An overview of the importance of French in Nigeria

An overview of the importance of French in Nigeria

Author by Mr. Simon Amasa

Language: English


According to Laura K. French is the most widely accepted language after English. This source adds that it is spoken in about 77 countries. Now focusing on Africa, particularly West Africa, it is either the official or second language in nine countries. These are: Bénin, Togo, Côte d’Ivoire, Niger, Burkina Faso, Guinée, Mali, Sénégal and Tchad. Again looking at the map of Africa, one perceives that Nigeria is sandwiched in four Francophone countries. Namely: Bénin Republic to the West, Niger to the North. In the North-East it is bordered by Tchad and its closest neighbor to the East is Cameroun. Judging from the premise above, one can state unequivocally that Nigeria dearly needs French more than ever before. In fact, in the opinion of this paper, Nigeria should not be talking of the importance of French at this time of her history because it is long overdue. For it is just natural that when one finds oneself in the midst of a particular area, enveloped by a particular language one shouldn’t hesitate to imbibe it. Hence, Nigeria should rather be concerned with the extent to which her citizens speak the French language. Based on the foregoing, the pungent issue is that Nigeria stands to gain a lot if she embraces and establishes French as her second official language. If anything, at least the way the world is rapidly converging and tending towards the status of a global village in which, most probably, French will be one of the lingua-franca makes it imperative for Nigerians to acquire a working knowledge of the language. Furthermore, it is quite glaring that Nigerian borders are porous. This is partly as a result of the inability of our security agents to communicate fluently in French. Unfortunately, the ‘gendarmes,’ that is the law enforcement agents in Francophone countries, have the basics of English. Thus, this puts the country at a disadvantaged position. This paper addresses the importance of French to today’s Nigeria. Also, it attempts to review French as a language with a view to reawakening the interest of Nigerians to place French in its prime of position. And in order for it to be treated adequately, it will delve briefly into the origin of French language and when it was introduced in Nigeria. This will lead to the projection of some of the countries in the world as well as some multinational cooperate organizations that use French as a language of wider communication. The research will reveal some facts about French and also some common usages in the language. After this, the paper will give a synthesis of the importance of French language to Nigeria today. In this paper, some tips will be given on simple greetings and introduction in French, considering that it’s a catalyst in any given linguistic situation. Some recommendations will be proffered after the conclusion.

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