of the study.

Language and Political Crisis a Study of the Nigerian Situation

Language and Political Crisis a Study of the Nigerian Situation

Language and Political Crisis a Study of the Nigerian Situation

Language and Political Crisis a Study of the Nigerian Situation

Language and Political Crisis a Study of the Nigerian Situation

Language and Political Crisis a Study of the Nigerian Situation

Language and Political Crisis a Study of the Nigerian Situation

Language and Political Crisis a Study of the Nigerian Situation

Language and Political Crisis a Study of the Nigerian Situation

Language and Political Crisis a Study of the Nigerian Situation

Language and Political Crisis a Study of the Nigerian Situation

Language and Political Crisis a Study of the Nigerian Situation

Language and Political Crisis a Study of the Nigerian Situation

Language and Political Crisis a Study of the Nigerian Situation

Language and Political Crisis a Study of the Nigerian Situation

Language and Political Crisis a Study of the Nigerian Situation

Mr. Harrison

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