CRITICAL DISCOURSE ANALYSIS OF SELECTED POLITICAL CAMPAIGN SPEECHES OF GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATES IN SOUTH-WESTERN NIGERIA 2007-2014

CRITICAL DISCOURSE ANALYSIS OF SELECTED POLITICAL CAMPAIGN SPEECHES OF GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATES IN SOUTH-WESTERN NIGERIA 2007-2014

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ABSTRACT

Previous studies on campaign speeches in Nigeria have tended to be a description and analysis of style, innovative and persuasive strategies of politicians, and manipulation of linguistic structures to champion individual interest in presidential election campaign speeches. There is the need to investigate how texts reproduce and sustain power and unequal power relations in campaign texts and how ideological or political undertone was projected in gubernatorial campaign speeches. The study uses Critical Discourse Analysis to examine the role of language in creating and sustaining power relations as well as ideological structures in South-Western Nigeria. These power relations are created, enacted and legitimated by the application of certain linguistic devices. The researcher attempts to unravel hidden meanings and connotations of power in selected gubernatorial campaign speeches in South-Western zone namely: Ekiti, Lagos, Ondo and Osun states. The data for the study were purposively sampled from gubernatorial campaign speeches made in the four states during the 4th republic precisely 2007 - 2014. A total of eight speeches (two from each gubernatorial candidate of Ekiti, Lagos, Ondo and Osun state) were sampled and analyzed. The study drew from Fairclough‟s (2001) Members‟ Resources (MR), Van Dijk‟s socio-cognitive approach (2004), and principles from Halliday‟s system of mood and modality as theoretical bases. The findings show that the South-Western gubernatorial aspirants deployed language as a strategy of domination and supremacy by exploiting lexical items and strong imperatives which allow them to impose their views on others. They created, by means of their campaign texts, asymmetrical power relations of privileged „we‟ and less privileged „others‟. Another form of dominance or power abuse is mind control which is also a form of manipulation through interference with processes of understanding the formation of biased mental models and social representations. This is mainly achieved through persuasion, coercion, and information- giving strategies. Thus, the candidates employ certain declaratives to neutralize the asymmetrical power relations that exist between them and the electorate when they want to liberalise power. This, usually, had the effect of reducing the authority of the candidate. The aspirants also used discourse structures that have implications for ideology as weapons of persuasion and pleading, positive self-representation of „us‟ and negative other representation of „them‟, negotiation and personality projection. Additionally, the findings also reflect figurative expressions that are implicitly used to project different ideological positions of the aspirants. The figurative expressions predominantly used were metaphor, mainly metaphor of religion, time, journey, sports, violence and animal innovations which were used to project positive ideology of self and negative ideology of the other. There were also instances of linguistic items like idiomatic expressions, parallel structures, hyperbolic expressions and rhetorical devices used to unfold hidden ideological meanings. In the sampled data, there are some linguistic items which need to be drawn from the speakers‟ cognition, and this can be accounted for by Fairclough‟s Members‟ Resources. Based on these findings, the researcher recommends that text producers and consumers should be aware of the hidden ideologies and coercive elements in

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texts, and this will inspire them on how to use and accept certain discursive practices. Such empowerment is important to enable the people to determine the true interests of the speeches and for them to be more active and less gullible citizens. The study, therefore, concludes that in actual sense, the plethora of texts produced, distributed and consumed in the 2007-2014 gubernatorial electioneering campaigns in the South-Western Nigeria not only promoted asymmetrical power relations, they also produced, reproduced, legitimized and maintained social structures that sustain domination.

