Rhetoric in Selected Speeches of Ọbafemi Awolọwọ and Moshood Abiọla
A number of extant studies have examined political rhetoric and propaganda. None of them, however, has explicitly examined the deployment of rhetoric by notable Nigerian political figures as representatives of different epochs in Nigeria’s political history. This paper investigates the communicative intentions and persuasive techniques employed in selected political speeches of Obafemi Awolowo and Moshood Abiola, two past political figures in Nigeria political history. It examines the deployment of political rhetoric in communicating intentions in the selected speeches with the view to examine the persuasiveness of the speeches and the influence of the speakers’ intentions on rhetorical choices. The study is driven by Aristotle’s theory of rhetoric. Findings reveal that the selected speeches are not only highly persuasive but they also employed two types of rhetoric, combat and tact. While tact is achieved through the use of ethos, pathos, logos, and structural parallelism to boost the self-image of the speakers, combat rhetoric is achieved through metaphor and linguistic elements with negative semantic connotations, direct command, and intertextual references that register the speaker’s aversion to an idea or event. Tact rhetoric is prominent mostly in pre-election speeches such as acceptance and campaign speeches while combat rhetoric is exclusive to postelection speeches which are more of protests/complaints. The paper concludes that Awolowo and Abiola’s choice of rhetorical strategies is influenced by their communicative intentions, as the duo achieved the communicative import of persuasion in their speeches through effective deployment of rhetorical tools in their bid to inform, request, educate, commend, and condemn, as the case may be.