The Role of Discursive Constructions in Nigeria’s ASUU-FGN Labour Conflict of 2013

Akinwotu, Samuel Alaba
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LINK Centre, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg
The performance of Nigeria’s tertiary education sector has been undermined on numerous occasions by labour conflicts. While these labour disputes are widely reported in the media, there has been only minimal scholarly examination of the discourses that predominate in the media during these conflicts. Using the critical discourse analysis (CDA) and conceptual metaphor (CM) frameworks, this study examined the discursive features of a labour conflict in 2013 between the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN). Statements by ASUU and FGN officials and their supporters, as published by Nigerian print and online news sources during the dispute, were purposively sampled, along with media outlets’ editorial statements and readers’ online comments. It was found that the labour dispute was discursively and metaphorically constructed in militaristic terms, as a conflict between two enemies engaged in a kind of battle or war. It was also found that both ASUU and the FGN engaged in propagandistic discourses in line with their militaristic discursive constructions, and that the two sides propagated disparaging discourses in respect of each other’s motivations and behaviours. It was also found that certain readers reproduced elements of the prevailing discourses in their online comments on media coverage of the strike.
Nigeria, tertiary education sector, universities, labour disputes, strikes, critical discourse analysis (CDA), conceptual metaphor (CM), sociolinguistic registers, Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN)
Akinwotu, S. A. (2019). The role of discursive constructions in Nigeria’s ASUU-FGN labour conflict of 2013. The African Journal of Information and Communication (AJIC), 23, 1–18.