Concerned Nigerians have, on many occasions, expressed concern about making reference to the country Nigeria as “Naija’’ in discussions.
They insist that although the official name for the country is Nigeria, the word “Naija’’ has surreptitiously crept into the Nigerian lexicon to replace Nigeria in certain media.
Most of Nigerians believe that decline in the standard of education in the country is responsible for the development.
Mr Tope Babayemi, Chief Executive Officer, Different Aesthetics, Arts and Culture Manager in Abuja said the coinage “Naija’’ arose from increased usage of informal English language.
Babayemi, nonetheless, agreed that poor standard of our education also facilitated the continuous occurrence of slangs in formal communication.
“It is about the effect and impact of modern social media, information technology and the global village and it is also a result of fallen standards in our education.
“It is apparent that standards have fallen. You see teachers’ spoken English, their written English, at times, its atrocious.
“Then we need to focus more on quality in education our in public and private schools.
Mr Tunde Afolabi, the Founder of Create Your World Agency in Abuja also corroborated him, saying that the social media style of writing was affecting upcoming generations in a negative way.
“Professionally or officially there are ways you should write and now when you are used to social media by spelling that way or writing `you’ as a letter ‘u’.
“You realise that when you are writing a professional letter or a proposal. Unknowingly you get to put all those kind of thing into the write up which is not acceptable in the corporate setting.
“It’s getting out of hand these days especially the young ones. The social media actually started this thing so, we can actually advocate about it online.
“Do a lot orientation programmes on social media. That is the only way you can actually eradicate and correct things.
Afolabi said one way of bringing about a change in this negative development was for every individual to personally decide to use appropriate words and spell them in full when communicating.
Veteran Musician, Innocent Onyemuwa, popularly known as Daddy Fresh said “It actually started from the diaspora; somehow it even unifies us more in the diaspora than in Nigeria here.
“And I think it goes a long way for Nigerians outside Nigeria. They will always want to prefer calling it Naija to Nigeria.
“We musicians also made it very popular. It’s just a slang anyway that has eaten into the fabric of Nigeria.
It unifies us anywhere in the world. “Me I be omo Naija“.
“But the real name Nigeria hasn’t been rubbed off in anyway, it’s just slang. I don’t think Nigeria can be rubbed off; it’s just a street word.
“The corporate elite hardly call it Naija, you can’t be writing a formal letter and call it Naija, or a board meeting and call it Naija.
“When it comes to reality and geography, Nigeria is the name we know, “he said.
The president of the Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria (PMAN), Pretty Okafor said “I just think Naija is a street word, like how you call money, you call it `doe`.
“It is a street word and it doesn’t affect us as a brand, as a Nigerian brand.
“But again you cannot take away the street word from people. It is not like you are going to write an examination and you would write Naija.
“Naija is our Pidgin English while Nigeria is our Queen’s English.
“It can’t have a negative impact on the brand Nigeria. When you are filling your documentation, you use the right word.
“You know everybody want to be seen as people that are being funky.
“In my own case, I don’t use the word naija, the corporate world that I am presently in don’t allow such.
`However, Mr Garba Abari , Director-General, National Orientation Agency (NOA) who expressed his concerns appeal to Nigerians to refer to the country as Nigeria not `Najia’ to keep its originality.
Abari said that the “funkifying ‘’ of the original name Nigeria is worrisome and not in the best interest of the country.
“Actually it is a very worrisome thing that our young ones tend to funkify the original name of our country.
“Of course we try as much as possible in all our advocacy visits to insist that Nigeria must be made and be referred to as Nigeria and not Naija.
“There was an instance when the “Buy made in Nigeria’’ group came to visit us here in the headquarters. We made this observation, why buy Naija? Why not buy Nigeria? Why buy Naija?
“They said it is a catch phrase, we said well even if it is a catch phrase, it does not speak well neither does it actually give any sense of originality to the name of our country.
He said the schools and the media have a role to play in ensuring that the right messages are sent out to the youths particularly the teachers.
“The truth of the matter is our schools have a role to play in this, Maybe the media itself has also got a very fundamental role to play in this because it is the media that helps in the propagation of this kind of misnomer.
“You know there is even an online media they call“naija.com’’ meaning “Nigeria.com’’ and of course all of us as individuals, as corporate organisations, as media, as whether broadcast, print or online must wake up to the reality.
“That the more we use these misnomers in referring to our country, the more it sticks in people’s sub-consciousness.
Abari said the fallout of this is that a significant percentage of our younger ones will not even remember the name Nigeria.
“I think I will want to use this medium in particular to appeal to all Nigerians, both young and old to always refer to our country as Nigeria,’’ Abari said.