Research Article

Corruption in a diachronic corpus of Nigerian presidential speeches

DOI: 10.2989/16073614.2020.1763813
Author(s): Hakeem O. Ogunmuyiwa, South Africa, Bassey E. Antia, South Africa

Abstract

Presidential speeches are often investigated as privileged readings of the state of the nation. A recurrent theme in the speeches of Nigerian presidents is corruption, and this reflects the enormity of national concern with the impact corruption has on social life, the economy and infrastructure development. Whereas research on corruption appears to be overwhelming due to its significance, questions useful for a more nuanced understanding of the subject have rarely been posed. Thus, little is known about the intensity of articulation of corruption over time, how social moments of enunciation can shape the articulation of corruption, as well as the types of corruption that are of concern. To provide answers to these questions, this article uses corpora, combined with transitivity analysis in systemic functional linguistics and critical discourse analysis, to analyse corruption in Nigeria from novel and especially diachronic standpoints. Findings show that (1) the articulation of corruption in the speeches, including the types expressed, have varied over time, and (2) the moments of enunciation of the speeches are often shaped, among others, by a need to gain legitimacy on assumption of office, a perception of how corrupt a preceding administration was and a verbalised determination to tackle corruption.

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