1.1 Background of the Study
The media has been of great importance in Nigeria history, since pre-independent. The Nationalists used the media in fighting the demons called colonial masters out of their territory. All the en-slavery activities of the colonial masters were exposed through the media; as well as reasons for independent struggle were made to the world through the media.
Media are platforms through which communication are passed from one person to another, or from one place to another. Communication is the transfer of message, data, information or event from one person to another, or from one place to another place for the purpose of informing, awaking, creating awareness, cause change in attitude, stimulation, improve productivities, defending, etc.
The media have been useful in all aspect as far as information dissemination is purely concerned. Known as the fourth arm, the media have actualized the country’s dream in term of keeping people abreast on daily trend going on and Nigerians have been satisfied about the activities of media. In Nigeria, the media feed the masses with potential and first-class news in various aspects namely economic, social, scientific and technology. The most important aspect is the political sector of which the media have been fully involved.
This struggle was given consideration in 1700. Since then enriched Elite politicians invest greatly in setting up media industry, in order to reach-out to their various target audience across the globe. This instrumental tool has both merits and demerits. Some used it develop their countries, while others used it to pulled down their political opponents and black list them with all kinds of values aberrations. All organs of government such as Executive, Legislature and Judiciary turned public broadcast to an avenue to propagate their political agenda and dissemination of their parties interests. Politics is the capacity for power acquisition and its application for governance of the state and influence the allocation of its both human and physical resources in the interest of state development.
It is common to note that the television, radio, various newspapers, magazines, billboards and the internet have developed interest to educating Nigerians about the political activities of past political holders judging from the idea of an American TV journalist Katie Couric saying “The media can be an instrument of change, it can maintain the status quo and reflect the views of the society or it can hopefully awaken people and change minds. As the country is progressing democratically, the media have contributed to the democratization of Nigeria. It would have been difficult for many Nigerians to be focus if the media were not functional in this respect. Since, nothing is hidden anymore the media have taken the right step to fulfill such duty as keeping people aware of their own political system, then one cannot hesitate to say that the media are of paramount importance to people of different profession.
The mass media especially social network services are colored by politics described as “actions and activities concerned with achieving and using power in a country or society”, the media have never relented effort to forge ahead in the present political dispensation despite intimidation by some government officials. Journalists belonging to these media have been hardworking on twenty-four hours basis provided news about politics proliferate every fact of the country’s section therefore the media have not discriminated people. This shows that the media have gone into rural areas and despite Nigerian roads, which are not motor able, the media have taken entry to these rural areas as a challenge because of the need to avoid information in stock. It is against this backdrop that this research is very essential because the media constitute an important organ capable of constructing or destroying the country’s image locally and internationally.
The importance of media is enormous for politics at different levels of its activities. It stimulates citizen engagement in politics; these include political parties’ membership registration, voters’ registration, elections and electoral campaigns, electorates’ management, are among the major political activities. Journalists perform a duty in ensuring that masses are well informed about the true state of issues in governance. To borrow a leaf from Jakande Lateef, a veteran journalist has argued that, “the Press is more important than the other functions of government for none of them has ramified influence and great power on the daily lives of millions of people”. There are four major types of media, namely; traditional media, print media, electronic media and social media. Traditional media of passing information and communication is an approach based on the use of traditional devices, such as talking drums, flutes, town criers, etc. to deliver information and communicate among the people of a particular locality.
