THE NIGERIAN JOURNAL OF SOCIOLOGY AND ANTHROPOLOGY
Volume 10, No. 1, (2012)
Mobilizing Indigenous Languages for Democracy in Nigeria: A Discursive and Sociolinguistic Critique
Benson Eluma1 & Yinka Olarinmoye
1Institut Français de Recherche en Afrique (IFRA) Institute of African Studies University of Ibadan, Nigeria
2Department of Sociology Lagos State University Ojo, Lagos, Nigeria
For democracy to become the political culture in Nigeria, the discourse of politics has to be conducted through expressive mechanisms owned by the people. In the absence of popular ownership of political language, the road to disconnect, apathy and disenfranchisement lies wide open. We take the view that the problem of politics is located squarely in the public sphere and that discourse is the activity that characterizes the public sphere. We raise the point that the sociolinguistic environment in the country does not encourage whole masses of Nigerians to talk politics in languages in which they can freely articulate their positions and present their aspirations. We posit that citizens are disenfranchised and rendered inaudible and invisible to the extent to which they cannot undertake political discourse with an appreciable measure of linguistic ease. The benefits of diversity are endangered as many people and entire groups in Nigeria lose the means of expressing their political views and opinions, let alone political projects and programmes. Invoking Bakhtin’s concept of heteroglossia, we make a blanket case for the viability of each and every extant language in Nigeria for political discourse if such usage is actively promoted among their respective communities of users.
Keywords: political discourse, linguistic landscape, disenfranchisement, minority