THE IMPACT OF RADIO AND VOTER EDUCATION IN NIGERIA (A CASE STUDY OF FRCN IKOYI LAGOS STATE)
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BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) is Nigeria’s overtly financed radio broadcasting institute. Amid its branches are the home radio network known as Radio Nigeria and the Voice of Nigeria international radio service.
Radio broadcasting was originally established in Nigeria in 1933 by the formerly British Colonial Regime. It transmitted the overseas service of the British Broadcasting Corporation through wired system with loudspeakers at the listening end. The service was however called Radio Diffusion System, RDS. From the RDS occurred the Nigeria Broadcasting Service, NBS, in April 1951. Mr. T.W. Chalmers was the first Director-General of the NBS, a Briton and Controller of the BBC Light Entertainment Programme.
However, the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation, NBC, emerge in April 1957 via an Act of Parliament No. 39 of 1956. The in-charge as a Director General was Mr. J.A.C Knott OBE.
In 1978, the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation was restructured to become the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, FRCN and the NBC was instructed to abdication its stations that broadcast on medium wave frequencies in the states to the State Governments and it took over short wave transmitters from the states.
Given to that, the Broadcasting Corporation of Northern Nigeria, BCNN, was merged with the NBC stations in Lagos, Ibadan and Enugu to become the present day FRCN. The Reverend Victor Badejo was the first native Director-General of Radio Nigeria.
On the other hand, Radio is the radioactivity (wireless transmission) of electromagnetic energy via space and also known to be a channel of communication by spreading information. However, the prime use of radio waves is to carry information, such as sound, by systematically changing (modulating) some property of the radiated waves, such as their amplitude, frequency, phase, or pulse width.
On the flip side, the term “radio” is gotten from the Latin word radius, meaning “spoke of a wheel, beam of light, ray”. It was however first applied to communications far back 1881 when, at the proposition of French scientist Ernest Mercadier, Alexander Graham Bell espoused “radiophone” (meaning “radiated sound”) as an alternate name for his photo phone optical transmission system. Still this invention would not be widely adopted.
Following Heinrich Hertz’s founding of the actuality of electromagnetic radiation in the late 1880s, a diversity of terms were at the outset used for the spectacle, with early descriptions of the radiation itself including “Hertzian waves”, “electric waves”, and “ether waves”, while phrases describing its use in communications included “spark telegraphy”, “space telegraphy”, “aerography” and, eventually and most commonly, “wireless telegraphy”. However, “wireless” included a broad variety of related electronic technologies, including electrostatic induction, electromagnetic induction and aquatic and earth conduction, so there was a need for a more precise term referring exclusively to electromagnetic radiation. (Heinrich)
The first use of radio- in unification with electromagnetic radiation seems to have been by French physicist ÉdouardBranly, who developed a version of a coherer receiver in 1890, he called a radio-conducteur. The radio- prefix was later used to form additional descriptive compound and hyphenated words, especially in Europe, for example, in early 1898 the British publication The Practical Engineer included a reference to “the radiotelegraph” and “radiotelegraphy”, while the French text of both the 1903 and 1906 Berlin Radiotelegraphic Conventions includes the phrases radiotélégraphique and radiotélégrammes. (Édouard)
However, the use of “radio” as a standalone word was in December 30, 1904, when directives issued by the British Post Office for diffusing telegrams specified that “The word ‘Radio’… is sent in the Service Instructions”. This practice was generally accepted, and the word “radio” introduced globally, by the 1906 Berlin Radiotelegraphic Convention, which included a Service Regulation specifying that “Radiotelegrams shall show in the preamble that the service is ‘Radio'”. (Édouard)
Then voter education is an initiative designed to guarantee that voters are ready, willing, and able to participate in electoral politics.
The expression voter education in other words is normally used to describe the dissemination of information, materials and programmes designed to inform electorates about the specifics and mechanics of the voting process for a particular election. Voter education in this regard, involves providing information on who is eligible to vote, where and how to register, how the electorate can check the voters list to ensure they have been duly included, what type of elections are being held, where and how to vote, who the candidates are and how to file complaints. (www.un.org/womenwatch/osag/wps/publication/chapter5.htm)
However, for the efficacy and important of voter education, the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), through MacArthur Foundation and Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement (YIAGA) in 2015 trained over 50 radio diplomats for a more effective voter education towards the 2015 general elections that was conclude to have Buhari emerged as the winner.
Therefore, Nigeria’s democracy has been discernable by a prototype change were eventual power no longer resides on the electorates but on the elect. Researchers have credited this eccentricity to widespread voter indifference and embitterment. The assumption is that voter indifference can be thoroughly eroded through intensive democracy education. It is in the light of the foregoing that this study sought to ascertain how well the Nigerian broadcast media, especially radio, has efficiently and effectively carried out its role of informing and educating the populace on a wide range of issues, such as civic education.
