CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION
1.1 Background to the study
This research is on A case for community radio in the development of okuama, eku and jeddo communities in delta central senatorial district. For so many years, development as a concept was used to purely describe economic growth alone. This is so because economic growth was often considered from the perspectives of the Gross National Product (GNP) and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of a country which were used as a standard for measuring development. With time it was discovered that the definition was not encompassing as economic growth alone could no longer be used to measure the infallible index of human and national prosperity.
Nwabueze (2005, p.3), citing Rogers (1976) defines development as a ―widely
participatory process of social change in a society, intended to bring about social and material advancement for the majority of people through their gaining control over their environment‖. In citing Edeani (1993), Okunna (2002, p. 294) locates his perception of development on the belief that if adequate development would be seen to be taking place, then rural development must go hand in hand with national development. The implication of this is that development in the rural areas is as important as that of national, if meaningful development is to be achieved.
Nigeria has always been faced with significant development challenges. At independence in 1960, the country had a population of 53 million which increased to an estimated 137 million in 2003. In 2003, 60% of the population lived below the poverty line; 70% were engaged in agriculture, particularly the subsistence type; 68% were illiterates; infant mortality stood at 70 deaths per 1000 live births; and life expectancy was 50 years. This statistics ultimately points to the fact that there are myriads of problems facing national development especially with the disconnection of the rural areas.
The media, right from the independence of the nation have always been agents of development. They are used to engender social, cultural and political development in a society. Governments and their agencies have used the mass media including broadcast media to mobilize the masses for development. The media are used to convey developmental policies and actions to the people and the masses in-turn use the media to convey their developmental needs as well as feedback to the government. Despite the giant strides taken by the broadcast media for the development of Nigeria, the broadcasting environment as defined in policy, legislation and regulation has remained unfavourable to the majority of the Nigerian populace. For example, the existing National Mass Communication Policy envisaged such lofty broadcasting sector objectives as: disseminating information to enhance the welfare of the people in all aspects of life; providing efficient broadcasting service to the entire people of the country; ensuring broadcast programmes are used to mobilize the rural population for national development and improving quality of their lives; and providing regular channels of communication between the government and the people. These no doubt would have passed for a perfect policy but in reality, it is mere paper work as broadcasting stations have continued to serve only the interest of their pay-masters (government and private individuals), thereby neglecting the masses whose interest they are established to serve.
No doubt, the influence of community radio on the rural development of Nigeria cannot be overlooked. Wilson (1991, p.133), gives a vivid analysis of the nature and influence of the mass media, thus:
The mass media of communication are so pervasive in their socio-cultural and political influence that there is hardly any field of human endeavour that they do not have a specific role to play. They act as eye and ear of society (i.e. as watchdogs) and as mobilizers, informers, educators, entertainers and channels for disseminating information, propagating culture, educating, entertaining, mobilizing, correlating the environment and promoting the general economic well-being of the society and their owners.
The implication of Wilson‘s assertion above lies in the fact that for effective and meaningful development to take place at any level of our existence, the role of the media cannot be overemphasized and for the desired development to be achieved, the mass media must be carried along in the development plans. Nigeria is a developing country and majority of her citizens reside in rural areas. The rural areas are considered undeveloped. This is because these areas lack basic social amenities such as electricity, portable water, good roads and others which make for maximum comfort in life. Rural dwellers are cut off from what happens in the entire country. The lack of basic social amenities and unemployment of rural populace have resulted in poverty. Rural dwellers that form majority of the citizens are poor. They are not exposed to any mass medium and so, they are not part of the scheme of affairs of their society. They do not know the developmental programmes of government and they do not know how to contribute to government‘s programmes for them. In fact, they are non-existent as far as government and its programme are concerned.
For development to be properly conceptualised to suit the needs of the rural people, the concept of development needs to be properly situated. Udoakah (1998, p.15) aptly notes that ―ideas about development vary with the individual‘s level of education and occupation. The non-educated, the less educated and the highly educated have different perceptions of development‖. It therefore follows that the same way there are divergent views about what development means, so also are there divergent views about what national development entails.
Development can also be seen as using the mass media to highlight government activities and programmes to the people. In this case, the media focus attention on government functionaries who may have gone to rural areas to monitor government projects instituted there or to galvanise the rural people to support government programmes. Some other scholars see investigative journalism and critical writing as an integral part of development communication. However, scholars of the alternative paradigm and post-modernism school of thought argue that national development should involve a widely participatory process. In this case, development should be bi-directional and that there should be mutual sharing of ideas and information among the people towards achieving development in the country. The post-modernists also believe that national development is the totality of all the communication activities, aimed at moving the entire people on the societal ladder upward. The different angles to the perception of national development and the need for establishing community radio have necessitated this study.
