The Role of the French Language in Democratic Governance in Nigeria
It is a fact that within the last six decades, the third world nations have experienced reconfiguration of their traditional systems of politics and governance, sociocultural formations and practices, and socioeconomic structures following their contact with the West. Unfortunately, one major aspect of the impact of this contact that is yet to produce positive effects is the role of political communication in stabilizing democratic governance. While issues that are not language-related such as an overambitious military leading to frequent coups d’états, military dictatorships that spanned for decades, loosely defined federalism, and weak political party systems in many nations—have been treated as constituting barriers to the establishment and sustenance of viable democratic governance in African and Third World countries, the role of political communication in developing a strong tradition of democratic practices has been overlooked. This work investigates the role of the French Language in stabilizing democratic governance by exploring and clarifying the inter-relationships between language, politics, and governance. The interplay of political communication and democratic processes in the multilingual Nigerian context is particularly explored to highlight the different roles of the interacting languages. It is argued that the dominance of an exogenous language over other numerous indigenous languages may portend grave implications for the young democratic governance in this third-world polity. Therefore, the search for linguistic equilibrium in the linguistic situation in the present Nigerian democracy requires more effort and commitment from the political class than the present academic debates on language policy and planning.