TRADITIONAL MEDIA AND POLITICAL MOBILISATION DURING NIGERIA’S 2011 ELECTIONS IN BENUE STATE
1.1 Background to the Study
In each society of the world, participation of people who are involved into development programme is a key in achieving meaningful development. The most successful and well planned development programme will not see the light of the day if the people involved are not adequately mobilized. This is not different when it comes to issue of politics. Ucheanya (2003:70) in Nwosu (ed) acknowledges this fact when he says that through adequate mobilization and enlightenment, the people’s political participation becomes advanced to higher level that will pave way for a peaceful election. Ucheanya (2003:70) further maintains:
At this point of awareness, the people’s political culture becomes shaped and redirected for better political participation which involve those voluntary activities by which they share in the election of rulers and directly or indirectly, in the formation of public policy. These activities typically include voting, seeking information, discussion and proselytizing, attending meetings, conventions, contributing financially, communicating with representatives, formal enrolment in a party, canvassing and registering voters, speech writing and speech making, working in campaigns, and competing for public and party offices.
The idea drawn from the above is that non-participation of the people will mean a state of withdrawal from, or indifference to, such activity like having successful and peaceful elections. Participation is very important in any election so as to avoid any unhealthy action by the people. Participation is a source of vitality and creative energy, as a defense against tyranny, and as a means of enacting the collective wisdom. vitality and creative energy, as a defense against tyranny, and as a means of enacting the collective wisdom.
With the realization of the fact that effective mobilization of people is very crucial for the success of any development programme including politics, a lot of efforts have been directed in the past to the use of mass media in mobilizing people for participation in the development activities including politics. This was due to some recognized influences of the mass media on their users. In recognition of this, Thomas Jefferson, the former American president, quoted by Konkwo (2003:87) was of the opinion that he would rather prefer living in a country with a newspaper but without a government, to living in a country with a government but without a newspaper. Ucheanya (2003:71) has averred that:
The mass media are regarded as the guardian of the public that examine the political policies and programmes, educate the masses, motivate, mobilize and manipulate them into active participation. He added that the mass media create forum for public debate, help in public opinion formation, and such other functions like mobilization, status conferral and agenda setting. Through daily provision of adequate political information, the mass media help to construct social reality for the people. They set the agenda for public discourse and hence opinions which can decisively affect what the people do in a campaign period before the election itself.
Sambe (1998:91) in Akosu (ed) has agreed that the mass media have constantly drawn attention to areas of difficulty in pursuit of democracy; by providing detailed information on political parties, political candidates to all levels of elections, pointing out flaws and not hesitating to alert the public on irregularities. Okigbo (1991:9) has itemized some of the roles the mass media performed in the development process including politics thus(a) providing access to wide variety of the people; (b) determining the people’s need for development information; (c ) supporting horizontal and vertical flows of information; (d) supporting cultural communication; (e) raising the people’s awareness and promote development.
However, in the developing nations of the world such as ours, the use of mass media to aid national development does not yield much fruitful result in the majority of our areas since these areas are rural, well isolated by illiteracy, poverty and lack of basic amenities. These areas that are majority hardly have access to mass media infrastructures for effective mobilization and development. This makes it difficult to attain national development through the use of mass media of communication since national development is meaningless when the rural majorities are not carried along. Nwabueze (2004:294), giving the case of Nigeria emphasizes that…if development is to be simply understood as the betterment of the lives of a people, then rural development to a large extent, would constitute the key to national development of a nation like Nigeria, since a greater majority of her people still live in rural areas. Mabogunje (1981:47) has agreed that rural development is the most effective means of improving the well being of the vast majority of a country’s population. Onabajo (2002:37-38), examining the nature of developing nations like Nigeria, provided the following as reasons for the inability of the mass media in attaining national development:
a. Information officers, news producers and other government and private personnel responsible for information and message design and packaging make themselves the sole determinants of the needs of their audience without resource to them.
b. These information disseminators usually belong to a class that does not share the same frame of reference with the majority of the target audience.
c. Little or no inquiry is made into the nature of the audience before messages are conceptualized, and they assure that if the messages sense to them, then it should achieve its purpose.
d. The message designers are under illusion that the rural people are ignorant of their needs and so other people should help in articulating them. As a result, such designed messages look patronizing, thereby alienating the audience and rendering the whole message ineffective.
e. The non-participation of the message receive in the information content is also a barrier to message imbuement. This is because the urban population is guided by generally different criteria for the rural people in their selection of development messages.
f. The urban crowd generates most of the news and information passed to the rural population; hence, there is not attraction between the message and the receiver.
g. A greater percentage of the country’s population live in rural areas and it is unfair to them to only receive urbanized messages. This can make mobilization very difficult;
h. Government efforts in making information available in local languages and dialects is a mere fallacy and of no meaningful consequences.
