Political leaders consciously or unconsciously employ Speech Act Theory in their effort to
govern. This article discursively analyses the farewell speech of the former president of Nigeria,Olusegun Obasanjo to unearth the linguistic and political underpinnings of his speech via Speech Act analysis and pragmatics, respectively. Obasanjo’s speech is laced with a preponderance of assertives to mobilize and persuade Nigerians to support Umaru Musa
Yar’Adua, “the man in whom I have great confidence”. In light of the socio-political events
preceding and following the installation of Yar’Adua as Nigeria’s president and his eventual
premature demise, this article argues that Obasanjo’s confidence in Yar’Adua is either misplaced or self-serving.
This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons
Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and preproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. The former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo gave his farewell speech on the eve of May 28, 2007,
the swearing-in of his successor – the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. Following the assertion that political leaders govern largely through speech acts (Atolagbe, 2010), we engage in a Speech Act/pragmatic analysis of his speech for both linguistic and political purposes; linguistic in the sense of examining political language use for effective communication, and political in the context of the socio-political relevance of the speech to the Nigerian nation today. We discuss the speech in the context of the socio-political environment in Nigeria and also with respect to the challenges Yar’ Adua had
to grapple with before his death on May 5th, 2010, a year before the end of his four-year tenure. Introduction to Speech Act Theory Speech Act Theory arose in philosophy as a tool to
interpret the meaning and function of words in different speech situations. It concerns itself with the symbolism of words, the difference between a meaningful string of words and meaningless ones, the truth value or falsity of utterances, and the function to which language can be put. Austin(1962) dealt extensively with these issues, providing linguistic characterizations and linguistic explanations, which were further expounded and
expanded by Searle (1969).