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  • Background to the Study

Politics, according to Harold Lasswell, is a process engaged by elected officials to determine “who gets what, when, where and how” This formulation subsequently influenced the widely held notion of politics in the west as a contest for power for the distribution of resources in the polity. Thus, politics is a process of resolving societal conflicts that arise when determining who gets what, when and how. Conversely, Marxist scholars perceive politics as an ideological struggle for power for the acquisition and distribution of resources. Mao Zedong offered an interesting definition when he declared that “politics is war without bloodshed while war is politics with bloodshed” unfortunately; Mao Zedong did not live long enough to see that in Nigeria, politics is war with bloodshed.

For the greater part of her fifty­-five years of existence as a sovereign nation, Nigeria has been grappling with the problem of nationhood, ranging from bad leadership to corruption and other social ills. The expectations of citizens for good governance were quite high when Nigeria returned to the democratic system of government in 1999. Nigerians were looking forward to reaping the dividends of democracy. The narrative was that the military was delinquent, corrupt and unaccountable; and democracy would offer answers to critical matters such as unemployment, poverty, insecurity, absence of basic infrastructure, corruption, etc. Believing our politicians had picked a few lessons from the catastrophe of the first, second and third republics, we entered the fourth republic full of hope.

Sixteen years later and Nigerians are still searching for one key ingredient needed for development and nation build – quality leadership. It is true that the progress of any nation rests on the stature or standard of its leadership and how the leaders can bring this to bear on the welfare of people of the nation. No nation can enjoy lasting peace if her citizens live in abject poverty, particularly, if that nation is acknowledged as having the ability and substantial means to provide development and guarantee a good standard of living. Unfortunately, that is the tale of Nigeria. It is a tale of poor governance, insecurity and poverty in the midst of plenty. The citizens are progressively sick and worn-out of a democracy that has demonstrated to be worse than the military. If the political rulers linger in their ride of corruption, misrule, looting and failure to protect the citizen of its nation, the rising tendency to survive without the government will push the society further apart. In the end, it will serve neither the government nor the people.

Fifty-five years of Nigeria’s independence, a lot of people have argued that the country has not achieved anything while some believed otherwise. Some of those who argue that the country has experienced tremendous improvement from the pre-independence era backed up their argument with a number of parameters for measuring achievement. For instance, they argued that there are achievements in virtually all the sectors of the economy. Like in the educational sector, they argued that, we have more schools compared with the pre-independence era, more teachers and more educated people compared with what obtained during the period of colonial government; they also put up an argument that we now have more vibrant military base and well-equipped police force and more articulated civil service. Unlike the pre-independence era when virtually all the sectors are run by foreigners and Nigerians are relegated to just doing menial jobs and not respected by foreigners. To this group, Nigeria as a nation has achieved enough by having Nigerians in-charge of all the sectors of the economy and the provision of basic infrastructure, increase number of schools and more educated people in the country, a better military base and well-equipped police force. While the other group to the argument says all these cannot be termed as achievement, if put side by side with the level of achievements of other countries of the world who gained independence the same time with Nigeria. They also said considering the abundant human and natural resources deposited in the country and the income generated from exporting these resources, that Nigerians has what it takes to be one of the greatest economies in the world if the right things are done.

Politicians in Nigeria often have different motivations for seeking the coveted political offices; they mostly manifest similar tendencies in terms of their behavioral strategies and struggles for the achievement of their political ambitions. Although the strategies and struggles of politicians for political posts are encoded and perpetuated through diverse means, political campaigns occupy a central position in the activities of politicians relating to their political ambitions. Political campaigns generally refer to the total and collective efforts of politicians to present themselves favorably to the public for acceptance and support. The ultimate goal of almost every political campaign is to win election”. Some of the major forms of political campaigns are political rallies, political debates, political interviews and political advertisements. The goal of politicians, using the various forms of campaigns, is basically to offer promises to the people in order to secure votes in return. Given the social and political nature of the issues in the discourse, language becomes an active agent in the political process which is deployed forcefully and strategically for the execution of vital social and political functions.


Political campaigns in Nigeria date back to the 1960s when democratic politics began in Nigeria owing to its independence. Nigeria witnessed significant political activities at that period known as the first republic as politicians such as Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Chief Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chief Ladoke Akintola, Chief Fani Kayode, among others, made political campaigns popular in Nigeria owing to their eloquence. Political campaigning in the era was however marked by violence as popular political parties were said to have hired thugs to disrupt political campaigns of opposition parties in order to intimidate them. The second republic witnessed a continuation of the electioneering campaign practices of the first republic considering the fact that many of the politicians of the first republic were still in the saddle in the second republic and the campaigns were also aggressive and marked by violence. Political campaigns in Nigeria’s third republic were creative, dynamic and vigorous. The political contestants for the post of President, Chief M.K.O. Abiola and Alhaji Bashir Tofa invested tremendous energy and resources into political campaigns just as their parties, Social Democratic Party and Nigerian Republican Convention respectively embarked on nationwide campaigns for them and flagbearers at other political levels, (Opeibi 2009).


Since the commencement of the current fourth republic, political campaigns have grown markedly. Even though features of political campaigns in previous republics such as violence and money politics still manifest in the campaigns, there is innovation and more creativity in the campaigns. Apart from the traditional means of campaigns such as print media advertisements, there is now the use of various platforms on the electronic media such as Facebook, Twitter, among others, for political campaigns.