One of the most important reasons for having community radio is to enable community members to speak to themselves and to those outside their community about the issues that matter to them. A village radio in a typical farming community in Nigeria will be useful in discussing and/or announcing weather conditions, new seed hybrids, the problem of fertilizers and how to solve it, new methods of processing raw fish or drying melon, market days and meetings of farmers‘ union among others. Village or community radio can also help achieve the following:
- A community radio can help the community to organize itself.
- A community radio can easily become the medium for mobilizing people to solve common problem or address a common issue.
- A community radio can bring development to the community. Information about health and disease control can be discussed on radio with community members interacting with health workers.
- A community radio helps a community to realize the abundant resources it has for solving its own problems.
- It expands the list of options that a community has. For example, if there is an invasion by birds in a rice-farming community, a community radio can organize a group discussion where members of the community discuss various options for tackling the menace. From such discussion will emerge options that people had not thought about individually. It can bring government‘s attention to the needs of the people. It can be a medium for addressing and solving the problem posed by insecurity, poverty, natural disasters, harmful cultural practices, infrastructural decay and so on.
- A community radio will bring cultural development and relevant entertainment to a community. Very often, people in the rural areas are made to listen to foreign music on commercial radio. Local artistes will feature prominently on community radio for the enjoyment of the community. This will encourage artistes to do more. Community radio can serve as a way to preserve and renew a community‘s or a people‘s cultural heritage.
- Among other benefits, community radio addresses the need of the individuals also. It is often a source of relaxation, entertainment, advice and information to individuals to help them in making decisions. The medium of communication increases the understanding of rural people and enriches their knowledge of issues while at the same time spurring their creativity. Because of its contents which must include successful people who matter, community radio guides social behaviour by offering role models. When one looks at these benefits to the nation, there is only one conclusion: Nigeria must set up more community radio stations. The importance of community radio broadcasting in a developing country like
Nigeria cannot be down-played because it has enormous governmental and developmental challenges to tackle and overcome. With high maternal mortality, infant mortality, prevalence of HIV/AIDS and low life expectancy for the average citizen, community radio can help solve these problems. It can sensitize the highly illiterate population on the danger and fallacy of violent religious practices particularly in the Northern part of the country as well as sensitize the populace on security issues.
In 2006, former President Olusegun Obasanjo declared that Nigeria would embrace community radio. The president said that the high illiteracy rate of 67 percent in Nigeria was totally unacceptable. He noted the fact that about 73 million young girls were not receiving any education in Nigeria at all. According to him, this situation must be addressed if Nigeria must stand tall in the comity of nations.
In October 2010 while declaring open the 8th biennial conference of African Broadcasters held in Abuja, President Goodluck Jonathan empowered the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to license community radio stations in Nigeria without further recourse to the presidency provided such application meets the stipulated conditions by Law. Represented by Vice President Mohammed Namadi Sambo at the event, the President disclosed that: ―Consequently the Federal Executive Council has considered and approved the guidelines proposed by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) for the licensing of community radio in Nigeria. Sadly, months after President Goodluck Jonathan‘s pronouncement of the devolution of power to the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to issue community radio licenses, the directive has not been supported by concrete action from the Presidency even though the Commission has given licenses to certain communities particularly the academic environment such as University of Calabar, University of Lagos, University of Ilorin and the National Open University. This according to experts is merely ‗a drop in the ocean‘ considering the huge population of Nigeria, her diverse and pluralistic communities as well as cultural and religious differences. It is believed that with more community radio stations on stream, the nation will effectively place herself on the path of development. This also means that community radio stations will be licensed outside academic institutions.
One of the places in Nigeria where community radio is needed to engender development is Delta Central Senatorial District of Delta State which is predominantly a district of rural communities having all the characteristics of under-development. The over 70 rural communities in the district are bedevilled by the lack of social infrastructures and the absence of community broadcast media. This research looked at developmental efforts, if any, carried out by government and development partners/agencies in communities of Delta Central Senatorial District. The study also looked at the extent of such development. It as well sought to know if any community broadcast medium is located in the community. If none, which medium will be most ideal to bring the development needed by the people of Delta Central Senatorial District?
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Issues of development border on improving, advancing or modernizing the living conditions of people especially in the rural areas. Different efforts have been made by development partners/agencies towards ensuring the transformation of rural communities especially in developing nations like Nigeria. The issue of community development or rural development is presently topical in all spheres of human endeavour. However, it is necessary that the issue should be articulated and communicated in order to enlighten the people concerned about developmental activities and others.
