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Public Speaking as a Tool for Good Governance in Nigeria

By Musa Idris, Representative of the General Manager, Supreme f.m. 96.1, Kaduna, Mr. Tunde Akinkumi

 Being a paper presented at the graduation ceremony of students of Institute of Public Speaking and Rural Devepment, Nigeria

Almost always names like Abraham Lincoln, Margret Thatcher, Bill Clinton and of recent Barak Obama in the global secne; and particularly in Nigeria Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Alhaji Yusuf Bello Maitama Sule (Dan-Masanin Kano) could come to mind when the phrase Public Speaking is mentioned. Based on this, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa (the prime Minister of Nigeria in the First Republic) was nick-named the golden voice of Africa. Though these people were while some of them are leaders in different capacities, it could be that they become more popular than their counterparts as a result of their speech prowess. This analogy positively underlines the significance and timeliness of discussing the topic; Public Speaking as a Tool for Good Governance in Nigeria.
Hence good public speaking enhances reputation, boosts self confidence and when opens countless opportunities. On the contrary, poor public speaking sends wrong signals of wrong impressions about the speaker and the whole scenario in contention. No wonder, Larry King (1995) confirms that most successful people are successful talkers, and t he reverse is also true.
However, this paper looks at the operative constituents of the topic Public Speaking as a Tool for Good Governance in Nigeria for a lee-way into the discussion, thus;
Public Speaking; is a process of speaking to a group of people in a structured and deliberate manner intended to inform, influence or entertain the listener. It is closely allied to ‘presenting’, although the latter has more of a commercial advertisement connotation. Public speaking is commonly understood as a king of face-to-face speaking between individual and audience for the purpose of communication.

Tool; Hornby (2010) definces tool as a thing that helps you to do your job or to achieve something.
Good Governance; is an indeterminate term used in international development literate to describe how public institutions conduct public affairs and manage public resources. Governance is the process of decision-making and the process by which decisions are implemented (or not implemented). The term governace can apply to corporate, international, national, local governace or to the interactions between other sectors of society.
The concept of Good Governance often emerges as model to compare ineffective economies or political bodies with viable economies and political bodies to meet the needs of the masses as opposed to select groups in society. The governments treated in the contemporary world as most ‘successful’ are often liberal democratic states concentrated in Europe and the Americas, those countries’ institutions often set the standards by which to compare other states’ institutions when talking about governance. The term good governance to a set of requirement that conform to the organization’s agenda, making ‘good governance’ implies many different things in many different contexts.
At this juncture; Public Speaking as a Tool for Good Governance in Nigeria is viewed by this paper as the systematic use of speech in a structured and deliberate manner as means of show-casting government performance to the governed and vice-versa. It is an intermediary between the government and the governed towards successful governance. In this regard, for convenience this paper tends to treat the topic for discussion via the following entries:


Techniques of Good Speech Delivery
Communication-A Must Activity
The importance of communication in human existence cannot be over emphasized. It is an all encompassing factor in human endeavors. Indeed, most of our daily activities involve communication. It is central to our existence that even when we attempt not to communicate, we still “say” something, viz the aphorism in the communication parlance: you cannot not communicate. Communication could be seen as the act of making facts, news, opinion, requests and feelings know. For instance, dogs communicate when they bark or wag their tails; chimpanzees communicate when they use sound or facial and bodily gesture. This paper concerns itself with the specific aspect of oral communication (in human communication) which is by far more complex than any other form of communication.
Oral communication is an art of sending message(s) to the receiver by the sender through sounds and or signs. Acquiring rhetorical techniques could be a means of sailing smoothly in oral communication. According to a renowned philosopher and a tutor who established the first school in Lycerm Aristotle, rhetoric is faculty of finding in a situation all available means of persuasion. It is the designation for the classical art of oratory, of eloquence whether spoken or written. For one to be eloquent in any speech delivery he/she must understand to a great extent the nitty-gritty of the language of operation. 
Speaking as a language Skill
In Nigeria, English language is the lingua-franca, so for uniformity anything that concerns language officially dwells on it. Speaking is the most important skill after listening, in language. Spoken language means producing the isolated sounds of a language in a correct manner. It is the most used form of a living language which is usually ahead of reading and writing. Williams (1990) confirms that, speech is the foundation of language work. a good grounding in speech work is seen as naturally constituting a good basis for learning to read and write in a well planned language course. To get people use a language means to speak it always. In this regard. There are three (3) sub-skills involved in spoken (oral) English:
Stress: when speaking or reading, there are some words that are pronounced with a force while others are not. That is to say some words receive emphasis. Those that receive a force are said to be stressed. The system of stressing occurs in words of more than one syllable e.g; a’ go or re’fuse or in a sentence like; She ‘goes to ‘school ‘weekly. The category of words that are supposed to be stressed in a sentence include; nouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs and demonstrative pronours e.g. this, that, those, these (not always).
Intonation: this is the tune of one’s voice when speaking. The pitch of the voice could either rise or fall. The meaning of one’s statement is carried across by the speaking tune. There are two types of tune, thus;

  1. Rising tune (tune I); in most cases, it implies an imperative statement nad command(!)
  2. Falling tune (tune II); in most cases, it implies a question and request.