This study thus attempts to describe the features of ideational meanings in the change agenda manifesto of the All Progressive Congress by analyzing the options of the syntactic and semantic features that realize the meanings. Change is another name for transformation which is the main desire of any nation of the world. The change agenda manifesto contains the plan of development of the Nigerian nation in different area of life over a period of time. It also outlines the literature on the use of language for the enactment of political goals and objectives by Muhammadu Buhari during the campaigns for the 2015 elections in Nigeria.

Politics is one of the realities in our social world. Since language is the creator of the social world, it therefore becomes inevitable for language and politics to be intrinsically linked. Language is indeed central to politics.


Fairclough and Fairclough affirm that Aristotle’s view of the relationship between language and politics is that “politics is action in pursuit of highest goods based upon decisions, which arise out of deliberations”. The thrust of the quotation is that “deliberation” (language use) is the major resource for decision-making on important issues in a political structure.


Scholars have also explored the relationship between language and politics. Schaffner asserts that “politics cannot be conducted without language” (117). Chilton captures the centrality of language to politics in the following words: “the doing of politics is predominantly constituted in language (6).” Chilton’s remark unequivocally impresses upon us the fact that, politics is only politics through language. Beard captures this same sense when he opines that the whole essence of politics is to gain power, exercise and keep power, and language is the major vehicle for achieving these goals (2). Adegoju contributes to the discourse on the centrality of language to politics when he says that “the intricate bond between language and politics is such that it becomes difficult to conceive of politics without its medium – language” (54). Similarly, Ayeomoni reinforces the interconnectedness of language and politics when he remarks that language is the means by which politics or political discourse and ideas are widely disseminated” (200). While most of the opinions above on the role of language in politics seem to echo the centrality of language to politics, Awonusi, considers the relationship between language and politics in a somewhat different way when he says that “the relationship between politics and language is bi-directional” (10). By this, he means that language influences politics as much as politics influences language. This view is similar to the sense conveyed by Opeibi, who considers the relationship between language and politics as symbiotic (adj mutuality). While one tends to accept the view that language is central to politics, as political actions are inevitably linguistic/semiotic actions, the fact remains that politics influences and shapes language, as political language has its distinct features which mark it political. However, no matter how one views the relationship between language and politics, the undeniable truth is that, an intrinsic relationship and complementarity(n) exist between the two. Scholars have engaged in the study of the relationship of language and politics from different academic perspectives. Linguists, sociologists and political scientists have indeed worked on the interdependence of the two concepts. But generally speaking, the two fields in which the relationship between language and politics is most explored are political science and linguistics. Although each of the disciplines focuses on different issues, they also have some meeting points. Since politics is all about gaining power to make decisions, to control the economic power of the state, to control other people’s behaviours, so to win elections in politics, politicians are usually conscious of the language they use in persuading and convincing the electorate into voting for them.


  •    Statement of the Problem

There have been comments on the agenda as a whole or aspect of it from political angle (Hassan 2016, Ajasa 2015). These comments and analysis, no doubt, provide the social context for describing the change agenda, but a linguistic description of the agenda would give further insight into the internal structure of the text with regards to the medium of expression, language. Surprisingly, our search has not yielded any previous analysis in this regard. Though different kinds of political discourse in Nigeria have been analysed from different linguistic perspective by scholars, stylistics (Elias 2002, Ayogu1999), pragmatics (Omengboji, 2015 and Nneji 2013), (Abdullahi 2012, and Ehineni, 2014), there is yet no linguistic analysis of the change agenda text and, more especially, that which focuses on the syntactic and semantic structure of the text. This study thus intends to do linguistic stylistics interpretation by analyzing and interpreting the change agenda text


  • Objective of the Study

This work which concerns itself with the study of the ideational meanings in the change agenda manifesto of the all progressive congress will reveal the following;

  1. The specific lexical patterns employed in the manifesto
  2. The use of syntactic structures in the manifesto
  3. Going to examine the distinct features of political language by analyzing the syntactic structure and the semantics of the language employed in the document.
  4. Attempts will be made to find out whether the document follow the acceptable English language structure or deviate from them.

Finally, the study will ascertain if the expressions/ sentences used in the document have meaning other than what they mean in normal English usage.

  • Significance of the Study


This research work will to a great extent draw the attention of the layman to the peculiarity of political language by revealing the underlying linguistic feature of the language. The syntactic and semantic peculiarities of political language are, hence, investigated. Here attempt will be geared towards enhancing the understanding of the style that is unique to the document.

Furthermore, it will be of significance to the political science students. It will help them recognize as well as appreciate the fact that political language is more or less linguistically complex in nature and get them prepared for the task before them as well as give them insight on how to influence language to suit the eccentricity of their profession.

For the students of English and literary studies, this work will expose them on the nature of political language thereby simplifying the complexity which in turn will make them appreciate the aesthetic use of political language. It will also reveal much about the creative and open ended aspect of language, as well as become a basis for further research.

  • Scope of the Study

This study is a descriptive analysis of the manifesto of the All Progressive Congress presidential aspirant Muhammadu Buhari I the last general election. It covers issues such as:

Government and Finance, Access to Justice and Respect for Fundamental Human Right, Insurgency and Insecurity, Niger Delta Affairs, Diversity, Health, Education, Agriculture, Power, Sports and Culture.

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