The role of Nigerian languages in media is that it reinforces the idea that information flow in the indigenous languages is a requirement for mass involvement.
Information departments in every state and specialist groups such as MAMSER, Public Enlightenment Committees, National Orientation Agency, and Ministry of Information and Communication, prepare and disseminate information from the government to the people.
It is important that individual and groups need to know what the government is doing or plan to do. People know what the governor is doing, what they want them to do or not to do, and what they need, feel, or dislike.
How can government information and rural development training be disseminated in rural areas other than through local languages? This ensures mass participation and grassroots involvement to ensure widespread and genuine development.
The role of Nigerian languages is numerous. Language is like a currency, the more it can buy, the greater value it has.
Information on fertilizers, pesticides, high-yield varieties of crops, appropriate planting seasons, irrigation and preservation as well as marketing outlets are better given to farmers in the languages they are familiar with.
Moreover, Nigerian languages are used to disseminate information on planting and harvesting seasons. Talk on how to check erosion, preparation of farmland with modern techniques, and helpful insects to farmers are more useful to farmers if given in the language they understand.
In addition, animal husbandry and the economic tree can thrive more if the farmers are well-grounded in this occupation. The outcome will be enough food for the nation and more money for the farmers.
Health is wealth. Health campaigns in Nigerian languages in the form of posters, handbills, radio talks, and film clips by health workers will help eradicate sickness and diseases.
Information on environmental sanitation, nutrition, preventive measures, first aid, immunization, family planning, ante-natal, and child care in Nigerian languages helps the nation to be healthy.
Information on personal cleanliness, venereal diseases, the effect of prostitution and malnutrition, etc. help the masses to live long and be productive.
Nigerian languages play a powerful instrument in political mobilization. The rural masses need information on government activities, the constitution, elections, and political parties.
The only way they can effectively participate without selling their votes, and being involved in anti-election such as thuggery, arson, rigging, etc. is by getting information in the language they understand.
The government through its agents disseminates information about its activities and gets feedback from the masses. Political awareness is important in this era of election for mobilization.
Literacy in Nigerian languages helps for economic buoyancy for the populace in the area of better food, clothing, better farm yield and to get good accommodation. This helps them to learn about the importance of banks and how to serve their money.
Alternative ways of making a living, and raising a family’s economic production can be gotten through lectures or talks in Nigerian languages. When there is enough money to solve one’s problem, most of the societal ills/vices will be a thing of the past.
Literacy in the Nigerian context must mean paying more attention to indigenous languages as an effective means of eradicating illiteracy. This functional literacy is effective if people’s languages are used to bridge the communication gap.
Using the media such as radio, television, and printed materials to educate, inform, entertain and disseminate information is better in the languages the wider population understands. Adult literacy has been a major domain of the National Policy on Education.
This is principal because of the large numbers of the illiterate population and the virtual impossibility of providing literacy teaching in anything but the adult’s first language.
Communication in Nigerian languages helps to attain status based on merit; motivates the illiterate to become literate. Parents are also aware of the value of educating their children.
It helps with interpersonal relationships, self-reliance, independence, creativity, and ingenuity. It helps to greater tolerance, and respect for other people’s religions, beliefs, and cultural differences.
Music in Nigerian languages acts as a social crusader, advocate of justice, and critic of the government and is used to propagate good societal virtues. Government policies and intentions are better propagated in song rendition.
Some of these songs know no linguistic barriers as they are enjoyed by all. Some notable musicians are Sunny Ade, Sunny Okosun, Lagbaja, Onyeka Onwenu, Late Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Sunny Ade, Zaki-Adzee, etc.
The doctrines of these religious groups i. e. Christianity and traditional religion spread in Nigerian languages. The Moslems preach theirs in Arabic and some cases the Nigerian languages.
Their sermons, prayers, songs, crusades, and all their activities help for good moral conduct, courage, peaceful co-existence, justice, love, and kindness the nation needs.
The tenets of these religions if well propagated will put an end to tribal and religious ways that are prevalent in the country.
Scientific and technological role
Ezikeojaku (1997) insists that ‘the use of indigenous Nigerian languages will enable Nigerian scientists to research into our local products which will then become the basis of our industrial growth.
’ Foreign ideas, concepts, and technologies will undoubtedly be imported into a foreign language but such concepts must be transmitted to the masses in the language that they can understand.
If the scientific and technological terms, processes, and concepts are translated into Nigerian languages, the miracle Japan attained by indigenizing and translating the processes into terms in their languages will be achieved in Nigeria.
These are fax, telex, packet switching, teleconferencing, computer conferencing, radio, e-mail, cellular, mobile telephone, communication satellites, television, etc.
These communication tools are used at home, school, business, industry, in the state, government, and would affair depending on the one most suitable for the occasion. For communication to be effective to the vast majority of Nigerians, the medium should be the Nigerian language.
A nation that lacks this ingredient for self-realization through its languages can only be a breed of sycophants rather than citizens.
The national curriculum conference which led to the formation of the National Policy on Education revised in 1981 stipulates the study of Nigerian languages. The summary is that a child should be taught in his MT in the first three years at the primary level.
For an individual to realize his whole potential, become informed, enlighted, learned, and properly educated, he should be given this information through the language which he is more familiar with hence his mother tongue.