In addition, good governance and democracy are complimentary models in the lexicon of political economics. Be it as it may, the latter precipitates the former. While good governance is all about accountability and sensitivity, democracy is all about representative participation. Seen from a continuum, the common denominator across these concepts becomes the “people”. Consistently, democracy and well-thought-of governance represent participation by the people and sensitivity to the people – their yearnings and aspirations.
Therefore, culture on the other hand is a florilegium word that refers to the way of life of a people. By extrapolation, thus, the way we select our leaders and the way they govern us are offshoots of our mental constructs that metamorphose into our political culture.
More so, a culture of political understanding is a win – win culture that allows for political and intellectual freedom. That culture engenders courage, commonsense, self-control and fair mindedness. By implication hence these qualities are important to any political culture that wishes to survive for according to Abraham Lincoln, “with public sentiments, nothing can fail. Deprived of it, nothing can succeed. Accordingly, he who moulds public sentiments goes deeper than he who enacts statutes or pronounces decisions”.
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Problematically, democracy is still maturing in the Nigerian political clime. It is not unusual that politicians get away with outright lies, deliberate misrepresentations and assertions as well as ridiculous and unachievable proposals. In apiece case in point, the public and democracy have been unwell served. Probable it seems the mass media, a subset of the political system, do not have a memory of their own over and over again tumbling the people from one political campaign to the other while ignoring the history and backgrounds of its political architects. A few circumstances may lighten this discourse;
- The thrust of governance today is not centred on the will of the people but on personal greed and the self-aggrandizement of political actors.
- Governance in its present state has deepened poverty and widened inequality
- The political class as typified by the elites is highly compromised and as such cannot be referred to as the voice of the people.
- Elections and campaigns are marked by widespread violence.
- There is widespread apathy in the polity.
- The citizens are grossly disenchanted and seem to have lost faith in the project- Nigeria.
- There is a complete absence of a framework that sanctions political deviants ( in my candid opinion, political violence and electoral malpractice should be treated as heinous crimes equated only to armed robbery and its likes
- Victory at the polls is engendered through political godfatherism rather than ideology
On the other hand, the culture of good governance and democracy can only thrive on the basis of awareness and knowledge and then ignorance can never oil the wheels of democracy. Maybe, it is in acknowledgment of the previous that the as of 2012 International Democracy Day which the theme was tagged “Democracy Education”. This nonetheless was not a surprise going by the fact that the UN Secretary – General in his remark observed that “there was need for us to work towards bringing democracy education to all and in particular, to those societies in transition that need it most”.
However, the assertion was that for democracy to succeed, all citizens in all nations need to fully understand their rights and responsibilities. Questions such as „why should I vote‟? „How can I influence leaders‟? „What can I realistically expect from my elected officials‟? „What are my constitutional rights”?, need to be addressed through a free press. In other words, it is only with educated citizens that a sustainable culture of democracy can emerge.
J.F. Kennedy sometime said that, the ignorance of one voter in a democracy prejudices the security of all‟ and Fernando Cardoso added that democracy is not just a question of having a vote; it consists of strengthening each citizen‟s possibility and capacity to participate in the deliberations involved in life in society‟.
Through inference thus if democracy is to be effective, the people have to be greatly informed and alert. They must unceasingly keep track of the activities of those whom they have commended the reins of government. There must also be a voice against injustice and corruption – that voice is the voice of journalism, the press and the media. How the mass media in Nigeria, especially radio, has fared in this regard forms the main concern of this study.
OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
Through the fundamental functions of the mass media merged within the purview of informing, educating and entertaining the audience, it becomes exigent to find out how well they have fared in that regard, especially in the light of creating awareness on electoral statutes. For that reason, therefore, the objectives include among others, the horrible need to:
- Vindicate the programmes of the radio stations studied with a view to finding out if they have special programmes on voter education and how much of their airtime is allotted to those programmes.
- Amalgamate the content of these programmes with a view to finding out if they tolerably address issues of sound electoral process.
- What programmes have the radio stations studied put in place to address voter education?
- To what extent do these programmes address adequately the issues of sound electoral process?
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
Giving way that the seriousness of bring voter education to its enviable height in Nigeria, it is significance to note that the bold step was well taken critically as was regard to the 2015 elections where the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), through MacArthur Foundation and Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement (YIAGA) decided to trained over 50 radio legates for a more effective voter education in Nigeria. Therefore the study exercise is significant to the extent that one should be able;
- To know the evolution of voter education and its role in the Nigerian democracy.
- To offer a lifelong solution to the political dispute as regard the democracy in Nigeria.
- To re-evaluate the rights of the voters in choosing their leaders.
- To determine what is satisfactory and equity in Nigerian political system.
- To appraise the several democracy related enactments, pointing out their adequacies, shortcomings and making suggestions for way forward.
SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The main focus of our concern is when voter education was fully adopted with adequate justification of its efficacy. Thoughtfulness will be paid to the several predetermined interests and measures that were used to achieved this.
The challenges that can sham a threat to this study include:
- Fund to be able to access materials online and equally type the work
- Time constraints due to other academic pressure.
- Collections and retrieval of documents from archives.