The print media are approach of dissemination of information and communication through hard-wares like; newspaper, hand-bills, beam-board, pamphlet, books, magazines, journals, newsletters, novel, etc., while electronic media are methods of disseminating information and communication through electronic devices, such as television, radio, computers, microphone, megaphone, etc. from one person to another person, or from one place to another place. Social media is the newest approach in dissemination of information and communication through electronic social platform that make use of searching engine like internet, Twitter, You-tube, Google-Chrome, Whatsapp, Yahoo massager, Nimbuzz, Facebook, Instagram, etc. Personal communication through media brings politicians and parties closer to their potential voters. It makes parties management more effective and efficient. It enhances politicians’ communication and information collation faster and easier, and reach citizens in a more targeted manner and vice versa, without the needs of intermediate, like mass media. Reactions, feedback, political campaign, conversations and debates are generated online as well as support and participation for offline events. Information and messages are posted to personal networks are multiplied when shared, which allow new audiences to be reached. The major challenge of media is that it lacks the principles of objective, fairness and impartial report. It also positively influences organizations and the political terrace and at best provide relatively biased coverage or at worse act like virtual propaganda machines for a particular political party. Certainly, some issues are subjective, hence there can be no universal line of thought, and requiring all news organizations to passively report only what they see and not include an analytical perspective, would to a certain degree, defeat the purpose of having a free press. Further, the presence of media is rapidly spreading and the pattern used are changing, online political engagement is largely gaining ground, people are employed to host and manage websites for political activities for some politicians. The latter are restricted to people already active in politics and skillful in handling the Internet. Other audiences are less responsive. For example, television news together with print and online newspapers are still the most important sources of political information. It has re-engineered the structures and methods of contemporary political communication by influencing the way politicians interact with citizens and each other. However, the role of this phenomenon in increasing political awareness, engagement and electoral participation is incomparable. The primary aim of liberal democracies is the emergence of media empires, here some people have concentrated large amounts of media assets and use influence political activities. Thus, these individuals, from whichever point of the political sphere, can deliver a powerful political message on behalf or against a political establishment through their respective media empires, This is especially damaging if parts of the general public are more exposed to one particular media empire either due to its high popularity or the lack of alternative media sources
This case ensures that wider audience embraces political activities. The boom in media services has also allowed various organizations from all over the political sphere to effectively reach their target audiences. For instance, mass media gave Action Group (AG) Party-led by Obafemi Awolowo- an edge above their counterpart National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC) Party-led by Dr. Nmnamdi Azikiwe. The latter had majority in both lower house and upper house of parliament; but Awolowo decided to use both print and electronic media he had brought into the country- Nigerian Tribune Newspaper and Lagos Television (LTV) Ibadan respectively; with a slogan, ‘Omo wa le je o se’, this can be interpreted as, ‘Allow our own child to represent us’. This is because Dr. Nmnamdi Azikiwe and majority members of NCNC were mainly from South-East of Nigeria, while Obafemi Awolowo and majority of members of AG were mainly from South-West of Nigeria. This slogan was properly aired that it became an house-hold slogan. And the leaders of Yoruba- who were mainly from South-West of Nigeria responded positively and gave their full support to AG candidates. The implication of this made the AG to clear all the seats in South-West of Nigeria; Obafemi Awolowo became the Premier of the South-West of Nigeria. The Journalism Acts stressed stated that the independent media is a responsibility of the government for a liberal democracy to strife. This entailed that the government must be able to control all the information regarding its own actions and be accountable to the masses. Consequently, the importance of a free press cannot be under-estimated. In a liberal democracy,
Now that Nigeria has embraced the rear democracy, the media have supported such moves when such action was taken in 1999 when Olusegun Obasanjo assured duty as Nigeria’s civilian ruler then when Alhaji Musa Yar’Adua succeeded him after he spent two mandates, This is the focus of this research study.
HISTORY OF EKET LOCAL GOVERNMENT
Eket is popularly known as “Idong Afianwe”. The name is anchored on two major reasons: First, there is a town in Switzerland called “Eket”. This buttressed the fact that the first person to write on Eket was a Swiss National. Second, Eket was the hub of political and economic activities just as Calabar and Lagos. This led to the heavy presence of White colonial administrators and business men in Eket.
In fact, there is an elevated land inhabited by the whites, which is still referred to as “Abad Okkokoro” or “Abad Afianwe” located at Ikot Ibiok. Because of this Long interaction with the White men, Eket people always look neat and knowledgeable and thus, attracted the name “NDITO Mfianwe”. Besides, Eket people are enterprising, sociable, accommodating and hospitable. They are a special breed of people imbued with love and bounded by strong ties of common aspiration. Eket Local Government Area is an off-shoot of Qua Iboe District of 1885 administered by Vice Consul Whitehouse. The Qua Iboe District embrace what is today most part of Akwa Ibom State including Esit Eket, Onna, Ibeno, Nsit Ubium, Etinan, Abak, Etim Ekpo, Oron, Mbo, Okobo, Urue Offiong/Oruko, Udung Uko, etc. between 1893 and 1899, Eket became one of the consular pasts with the first District Consul appointed 1898. Eket is the second largest city in Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria. The name also refers to the indigenous ethnic group of the region and to their language, the city itself, an industrial city that in recent years has become a conurbation engulfing separate villages.
Eket has existed as an administrative headquarters for more than one hundred years. When the then Head of State, Col Yakubu Gowon, created 12 states in 1967, Eket became one of the ten division in the then South Eastern State. With the 1976 Local Government Reforms, Eket became one of the 301 Local Government Local Government Areas in Nigeria. The people of Eket are believed to have migrated from Cameroon during the great movement of the Bantu stock in Africa. The migration brought the people to the location around the mouth of Cross River, which they claim as their first settlement with Oron people along the estuary of Cross River.
THE MASS MEDIA AND POLITICAL AWARENESS IN EKET LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA A STUDY OF PLANET RADIO PROGRAMME “THE UMBRELLA SHOW”
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