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Autobiography, Rhetoric, (De)responsibilisation, Not My Will, Olusegun Obasanjo


Olusegun Obasanjo’s Not My Will (NMW) is an autobiographical representation of Nigeria’s socio-political history, and it has generated serious national political arguments. Despite the controversies, studies on NMW, particularly in Nigeria, are very scanty. The present study confronts the situation with a rhetorical examination of Olusegun Obasanjo’s NMW building its analysis on selected narrativized arguments in which the former Nigerian President deresponsibilises (takes reduced responsibility) or responsibilises (takes high responsibility) for national political decisions taken during his regime as Nigeria’s military Head of State. Deploying insights from argumentative and discourse analytic theories/models, the paper enwraps Olusegun Obasanjo’s de/responsibilisation of security, education, socio-economic, and ethnopolitical issues in two self-representational constructs: Obasanjo as a nationalist and as a reformer. The two self-constructs coalesced with four socio-political issues that characterised Olusegun Obasanjo’s military administration. These issues are the proscription of NEWBREED Magazine in 1978, the Land Use Act, Ali Must Go saga and the controversial 1979 Presidential election. Obasanjo’s responsibilisation and deresponsibilisation of events depict not only his priorities, strengths, and weaknesses but also his reasoning and justification on issues. His establishment of common grounds is in form of shared warrants or beliefs in arguments that can stand up to criticism.