In the light of several development programmes funded by international agencies and government departments, it is pertinent to examine the role of community radio, if established, in actualizing their objectives in the targeted communities. To promote these projects, community radio stations will create programmes that sensitize the populace predominantly in the rural areas.
The relationship between community radio and rural or community development cannot be under-estimated. From the development media theory perspective and the social responsibility theory perspective, it is obvious that community radio is a development catalyst. Community radio can help to reduce various challenges faced by the rural populace such as health challenges, illiteracy, hunger and starvation. It can also be used to foster harmony and improve communication among rural communities.
Radio is generally known as an agent of development. This notion is embedded in the agenda-setting role of the mass media in their functions of surveillance, interpretation, linkage and transmission of values/cultures. Unfortunately, developing countries are faced with so many problems that deter the absolute utilization of the contributory roles of the mass media.
In Nigeria however, the idea of using community radio in fostering rural or community development has continued to remain a ‗white elephant effort‘ as most existing broadcast stations are not patterned to cater for the needs of rural communities. The few ‗supposedly community radio stations‘, that is, community radio stations sited in higher institutions, have not helped matters as they have continued to be bedevilled by human challenges which make them most times, pursue commercial interest rather than community or rural development which they were set up to engender.
In light of the above, this study looked at the role community radio will play in fostering rural/community development when established in Okuama, Eku and Jeddo communities of Delta Central Senatorial District of Delta State.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
In this study, the following were the objectives:
- To find out the roles of community radio in rural development.
- To ascertain whether community radio can be used to promote rural development in Delta Central Senatorial District of Delta State.
- To unveil the extent to which community radio can help actualise rural development in Delta Central Senatorial District of Delta State.
- To determine the major constraints of radio stations in promoting rural development in Delta Central Senatorial District of Delta State.
- To unravel whether community radio can assist in cultural preservation of rural communities in Delta Central Senatorial District of Delta State.
1.4 Research Questions
The study raised the following research questions:
- What are the roles of community radio in rural development?
- How can community radio be used to promote rural development in Delta Central Senatorial District of Delta State?
- To what extent can community radio be used to actualise rural development in Delta Central Senatorial District of Delta State?
- What are the major constraints of radio stations in promoting rural development in Delta Central Senatorial District of Delta State?
- How can community radio assist in cultural preservation of the rural dwellers in Delta Central Senatorial District of Delta State?
1.5 Significance of the study
This study will provide valuable contributions for theory, practice and research. Theoretically, the findings are expected to support previous theories and premises in the area of community radio and rural/community development. Even though the findings of this study are expected to be affected by cultural differences as obtainable in a multi- cultural environment despite the fact that the area of study is dominated by one tribe, it will however not be different from those study contexts already reported in extant literature. Practically, it is therefore expected that broadcasting policy makers, radio producers, especially developmental programme producers will see this study as an exposé of how they can affect the lives of the rural people positively and engender development to the rural areas through qualitative and effective programming. In research, the study will help in providing material for scholarship in community radio and development related issues.
1.6 Scope of the study
This study was limited in scope and in content. This study was limited to the discourse of issues bothering on community radio and rural/community development. Geographically, it would have been better, if possible, to study the entire population in Delta State, but to do this would not only be too expensive, but it may make the research to be complicated because of the large number of people that would be involved. This is the reason for picking three communities among all the communities in Delta Central Senatorial District of Delta state. Therefore, this study will cover Okuama, Eku and Jeddo communities of Ughelli South, Ethiope East and Okpe local government areas respectively of Delta Central Senatorial District of Delta state. These communities were randomly selected from the over 70 communities that make up Delta Central Senatorial District. The population will include all adults irrespective of gender, educational status and religion as well as income level in these communities.
1.7 Definition of Terms
The following are the terms which are operationalized within the context of this study:
- Community Development: This refers to the process of moving human beings in all strata of the social system forward, in order to enhance the capacity of each of them to realize his inherent potentials and to effectively cope with the changing circumstances of life, in a local community or rural setting.
- Community Radio: This is a non-profit radio station sited in a rural area or local community to take care of the broadcast needs of members of the community. It helps to engender development for that community.
- Development: This refers to the process of moving human beings in all strata of the social system forward, in order to enhance the capacity of each of them to realize his/her inherent potentials and to effectively cope with the changing circumstances of life.
- Development Communication: This refers to all the communication activities, messages, ideas or information that seek to promote the enhancement of food production, quality social services like health care and education, self-reliance, entrepreneurship, cultural values and national identity.