Ecological Identity in Governor Babatunde Fashola’s Speeches on the Environment
Given the paucity of linguistics-focused scholarship on environmental issues in Africa, this study examines some speeches of Governor Babatunde Fashola as purposively selected across the eight years of his tenure in Lagos State from 29 May 2007 to 29 May 2015. As a government deemed to have been one of the more ‘progressive’ since the advent of Nigeria’s Fourth Republic in 1999, the Fashola administration was believed to have rated well on the anecdotal indices of infrastructural development. The government was also credited with bringing new thinking to governance, especially in relation to the environment. As such, in an ecological analysis of discourse, this study aims to identify the extent to which the government was ecocentric by highlighting the discursive strategies adopted in the speeches for creating a positive ecological identity for both the governor and his executive cabinet. Via qualitative content analysis, augmented with quantitative queries from WordSmith Tools 7.0, the study identifies the following discursive strategies: the governor as acknowledger of anthropogenic climate change, promoter of green governmentality, being knowledgeable about the environmental crisis, problem solver, responsible blame taker on behalf of humankind, nature-minded ‘earthophile’, business-minded ‘earthophile’, guardian of posterity through visionary action, and a conservationist. Owing to the ideological clash between concern for profit and care for the environment, as evident in the data samples, the paper argues that the speeches reflect an ‘ecoparadox’ in which economic growth gets primacy over environmentalism. Consequent upon these, the paper concludes that the framing of climate change in governmental discourse needs to transcend valuing the nonhuman world only extrinsically.