Democracy in Nigeria: Tha Language Challenge


  • Taofeek Olanrewaju Alabi University of Ibadan, Nigeria


Key Words, Democracy, indigenous languages, Standard Nigerian English (SNE), language policy, democracy, multilingual


The paper examines the role of language in sustaining democracy in Nigeria. It explores and clarifies the relationship between English and the indigenous languages, as well as the interplay between political communication and democratic participation in Nigeria’s multilingual environment. Using Halliday’s Meta-functions of language as a theoretical guide, the paper establishes the functional relevance of language in human society. It argues that the dominant use of English language in Nigeria’s political domain may be detrimental to the growth of democracy in Nigeria. This is based on the premise that democracy as a system of government, requires the language understood by vast majority of people for mass political participation and majority of Nigerians do not speak, read or write in English; The paper equally notes that pronouncements on language and democratic participation  in the 1999 Constitution and the National Policy on Education of the Federal Republic of Nigeria are grossly deficient and are bedeviled with implementation constraints. While the paper asserts the power of language vis-a-vis its ability to resolve socio-political tensions, unite diverse ethno-linguistic groups and enshrine enduring democratic tenets in the nation, it however, recommends the re-designing of the nation’s language policy to accommodate the use of more indigenous languages. There should be a continuous development of the indigenous languages alongside the Standard Nigerian English (SNE) to engineer Nigeria’s democratic aspirations. It is in doing so that the nation can maximally explore and benefit from the potentials of numerous languages at its disposal for sustenance of democracy.



Author Biography

Taofeek Olanrewaju Alabi, University of Ibadan, Nigeria

Department of General Studies Senior Lecturer


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How to Cite

Alabi, T. O. (2016). Democracy in Nigeria: Tha Language Challenge. Asian Journal of Humanities and Social Studies, 4(3). Retrieved from