The implication is that this makes the mobilization of people for development purposes extremely difficult since majority of them (people) are been left untouched. The use of traditional media also known as folk indigenous media is proven to be more effective in mobilizing the general masses for participation in the development programmes of the society. This is in view of the fact that development must take a holistic approach, embracing all segments of the society, irrespective of the class, status, educational level and so on. Nwabueze (2004:295) has recognized that in Nigeria, communication for development purposes is done more through the print and electronic media with little seriousness paid to the use of traditional media to reach the masses. He maintains that though today, a good number of people, particularly those residing in the rural areas have access to radio and television; the traditional media remain the more familiar means of communication with/to them to achieve a purpose. They are familiar with and have easy access to the traditional media.
The traditional media are those means of communication that are peculiar to typical African societies. They refer to those modes of communication still used today by rural dwellers and are often used also in urban areas. According to Nwabueze (2004), these traditional media forms include folk theatre, traveling story tellers, poets, talking drums, flute, traditional dances, metal or wooden gong, town crier, village squares, market, streams, churches mosques, masquerades, songs, extra-Mundane modes, e.g. spirits and gods etc. Ekwelie and Okonkwo (1983:69) acknowledge that these media have survived from the earliest of times and made an adjusted transition into the electronic age. Aima (2003:52-53) adds that folk media forms include festival forums, music, folktales, songs, rituals, clothes and other sartorial constructs, architectural designs, markets, town criers, social gatherings like funerals, wedding, theatre/drama, social institutions, like the extended family and other rallying points provided by the kings, village leaders and herbalists, etc.
Traditional media are effective in mobilizing the masses for development including political development because they are embedded with the culture of the people thereby making them more credible and reliable. Jefkins and Ogboajah (1985:175) have agreed that traditional also called folk media or a media have free, or a media have credibility and prestige. They inject stability into Africa’s social systems and are the real media at the grassroots level. Wilson (1987:88) notes that traditional communication remains what essentially sustains the information needs of the rural dwellers that represent over 70% of the national population of most Third World States. Dissanake in Lent (1978) takes a critical look at the following as numerous advantages accrued from the use of traditional media as against mass media in mobilizing the teaming masses for development purposes
- Traditional media are more credible, having existed among the rural folk for a long time, expressing their deeply felt and communal joys and sorrows, triumph and debate.
- The peasants consider mass media to be elitist and alien and identified with centers of power.
- Traditional media employ the idiom of the people and the symbols, which are readily intelligible to them reach a part of the population that is impervious to the influence of mass media and demand active participation in the process of communication.
- Demand active participation in the process of communication.
Gumucio in Murray (2007) also captures the relevance of traditional media in the development process thus:
Folk communication is so relevant in development, because it interacts with local culture, in the language and themes that are important to the communities. While mass media campaigns are aiming larger publics with very general messages, folk and community based is addressing issues in specific ways and is doing it through local engagement and participation.
Mondy and Compton (1995) in Akinleye (2003:61), making a comparism of the two media (folk and mass media) of communication for development purposes have realized that indigenous communication channels are more effective for development purposes because;
a. They have value in their own right.
b. The contemporary media have limited range.
c. Indigenous channels have high credibility.
d. They are important conduct of change.
e. They offer opportunities for participation by the local people.
They are democratic in nature. They are not necessarily top-down.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The mobilization of people into political activities is necessary in accelerating political participation and development. Ucheanya (2003:69) affirms that through adequate mobilization and enlightenment, the people’s political participation becomes advanced to higher level that will pave way for a peaceful election. Ucheanya (2003) maintains that at this point of awareness, the people’s political culture becomes shaped and redirected for better political participation which involve voluntary activities by which they share in the selection of rulers and directly or indirectly, in the formation of public policy.
