Is it offensive to call Nigeria 'Naija'?

The Federal government four days ago in Abuja condemned in strong terms the use of Naija in place of Nigeria saying such usage is uncharitable and unpatriotic. The Minister of Information Prof. Dora Akunyili frowned at the continuous use of the word especially by musicians, artist, advert managers and corporate companies.

“It is very offensive to call Nigeria Naija. We are making plans to write to companies to stop using the world Naija. I have heard the name Naija in adverts. I want them to go back and remove that word.If anybody says this is Naija, ask the person ‘Where is Naija?’ We have to stop this word because it is catching up with the young. If we do not put a stop to it’s usage now, it will continue to project us wrongly”, she said.
The Minister’s condemnation was prompted by a sentence in the presentation made by the participants of Heir Apparent Reality Show when they paid her a courtesy visit. In the presentation the sentence ‘Our World Is Naija” was used. She ordered that the sentence be changed to “Our World Is Nigeria.”

6 comment(s):

As much as i use to say Naija instead of Nigeria ,i believe she's right, Naija is just a slang just like yankee and jd so we shouldn't let it overshadow the real name of our country.

I was seriously going to write about this after i had commented on various people's blogs and read news commentaries on it. But i decided not to. I felt like it would be giving the minister undeserved attention or importance. But hey that's just my opinion.

I mean seriously, there are more important issues that need to be addressed in naija. Of all things to focus on, a word which is not derogatory in any sense. It's just so sad that such issues are accorded more importance by our "leaders".

I agrees with the Miniter, including @anonymous n @shade.... The usage of the word NAIJA should be stopped..... Let's join hands together, post this on every blog as possible, facebook everywhere....

It's NIGERIA, not NAIJA!!!!!

@ Anonymous 2.15pm, I'm actually not in support of eradicating the word naija. I guess the way i said it up there was confusing. The minister should focus on other pertinent issues. Naija or Nigeria, we still have millions of people who are unemployed, starving, have no access to constant electricity and such. Eradicating the word naija from our vocabulary, which is pretty silly, is the least of our problems.


This is the first I heard of the term Naija used as a substitute for Nigeria and my first response is to question why and ask, is it an old name that is being reclaimed? Where did it come from? Why is it used instead of Nigeria? What is the agenda behind the term in replacing Nigeria? Based on the dialogue and debate I would surmise that the term since it seem to have no real historical context then acts like an Erasure much like the term "People of Color" is used in North America to classify all people who are "non-white". “People of Color,” once used to designate people of African descent is now an umbrella term categorizing everyone and anyone who is non- white. Personally I don't agree with any kind of labeling because frankly it prevents us from seeing each other’s humanity and there is the inherent danger of normalization causing us to live unconsciously. In effect it blinds us to the destruction of such practices and impacts because “everyone is doing it”. Sadly many ascribe labels and it has now become standard practice to label people much like products in the grocery stores and market place. It is then not a far leap to see that this pattern of practice then will be applied to everything else. We do have to be mindful of the labels we take on, our seamless adaptation and assimilation to the outwardly benign terms thrown at us through the various media forms and perpetuated in our everyday dialogue with each other can be if we are not careful detrimental to us. It is much harder to rebottle a genie once it has escaped the confines of the bottle than it is to prevent it from leaving the bottle in the first place. We all must be cognizant of the varied designations we assign ourselves and our nation and not be afraid to question the who, what, when, where, why and how of things.

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