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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1         Background of the Study

Discourse is all around us, whether we are looking at the esoteric language of a scholarly report, the imperative appeals to consumerism in advertising or the exchange of words performed in a dialogue. In all of these instances of discourse, there are certain underlying rules, and each of these is in turn dependent on the social context in which the discourse takes place. A dialogue between a parent and a child is different from a political speech, in terms of ideology, power relations and usage of words. Election campaigns and other types of political discourse are all fields of ideological battles which can be subjected to Critical Discourse Analysis. This is not surprising because, as van Dijk (11) says, it is eminently here that different and opposed groups, powers, struggles and interests are at stake. In order to be able to compete, political groups need to be ideologically conscious and organized. Discourse analysis challenges us to move from seeing language as abstract to seeing our words as having meaning in a particular historical, social and political condition. Our words are politicized, even if we are not aware of it, because they carry the power that reflects the interest of those who speak. Discourses can also be used for an assertion of power and knowledge, and they can be used for resistance and critique. One such occasion where discourse can be used to assert, sustain and legitimize power is campaign speeches.

The campaign speeches are important tools politicians use to express views and feelings to the public with the sole intension of re-shaping and re-directing the electorates' opinions to agree with theirs. The speech highlights, among others, the

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programmes of successive administrations and offers the speaker as the best candidate that can turn around the fortunes of the people. Politics is a struggle for power in order to put certain political, economic and social ideas into practice. In this process, language plays a crucial role since every political action is prepared, accompanied, influenced and played by language. According to Orwell, All issues are political issues and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia. When the atmosphere is bad, language must suffer” (525-43).

Linguists are getting more and more interested in both the linguistic structure of texts and how texts feature in the social process. An understanding of grammar, morphology, semantics and phonology of a text is necessary for the understanding of the text but the rhetoric intent, the coherence and the world view of the author and receptor promote a better appreciation of the text. Language, therefore, is no longer just for reflecting reality, it is central for creating reality. Discourse is a form of language use. It is a practice not just of representing the world, but of signifying the world, constituting and constructing the world in meaning. To Fairclough, a discourse is “a way of signifying a particular domain of social practice from a particular perspective” (14). Discourse Analysis (DA) is the analytical framework which was created for studying actual text and talk in the communicative context while CDA is a type of discourse analytical research that primarily studies the way social power abuse, dominance and inequality are enacted, reproduced and resisted by text and talk in the social and political context. CDA is particularly interested in the detailed interface between structures of discourse and the structures of power. Advocates of this research agenda called Critical Discourse Analysis claim that language is a form of social practice which the context is very crucial in its analysis (Wodak, 7; Wodak and Busch: 108). Scholars in the field believe that the choice of language which

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interlocutors make reflects their intentions, ideology and thought. This is an effective means for polarizing power in society. Leading scholars in this enterprise include Michael Foucault, Roger Fowler, Ruth Wodak, Teun van Dijk, Norman Fairclough and a host of others. These linguists, sociolinguists, philosophers and discourse analysts who have taken a critical stance in the study of texts claim that previous works on discourse analysis (DA) and conversational analysis (CA) had been more descriptive in terms of the local micro-level linguistic features of cohesion and coherence, topical markers, and semantic principles that connect textual patterns and less „explanatory‟ and „evaluative‟ of the macro socio-cultural dimensions of discursive practices (Fitch and Sanders: 253). These earlier works have failed to answer questions such as: why certain discourses are structured to dominate others, how language is used and abused in the service of the powerful in society, how language can be structured to become a veritable instrument of propaganda, manipulation, marginalization, oppression, offence and defence; a situation which Mey refers to as linguistic repression - a subtle but pernicious form of social control through discursive practices (293). They have failed to explain how discourse buttresses ideological formations of social institutions or how discourse sustain unequal power relations and how even those who suffer as a consequence fail to realize how many things that appear to be natural and normal are not at all so (Wareing: 12).

Critical Discourse Analysis specifically wants to know the role of discourse in the production and challenge of power and dominance ; how language is used and abused by the elite class and their discursive strategies for the maintenance of inequality; how language can be an instrument of persuasion and impression, justification, propaganda, oppression and suppression, manipulation and

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misrepresentation. One of the key factors that determine the political figures‟ success in reaching their goals and winning the public support in this continuous power struggle is their ability to persuade and impress their audience. As Teittinen succinctly puts it, "the winner is a party whose language, words, terms and symbolic expressions are dominant once reality and the context have been defined"(1). And this is where the need for critical listening and reading are felt more than any other time to realize what the reality is and how it is distorted through delicate and skilful use of language.

