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CJLS: VOL. 8 NO. 2, DEC. 2020

Responsibilisation and Discourse: A Study of the Nigerian 2019 Election Postponement Speech of INEC Chairman

January 21, 2021


This paper identifies the discourse strategies and constructions in the representation of the postponement of the 2019 general elections in Nigeria. The INEC Chairman’s speech of the postponement shows how the electoral umpire ‘responsibilise’ involvements in the postponement of the Nigerian electoral project. Guided by aspects of Caffi’s deresponsibilisation and responsibilisation, and Hyland’s Stance theory, this paper subjects the 1624-word speech to discourse analysis. The analysis of the data revealed that there were two main constructions of the 2019 general elections postponement namely commitment to a successful electoral conduct and logistical challenges. The constructions were achieved through six discourse strategies: historical reference to antecedent success, emotional appeal and blackmail, self-glorification, blame avoidance and attribution, assuring and reassuring of control, and creating common ground. The INEC Chairman weakens excessive responsibility in order to safeguard his honour.