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MASS MEDIA AND POLITICAL MOBILIZATION: AN ASSESSMENT OF DEMOCRACY IN PRACTICE

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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.0   Background of the study

Political development in Nigeria has taken a centre stage in recent times. This is anchored on the fact that since May 29, 1999, the country has maintained a stable democratic dispensation.

The mass media have exerted, and are still exerting great influence on a wide range of political and social issues as powerful communication tools. On the one hand, mass media can be used as political instruments for building a nation and promoting the legitimacy of a regime by shaping the nation’s political culture and influencing its public opinion Mass media serve as the watchdogs of governmental performance, realizing that mass media can play very important roles in influencing politics; scholars in both political science and communication studies have conducted considerable research to explore the interaction between media and politics, Black (1982). Mass media have the ability to serve both illiterate and literate people unlike the traditional media.

Mass media have played major roles in greasing the wheels of the country’s political mobilization. They made unbeatable contributions to the enhancement of the country’s growth as exemplified in its massive political education, enlightenment, awareness, consciousness and provision of discussion platforms, debates and presentations.

These functions were manifested during campaign towards local, state or general elections. It therefore provided the electorate the opportunity to project the manifestos and political parties programmes for the elections.

The mass media are organized means of communication designed to reach large numbers of people without the necessity of personal contact. It is regarded as the guardian of the public that examines the political policy and programs, educates the masses, motivates and mobilizes them for active participation in political programs and activities.

The mass media are indispensable to the political system in a democratic society. They constitute the fourth estate of the realm, independent, free and responsible to the Public. They create awareness in order for the citizens to know the problems and issues confronting the state and their possible solutions and consequences. They also help people with information they need and can stimulate them by presenting the ideas of others.

In Nigeria, the mass media have become instruments of political transformation of the masses. According to Akpan (1987), media information has a tremendous energy for change. Change in this context refers to learning which manifests mostly where a good number of people are wallowing in ignorance. The media are needed for information to improve all aspects of life in the political sphere, the electorate need media information to participate fully in elections and learn their obligation.

Furthermore, Eze (1988)  notes that the politics of any nation depends heavily on the mass media as platforms of articulating and marketing of ideas and issues on national problems to the people.

The study will therefore examine the contributions of mass media in mobilizing and galvanizing the people towards putting in place a stable and acceptable democratic government.

1.2       Objectives of the Study

The purpose of this study is in line with the nation’s continuous and steady march towards inculcating democratic culture in its citizens. In effect the objectives are:

1.              To examine the nature of political programmes carried out by the radio stations.

2.              To determine whether the people of Sabon Kawo have access to political programmes

3.         To determine the extent to which radio can mobilize the people politically.

4.         To determine whether listeners have other sources of information in their political mobilization quest.

1.3       Research Questions

To guide this study, the following research questions have been formulated.

1.         What is the nature of the political programmes carried out by radio?

2.         How far are the people of Sabon Kawo of Kaduna North Local Government likely to access political programme?

3.         To what extent has radio mobilized the people politically?

4.         To what extent are people likely to get political mobilization information     through any other source apart from radio?

1.4       Statement of the Problem

The existing crises which have so far beset the process of nation building and political development in Nigeria has been noted by Ofoeze (1980) as being located in the crises of political participation. Perhaps, it could be argued that the political crises that pervade our recent past are due to the fact that most people are apathetic about electoral situation in the country. The sectional interest shown by some politicians and their readiness to pursue their interest is also a threat to the survival of democracy in the state and the country at large.

Apart from ethnic influence and bias among some media practitioners which negate professional ethics and money influence to serve the interest of others, the profession has also become an all comer affair thereby threatening its credibility.

This study is set out to answer the question; what is the impact of the democracy in practice on the people of Sabon Kawo, Kaduna North Local Government of Kaduna State?

1.5       Scope of the Study

The study has chosen ‟political mobilization” by Liberty FM Radio Kaduna and residents of Sabon Kawo in Kaduna North L.G.A. as the scope of study. Also in focus are the issues of ethnic domination, mutual suspicions, apathy in the electoral process by a section of the population and illiteracy which provides a breeding ground for power seeking politicians. The role of the media in eliminating mutual distrust, providing effective political education, strength, unity and encouraging participation in the electoral process will also be covered by this study.

1.6       Significance of the Study

This study will be of immense importance to the residents of Sabon Kawo in Kaduna North L.G.A. and Kaduna State at large because it will reveal the need for mass media (radio) precisely in political mobilization in Kaduna North Local Government Area.

The study will aid the students of journalism in understanding the nature of the impact that the media and journalists have on the choices and opinions people form on issues surrounding them.

It will also be useful to youth organization and NGO’s in providing information on the best way and medium to disseminate political mobilization information.

It will be helpful to media organization to help improve or change the nature of their political programmes based on the level of awareness it raises.

It will also serve as bedrock for future studies.

1.7       Definition of Key Terms

1. Mobilization:        To organize a group of people to work together in                                                     order to achieve a particular aim.

2. Exerted:                 To make an effort (mental or physical) to influence a change

3. Manifesto:             A written document in which a political party outlines                        its promises and explains how it’ll go about fulfilling them if it wins.

4. Indispensable:                   Too important to be without

5. Realm:                               An area of activity, interest or knowledge

6. Nurture(ing):                  To care and protect while things grow

7. Wallow(ing) :                     To roll one’s self (mentally) about aimlessly

8. Articulate(ing):     To explain thoughts or feelings clearly in words

9. Galvanize:                         To stimulate sudden activity

10. Bedrock:                          A basis or foundation

11. Beset:                               To affect in an unpleasant or harmful way

12. Apathy:                            Lack of motivation or interest about an activity

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