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This research is on discourse analysis of the Independence Day speeches of President Goodluck Jonathan during the celebration of Nigeria’s Independence in 2012, 2013 and 2014. It studies the structure of these speeches, the ideologies of the President reflected through them, their information strength and their contemporary relevance. The work adopts Grice’s co-operative principles, which incorporate the maxims of quantity, quality, relation and manner, for analysing its data. The study observes that the Independence Day speeches of President Goodluck Jonathan are structured into five sections, which include greetings and introduction of the occasion; incorporating every Nigerian as contributing to Nigeria’s history and current status; highlighting the achievements made, the challenges facing Nigeria and efforts being made to handle them; messages of hope and promises and call for collective responsibility; conclusion with compliments. It observes that these five sections fulfil the co-operative maxim of quantity but have some statements which do not fulfil the maxims of quality, relation and manner. The ideological analysis shows that the President gradually realised the extent of his power and autonomy. He prefers collective responsibility of the nation’s affairs. The speeches are contemporarily relevant during their delivery. Finally, the research observes that the speech in 2014 is more informative than that of 2012 and 2013. The research recommends the use of discourse analysis for the President for analysing and assessing his speeches before delivery and that Nigerians should pay attention to the Independence Day speeches in order to take adequate advantage of the information in them.
Key words: Independence Day, President, speech, discourse analysis, co-operative principle, ideology, contemporary relevance, information strength.
1.1. Background of the study
Every country is defined by its history. All past and current events taking place within a country accumulate to make-up its history. These, therefore, follow that there is no country, be it an American country like the United States of America, a European country like England, an Asian country like China or an African country like Nigeria that does not have its own peculiar history. The history of a country, sometimes, dates back to its official recognition as an independent group or its official recognition as collection of people with a given or identified political structure. The history of Nigeria however, predates her independence which she won from her British colonialists on 1st October, 1960. This history, indeed, defines Nigeria.
It is in this regard that the researcher wishes to state that the success of every country involves building upon its own peculiar history. Countries come together to celebrate their history during certain days or periods of the year in the forms of national celebrations. For countries that had experienced colonialism (the forceful taking-over and control of a country by another superior country, especially, politically), the date they earn their independence/freedom from their colonial master(s) often becomes the greatest and most remarkable of their national days. Nigeria is not left-out in the practice of celebrating their independence day, which has now become an annual ritual.
On 1st October, 1960, Nigeria gained her independence from her colonial masters; and so, October 1 of every year is the most remarkable of all national day celebrations of the country. On this day, usually, the incumbent president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria delivers a speech to all the citizens of the country. In the speech, issues relating to or affecting the country are highlighted and homage is paid to its famous freedom fighters and leaders, who inspired the country’s independence struggle. This equally serves as a veritable opportunity for the president to make promises of good governance and creation of a better country for the citizens, as well as making maximum effort to win the confidence and support of the masses. To achieve this, the immense power of language is greatly employed and systematically used.
There is always the incidence or need of one to talk to a group or crowd of people just as there is equally the incidence or need to listen to a group or crowd of people (the public). In the end, what matters is the result obtained from each speech delivery. A speech is, thus, measured by its relevance or value. This is because every speech is delivered with an aim and, so, when the aim of a speech is achieved, the speech is said to be effective. Conversely, a speech that fails to achieve its aim or purpose is regarded as lacking in value; thus, it is ineffective. Consequently, the value of a speech can be viewed from two angles. The first angle is the intention of the speaker who delivers the speech while the second angle is the impact on the party being addressed.
From the first angle, which is the angle of the speaker, a delivered speech should be able to convey the thoughts and ideas, which the speaker possesses in his mind. Any other message(s) conveyed by the speech that falls short of these thoughts and ideas of the speaker cannot, in any way, be adjudged to have served its purpose. From the second angle, if the speech delivered evokes from the hearer, the kind of response anticipated by the speaker, the speech is said to possess value. It is, therefore, important to note here that the response exhibited by the hearer can be in certain forms. It can be in the form of possessing and believing in the words/message of the speech in the form of expressing or performing an intended or anticipated action.
It is, therefore, necessary to critically study and analytically discuss the language employed in the delivery of Nigeria’s Independence-Day speeches by President Goodluck Jonathan, the President and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, in 2012, 2013 and 2014, in an attempt to manipulate the opinions of the Nigerian citizens in his favour, and to equally win their support. How meaning is conveyed through these speeches in order to create the desired effect for the president, is a concern of discourse semantics which is a branch of linguistics concerned with the study of meaning. So, it is expected that every word/utterance uttered within a linguistic context must not be devoid of meaning. Based on this, the extent of consciousness, which the President exhibits in his choice and use of language while delivering his speeches will be x-rayed in this research work.
1.2. Statement of the problem
Over the years, several political speeches have been delivered across various places concerning various events in Nigeria and studies have been carried out by several scholars and researchers on these speeches. Some of these scholars include Ugwu (2013), Ibiere (2013), Waya (2012), Agbedo (2010), Agbedo and Akaan (2012), Aghalino (2004), Okorie (2011), Obitube (2014), Ndubuisi and Chinenye (2012). These scholars explored the various speeches of people who have been influential on their listeners or audience within the social, economic, cultural political and religious circles.
