A child of necessity: An analysis of political discourse in Nigeria

Adeyemi Daramola

Abstract

Nigeria, which is variously described by some people as ‘a geographical expression’, ‘a unique nation’, ‘the giant of Africa’, ‘the most populous black nation on earth’, among several others, had three distinct governments in the year 1993 alone. Against this background of political instability, numerous discourses which should be of interest and significance to linguists, political scientists, historians, social anthropologists and discourse analysts of various persuasions are examined in this work. Notable is the emergence of the metaphorical use of the word child in the farewell speech of the deposed Head-of-State, Chief Ernest Oladeinde Shonekan, when he spoke of the interim regime as ‘a child of circumstance’ and in the inaugural speech of the then new Head-of-State, General Sani Abacha, as ‘a child of necessity’. These expressions were used not only as part of the reasons for either taking up or rather seizing the mantle of leadership but also as descriptive signals both to the state of the nation and the kind of government that they purported to lead. Using articles in some national newspapers, I attempt in this paper a functional-semiotic discourse analysis of the relevant statements, responses and comments on these national, dramatic, political changes. This paper is therefore an analysis of aspects of the linguistic features of discourses engendered by the diverse problematic, economic, socio-cultural and political events within the Nigerian polity and the political implications for putting in place adequate democratic principles in a developing nation.

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