Pronunciation: this is the act of uttering a sound or symbol of sound, letter or words(s) correctly. That means when speaking, it is important to use a symbol which represents an exact sound. On the contrary, there is that tendency that some people do not pronounce the letter correctly which result to wrong pronunciation, e.g; the sound /t/ and /th/. Wrong pronunciation always distorts the intended message, e.g; ‘true’ instead of ‘through’
Nonetheless, it is worthy of note good speaking begins by good listening because through listening, the speaker finds out what his would-be listeners want and what they don’t want. As a basic skill to successful communication, listening is something we do consciously as an active activity and not a passive one. It is not synonymous to hearing is an important skill, especially at the level of learning the art of public speaking, because of the following reasons:
Listening enables the speaker to identify the central idea of a statement given orally or the focus of an event
It enable the speaker to distinguish between relevant and irrelevant materials
Listening provides a clue for the speaker to have the ability to evaluate and express point of view
It helps the speaker to be able to recall and identify presented details
Listening enables the speaker retain details long enough to answer question or hold discussions about them.

Processes of Good Speech Delivery
Dynamics of Successful Speech
The relationships and events in every speech are dynamic. This implies that they are no-going, ever-changing and continues. This process has no beginning or an end or even a fixed order of event. It is not static, stationary or at rest. It is moving, active and changing. The components of speech delivery interact, with each ingredient affecting all other ingredients all the time.
Despite the dynamic nature of the interrelating factors in any successful speech delivery, King (1995) identifies the secrest of successful public speaking, thus:
Audience Analysis
This enables you to establish a rapport with them early on in the speech by showing you understand their point of view. If you don’t know the group you are to be speaking to, part of your preparation should be asking questions before hand, viz: what is your organization? Who are its members? Where are they from? What are the big issues facing you? What would they like to hear about you? How long do they want you to talk? (very important!) will the audience want to ask questions after you finish? According to Akindele and Adegbite (2005), this is part of the shared convention by a speech community. This helps you to know the language proficiency, language preference, socio-economic status, age and education of the participants.
Proper preparation
Indeed, proper preparation prevents poor performance. Proper preparttion lubricates the public speaker’s flexibility in going against the grain as an act of attention catcher. Hence, sometimes you attract the attention of your audience by telling them what they don’t expect to hear. For instance, knowing that this audience is expecting to hear a lecture on: Public Speaking as a Tool for Good Governance in Nigeria, the speaker might decide to look at it from other angle of: Public Speaking as a Contributing Factor towards Bad Governce in Nigeria. The audience may want to listen to this more, which means the speaker must prepare beyond the expectations of the audience.
This is where the show business expression; know when to get off comes into play. And the best public speakers always know when. It is not easy to be brief, especially on a topic you know a lot about. But in any kind of communication, it is always worth taking the time to boil down message to its essentials.
It is a secret of an effective speaker to; Keep It Simple, Straight. Convolute sentences, technical terms and trendy talk can only succeed in leading the speaker to impress instead of express. If these techniques and procedures of good speech delivery are adhered to, one may make a good public speaker.
Public Speaking and Good Governance in Nigeria
The question of the moment is; does public speaking contribute towards good governance in Nigeria? One may not be far from the   truth if he/she responds to this question on the affirmative. Most public speakers are public opinion molders and manipulators. Abraham Lincoln asserts: “public opinion is everything. With public sentiment nothing can fail, without it nothing can succeed.” Bent Ham (cited in Maikaba, 2008) argues that public opinion has the power to ensure that rulers would rule for the greatest happiness of the greatest number.
Public speakers massage public opinion towards good governance mainly through the use of persuasion for both the government and the governed. An opinion formation can be achieved by use of persuasion. It is the act of convicng someone to do something or to believe something (Hornby, 2001). This is more or less democratic approach to make people or the government accept, adopt or even reject something in the society. Through persuasion, the public is presented with the pros and cons of an issue, policy or programme to allow people decide for themselves. Public speaker use persuasive techniques to win the sympathy of the public and advice the government towards progress, which include:
Identification of principles
In this case, the leaders deliver messages to the masses in terms of interest of the masses, because most people will ignore an idea, an opinion or point of view unless they see clearly that it affects their personal fears, desires, hopes or aspirations.
Action Principles
People seldom buy ideas separated from action. That is either action taken or about to be taken by the government, the people themselves can conveniently take to prove the merit of the ideas. It is vital to note that unless a means of action is provided, people tend to shrug off appeals to do things.
Principle of Familiarity and Trust
People buy ideas only from those that they trust. Therefore, they are influenced by or adopt only those opinion or point of view put forward by individuals, organizations or institutions that they regard as credible.
Clarity of Principle
In this case, the situation must be clear and not confusing. This is because people tend to see things as black or white; so to communicate and persuade them, you must employ words, symbols or stereotypes that they can comprehend and respond to.


Based on the discussion so far by this paper, it could be deduced that goal oriented public speaking is vital instrument for the sustenance of good governance, especially in a country like Nigeria that is religiously highly sensitive and multiethnic. May public speakers played key roles in dousing tensions at many occasion in Nigeria.


Akindele, F. & Adebite, W. (2005) Sociology and Politics in Nigeria: An introduction. IIe-Ife: O.A.U Press.

Gambo, A.(2001)Public Opinion (Unpublished). Kaduna Polytechnic, Kaduna

Hornby, A.S. (2001)Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary (6th ed). New York: Oxford University Press

Larry King (1995) How to Talk to Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere (The Secrets of Good Communication). New York: Three Rivers Press

Maikaba, B. (2008) Public Opinion Research, (Unpublished). Bayaro University, Kano
McQuail, D. (2007) Mass Communication Theory (5th ed). Singapore: Sege Publications
Williams, D. (1990) English Language Teaching: An Integrate Approach. Ibadan: Spectrum Books