For effective mobilization of people into political activities comes the use of traditional folk media. This form of media is said to be ideal in accelerating political development in countries such as ours. According to Rogers and Shoemaker (1971), research evidence on the diffusion of innovations in less developed countries generally indicates that interpersonal channels are of greater importance than mass media channels. Nwuneli (1985) also notes that face-to-face communication is consistently more effective as a persuasive device than any mass medium. Melkote (1991) in Soola (2002), Jefkins and Ogboajah (1985), Wilson (1987), Dissanake, cited in lent (1978), Gumucio, quoted in Murray (2007) and Monday and Compton (1995), cited in Akinleye (2003), were among the scholars who gave credence to traditional media as credible, reliable and most effective media of communication for mass mobilization for participation in the development purposes such as politics. However, what prompted the researcher’s curiosity into this study is that are traditional media effectively mobilized the people of Benue for participation in 2011 elections? To what extent were they influential to the electorates? What was the purpose for their utilization? What were the challenges posed to practitioners in the use of the media?
It is by finding solution to the above pertinent issues that this study investigates the extent traditional media were employed to mobilize Benue electorates during 2011 elections; the extent of traditional media influence to electorates in 2011 elections, the purpose for their (traditional media) utilization, and the challenges posed to practitioners in political mobilization during 2011 elections in Benue State.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The broad objective of this study is to examine the influence of traditional media on Benue electorates in the 2011 elections and the extent to which they (traditional media) were used to carry out the task. Specifically therefore, the objectives of the study include the following:
i. To examine the influence of traditional media on Benue electorates during Nigeria’s 2011 elections.
ii To examine the level at which traditional media were been integrated into broadcast media of communication to aid political development during Nigeria’s elections.
iii. To determine the purposes to which traditional media were used during Nigeria’s 2011 in Benue State.
vi. To know the challenges posed by traditional media practitioners in their practice during Nigeria’s 2011 elections.
1.4 Research Questions
The following are research questions set to guide the conduct of this study:
i. What was the influence of traditional media in the mobilization of Benue people for participation during Nigeria’s 2011 elections?
ii. What is the extent to which traditional media were used to mobilize Benue electorates for participation during 2011 elections?
iii. At what level traditional media were been integrated into broadcast media to aid political development during 2011 elections in Benue State?
iv what is the purpose to which traditional media were used during Nigeria’s 2011 elections in Benue State?
v. What were the challenges faced by traditional media practitioners in their performance during Nigeria’s 2011 elections?
1.5 Research Hypotheses
The following research hypotheses have been formulated to guide the study:
H01: There is no significant relationship between traditional media and the effective mobilization and participation of Benue people in the Nigeria’s 2011 elections.
H1: There is a significant relationship between traditional media and effective mobilization and participation of Benue people in Nigeria’s 2011 elections.
H02: The integration of traditional and broadcast media of communication is not significantly related to the effective mobilization and participation of Benue people in Nigeria’s 2011 elections.
H2: The integration of traditional and broadcast media of communication is significantly related to the effective mobilization and participation of Benue people in Nigeria’s 2011 elections.
1.6 Significance of the Study
This study is of significance in so many ways.
i. To the general public, the study enables them to better know, understand and appreciate the influence of traditional media in mobilizing people for participation in the 2011 elections. This will further help to stimulate the interest of the public in using the media for development process including political development.
ii. The study is significant because it provide a platform for the policy to accept or reject the adaptation of traditional media to use in the development process.
iii. The study helps to expose to communicators of whether or otherwise, the traditional media of communication should be integrated or merged with broadcast media for effective political mobilization of people in Benue State.
vi. Researchers will equally find this study interesting as it provides a pool of literature for those who may be working on the similar topic. They will really find this piece very useful.
v. Communicators will also find this study very important as it exposes to them more the relevance of folk traditional media in political development. This will help them (communicators) to promote the media more for use in mobilizing people to participation in political activities of the country.
vi. Policy makers and policy implementers will as well find this study as interesting as it helps them to make policies that will gear towards empowering and energizing traditional media for political development. This will further help policy implementers in integrating traditional media in promoting those polices for effective implementation.
viii. To traditional media practitioners, this study is relevant because it will help them to realize the power of their media thereby encouraging them more in their performance.
ix. Last but not the least, this study is very important because it contributes in some extent to knowledge.
