Political Science Project Topics

Discourse Analysis of Corruption Reportage in Nigerian Dailies

Discourse Analysis of Corruption Reportage in Nigerian Dailies

Discourse Analysis of Corruption Reportage in Nigerian Dailies

Chapter One

Aim and Objectives of the Study

This study aims at establishing the underlined ideology (IDF) and power play in the reportage of corruption related proceedings by the Nigerian Media. This aim will be further established in the following objectives:

  1. That each Nigerian media has its own IDF which drives its thought and shapes its reportage.
  2. Whether or not corruption related proceedings have been appropriately reported in spite of different political affiliations of the news editors or even the proprietor of the news establishment.
  3.  That the reporters have some linguistic devices or vocabularies that dominate their text for peculiar reason or reasons.
  4. That every news on corruption reportage carries along with it issues of power play between social actors in the discourse.




This chapter discusses some conceptual frame works and the theoretical frame work for the study. Issues such as Critical Discourse Analysis, trends in Media Discourse, Corruption Reportage in the Nigerian media, Context, Identity and Role in Discourse, Language Use in Discourse, Ideological Formations and so on are examined in line with the focus of this research.

Critical Discourse Analysis: An Overview

Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) is a contemporary approach to the study of language and discourses in social institutions. It focuses on the way and manner language exercises its power in the society. Critical Discourse Analysis began from the assumption that systematic asymmetries of power and resources between speakers and listeners, readers and writers can be linked to their unequal access to linguistic and social resources. It hinges on the notion that language use is a social practice which does not function in isolation but in a set of cultural, social and psychological frameworks. CDA accepts this social context and studies its connections with textual structures. It also takes the social context into account and explores the links between textual structures and their functional interaction within the society.

The terms, Critical Linguistics (CL) and Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) are often used interchangeably. However, the latter is often preferred and used to denote the former theory previously identified as Critical Linguistics. CDA is a relatively new approach in discourse studies, whose emergence could be traced to a small symposium of discourse scholars in Amsterdam in 1990 and headed by Van Dijk. He views CDA as; a type of discourse analytical research that primarily studies the way social power abuse, dominance and inequality are enacted, reproduced and resisted by text and talk in the social and political context. With such dissident research, critical discourse analysts take explicit position and thus want to understand, expose and ultimately resist social inequality. (23)

When two interlocutors engage in a conversation, there is often an implicit ideology which explicitly manifests through the exercise of social power and dominance. This is made more manifest, especially, when the conversation is made between a dominant social actor and a dominated social actor; the former being described by Wodak and Meyer as “powerful groups” (3) while the latter is described as the “dominated groups” (Van Dijk 96).

When a text or talk is subjected to interrogation with the aim of discovering hidden meanings and value structures, discourse becomes ‘critical.’ This analysis is carried out when the hearer or reader uses all linguistic features and cues available to him in the ‘said’ to generate meanings from the ‘unsaid’ in a manner that exposes power and abuse of power, dominance, inequality and invested institutional ideologies in the discourse of a powerful group, then discourse studies is said to be in the domain of Critical Discourse Analysis. Critical Discourse Analysis is, therefore, “a type of discourse analytical research that primarily studies the way social power abuse, dominance, and inequality are enacted, reproduced, and resisted by text and talk in the social and political context” (Van Dijk 1).

Wodak and Meyer believe that every discourse is structured by dominance and the “dominant structures are legitimated by the ideologies of powerful groups” (3). CDA is a mixture of a linguistic and social theory that focuses on discourse within social practice. The knowledge of the grammar, phonology and the structural patterns of a text or talk is no doubt, very important. It has become very necessary, however, to look beyond these primary linguistic features of the language and dissect every utterance to see if there is more to know, that the structure of the language ordinarily would not offer by merely probing its grammaticality. This is why Ike- Nwafor is of the view that language is no longer just for “reflecting reality, it is central for creating reality” (2).

Critical Discourse Analysis is relatively a new approach to the study of language. Before now, scholars were interested in the structural patterns and forms of language. For many decades, the preoccupation of many linguists has been the study of grammar and other aspects of language. Recent researches by linguists have clearly shown a revolutionary shift of attention from language form to language functions (Fairclough 1992; Leeuwen 2008; Van Dijk 1977). This has opened a new approach to the study of language and provoked a scholarly investigation into the use of language in social context and how the opaque ideology embedded in a discourse can be unveiled.

According to Meyer (15), “Critical Discourse Analysis is an investigative approach that is essentially concerned with unearthing the opaque meaning that underlies the discourse of social actors in a manner that exposes the display of power and abuse of power, dominance, and inequality among them.” In other words, it is an exercise that endeavours to make explicit, power relationships which are frequently hidden in text and talk. Critical Discourse Analysis is also concerned with “unveiling the implicit and explicit oppression, discrimination and power that are manifest in discourse- both spoken and written.” (Dellinger n.p.)

