Doing Politics with Words: a Pragmatic Analysis of News Reports on Obasanjo and Fayose’s Fracas

Ojo Ayoola Sanmi


Works abound on the use of language in the Nigerian political atmosphere but sufficient attention has not been paid to the (im)polite remarks and interchange between politicians in the Nigerian political milieu. This study therefore looks at the (im)politeness strategies in the utterances of former president Olusegun Obasanjo and Governor Ayodele Fayose as reported in the Nigerian newspapers. The study adopted Brown and Levinson’s Politeness Theory as its theoretical guide. 12 excerpts were randomly selected from three Nigerian newspapers – The Nation, The Punch and Nigerian Tribune between July 2014 and July 2015 – to show the political rivalry between these two personalities. The wide report of the power tussle between Olusegun Obasanjo and Ayodele Fayose in Nigerian newspapers is a pointer to the fact that the language of these politicians arouses a wide audience in the Nigerian society; hence, politicians’ continuous use of language is an instrument to achieve political relevance and popularity, among many things. This study therefore submits that, politicians should not make the media a tool for political rivalry and they should not make confrontations the medium of sustaining political relevance in the polity.


(im)politeness, face, Obasanjo, Fayose, political fracas.

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