“If I Could Make It, You Too Can Make It!” Personal Pronouns in Political Discourse: A CDA of President Jonathan’s Presidential Declaration Speech

Umar Bello


This paper attempts to use Critical Discourse Analysis to unravel the complex webs of political associations and identities that go into political speeches of Nigerian presidents using one as a model. Nigeria has always been plagued by leadership problems and a lack of critical appreciation of crises of interests that abound in our political sphere. This article aims to offer a linguistic evaluation of a given political discourse in Nigeria in the mode of close engagement with the constructions and context of the discourse. It shows how personal pronouns are used by President Jonathan in his presidential declaration of interest speech to construct various identities and to transpose sentiments and sympathies in order to probably promote a political agenda. The use of Fairclough’s (1989) three-tier analytical framework, i.e., description, interpretation and explanation helps to reconstruct the import and real ideological thrust of the speech. The description level shows the linguistic associations, the interpretation level, the pragmatic and intertexual, while the explanation level shows how the socio-cultural practices in the Nigerian society are drawn upon to reflect in these two in a dialectical cycle. In essence, this study, in a systematic way, shows in general how ideologies in the status quo are (or can be) sustained and reproduced by discursively supplanting the consciousness of the people. The pronouns used in the speech end up creating identities that foster the president’s political interest and sustain the state of affairs while at the same time mystifying the real class and power struggle at the political center.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5539/ijel.v3n6p84

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