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THE EFFECT OF LANGUAGE OF PROPAGANDA ON PERSUADING VOTERS IN NIGERIA

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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1   BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY

Man by nature is a political animal. This suggests that man is both gregarious and solitary. Politics focuses on ‘who gets what’, ‘when and how’. It determines the process through which power and influence are used in the promotion of certain values and interests (Lasswell, 1977). To be involved in politics therefore is demanding as certain things must be put into consideration. This is the use of language of propaganda in politics as a persuading tool which do have significant effect on voter’s behaviour and is however the centre-piece of this study. This can also be termed ‘political Language.

Political campaigns are an organized effort which seeks to influence the decision-making process within a specific group or environment. It can also be viewed as the mobilization of forces either by an organization or individuals to influence others in order to effect an identified and desired political change. It shows people and particularly, political candidates’ ability to sensitize the political community in relation to making the community see them as potentials and better representatives of the people. At any rate, every campaign is unique, and the ultimate goal of almost every political campaign is to win election (Lynn, 2009). The priceless rights of our democracy are perhaps the dearest to all is the guarantee of the freedom to speak and publish what we want (with-in the limits of decency and the libel laws). However, this freedom of speech provides a scope for propaganda for those unscrupulous enough to exploit it for their own ends.

The word Propaganda itself used to be a respectable term, originally meaning the spreading of good news.  When Goebbels, Hitler and other Fascists began to use the word to describe their promotional activities, propaganda started its slide into disrepute. Today propaganda is associated with the insidious and subversive means of moving a person to predetermined ends (Danziger, 1998). Common media for transmitting propaganda messages include news reports, government reports, historical revision, junk science, books, leaflets, movies, radio, television, and posters. In the case of radio and television, propaganda can exist on news, current-affairs or talk-show segments, as advertising or public-service announce "spots" or as long-running advertorials. The uses of language of propaganda in campaigns often follow a strategic transmission pattern to indoctrinate the target group. This may begin with a simple transmission such as a leaflet dropped from a plane or an advertisement. Generally these messages will contain directions on how to obtain more information, via a web site, hot line, radio program, etc. The strategy intends to initiate the individual from information recipient to information seeker through reinforcement, and then from information seeker to opinion leader through indoctrination. What seems to be very important in any political campaign is the ‘message’ that is sent to the electorates. A campaign message is an important and potent tool that politicians use to express views and feelings to the public with the intention of reshaping and redirecting the electorates’ opinions to align with theirs with the use of language of propaganda. The message should be a simple statement that can be repeated severally throughout the campaign period to persuade the target audience or influence voters’ act in the candidates’ favour and describes the opposition in bad light.

The campaign message ought to contain the salient ingredients that the candidate wishes to share with the voters and these must be repeated often in order to create a lasting impression on the voters. Propaganda is the expression of opinions or actions carried out deliberately by individuals or groups with a view to influence the opinions or actions of other individuals or groups for predetermined ends through psychological manipulations (Jacque, 1965). It is usually repeated and dispersed over a wide range of media in order to stimulate and sensitize the electorates and by extension, assist in harming an opponent. Persuasion is a process by which someone, usually by reasoned arguments or logic, appeal to sound judgment in order to attain his set goals. A persuasive language soothes the voters particularly, when topics or issues that revolve around problems that affect voters are repeatedly mentioned in the course of the campaign. It also follows that the language of political campaign embodied in propaganda and rhetoric, is persuasive because most politicians adopt these linguistic devices to cajole the electorates to vote for them and their political parties by presenting themselves as the only capable individuals for the position (Omozuwa and Ezejideaku, 2007).

1.2   STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

The language of propaganda in politics has been described as a language of ridicule, and reproach, pleading and persuasion, colour and bite permeated. It is a language designed to exult some men, destroy some and change the mind of others (Omozuwa and Ezejideaku, 2007). The point is that the phenomenon of persuasion is an integral part of politics and a necessary component of the pursuit and exercise of power. Politicians use a variety of techniques to ensure they captivate voter’s attention and establish credibility and trust amongst the electorates. However, the researcher seeks to examine the effect of language of propaganda on persuading voters in Nigeria.

1.3   OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY

The general objective of this study is to examine the effect of language of propaganda on persuading voters in Nigeria and the following are the specific objectives:

1.  To analyze the effect of language of propaganda on persuading voters in Nigeria.

2.  To identify different types of political propaganda strategies in Nigeria.

3.  To identify how politicians benefit from the use of language of propaganda as a persuasive tool.

1.4   RESEARCH QUESTIONS

1.  What is the effect of language of propaganda on persuading voters in Nigeria?

2.  What are the different types of political propaganda strategies in Nigeria?

3.  How does politicians benefit from the use of language of propaganda as a persuasive tool?

1.5   HYPOTHESIS

Ho: Language of propaganda cannot be used in persuading voters in Nigeria.

HA: Language of propaganda can be used in persuading voters in Nigeria.

1.6   SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY

The following are the significance of this study:

1.  This study will be of benefit to the general electorate on the influence of the language of propaganda used by political leaders on their behaviour. It will also educate the stakeholders in the politics on the different types of propaganda and its effect in persuading voters.

2.  This research will also serve as a resource base to other scholars and researchers interested in carrying out further research in this field subsequently, if applied, it will go to an extent to provide new explanation to the topic.

1.7   SCOPE/LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY

The scope of this study on the effect of language of propaganda on persuading voters will cover all the strategy of propaganda in the politician speeches during the course of electioneering campaign. It will also cover the benefits of the use of language of propaganda in politics.

LIMITATION OF STUDY

Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).

Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.

1.8   DEFINITION OF TERMS

Politics: the activities associated with the governance of a country or area, especially the debate between parties having power.

Propaganda: information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote a political cause or point of view.

Language: the method of human communication, either spoken or written, consisting of the use of words in a structured and conventional way.

Voters: a person who votes or has the right to vote at an election.

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