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