Appraisal of resources in post-election defeat-concession speeches of some gubernatorial candidates in southwestern Nigeria, 2014-2015.

Author:Ademilokun, Mohammed


Elections are an important aspect of the political processes in the democratic system of any nation. According to Opeibi (2009), elections can be said to be the heart of any political system. Given the importance of elections in determining the person or people who have access to state power and the desire of most politicians to acquire state power, a lot of effort is invested into preparations for elections. Since language is central to all human actions and endeavors, including politics, it also becomes largely implicated in the electoral processes as politicians and the electoral umpires use language to achieve their desired results.

Therefore, language use in relation to electoral matters constitutes an important aspect of political discourse, which broadly refers to all talks and texts in the domain of politics (van Djik, 1997).

Political discourse has enjoyed generous attention from scholars in diverse disciplines including linguistics, which serves as the orientation of this study. Political discourse occupies a strategic space as it is not a mere linguistic exercise or adventure, but often has serious political implications. According to van Djik (1997), political discourse analysis has a lot to offer political science as it can answer serious political questions or raise awareness about political realities or processes, especially if "it focuses on features of discourse which are relevant to the purpose or function of the political process or event whose discursive dimension is being analysed" (van Djik 1997:38).

Linguistic studies on Nigerian political discourse have focused on sub-genres of the discourse such as political speeches, political advertisements, political rally campaigns, political interviews, legislative discourse, revealing the dynamics of political mobilization and practices by the country's successive political actors. However, of all the different aspects of political discourse studied in Nigeria, political speeches seem to have enjoyed the greatest attention. The popularity of political speeches in Nigerian political discourse can be attributed to the fact that political speeches such as Independence Day speeches, inauguration speeches and campaign speeches all serve as useful platforms for the ventilation of the views of politicians on important national issues. Therefore, scholars have consistently researched into the speeches with a view to analyzing the ideologies of the politicians and the implications for the people while also revealing the linguistic and persuasive features of the speeches.

Political speeches in Nigerian political discourse can however be classified into two categories: pre-election speeches and post-election speeches. Pre-election speeches are, among others, manifestos, political debates and political rally speeches. Post-election speeches, however, focus on reactions to, and reflections on conducted elections and the political activities of elected politicians. Such speeches are victory speeches of winners of elections, legislative speeches, Independence Day speeches, New Year day speeches, budget speeches, inauguration speeches of politicians and concession or post-election defeat speeches. A survey of the literature on political speeches in Nigeria however shows that while the full range of pre-election speeches has been remarkably subjected to linguistic analysis, same hardly applies to post-election speeches. Although some post-election speeches such as legislative speeches, victory speeches, Independence Day speeches have been studied, post-election defeat-concession speeches have not enjoyed much significant linguistic analysis.

As stated earlier, post-election defeat speeches refer to the speeches of political candidates upon electoral defeat. Such speeches can also be referred to as concession speeches. However, the reality of the Nigerian situation is that some politicians upon losing elections do not concede victory but rather use language to show their resolve to challenge the victory of their opponents at the tribunal or condemn their loss and its circumstances outright. Nonetheless, whether such speeches are defeat or concession or post-election defeat/concession speeches, they constitute an equally important sub-genre of political discourse. This is because they contain the views and attitudes of politicians who lost elections which can be harnessed for the strengthening of the democratic processes in any nation. In fact, the perspectives expressed in such speeches are important in a developing democracy such as Nigeria's, fraught with post-election violence among other negative realities. Consequently, the insights provided into the views and attitudes of Nigerian political actors upon electoral loss can help to plan subsequent elections more successfully and forestall post-election crisis.

Therefore, this study is motivated by the need to carry out a linguistic analysis of post-election defeat-concession speeches of Nigerian political actors by paying attention to the evaluative component of the language of the speeches and the implications for political sustainability and growth in the country. The study seeks to unveil the patterns of language of evaluation in the speeches and relate such patterns to the personalities of the speech givers, their political maturity, the political contexts of the speeches and the Nigerian political culture.

