The Work Propaganda in Politics, the use of language for effect in electioneering campaign seek to x-ray the role language play as an agent of influence.This work considers the influence of propaganda on the electorate making use of some linguistics devices, like: Repetition, Word Coinages, Exaggeration, Attacks on Party Logo and Slogan, Vagueness, Abusive expressionetc.

Propaganda has been the deliberate distortion of fact in order to influence people to change their line of thought or to blindly maintain their line of thought. Language in the other sense is the tool or medium via which this intention is achieved because you may have a thought of something but if not communicated it cannot achieve your desired effect.Generally, the researcher is concerned with campaign of calumny in 2007 general elections in Nigeria, necessary recommendations will be made at the end of the work.


Title Page i

Certification ii

Dedication iii

Acknowledgement iv

Tribute to my Parents vi

Table of Contents vii

Abstract ix


1. Introduction 1

1.1. Statement of Problem 2

1.2. Aim of the Study 3

1.3. Collection of Data 3

1.4. Scope of Study 4

1.5. Limitation of Study 4

1.6. Theoretical Framework 5

1.7. Definition of Term 8

1.8. Nigeria Political History 10


2.0. Introduction 14

2.1. Politics 15

2.2. Language and Politics 17

2.3. Propaganda 18

2.4. Speech Acts Theory and Communication 20


3.0. Introduction 22

3.1. Abusive Expression 24

3.2. Repetition 26

3.3 Name Calling 29

3.4. Word Coinages 31

3.5. Vagueness 33

3.6. Exaggeration 35

3.7. Attacks on Party Logo and Slogan 38


4.0. Introduction 43

4.1. Observation 43

4.2. Conclusion 45

4.3. Recommendation 46

Reference 49




Propaganda is one unique device of politics. This is mostly observed in any electioneering campaign.  Longe and Ofuanu (1996:17) argue that propaganda is solely introduced to damage character.

“Propaganda means information, doctrinesopinion etc that are often derogatory, as in political propaganda Films and plays.

These are said to be derogatory because they tend to damage or take away credit from something or someone. The sole purpose of propaganda is to misinform and mislead and to consciously indoctrinate.“

The use of propaganda   many times, present the propagandist (that is the person speaking) as a saint and the person the propaganda is aimed at as the devil that is not fit to lead.

The focus of this research however is to show how language plays a significant role in political propaganda as it relates to electioneering campaign.

This work shall focus more on the 2007 general electioneering campaign in Nigeria. Linguistics device propagandist use to achieve their aim in the fare mentioned electioneering campaign shall be brought to the fore.


It has been observed that previous researches addressed the role language plays in persuading and educating the electorate during electioneering campaign .This is also known as rhetoric’s. The researcher observed that much has not been done on the effects of language on the contestants and the electorate with regard to campaign of calumny (propaganda) is yet to be fully studied, with this in mind, this study shall show that language has a great effect on both the electorate and contestants as observed during the last 2007 general election in Nigeria.


Where ever politics evolves, propaganda is a major tool in deciding the vote. Propaganda itself is not possible without language. This work is therefore aimed at showing through vivid analysis that propaganda in politics makes use of linguistics device in deciding where the podium of influence should swing towards. This work will also show the forms and features of propaganda as it relates to language use.


This work sourced for data from both primary and secondary sources. Also information relating to the topic under study was also sourced for from the internet.

As regards primary source, we got some texts on language and politics and we believe they shall be of great help in making this work a success. Secondary source involved information concerning political speeches of 2007 general election in Nigeria.


This work will dwell in language use and speech act. The study will focus on the language use from the communication point of view and the effect it intend to have on the hearer, employing these features: word coinage, vagueness, repetition, abusive expression, attack on party name and slogan etc. being a persuasive styles adopted by the politicians in political campaign as available in data collected.


The greatest limitation in this study is finance. Finance needed in carrying out a standard research is not always easy for any student including researcher .One actually need a lot of fund to source for credible information and data as regarding the use of propaganda. Time was also a big constrain as the researcher was made to work under a given period of time which also affected the work.


Before 1960, the people of later day Nigeria had gone through close to two centuries of British colonial over-lordship. The duration of Britain colonial control over different parts of Nigeria varied, depending on the time the people of each area were brought under effective British control, long before the British eventually occupied the territories of Nigeria, they had maintained contacts with the people, mainly on commercial grounds. It was the developments in that European scramble and Partition of Africa which culminated in the European sharing African territories among themselves in the Berlin conference of 1884/1885. From that partition the people of Nigeria came under the British sphere of influence. It was in the post-Berlin conference era that the British got to play a decisive role in bringing together the diverse people that formed the nation Nigeria.  Erhagbe (2003). 

Nigeria joined the host of independence nation October 1st, 1960. The new republic incorporated a number of people with aspiration of their sovereign nation.  The newly independent Nigeria government was a coalition of conservative parties. The Nigeria people congress (NPC), a party dominated by Northern / Islamic faithful and the Igbo / Christian dominated National council of Nigeria and Cameroon (NCNC).

The NCNC led by Nnamdi Azikiwe became Nigeria’s first indigenous head of government in 1960.  The opposition was the comparatively liberal Action group (AG), which was highly dominated by the Yorubas and led by Obafemi Awolowo. The nation parted with its British legacy in 1963 by declaring itself a federal Republic with Azikiwe as the first president and Ahj. Tafawa Balewa as the prime Minister.

