This study is based on the speeches of the Nigerian Political Elite. A
linguistic-stylistic analysis of their speeches is tackled in-depth.
A total of fourteen speeches are analysed through the use of the
clause structure (SPCA), that is, Subject, Predicate, Complement and
Adjunct, which served as the obligatory elements of the analysis.
Some of the speeches analysed showcase the deceptive nature of some
of these politicians through their use of euphemism, metaphorical and
philosophical statements to deceive, cajole and confuse the electorates.
This study intends to inspire future researchers to dig deeply into
the intrigues, antics, antecedents and actions of the Nigerian Political
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The famous philosopher and one of the greatest thinkers in history,
Aristotle opines that: "All humans are political animal no one can do
without it and everyone is always affected by policies."
This Western philosopher held this view about man being a political
animal because he (man) is one animal that tries to order his social
arrangement according to his sense of understanding and rational
argument about the justice of those arrangements.
Virtually all Western philosophers that came after Aristotle's works;
Alexander the Great, Avicenna, Averroes, Maimonides, Albertus, Magnus,
St. Thomas Aquinas, Duus Scotus, Ptolemy, Copernicus, Galileo, Martha
Nussbawn and host of others also famously stated that man is by "nature"
a political animal.
Human nature refers to the distinguishing characteristics, including
ways of thinking, feeling and acting that human beings tend to have
The questions of what these characteristics are, what causes them and
how this causation works and how fixed human nature is are amongst the
oldest and most important questions in Western philosophy.
These questions particularly have important implications in ethics,
politics and theology. This is partly because human nature can be
regarded as both a source of norms of conduct or ways of life, as well
as presenting obstacles or constraints on living a good life.
The complex implications of such questions are, therefore, dealt with
in politics most especially, while the multiple branches of the
humanities altogether form an important domain of inquiry into human
nature and the question of what it means to be human.
Having known the rationale behind humans' nature and its connection
with politics, it is not surprising, therefore, for us to dig deeply
into the lives of politicians, their use of language and of course, the
linguistic stylistic analysis of some of their utterances, especially,
here in Nigeria. There is a strong need for us to study the lexis and
structure of the politicians' expressions, especially how they create a
certain world view. No doubt, the electorates are usually influenced by
politicians' syntactic arrangement and so, this research work analyses
their words and expressions in order to identify when the politicians
want to subvert or obscure issues, evade questions or arouse emotion.
This research work also intends to bring out or study 'pragmatism' in
the language of politics. Pragmatism simply refers to the deep
structure meaning or better still, the meaning of what is said by a
The focus of recognition of political language is another area of
interest. That is, which part of the speech does the speaker lays
emphasis on (that is, foregrounding). Here, the lexis and structure are
connected to the audience, purpose and context (context is the
environment, circumstance or situation in which an utterance is made).
That is, is the utterance made at a naming ceremony, birthday party,
campaign ground, etc.
In all contemporary societies, politicians are always known to have
their ways with the electorates since they (politicians), usually create
certain world view for themselves through their lexis and structure as
A skilful politician usually uses his communicative skills to get some patronage. According to Yusuf (2010), politician
combines all the traits and tactics of other professionals and
conglomeration of registers of other disciplines in his bid to get the
people to his side.
Whenever it suits him to be a philosopher, he instantly turns one. If
the setting demands he should behave like a clergyman, he metamorphoses
into one. An average politician uses persuasive words to cajole the
electorates since he wants to campaign for himself and his party, wants
to sell his party manifestos, wants to win an election, wants second
term, etc. So, like an aggressive salesman, a fanatical cleric and an
experienced psychologist, he deploys all his communicative arsenal
towards his goal of persuasion.
Consequently, an average politician behaves or uses language
according to how he finds his setting. Thus, if he is in the midst of
certain class of people, he speaks like them; he uses their diction and
vocabulary. This, of course, is to enable him strike some affinity with
them. Because of all the aforementioned tactics, however, the
electorates are easily deceived and taken for fools since he
(politician) has succeeded in arousing their interest and feelings.
This research, therefore, intends to examine and expose some, if not
all the politicians' tactics, so that poor, innocent electorates will no
longer fall into their traps and stop being preys to some heartless and
self-centred politicians. This will be wonderfully achieved through the
linguistic stylistic analysis of their (politicians) expressions.
1.3 OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
The aim and objective of this study is to examine and expose implicit
statements in the language of politics and to detect examples of
linguistic strategies that impose moral or ethical values on people.
This study also aims at looking into how politicians always attempt to
communicate leadership and obtain credit with the use of language in
political contexts and their way of appealing to attitudes and emotions
that are already within the listeners.
In addition to all the above, this study will also showcase how
perceptions, convictions and identities are influenced by politicians
use of language. In other words, how electoral candidates through their
speeches always try to accomplish or persuade an audience to support
their political opinions and how their paragraphs, dictions, figures of
speech, etc., are selectively picked in order to conceal meaning. And
more specifically, how they use language to make the audience agree or
conform with their ideologies.
1.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The urge to put up a thesis on this topic was born or prompted out of
the awareness of the ignorance of the populace on the politicians' use
of language or rhetorics.
It has been noted that a large number of the electorates get carried
away by the persuasive but insincere language of our politicians. So,
this study will serve as an eye opener not only to the electorates but
also to linguists and the entire populace.
As for the electorates who are the main target of this study, they
will be able to ascertain the truth from the politicians' linguistic
choices. Again, they will be able to know or notice when they are being
deceived or taken for granted. Besides, this study will help the speech
writers for politicians perfect their strategies for political speech
1.5 DEFINITION OF TERMS
The political elite in focus in this study are Nigerians that are
educated and saddled with the task or business of political leadership
and those occupying various political positions like Presidency,
parastatals' head, commissioners, advisory, ambassadors and other
political offices. It also embraces those that are involved in practical
political practitioning and politicking either civil or military.
Nigeria, since independence has been under the tutelage of two
different kinds of political regime. Each regime has always produced its
own political leaders and elite.
This study, however, will not segregate or sectionalise the political
elite. -The study specifically concentrates or focuses on the elite
that have made significant contributions or landmarks to the building
and development of Nigerian political history which cut across various
regimes and governments available so far in this country, military or
The linguistic-analysis of some of the speeches made by notable
Nigerian elite is another focus of this study. It is through this
analysis that some of the features of political language will be weighed
and examined and this, of course will bring out the true colours of
some of our politicians.
Stylistics, no doubt plays a vital role in this study since
stylistics is the study of text from a linguistic perspective. It is
also that part of linguistics which deals with variations in the use of
language. And since this study deals with the language of Nigerian
political elite, stylistics is inevitable here.
Finally, political office holders are unpredictable fellows. This
study, therefore, plans to expose some of their antics and intrigues.
Oftentimes, what comes out of their mouths often contradicts their
actions. That is why this study touches some aspect of their (elite)
speeches in order to show their disparities.
1.6 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
In view of the large number of people this research study intends to
cover, vis-à-vis the size of our country and considering the shortness
and limitation of the space for this study, it thus becomes imperative
to restrict the selection of the political elite to notable ones across
different regimes and various geo-political zones or regions of the
country. Such notables include Chief Obafemi Awolowo (South West), Chief
Nnamdi Azikiwe (South East), S. G Ikoku (South East), Chief Bola Ige
(South West), General Olusegun Obasanjo (South West), Alhaji Shehu
Shagari (North East), General Badamosi Babangida (North Central), Mr.
Tunji Braithwaite (South West) and Dr. Nwafor Oritzu-Oritzu.