Studies conducted by these various scholars, though expansive and extensive in some areas, failed to pay attention to what this researcher sees as the cradle of all political speeches within a nation, which are the Independence Day speeches. The Independence Day speeches in celebration of Nigeria’s independence from the white colonial masters are speeches, which define the political, social, economic, cultural and educational situation of the country at their various times or periods of delivery. Thus, the current state of affairs of any nation, especially the country Nigeria, is always depicted in the speeches delivered in the memory of, and celebration of the country’s heroes and heroines as well as the several years of existence of the country.
Furthermore, these Independence Day speeches, which are avenues for the citizens to gain more knowledge about the state of affairs and the workings of the machinery of their country have been speeches, which many citizens of the country have failed to critically pay attention to, through careful studies, in order to decipher some semantic (meaningful) elements worth taking advantage of. The fact that every speech reveals the ideology or views of the speaker is equally a fact that many Nigerians have not realised. This has resulted in the inability of many Nigerian citizens to fully understand the hidden and overt contents of these Independence Day speeches of President Goodluck Jonathan and many citizens equally show ignorance of the existence of various laws, policies, as well as benefits which are highlighted in these speeches. Consequently, this research work seeks to adequately fill these gaps which have been identified.
1.3. Purpose of the study
The major aim of every speech is to communicate to an audience effectively, the intention(s) of the speaker. This researcher has set out to study the 2012, 2013 and 2014 speeches of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria during the celebration of the country’s Independence Day. The content of these speeches, the ideas these speeches give us about the president himself, as well as how these speeches were delivered are key concerns of this research. Thus, the research aims to:
- find out the structural pattern of the Independence Day speeches of President
- expose the ideological perspectives of President Jonathan as reflected in his
Independence Day speeches
- reveal the information strength of the Independence Day speeches of President
- find out the contemporary relevance of the Independence Day speeches of President
1.4. Research Questions
Sequel to the aim and objectives of this research, the researcher proposes the key research questions, which guide the progress of the research effort. These research questions are therefore vital as the success of this work is dependent on its ability to comprehensively answer them. The research questions are therefore outlined below:
a. What is the structural pattern of the Independence Day speeches of President
b. What are the ideological perspectives of President Goodluck Jonathan as reflected in
his Independence Day speeches?
c. What features of the speeches reveal the information strength of the Independence
d. What is the contemporary relevance of the Independence Day speeches?
1.5. Scope of the Study
Content constraint is highlighted here because of the researcher’s ability to put into consideration the expectations of some audience who may be anticipating some lines of discussion and analysis, as well as the incorporation of theories and frameworks other than what has been set out to achieve specifically. Some of these anticipated views may not be available within the content of the speeches under study as the researcher is very much limited to the content of the data available in order to do a thorough research work, rather than embark on analysis that has no empirical data or evidence within the speech.
Thus, the scope of this research work is discourse analysis. McCarthy (2011) states that discourse analysis is fundamentally concerned with the relationship between language and the contexts of its use. Consequently, the study is limited to finding out the structural pattern of the Independence Day speeches of President Goodluck Jonathan, exposing his ideological perspectives as reflected in the speeches, revealing the information strength of the speeches, as well as finding out the contemporary relevance of the speeches.
Therefore, based on the purpose of the research highlighted above, this research work is limited to conducting a precise study of the 2012, 2013 and 2014 Independence Day Celebration speeches of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, within the framework of discourse analysis.
1.6. Significance of the Study
The utterances of political leaders have the performative force to persuade or manipulate the public (Ayoola 2005). This is a key point or factor that motivates the researcher to embark on this research as he seeks to study, analyse and reveal information, through the findings that he made about those speech indicators that reveal what listeners or audience to political speeches ought to be paying attention to. I would like to first identify the parties that will benefit from the result(s) or findings of this research work.
The first party comprises the general public who include the citizens of Nigeria. The second party comprises the various scholars, writers and researchers, as well as the media who record these Independence Day speeches and transcribe them into various media of communication and make them as well as their own discussions available to the general public to read and assimilate. These are the two parties who will benefit from this research work.
By providing answers to what the structural pattern of the Independence Day speeches of President Goodluck Jonathan is, any reader who picks up this work to read will get to understand the various issues that characterise speeches and know what to expect as well as what not to expect. Providing answers to what the ideological perspectives of President Goodluck Jonathan as reflected through his speeches are will help the reader to develop an objective and critical mind to enable him/her to evaluate the President’s speeches better. Again, providing answers to the features of the speeches revealing their information strength will help the reader to develop the urge to pay attention to the Independence Day speeches of the President to know if there are pieces of information, which may be valuable to him/her. Finally, providing answers to whether the speeches possess contemporary relevance will help the reader, especially a Nigerian audience, to understand the need to develop interest in either listening to the President’s Independence Day speeches or not to do so.
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