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A CASE FOR COMMUNITY RADIO IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF OKUAMA, EKU AND JEDDO COMMUNITIES IN DELTA CENTRAL SENATORIAL DISTRICT

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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:

  1. A community radio can help the community to organize itself.
  2. A community radio can easily become the medium for mobilizing people to solve common problem or address a common  issue.
  3. 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.
  4. A community radio helps a community  to realize the abundant resources it has for solving its own problems.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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:

  1. To find out the roles of community radio in rural development.
  2. To ascertain whether community radio can be used to promote rural development in Delta Central Senatorial District of Delta State.
  3. To unveil  the extent  to  which  community radio   can  help actualise  rural development in Delta Central Senatorial District of Delta State.
  4. To determine the  major  constraints   of  radio  stations in  promoting rural development in Delta Central Senatorial District of Delta State.
  5. 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:

  1. What are the roles of community radio in rural development?
  2. How can community radio be used to promote rural development in Delta Central Senatorial District of Delta State?
  3. To what extent can community radio be used to actualise rural development in Delta Central Senatorial District of Delta State?
  4. What are the major constraints of radio stations in promoting rural development in Delta Central Senatorial District of Delta State?
  5. 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.

 

 

 

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