IMPACT OF SALT FM RADIO ON POLITICAL MOBILIZATION OF THE PEOPLE OF EZZA NORTH L.G.A. OF EBONYI STATE
1.1 Background of the Study
The Mass Media made up of print and electronic play a huge role as veritable instruments of communication in every society. Radio as a medium is a tool for journalistic education, enlightenment, mobilization, culture propaganda and entertainment. Radio promotes economic development, stimulates political participation and arouses national consciousness and unity.
Radio was originally brought to Nigeria in 1932 by the British colonial government and was known as Radio Diffusion Service (RDS). It allowed the public to listen to programmes of British Broadcasting Corporation as foreign radio. In April 1952, RDS became the Nigerian broadcasting Service and introduced radio stations in Lagos, Kaduna, Enugu, Ibadan and Kano. This service was upgraded to the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) in 1957 by an act of parliament. The NBC was designed to serve the communication needs of the people in the regions. In the same vein, the Broadcasting Organizations of Nigeria (BON) was founded in 1933 to aid successful interaction of the broadcasting media in Nigeria. The organization is used as a rallying point for coverage of major national and international events.
Radio has the ability to serve both illiterate and literate people unlike the print media. Radio has played major roles in greasing the wheels of the country‟s political economy. It makes unbeatable contributions to the enhancement of the country‟s growth as exemplified in its massive political education, enlightenment, awareness, consciousness and provision offorafor discussion, debates and presentations. These functions were manifested during campaign towards the 2003 general elections. It therefore provided the electorate the opportunity to set the manifestos and programmes of political parties with a view to helping them make mature choices during the elections. The mass media are organized means of communication designed to reach large numbers of people without the necessity of personal contact. Radio is regarded as the guardian of the public that examines the political policy and programmes, educates the masses, motivates and mobilizes them for active participation in political programmes 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 provide people with information they need and can stimulate them by presenting the ideas of others. The mass media should play a crucial role in nurturing and sustaining the success or failure of our practice of democratic government. To a large extent, their success depends on how well the mass media carry out their functions as the midwife of democracy.
In Nigeria, the mass media have become instruments of political transformation of the masses. According to Akpan (1987, p.22), 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) while presenting his article „‟Mass Media and Social Political Transformation‟‟, noted 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 Radio in mobilizing and galvanizing the people towards putting in place a stable and acceptable democratic government in Ezza North Local Government Area of Ebonyi State.
1.1.1 Brief History of the Salt FM Radio (EBBS)
Ebonyi Broadcasting Service (EBBS) transmits on 98.10MHZ frequency modulation (FM) 2x2 TX. The Radio Station was established on 3rd February, 1997 with an initial 200 feet mast and later increased to 250 feet. The test transmission of the Radio station commenced on March, 22, 1997. Earlier, the pioneer military administration of Ebonyi State, Navy Captain Walter Feghabo, applied for both Radio and Television Licenses to the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) on March 3, 1997. On July 22, 1997 EBBS Radio started airing commercial programmes. On August 5, 1997 the first news bulletin was transmitted while the first global news came on air on April 1, 1998.
On 5th March, 1997 the management of EBBS forwarded the draft edict of the organization to the Ministry of Justice,Ebonyi State, through the Ministry of Information and State Orientation for vetting. Consequently, the Ministry of Justice on September 22, 1998 forwarded a copy of the Edict to the then Military Administrator, His Excellency, Commissioner of Police, Simeon Oduoye for assent. Thereupon, the Military Administrator assented to it and consequently, Ebonyi Broadcasting Service (EBBS) Abakaliki received its legal instrument (backing by Edict No.10 (1999).
1.2 Statement of the Problem
In democratic societies, the mass media are the watchdog of the people. They usually mobilize and inform the people to create awareness on political culture and other happenings in the society. It was however observed that the level of mobilization by the media (radio) to be precise falls short of expectation. Some people even show apathy to the electoral process preferring to remain mere spectators due to either lack of adequate information about the political process or because the media have not been alive to their responsibility of being objective in their reportage. By political culture we mean the system of politics where the traditional orientation of the citizens of a nation towards politics, affects their perceptions of political legitimacy. The incipient crises which have so far beset the process of nation building and political development in Nigeria has been noted by Ofoeze (1918) as being located in the crises of political participation.
Perhaps, it could be argued that the political crises that pervade our recent past is 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‟s affair thereby threatening its credibility.
This study is set out to answer the question; what is the impact of the Salt FM Radio on the Political Mobilization of the people of Ezza North Local Government of Ebonyi State?
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The purpose of this study is in line with the nations continuous and steady march towards inculcating democratic culture in its citizens. In effect the objectives are:
1. To find out the reach of Salt FM in Ebonyi State.
2. To determine whether Ezza North L.G.A. indigenes have access to Salt FM Political Programmes.
3. To determine the extent the Salt FM can mobilize the people of Ebonyi State politically.
4. To determine whether the people of Ezza North have other sources of information in their political mobilization quest.
1.4 Research Questions
To guide this study, the following research questions have been formulated.
1. To what extent does the salt FM cover Ebonyi State?
2. How far are the people of Ezza North likely to access political information from Salt FM?
3. To what extent does Salt FM mobilize the people of Ebonyi State politically?
4. Are the people of Ezza North likely to get political mobilization information through any other source apart from the State radio?
1.5 Scope of the Study
The study has chosen „‟political mobilization‟‟ by Salt FM Radio Abakaliki and residents of Ezza 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 Ezza North L.G.A. and Ebonyi State at large because it will reveal the need for mass media (radio) precisely in political mobilization in Ezza North Local Government Area.
1.7 Operational Definition of Terms
Media: Device for moving messages across distance or time to accomplish mass communication.
Politics: The pursuit and exercise of the political process necessary to make binding policy decision for the community and to distribute patronage and government benefits.
Mobilization: To organize or prepare group of people for action or purpose.
Political mobilization: Organizing or preparing group of people to take part in political activities, especially the electorate of their rights and the need for full participation in the electoral process.
Electoral process: Participating in the laid down process or rules by the electorate, culminating in successful elections.
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