Critical Discourse Analysis, as a discipline, came up as a “reaction against the dominant formal paradigms of the 1960s and 1970s” (Van Dijk 352). This reaction was particularly necessary because earlier works by many scholars were not ‘critical’ enough but focused much attention on the structural patterns of language with less concern for the use and the misuse of such language to achieve certain aims from certain people in a certain social setting. Critical Discourse Analysis can be said to be the brainchild of the ideas put together by scholars at the Frankfurt School before the World War II (Van Dijk 352). These ideas brought to the fore, subsequent developments in linguistic studies around 1970s and 1980s. As earlier noted, it was initially called Critical Linguistics (CL) but later metamorphosed to Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) around 1990s (Onifade 65). Wodak and Meyer gave a brief historical account of the advent of CDA thus:

CDA as a network of scholars emerged in the early 1990s, following a small symposium in Amsterdam, in January 1991. By chance and through the support of the University of Amsterdam, Teun Van Dijk, Norman Fairclough, Gunther Kress, Theo Van Leeuwen and Ruth Wodak spent two days together, and had the wonderful opportunity to discuss theories and methods of discourse analysis and specifically CDA. The meeting made it possible for everyone to confront each other with the very distinct and different approaches, which still mark the different approaches today (4).

Critical Discourse Analysis is particularly interested in revealing the implicit ideology inherent in words of an elite group and how this manifests in the exercise of power and social hegemony. It shows the relationships between discourse and society. According to Fowler (25), “texts must be probed in order to uncover hidden meaning and value structure inherent in them.” The CDA researcher, therefore, needs some skills and methods to be used to decipher the “hidden ideological meaning behind the written or oral word” (McGregor 7).

            The relationship between critical discourse analysis and discourse may be likened to a tree and its branches because CDA is an approach to discourse study. Scholars have, no doubt, used the term ‘Discourse’ to analyse social relations severally. According to Weedon, “discourse is a “structuring principle of society that is enacted in social institutions and taken up in modes of thought and individual subjectivity” (41). Weedon further states that “discourses are manifestations of relations of power and political interests that constitute individuals as subjects who reproduce and/or transform discourse through social practices” (41). In other words, it is a broad term with various definitions which “integrates a whole palette of meanings” (Titscher 42 in Bayram 26), covering a large area from linguistics, through sociology, philosophy and other disciplines. The inter-disciplinary nature of discourse prompted Fairclough to hold the view that discourse is “the whole process of interaction of which a text is just a part” (24). In line with this position, it can be deduced that discourse is every social relation, social practices, discursive practices and non-discursive practices such as facial expression, body language, painting, (semiotics) and other non-linguistic relations.







This chapter examines the research design that is relevant to the analysis of the data for this research.

 Research Design

This research adopts survey design as appropriate for this study because it is designed to create a forum for selecting a representative sample derived from a large target population which permits inference and generalization to be made on populations that could be too large and extensive to study as a whole at any given time. The relevance and application of the survey research method emphasized by Olaofe (2010) that in survey research, representative samples of small population are studied in order to determine the character of the whole population, which may be of interest to the researcher.

This study, therefore, adopts the survey design in sampling selected newspapers and television reports on corruption. This is because the researcher cannot exhaust the entire newspapers and television reports in Nigeria. Also, this research work is content analysis based on secondary data. The data for analysis are randomly selected newspaper reportage and television reportage.

Sources of Data

The data for this research are derived from selected newspapers and television media outfits in Nigeria. The data from the newspapers are collected from ‘The Nation’ newspaper and ‘The Sun’ newspaper respectively; while the data from television stations are collected from Channels

Television, Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) and Africa Independent Television (AIT).

Population of the Study

The population of the study is made up of all the newspapers and television news reportage on corruption in Nigeria.




In this chapter, the study presents the selected reports and analyses them accordingly. They are referred to as texts and labelled as text 1 to 25. The texts are highlighted by a way of boldening and the analyses are deboldened.




This chapter summarises and concludes the study taking into consideration the summary and findings arrived at during the analyses of the data.

Summary of the Study

The main thrust of this study is to interrogate, ascertain and unveil the underlined ideologies, power display and Ideological Discursive Formations in the corruption reportage by Nigeria Media. The media establishments used are African Independent Television (AIT) owned by Dr. Raymond Dokpesi, Channels Television Owned by Dr. John Momoh, Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) owned by the Federal Government, The Nation News Paper owned by Chief Bola Ahmed Tinubu and The Sun News Paper owned by Chief Urji Uzor Kalu. The study has done this using Critical Discourse Analysis as a linguistic tool. Moreover, the study is Content Analysis based on social actor and social cognitive and textually oriented discourse theoretical framework because of their significance to the study. Since the study is interested in unveiling the ideologies in the corruption reportage by the respective selected media outfits, the research opines that the social actor approach which combines the speakers thought with his or her social affiliations, engagements and environments; second, social cognitive approach, based on the psychological disposition of the analyst  and finally the textually oriented discourse which is concerned with the embedded meanings in the text are more relevant and, therefore,  the study is grounded in them.

