Analysing the discourse on corruption in presidential speeches in Nigeria, 1957- 2015: Systemic functional linguistics and critical discourse analysis frameworks
Ogunmuyiwa, Hakeem Olafemi
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Corruption as a concept is viewed differently by various disciplines, but there seems to be consensus that it relates to the misuse of public office for private gain. Studies in the social sciences, mainly political science, economics, sociology and law, have provided valuable insights into the subject, for example, its causes, manifestations and consequences. In a country such as Nigeria, corruption is said to have cost the country up to $20 trillion between 1960 and 2005, and it could cost up to 37% of its GDP by 2030 if the situation is not urgently addressed. The paradox, however, is that although all successive leaders of the country have consistently articulated their anti-corruption posture in national speeches, they get accused by their successors of not being tough on corruption both in word and in deed. Regrettably, there have been relatively few close textual analyses of presidential speeches carried out within analytical frameworks in linguistics that have the potential of revealing how presidents can simultaneously talk tough and soft on corruption, a contradiction that could well explain the putative anti-corruption posture of the country’s leaders and the ever deepening corruption in the land. It is against this backdrop that this study draws on Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) and Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL) in order to examine language choices related to the theme of corruption in speeches made by Nigerian presidents from 1957 to 2015. The objectives of the study are to (1) provide an overview of how the discourse on corruption has evolved in Nigerian presidential speeches from 1957-2015; (2) determine specific facets of the construal of corruption from the dominant choices made from the system of transitivity (process, participants, circumstance) in speeches by different presidents and at different time points in their tenure in office; (3) analyse how the interpersonal metafunction of language is enacted in the speeches by the presidents through the system of appraisal for a strategy of positive self-presentation and negative other-presentation; (4) interrogate from a critical discourse analysis standpoint the interest, ideological, partisan or other bases for the choices made in the speeches from the systems associated with the experiential and interpersonal metafunctions of language; and (5) to evaluate the different presidents in terms of how the above analyses position them in relation to combating corruption.