This present study, therefore, arose from the need to address the significant features of the language of political campaign speeches in Nigeria not only from the angle of micro-linguistic structures but also from the perspective of discourse patterns and pragmatic implications, taking into consideration the ideological and power patterns encoded in the texts. The work will show the role of language in establishing, creating and sustaining power relations, inequalities as well as ideological structures of society within the framework of Critical Discourse Analysis. According to McGregor,

Our words are never neutral. They carry the power that reflects the interests of who speaks or writes. They convey how we see ourselves as a profession, our identity, knowledge, values and beliefs and our truths. Our discourse permeates everything we do (online).

McGregor is of the view that discourse has the capability of making unbalanced power relations and portrayals of social groups to be common sense, normal and natural when in actual fact the reality is prejudice, injustice and inequalities. Thus,

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Using just words, those in power or wishing to be so can misdirect our concerns for persistent large systemic issues of class, gender, age, religion and culture so that they seem petty or non-existent. Unless we begin to debunk their words, we can be misled and duped into embracing the dominant worldview at our expense and their gain (McGregor: online).

Critical Discourse Analysis, henceforth referred to as CDA, takes the position that every language use is ideologically motivated; that all linguistic usages encode different ideologies resulting from their different situations and purposes; and that by these means, every language works as a form of social practice (Fairclough: 102). The scholars engaged in CDA look beyond the micro-descriptive level of linguistic analysis into institutional frameworks, cultures and ideologies to discern and define how personal and social ideologies are tacitly encoded in, validated and reinforced by the way sentences and utterances are constructed and connected as components of wholes. In other words, how the choice of words, sentences and utterances we make are not just arbitrary choices, but choices governed by how we are positioned in the social group and the ideological positions we wish to project. Our identity in the social structure is shown in the way we think, act and speak.

A text is a record of communication, which involves the presentation of identities of participants. It is produced by socially situated speakers, and it is, therefore, more than just words spoken or written on the pages of books. Bloor and Bloor consider a text as a product of a discourse. It is normally used to describe a linguistic record of a communicative event (7). On the other hand, a text can be a process, in the sense of a continuous process of semantic choice by people as they produce discourses. Each discourse is, therefore, a

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movement through the network of meaning potential with each set of choices constituting the environment for a further set. Lemke (quoted in Weiss and Wodak: 13) describes a text as “the concrete realizations of the abstract forms of knowledge (discourse) and van Dijk (Text and Context) expands this view by adding that “discourse is a form of knowledge in memory while text is the concrete oral utterances and written documents”(35). He is of the view that discourse is a communicative event which includes conversation, interaction, written texts, as well as associated gestures, face work, typographical layout, images and other semiotic and multimedia dimensions of signification. Van Dijk‟s definition brings multimodal discourse (analysis of visual arts, music and other cultural artefacts) under the umbrella term of discourse. For instance, a book incorporates written text as well as diagrams or charts to make its message clearer.

Firth‟s clarion call in 1937 and Austin‟s Speech Act Theory of 1962 are two pioneer works which recognize the power of words and utterances. The Speech Act Theory, and indeed the whole of pragmatic theory, is essentially concerned with how interlocutors [speakers and listeners] understand one another in spite of the possibility of their saying what they do not mean, and meaning what they do not say. The Speech Act Theory projects language as an instrument for social and interpersonal interaction which take effect under felicity conditions as portrayed in Grice's conversational maxims (“be informative", "be truthful", "be relevant" and "be brief") and Hymes "Communicative Competence" which is knowledge" as to when to speak, when not to speak, with whom, when, where and in what manner (Ndimele: 184).These scholars see language as a form of social action and social





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