When election came about in 1963 the Action Group (AG) was out to maneuver for the control of western Nigeria by the Nigeria National Democratic Party (NNDP) an amalgamation of conservative Yoruba politicians backed heavily by the federal Government amidst weak progressive alliance”

Record also shows that between 1966 and 1979, Nigeria experienced military government. Beginning from 1979; Nigeria participated in a brief return to democracy when General Olusegun Obasanjo handed over to a democratically elected civilian government led by Alhaji. Shehu Shagari.

The Shehu government was viewed as corrupt and incompetent by the military .As a result of this, the military led by Mahammadu Buhari over throw the government shortly after the election of 1984.

On June 12, 1993 Nigeria attempted returning to democracy as election was conducted by the Babagida regime. The result was not announced even when the major states result show that Chief Moshood Abiola was already having a landslide victory.

Chief Ernest Shonekan was appointed to head the care – taker regime and was soon over thrown by General Sani Abacha.

Nigeria re – achieved democracy in 1999 when he elected retired general Olusegun Obasanjo as the president ending almost thirty -three years of military rule. Umaru Yar’adua of people Democratic Party came into power in the general election of 2007.

Between 1960 and 2007, election have been held seven times; 1965, 1979,1993,1999,2003 and recently in 2007 .All these election were conducted amidst heavy use of propaganda. The effect of language in the use of this research .our attention however is based primarily on the 2007 general election.

In conclusion it has been observed that when Nigeria got her independent that issues of who should lead the nation has always been a struggle among individuals and political association, and for anybody to win the confidence of the people , he must be able to through language communicate to them why he should be selected.


The speech act theory introduced by British language philosopher known as J. L Austin (1962) provide the analytical frame work (i.e. theoretical) upon which the work is based .The theory analyses the role that utterance play in relation to the behaviour or attitude of the speaker and the hearer in interpersonal communication. It is communication ability defined with the respect to the intention of the speaker while talking and the effect of his speech on the listener. Every utterance has its own communicative purpose depending on the specific speech context. Language use, according to Traugott and Pratt (480:226) …is governed by a wide range of contextual factors, including social and physical circumstances, identities attitudes, abilities and beliefs of participants and relations holding between participants.

Austin’s approach begins with an analysis of the different things people do with words through the ages, language philosophers have been impressed with language which has been used to represent how the world is, to say what is or is not the case the notion of truth has been central to the philosophy of language.

He points out the many other things people do with words they do not just represent how things are; they ask questions, give commands, make suggestion give advice, tell jokes, make promises, even insult, persuade and intimidate.  This led Austin to draw a threefold distinct kind of speech act:

1. Locutionary Act – first, words have a distinct conventional meaning. The expression “The cat sat on the mat” refers to a cat, a mat and relation between them, one sitting upon the other. This ordinary sense of meaning constitutes the “what is said” of any particular speech act.

2. Illucutionary Act.- Secondly has it that by saying certain words one actually commits an act.  For example, in saying “I do” at a wedding, one makes a promise in saying ‘will you?’ one asks a question and in saying “you will” one gives order. 

3. Perlocutionary Act. Finally, points out that by saying something, one performs an action by saying I do”.  One weds, by saying something like I will give you a better deal than the competitor”, may cause a buyer to be persuaded and so on.

Connecting the three speech – Act

However, these different functions of word are not necessarily exclusive. Austin is aware that many utterances can involve all the three kinds of acts. For instance, saying ‘it’s hot’ is an illocutionary act describing how one feels. It might also be taken in the context of a room with a close window as an illocutionary act – a request to open the window finally as the hearer responds by opening window, the single utterance has also perform a perlocutionary act. 

The essence of speech act theory is that utterances are acts in themselves capable of producing enormous and far-reaching result or consequences. Utterances can affect our whole lives, they can deny us to carry out an instruction, change an already existing state of affairs etc.

The work propaganda in politics: the use of language for effect in electioneering campaign will be based on how language of calumny is used by politician to influence the state of the mind of the hearer and to tarnish the image of their opponent. This is achieved employing speeches in their campaigns; these campaign speeches will serve as the data for this work.

This is the analytical framework upon which this work is built.


Since the work involves other discipline other than linguistics, terminologies that will be mentioned often in this work will be defined, such as:


Language is any system structure of sign and meaning for the communication of experience MKC Uwajeh (2002)


Politics has no universal definition but has been defined by different scholars from their respective points of view.

According to F.A.C Aramere (2003:3), “politics is the struggle for political power and the use of that power to the acquisition   of other values. Power is therefore the central focus of politics.


This is  act of choosing a representative or the holder of a particular office usually by ballot. Electorate refers to the whole body of persons, who have the right to vote in a country or area. Electioneering is the corresponding adjective of the noun election. It refers to the activities of making speeches and visiting people to try to persuade them to vote for a particular politician or a political party.

The People in a country or in a country or an area, who have the right to vote.


According to Oyeneye (1997:41) professor Calvin Coolidge (1964) as saying that propaganda seeks to present part of the facts, to distort their relations , and to force conclusion which could not be drawn from a complete and candid survey of all the facts”



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