1.7 Scope of the Study
This study concerns with traditional media and political mobilization of Benue people for participation during 2011 elections. In doing so, the study concentrated on the traditional media forms used for political mobilization of Benue people during 2011 elections.
1.8 Area of Study
The geographical study area of this study is Benue State. Benue State was created on 3rd February, 1976. It was one of the seven new States created by the military administration, headed by Late General Murtala Muhammed, which increased the number of states in Nigeria from twelve to nineteen. The state derives its name from the River Benue which is the second largest river in the country and the most outstanding geographic feature in the state.
At creation, the state comprised three local governments in the Tiv-speaking areas, namely: Gboko, Katsina-Ala and Makurdi; one (Otukpo) in Idoma-speaking areas and three (Ankpa, Idah and Dekina) in the Igala-speaking areas, which were excised from Kwara State.
Today however, with the creation of more states and local governments in 1991, the Igala-Speaking local governments were excised to form part of the present Kogi state. Presently, Benue has twenty-three local governments, with the Tiv-Speaking area having fourteen while the Idoma-Igede areas nine.
The state is located in the central part of the country and is been bounded by six states: Nassarawa to the North, Taraba to the East, Kogi and Enugu states to the West, and Ebonyi and Cross River to the South. It also shares an international boundary with the Republic of Cameroun on the South-East. The state has a land mass of 33,955 square kilometers and lies between Latitudes 6.5o and 8.5o North and Longitudes 7.47N and East.
1.9. Limitations of the Study
A study of this magnitude cannot be completed without hitches. There were a lot of limitations in the course of the study. First was the problem of finance. This poses a big challenge in during the study. It was a challenge because since the researcher’s priorities of life are not limited only to this programme, it became extremely difficult to make use of the little one in carrying out this project. Although, in as much as this limits the extent of carrying out this work, the researcher tries to overcome the challenge by way of abandoning other priorities. Also, assistance of my friends financially has also helped me to overcome the challenge.
Next was the problem of time. Since research work is time consuming, dividing the time to also other business was a big problem since the researcher sometime would have to leave most of his vital schedules to the detriment of his research work. Despite that, the researcher was able to scale through this challenge by suspending most of his activities for the completion of this work.
Another thing which limits the study was lack of reference materials for the work. It extremely difficult to get materials relevant to the study since the materials in this area is scarce. Although in as much as reference materials are scarce in this area, the researcher resorts into borrowing and surfing of the net. He also purchased some of them in bookshops in the town. This helps researcher to come up with a document like this.
Another challenge was the difficulty that was involved in reaching the respondents. It was not so easy to reach most of the respondents as many of them even found so reluctant in responding to items in the research tools. Despite this challenge, the researcher overcomes by way of persistence in visiting such respondents and persuading them to respond.
1.10 Definition of Terms
For the purpose of clarity, the following words are selected and are defined:
a. Traditional Media: Traditional media have various descriptors. Ansu-Kyeremeh (1998:3) says the “Oramedia,” “folk media,” and “informal media” have often been used interchangeably in referring to traditional media. Ansu-Kyeremeh (1998) therefore defines traditional media as “any form of endogenous communication system which by virtue of its origin from and integration into a specific culture, serves as a channel for messages in a way and manner that requires the utilization of the symbols, institutions, and ethos of the host culture through its unique qualities and attributes. According to Nwabueze (2004:295) in Nwosu and Wilson(eds) these indigenous channels include: Folk theatre, traveling story tellers; poets, talking drums, flute, traditional dances, metal or wooden gongs, town crier, village squares, market; streams, churches, mosques, masquerades/ puppets, spirits and goods, songs, etc. Panford, Nyaney, Amoah, and Aidoo (2001:5) said that traditional media include storytelling, puppetry, proverbs, visual art, drama, role play, concerts, gong beating, dirges, gongs, drumming, and dancing. They are in use both in the rural and urban settings of Nigeria.
