Academic journal article The Journal of Pan African Studies (Online)

Appraisal Resources in Select WhatsApp Political Broadcast Messages in the 2015 Presidential Election Campaign in Nigeria

Academic journal article The Journal of Pan African Studies (Online)

Appraisal Resources in Select WhatsApp Political Broadcast Messages in the 2015 Presidential Election Campaign in Nigeria

Article excerpt


The digital world has broken down every existing wall between political gladiators and society, creating an avenue for freedom of expression for the citizenry. The emergence of social media has made it easy for people to unanimously express subjective opinions and comments against political gladiators in society without any fear of arrest. As observed by Kushin and Yamamoto (2010, p. 613), "[s]ocial media allow users to not only seek information but also interact with others through online expressions such as posting political commentaries on blogs and social network sites and sharing multimedia commentary." As a result, a lot of interpersonal relations and evaluative processes occur on these platforms.

Today, virtual groups are able to perform interpersonal functions better than we have in real world. Through different social platforms, they intrude themselves into the context of situation, express their attitudes and judgements and seek to influence the attitudes and behaviours of others (Halliday, 2007). Hence, social media enable common ground and social interactions which to the citizens is a great achievement as such an opportunity makes them feel a sense of power over their political leaders. Social media garner the people with power to cut to size political figures. Little wonder it does not take more than 140 characters to damage a political campaign today. This means with the help of social media people can mar a political figure if they decide to 'muscle the horse that threads the mill' or make when they identify with the pains and concerns of the people.

The use of social media in the 2015 Nigeria presidential campaigns created a social platform for the faceless Nigerian masses to actively participate in the unfolding events that preceded the election, fearlessly air their views, react to issues, comment on the personality of the presidential candidates, chart the course of change for the nation and determine the destiny of the nation for the next four years. These in/actions of the people are known as evaluative phenomena and they have potential ideological functions they perform in discourse. Evaluation, as opined by Hart (2014, p. 43) is concerned with "the way speakers code or implicitly convey various kinds of subjective opinion in discourse and by so doing attempt to achieve some inter-subjective consensus of values with respect to what is represented". The present study, therefore, seeks to examine the ideological functions of evaluation in selected WhatsApp broadcast messages of the Nigerian online community on the representations of two key contenders in the 2015 presidential election, namely Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

And interestingly, more than 1 billion people in over 180 countries use WhatsApp to stay in touch with friends and family, anytime and anywhere at no cost via a secure, reliable messaging and calling service which started as an alternative to SMS. Hence the service now supports sending and receiving a variety of media: text, photos, videos, documents, and location, as well as voice calls secured with end-to-end encryption, meaning that no third party including WhatsApp can read or listen to them, based in the idea of allowing people communicate anywhere in the world without barriers. This is significant considering the way and manner Nigerian online community appropriated WhatsApp platform to express their positive and negative feelings, sentiments and hopes about these two contenders during the election campaign period.

The Discourse of Election Campaigns in Nigeria

There is an overwhelming volume on the discourse of election campaigns in Nigeria. Election campaign discourse is a broad research area in the Nigerian political discourse studies that scholars have tried to investigate its principles and practices. Opeibi (2006) investigates negative political advertising in the Nigerian print medium. …

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