LINGUA FRANCA AS A TOOL FOR NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
The Nigerian language dilemma is an incontrovertible fact. The multi-lingual nature of the country made the use of English language a linguistic necessity in order to mitigate the problem of mutual intelligibility and acceptability of
the more than four hundred (400) ethnic indigenous or vernacular languages across the nation. To compound this problem further, lack of basic unity in the Nigerian system has introduced parochial patriotism immediately after colonialism and independence making the Nigerian language ecology a “narrow Path” full of thorns, which we thread and grope in to in tears, in order to evolve a lingua franca – a national language born out of the multiplicity of
indigenous or native languages across Nigeria. Both previous and recent research in language engineering glaringly approve a Lingua Franca, a common national language as the fastest means to develop a technological know-how which will obviously lead to national cohesion and unity. This view was aptly captured in the national policy on education formulated in 1977 with a clause that allows “mother tongue” to be used as a medium of instruction in
Nigerian public schools. Though this policy was later reversed, successive Nigerian regimes never had the inertia to achieve this lofty goal. Today the realization of this goal is inevitable, considering the hatred, acrimony, corruption and tribalism inherent in our present social superstructure, which only a national language resolve.