b. Communication: This refers to sharing of information between two or more persons such that both parties understood each other. Bittner (1989), defines communication as “a system through which people can exchange symbols and thus propagate learning at an accelerated rate.” Murphy (1977), cited in Daramola (2003:4) looks at communication as “an exchange of meaning by which one mind affects another.” According to Murphy, meaning is information that registers somewhere in the mental structure of the receiver.
c. Mass Media: These are channels of mass communication that are used to disseminate information to a large, heterogeneous and anonymous audience simultaneously. According to McQuail (1994:17), mass media are organized means for communicating openly and at a distance to many receivers within a short space of time. Opubor (1985) cited in Ojete (2008:61) defined mass media as social institutions for generating and transmitting standardized messages to a large, wide, dispersed and heterogeneous audience, of who are not necessarily known to the source. Opubor (1985) maintains that the mass media include; newspaper, magazine, radio, television, internet, films/video, books, cinema etc. This according to him could broadly be classified into two categories, the print media (newspaper, magazine etc) and the broadcast media (television, radio, cinema etc).
d. Broadcast Media: These are electronic channels of mass communication used to disseminate messages; using electromagnetic waves/radiations to a large, scattered, heterogeneous and anonymous audience simultaneously. Aliede (2003:30) in Nwosu (ed) said that the broadcast or electronic media are means of electronically communicating to and with people, examples are radio, television, film and the internet. Aliede (2003) maintains they are the most convenient, speedy and reliable means of transmitting values, information, ideas, messages and culture as a result of their unique attributes like immediacy, audio-visual qualities, linguistic barrier breakage, massive outreach, portability and availability.
e. Rural Areas: These are areas located outside the town or cities, which characterized by lack of basic amenities such as electricity, pipe-born water, good schools, access roads, good health services, etc. Moemeka (2000:136) observes that a rural segment that is by far the largest in population and land area. It is inhabited by the majority of the people. Meomeka maintains that in Nigeria, for example, this segment accounts for about 80% of the population; in Niger, the percentage is as high as 95%. This rural population as notes by Moemeka is usually bound by tradition, very poor and lacks most modern social amenities. There are very few, if any, motorable roads, medical facilities or factories; the schools are poorly equipped and staffed, and the majority of the people are too poor to send their children to school. The people live their lives mainly on subsistence agriculture.
Moemeka (2000:137) emphasized that in such essentially rural communities, where illiteracy is very high, the difference between the standard of living of the very few who “have” and the very many who “have not” are strikingly conspicuous, modern social and economic amenities are the exception rather than the rule, and where modern communication facilities are near zero, the use of impersonal media of mass communication for human, socio-economic, political and cultural development demands much more than is apparently obvious.
f. Urban Areas: These are areas located in the cities or towns, with abundant basic facilities such as roads, hospitals, schools, electricity, water, communication, housing facilities etc. Moemeka (2000:136) says that the urban segment is controlled by very small elite at the pinnacle. Moemeka says this elite population is generally well educated and comparatively better-off economically. It is made up of top government officials, highly paid employees of the private sector of the economy, industrialists, business-men and white-collar employees in general.
g. Political Mobilization: This refers to an act of bringing people together for participation in the political activities of a place. Mckee (1992) in Ucheanya (2003) affirms that political mobilization enables a programme such as election to win the country’s political stability. Ucheanya says through mobilization, the behaviour of a very large number of Nigerians would be modified to demand satisfaction of their needs for a peaceful election. This can be done through the use of traditional or modern media of communication.
h. Election: According to Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of Current English 6th Edition, election refers to an act of choosing a person or a group of people for a position, especially a political position, by voting.
i. Influence: According to Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of Current English-6th Edition, influence refers to the effect somebody or something has on the way a person thinks or behaves or on the way that somebody works or develops. As used in this work, it refers to the effect that traditional media have on the electorates in during Nigeria’s 2011 elections.
j. Purpose: According to Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of Current English-6th Edition, purpose refers to the intention, aim or function of something. As used in this work, it means the intention to which traditional media were used during Nigeria’s 2011 elections.
From the definitions of the influence and purpose, emerged a distinction between the two terms. Influence refers to effect of the traditional messages on the electorates in the 2011 elections while purpose refers to what the media were used to achieve by practitioners.