Investigating Communicative Competence in Discourse: A Universal Pragmatic Analysis of President Muhammadu Buhariʼs Letter to the Senate

Published: March 2019

AuthorRabiat Oiza Fakunle

About Author: Department of English and Literary Studies, Summit University, Offa, Offa-Nigeria

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The effectiveness of a message is usually enhanced by the extent of its pertinence to the people for which it is channeled. Thus, the determinant factor of relevance of any political speech to a people would be by how much the speech addresses issues that are key to solving and addressing the problems in the polity. In recent times, Nigeria has, and is still, experiencing a redoubtable critical period, evocative of the human cruelty experienced during a civil war that claimed many lives and properties, apart from other resultant effects. The violent occurrences, especially the Boko Haram saga and the Fulani-Herdsmen/Farmers clashes, with which Nigerians are daily submerged, are disturbing. , Sequel to this background, this study examines a speech of President Muhammadu Buhari that is aimed at resolving the crises, using Habermas’ theory of Universal Pragmatics, with a view to investigating the extent to which he communicates competently to his subordinates. Universal Pragmatic posits that anyone acting communicatively cannot avoid raising the following validity claims: uttering something inheritably, giving the hearer something to understand, making himself understandable and coming to understand another person. Our analysis reveals the Letter of Muhammadu Buhari as having met the validity claims set forth by Jurgen Habermas and therefore competent for the resolution of the crisis and the promotion of peace and unity in the country through communication.

Keywords: Message, Letter, Political Speech, Universal Pragmatics, Validity Claims, Speakers, Hearers.