A multimodal semiotic study of the language of the oil subsidy removal protests in Nigeria

Majekodunmi, Yemisi Seun (2014)



This study identified and analysed the major linguistic patterns in the discourse of the January 2012 fuel subsidy protests in Nigeria. It also identified and described the non -verbal tokens in the fuel subsidy discourse. In addition, it related the verbal and non-verbal features of the discourse to their socio-cultural context, and this was done with the aim of carrying out a multimodal semiotic study of the language of the oil subsidy removal protests in Nigeria. Data for the study were drawn from primary and secondary sources. The primary source comprised the recorded discourse of protesters consisting of both verbal and non-verbal resources drawn from some electronic media outfits, the secondary source of data were books, journal articles and the internet. The prominent semiotic, lexical, and syntactic structures in the discourse were analysed following the theory of Multimodal Discourse. The result showed that the fuel subsidy protesters used structural and lexical linguistic patterns and non-verbal semiotic tokens to x-ray the country’s fundamental problems, show their anger at government’s actions, demand a reversal and also suggests drastic solutions to the afflictions plaguing the country. In particular through verbal weapons (structural and lexical patterns), the protesters were able to highlight the basic amenities which the people lack and the vast difference in the economic privileges enjoyed in the country. Also through non-verbal tokens the protesters were able to tell the government to deal with the people at the helm of affairs in the country and those that had been perpetrating evil acts in the oil industry rather than inflicting unnecessary pains on the masses which were made to suffer the inadequacies of the government. With effigies, dress, gestures, bonfires and entertainment, as well as structural and lexical strategies it was discovered that the anger and pains brought about by the fuel subsidy removal seemed to have pushed the protesters to a level where they did not have any regard for the nation’s leaders, seeing them as mere objects of mockery and humiliation. The study concluded that the fuel subsidy removal protest was preoccupied with multimodal semiotic resources. Thus, multimodal semiotic resources were used to give cohesion and quality to the people’s voice.