In addition, the work is presented in five chapters: chapter one introduced the background to the study, statement of the problem, significance of the study, aim and objectives, methodology and scope and limitation of the study. The second chapter discusses and adopts some relevant concepts such as Institution, Power, Ideology, Trends in the Media Discourse, Nigeria Media and their Ideological Formations, Language in Use, Identity and Context etcetera. The conceptual framework is followed by theoretical framework. Socio cognitive, social actor and socio oriented discourse theories served as the framework for the study. Chapter three centres on the research design where the methodology, sources of data, data gathering, and data analysis technique were discussed. Chapter four centres on the analysis of ideologies (IDF) and power relations in the selected news reports. Lastly in chapter five, summary of work, summary of findings, and conclusion are discussed.

The major contribution of the current study to knowledge is that, it advances some scholarly positions in this field by employing the CDA Ideological principle and Ideological Discursive Formation principle (Faircluogh) to unveil the ideologies and manipulation of people’s psyche to achieve intended meaning by users of language. This is as a result of the study’s observation that every media outfit in the country has a proprietor and this proprietor has a stake in one political party or the other. It is therefore their stake that serves as power and ideology which influences the language used by their reporters as the saying goes in the Nigerian colloquial that, he who pays the piper dictates the tunes.

Summary of the Findings

From the analyses and discussion so far, the researcher summarises the findings from the study below:

  1. In as much as the media organizations have the social responsibility to provide investigated fair and balanced information to the people; they do this with considerations of the social statuses of their proprietors.
  2. The underlined ideologies, in the choice of words by all the selected media outfits in this study, are political propaganda, manifested through democratic gimmicks.
  3. The reporters’ language use is driven by the political platform their proprietors belong.
  4. Even though the aim of the media is to report fair and balanced news; the main difference between the various media outfits is in their Ideological Discursive Formations (IDF).
  5. There is an underlined power play in the corruption reportage of the news media.
  6. Every news reportage on corruption is situated within a particular context or contexts.
  7. The various media outfits manipulate language through conscious choice of words to drive home their various ideologies of either criticising or appraising a particular government or political party in the actions of an individual(s).
  8. The IDF of the Nation newspaper similar to NTA and Channels Television is to manipulate the Nigerian masses’ psyches by demonizing the PDP for plunging Nigeria into economic and social stagnation for sixteen years especially the last five years of President Jonathan’s administration.
  9. The IDF of AIT and The Sun newspaper, because of their political affiliations to the major opposition party (PDP) is to incite Nigerians against the ruling party (APC) as trying to silence the oppositions especially PDP.


This study has examined corruption reportage by the Nigerian media between 2015 and 2018 by the Buhari/ APC led government. The study posits from the beginning that corruption as a

social vice is not limited to Nigeria but cuts across the entire universe. Some scholars such as Chibnall and Sounders (89), Grannovetter, (npn) and so on have viewed it as a dysfunctional trait of individuals, organizations and societies. By illuminating key struggles, conflicts and contradictions embedded in different understandings of corruption, they advocated a view of corruption as a socially constructed phenomenon. Breit (1-2) therefore observed that the discussions accentuate an acute aspect largely ignored by corruption scholars; namely: the role of language and discourse in efforts to make sense of and give sense to corruption. They enable explorations into the discursive processes through which specific notions of corruption are articulated, reproduced and transformed. This study sets an aim to interrogate and ascertain the underlined meanings (IDF) in the reportage of corruption related proceedings by the Nigerian Media and this was expected to be achieved through three main objectives. That is; one, that each Nigerian media has its own IDF which drives its thought and shapes its reportage. Two, Whether or not corruption related proceedings have been appropriately reported in spite of the different political affiliations of the news editors or even the proprietors of the news establishments. Lastly, that the reporters have some linguistic devices or lexical items that dominate their text for peculiar reason or reasons.

The study has, however, analysed the data and ascertained the lexical items used by the reporter to communicate beyond the surface level of the language. In the analysis, it has been ascertained that the political affiliations of the various proprietors of the media outfits have been a major drive that form the ideologies embedded in the lexical items used and to a more extent, the IDF of the entire reports examined. Also, in spite of the political affiliations of these proprietors, the reporters in some instances have also tried to uphold the major tenets and principles of their profession by balancing their reports which seemed to be less bias and diplomatic. To this end, the study may conclude that the language use for corruption reportage in the Nigeria media is driven by the power behind the ideologies and the IDF of the respective media establishments.


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