IMPACT OF RADIO POLITICAL ADVERTISING ON THE VOTING BEHAVIOUR OF RURALTIES DURING ELECTIONS
CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
It is undeniable that the second half of the twenty-first century witnessed a surge of extreme political change that swept across the borders of most modern states around the world. As a result of this shift, socio-cultural diversity and political pluralism have emerged. (Nwosu, 2003:50).
Politics is fundamentally about power, but the battle for power leads in disputes and contests. Thus, the fight for power underpins political activity, causing disagreement and conflict. Nonetheless, the repercussions of politics, which are conflicts and disagreements, are never permanent and must be managed in order for society to improve.
Politics, on the other hand, is about policy. Nzimiro (1992:7) expands on this point, stating that “policy is a matter of either the desire for change or the desire to protect something against change.” This also causes conflict. The history of human civilization plainly demonstrates that class conflict is an intrinsic feature of human society.
This provides strong evidence that the great nuclear physicist Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) was lamenting the chronic strife caused by human interactions when he said, “I can calculate the motions of the heavenly bodies but not the madness of people.”
Newton's timeless wits show that conflict, defined as a perceived contradiction of acts, goals, or ideals (Myers, 1989:113), penetrates almost all aspects of human undertakings, including political activities.
Politics in modern society is reflected through political parties, which are formed to pursue societal goals. This is why political parties are formed around a single idea.
Prior to independence in 1960, the colonial authority held two general elections. There was no purposeful and systematic political advertising campaign in any of them. All political activity were limited to demonstrations, soapboxes, speeches, and, where possible, editorial efforts in the press.
Politicians could not use electronic media for political advertising for obvious reasons. In addition, the print media focused strongly on the question of political independence. Chief Obafemi Awolowo, leader of the Action Group Party of Nigeria,
employed skywriting advertising during rallies to communicate campaign messages in 1963. That was a one-of-a-kind endeavour to promote politicians in Nigerian political history. It didn't get very far because there was no organised political advertising.
The me dia option had expanded by 1979, and more political parties used political advertising. Political advertising is an essential component of a democratic society. In light of this, former US President Richard M. Nixon is claimed to have quipped, “political advertising is to politics what bumper stickers are to philosophy.”
Commenting on the importance of political advertising in democracy or the electoral campaigning process According to Jamieson (1984), it “legitimates our political institutions by affirming that change is possible within the political system.”
However, we can recognise political advertising as our twentieth-century version of the old whistle stop campaign tour from a train, the torch light rally, the stump speech, and the town hall debate, all of which began during the early years of American democracy and are still very much in vogue in Nigeria election campaigns today.
Gerbner (1981:15) defines politics as “a word game.” Gerber thinks that politicians ascend to prominence because to their ability to persuade people and political elites.” Okigbo (1992:123) adds weight to this viewpoint by describing politics as “largely a verbal profession.”
The aforementioned scenario teaches us some important lessons. One, no political action ever occurs in the absence of a battle of wills or a confrontation of interests among the participants. Again, as Nwosu (1990: 323) states, “no human relations or interactions” can occur without some type of communication.
As a result, it would not be out of place to state that the influence of political advertising on electorate voting behaviour lies at the heart of any political process.
Furthermore, given that mass media (radio) are veritable means for reaching a broadly spatially diverse audience with the same communication message. They would undoubtedly serve well as a central institution around which the pendulum of our political/electioneering campaign would swing.
However, the real or imagined ability of the mass media, including radio, to shape views and behaviour, particularly as it relates to the outcome of an electioneering campaign, has been a source of heated discussion.
Regardless of what cynics may say, mass communication media have a big influence on attitudes and actions; at the very least, they keep people adequately informed about events occurring outside their local experience (Nwosu 2003: 51).
To support the preceding viewpoint, Baran (1991) is correct when he says, “The media so fully saturate our everyday lives that we are often unaware of their presence, let alone their influence.”
The media helps to define us and mould our realities. There was also the issue of negative political principles such as rigging, which can undermine the effectiveness of political advertising. Electoral systems have always been plagued by one or more issues over the years.
Nigerian elections have been characterised by violence and rigging. In fact, I really doubt that there has ever been an election in the country that has not been marred by some form of electoral misconduct or another.
According to Oyediran (1976: 17), the 1964-1965 election has been considered to be a textbook example of brinkmanship politics. The first conspiracy for a military coup d'etat was hatched during the election.
This unpleasant truth is the result of a slew of events. One key issue is the country's, family's, church's, and, of course, the mass media's lack of political socialisation.
Indeed, the goal of this research is to determine whether radio political advertisements influence voters' voting behaviour in Nigeria.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE RESEARCH PROBLEM
The ambition to steer the operations of the state and, by extension, enforce rigorous adherence to an accepted pattern of agreed standards that Defleur etal (1971:448) characterise as “consensus” that gave origin to modern governance. And, while some members of society gain leadership by forcibly pushing it on themselves, as in the case of rapidly vanishing authoritarian nations, others achieve the same aim through popular election.
The latter option is a common element of democratic governance, which gives citizens of any society the right to choose their leaders. Again, it ensures equal participation of citizens in the process of public decision making.
Regardless of the varied philosophies and associated economic ideologies that distinguish various human cultures, every nation strives to project, promote, and protect its socio-political and economic interests through the effective use of mass media (radio) organs.
As a result, Schramm and Roberts (1978: 635) contend that “… each of the various forms of political power can be characterised in terms of information distribution that it allows, of how communication channels are controlled, of how and to whom information is made available.” Lasswell's (1936) definition of politics as “a game of who gets what, when, and how” still controls most Nigerians' political motivations.
The burden of this study is thus to critically analyse the influence of radio political advertising on the voting behaviour of the Mgbowo Community electorate.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The purpose of this study is to examine the impact of radio political advertising on the voting behaviour of Mgbowo Community's rural citizens. It is also an attempt to discover how radio political messages influence the voting behaviour of Mgbowo electorates.
To ascertain the extent to which radio political advertising influenced voters to vote in the April 2007 election.
1.4 THE significance OF THE STUDY
The findings of this study will be valuable to policymakers and implementers in developing effective political campaign policies that are consistent with the socio-cultural and political preferences of rural inhabitants or electorates.
This research will also assist the government and its agencies in making policy decisions on the best approach to channel political education to rural electorates or votes in order to increase effective participation in the electoral process.
Furthermore, the study will greatly help media organisations understand the best approach to structure information for their rural audiences and will assist them in determining the most effective medium of political information transmission available to rural populations.
It will also help Nigerian media practitioners, communication experts, politicians, political science students, and other members of the public improve their knowledge and skills in the area of using the mass media for the execution of a political campaign or the mobilisation of rural residents.
Finally, it will be a valuable resource for scholars and students of political communication.