Discourse and Multimodal Analysis of Netizens' Reactions to the Nigerian 2015 Presidential Elections: A Case Study of Osun Political Parrot Facebook Site

Discourse and Multimodal Analysis of Netizens' Reactions to the Nigerian 2015 Presidential Elections: A Case Study of Osun Political Parrot Facebook Site

Aretha Oluwakemi Asakitikpi (Osun State University, Nigeria) and Samuel Oluwafemi Adeyeye (Osun State University, Nigeria)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1859-4.ch006
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Words and images are channels through which identities and realities are created. In the traditional mass media the power to do this is controlled by management in accordance to prescribed rules and stakeholder desires. This concept shifts with newer media forms like Facebook which transforms the power into the hands of the netizens. This is considered in relation to postings on the Facebook pages of the Osun Political Parrot with regards the Nigerian Presidential Election. The chapter builds its analysis on the liberty netizens have through the internet and the limited monopoly the encoder has over their uploaded comments. It examines the quality of comments netizens make based on their application of intertextually derived knowledge from other media texts. Using Discourse Analysis and Multimodal Methods, examinations of word and image associations in uploaded posts and comments made on March 22-28, a week to the Nigerian 2015 Presidential Elections is done.
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The 2015 Nigerian Presidential Election constituted a major platform for Nigerians to decide the socio-political fate of their country through the democratic process of voting. For many, the electoral process opened up an opportunity to make their voices, fears and hopes heard not through the traditional media forms of television, radio and newspaper, but through the new age medium of the social media. Pre-election discussions through social media platforms such as Facebook provided many Nigerians an opportunity to be a part of the change they hoped for. Through personal comments, reactions and likes to uploaded posts attempts were made to convince fellow Nigerians and indeed the world of their views on the direction the much needed change should take. For many, the 2015 Nigerian Presidential Election symbolized a change which they hoped would be for good (Awobamise & Aderibigbe, 2015). Within this context, a number of discourses were created. These discourses took their roots from government statements, party campaign slogans and the personal statements of the two major parties namely: The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) with the incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan as the flag bearer and the All Progressive Congress (APC) with retired Major General Muhammadu Buhari as the presidential flag bearer. These two personalities were the major themes upon which these discourses revolved.

This chapter considers the themes that arise through the online uploaded postings on the official Facebook pages of the Osun Political Parrot and the discussions they generated. The fact that this Facebook page was (and still is) operated by the then opposition party (APC) gives more insight into how texts and images are used as symbols of persuasion on the one hand (by APC dominant supporters) and on the other as symbols used to counter such persuasion (by PDP party supporters). By using Discourse Analysis and Multimodal research methods, the chapter aims at teasing out meanings and possible associated socio-political factors behind each text and image within the Nigerian political campaign platform.

The media theory of agenda setting which considers the power of the media to influence what people talk about has a different twist when it comes to the social media. The evolution of technology has put the power of creating news into the hands of citizens and not the media which is often dictated to by pressure groups and governments (Shaw, Hamm & Knott, 2010). Nevertheless, the importance of the traditional mass media forms as a major platform upon which deliberately planned discourses are created cannot be overemphasised. Through adverts by political parties, personal interviews granted to journalists by political aspirants, and televised campaign rallies; political discourses are created for social consumption and discussions (Reyes, 2015). A major deliberately constructedpolitical discourse which both parties built upon were slogans to support their campaign strategies.

For PDP, the party in power, the slogans included: ‘PDP Power’, ‘#Bring back Goodluck 2015’, and ‘One good term deserves another’. For the opposition party, APC, the major variables of change were significantly present in its slogan, relating them to change of leadership and ruling party. The ruling PDP had been in power since the establishment of democracy in 1999 and the need for a change in not only leadership but also party rule was emphasised. Theconcept of change was also built upon the number of accusations placed against the Goodluck Jonathan’s administration ranging from corruption, insecurity in the form of Boko Haram activities of suicidal bombings, kidnappings and terror (Adegoju & Oyebode, 2015; Awobamise & Aderibigbe, 2015). The kidnapping of over 200 Chibok school girls brought Nigeria to the international spotlight with protests done nationally and internationally; physically and on the e-platform under the slogan ‘#BringBackOurGirls’ further discredited the then Goodluck administration (Chiluwa & Ifukor, 2015).

The Nigerian political scene thus witnessed strategically created political communication discourses aimed at supporting party slogans and rebuffing opponent accusations. Such tactics seemed to have a balanced effect as they developed into major subjects that were paramount in Nigerian and foreign media outlets with some condemning and constantly attacking what was described as the lackadaisical attitude of the then Nigerian President while others supported his every actions (Awobamise & Aderibigbe, 2015).

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