Literature Review and Theoretical Framework

The relationship between language and politics or political activities such as elections has been extensively studied by linguists. Scholars such as Beard (2000), Schaffner (2004), Opeibi (2009) have strongly maintained that there is an intricate relationship between language and politics. The relationship between the two is such that one influences the other, as it is impossible to do politics successfully without language, just as it is unavoidable for politics to shape language. Therefore, according to Adetunji (2006:177), "politics is thus a discursive domain, not just because it situates language in action but also because the action is contextualized". After all, it is a fact that language is usually contextual. The realization of the fact that language is crucially implicated in politics has made scholars from linguistic, semiotic and communication backgrounds to study how language is used in different domains of politics such as political debates, electoral campaigns, political interviews, political meetings, legislation and political occasions such as inauguration and transition ceremonies.

In Nigeria, scholars have thus researched into different aspects of the country's political discourse such as political speeches, political interviews, political advertisements, political cartoons and political campaigns (see Ayeomoni & Akinkuolere 2012; Ayoola 2005; Opeibi 2009; Ademilokun & Taiwo 2013; Ademilokun 2015, etc.).

It is also important to mention that political discourse studies in Nigeria have been approached from pragmatic perspective (Ayeomoni 2012; Aremu 2015), discourse-analytic perspective (Taiwo 2008; Asiyanbola 2008; Adedun & Atolagbe 2011; Ademilokun 2015), critical discourse analytic perspective (Ayoola 2005; Ademilokun & Taiwo 2013) and stylistic perspective (Oha 1994; Ayeomoni 2004; Adegoju 2005; Abuya 2012).

Since political speeches constitute the focus of this study, we consider it pertinent to show the state of literature on political speeches as an aspect of Nigerian political discourse. Political speeches delivered and studied in Nigeria over the years can be classified into two: political speeches delivered by political leaders in the various Republics that Nigeria has had since independence and the speeches of the military rulers who interfered in the politics of the country. Some of the earliest works on civilian political speeches in Nigeria are Akindele (1989) and Oladeji (1989). Interestingly however, both studies focus on the language of Chief Obafemi Awolowo (First Premier of Southwestern Nigeria), analyzing it from rhetorical and discourse perspectives.

Scholars have also worked on political speeches delivered in the aborted Third Republic. Typically, such studies revolve around the 1993 June 12 election in Nigeria which is still held sacrosanct in view of its free and fair nature. Specifically, Opeibi (2009) works on the speeches of the two major contestants in the presidential elections (Chief Abiola and Alhaji Bashir Tofa), analyzing the various linguistic features, some visual signifiers and their semantic imports in the discourse. He reports that diverse linguistic features and visual codes were deployed for communicative and persuasive effects in the speeches. Similarly, Adegoju (2005) works on speeches of M.K.O. Abiola, Ibrahim Babangida and Sani Abacha, three notable figures caught in the web of the June 12 1993 political conflict, highlighting the various stylistic features in the speeches.

Scholars have also investigated and analysed political speeches produced in the fourth republic in Nigeria. There have been studies on President Obasanjo's speeches (see Yusuf 2003; Ayoola 2005; Taiwo 2008; Adedun & Atolagbe 2011; Ezeifeka 2013), on Late President Umaru Yar'adua speeches (Olaniyi 2007; Ayeomoni and Akinkurolere 2012) and also on the speeches of Dr Goodluck Jonathan (see Kamalu and Agangan 2011; Abuya 2012; Waya and Ogechukwu 2013).

Studies on political speeches in Nigeria are however not limited to civilian speeches as there are also works on the military speeches of the erstwhile military leaders of the country. Oha (1994) examines the war speeches of General Gowon and Colonel Ojukwu during the Biafran war, showing how language was used by the two leaders to motivate their people for the prosecution of the war. Ayeomoni (2007) also studies the lexical choices of some military heads of states of Nigeria. Alo and Igwebuike (2009) also study the coup speech of Major Kaduna Nzeogwu's...

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