Professor Kamaluddeeen Bello, has urged the Federal Government to place strong emphasis on the use of English language as mode of communication in every public place in the country.
Bello gave the advice in Abuja while delivering the 15th Inaugural Lecture of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) with the topic “Who is a Nigerian Citizen”.
He said the call became necessary since it would be difficult to adopt a lingua franca for the country at this stage of Nigeria’s existence due to the distrust among the various ethnic groups.
According to Bello, there is no indigenous language that can be adopted in the country that other tribes will support and not protest against since there is nothing like Nigerian citizens but Nigerian indigenes.
“Nigerians should erase from their minds, the belief that Nigerian citizenship could replace the current Nigerian indigeneship by fiat or decree or enactment of law or constitutionalised approach.
“That is, agitating for constitutional provisions alone cannot produce a deepening and sustainable Nigerian citizenship in place of Nigerian indigeneship; this is because the practice of indigeneship has been in existence since the time of Nigeria’s creation in 1914.
“This has become a culture and note that culture die hard.
“In the interim, every Nigerian should have it at the back of her or his mind that Nigerian constitution and Nigerians do not recognise Nigerian citizen, but Nigerian indigene of the various indigenous communities.
“Therefore, one should try to be assimilated into the way of life of a place he wants to claim its indigeneship and not agitate for the indigeneship of a place that he cannot be assimilated into its culture or annoyed when denied an indigeneship of a place that he cannot be assimilated into its culture,” Bello said.
He also said that nobody was discriminated against on the grounds of race, religion, gender or place of birth under citizenship but could be found under indegenship.
The Vice-Chancellor of NOUN, Prof. Abdalla Adamu, regretted that the country had been divided into ethnic and tribal lines.
Adamu, however, urged Nigerians to see the country as one indivisible entity to be able to conquer and surmount their challenges.
“The topic is interesting and it is in the public domain because there is nothing like Nigeria but communities, and I think that is what the professor wants to talk about.
“People don’t identify themselves as Nigerians but rather as Fulani, Igbo, Yoruba, Hausa, Kanuri; the concept of collective Nigeria doesn’t seem to be in minds.
“The questions are, who are the citizens, how do you define the citizen and the parameter for defining citizenship and do you call yourself a Nigerian first before identifying yourself as Yoruba and so on?
“If you say you are an American citizen, you have to swear an allegiance to the flag of the country which means that you are a U.S. Citizen; even if you come from another place, there has to be that central point that connects you spiritually to the country.
“Even if you are a Nigerian and the U.S. is at war with Nigeria, you can be a soldier on the American side fighting Nigeria where you come from.
“Are you willing to kill your own people because you are now in another country, or do you still see yourself as a Nigerian even though you have an American citizenship?” Adamu asked.