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The study assessed the effect of radio political advertising and the participation of the rural electorate in election in Rivers State, Nigeria. The study was motivated by the tense political atmosphere that pervaded the political landscape in the state prior to the gubernatorial and the senatorial election due to the incumbent governor’s defection to an opposition party and the resolve of other candidates in that election to take over the reins of power from the incumbent governor. To solicit votes or win the support of the electorate, candidates used political advertising among other strategies to sell their personality and party manifestoes.
1.1 Background of the study
It is obvious that the last half of the twenty first century witnessed a rival of radical political change that has swept across the frontiers of most modern nations of the world. A result of this change is the emergence of socio-cultural variety and political pluralism. (Nwosu, 2003:50).
Basically, politics is about power, but the struggle for power results in conflicts and competitions. Thus, under the girdling political practice is the struggle for power which creates disagreement and conflict. Nevertheless, the effects of politics which are conflicts and disagreement are never permanent and must be managed for the improvement of the society to be achieved. From another dimension, politics is about policy. Extending this view, Nzimiro (1992:7) states that “policy is a matter of either the desire for change or the desire to protect something against change”. This also leads to conflict. The history of human civilization clearly shows that class conflict is an inherent characterization of human societies. This offers a clear conviction that the eminent nuclear physicist Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) was bemoaning the endemic conflict arising from human interactions when he says, “I can calculate the motions of the heavenly bodies but not the madness of people”. Newton’s timeless wits indicate that conflict as a perceived incompatibility of actions, goals or ideal (Myers, 1989:113), pervades virtually all aspects of human endeavours including political activities. In the modern society, politics is expressed through political parties, which are created to achieve the goals of a society. This is why political parties are organized around specific idea. Before independence in 1960, the colonial administration has organized a couple of general elections. In none of them was a deliberate and systematic political advertising programme under taken. All political activities were limited to rallies soap box, speeches and where possible press editorial efforts. For obvious reasons it was not possible for politicians to use electronic media for political advertising. Also the print media concentrated heavily on the issue of political independence. The leader of Action Group Party of Nigeria, Chief Obafemi Awolowo in 1963 used skywriting advertising during rallies to send campaign messages. That was a unique attempt in promoting politicians in Nigeria’s political history. It did not go far because it lacked systematic political advertising. In 1979, the media option had widened and more political parities resorted to political advertising. Political advertising is an important element of democratic society. In view of this, former United States of American President Richard M. Nixon, is reputed to have said that “political advertising is to politics what bumper stickers are to philosophy”. Equally commenting on the indispensability of political advertising in democracy or in the process of electioneering campaign Jamieson (1984), believes that it “legitimates our political institutions by affirming that change is possible within the political system.
However, we may recognize that political advertising is our 20th 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 started during the early years of American democracy and are still very much in vogue in some respects in Nigeria election campaigns today. Politics according to Gerbner (1981:15) is … a word game”. Gerber contends that politicians rise to power because that can talk persuasively to voters and political elites”. Okigbo (1992:123) added impetus to this view when he describes politics as largely a verbal profession”. The glaring lessons are learnt from the above scenario. One, no political activity ever takes place in the absence of conflict of wills or clash of interests among the participants. Again, no human relations or interactions’ as Nwosu (1990: 323) observes can take place without one form of communication or the other. Therefore, it would not be out of place to admit that the influence of political advertising on the voting behaviour of the electorates is at the root of any political process. And given that the mass media (radio) are veritable tools for reaching widely spatial heterogeneous audience with the same communication message. It is unquestionable that they would serve well as pivotal institution upon which the pendulum of our political/electioneering campaign should swing. However, the real and or imagined power of the mass media of which radio is one of them to mould attitudes and behaviour especially as it pertains to outcome of electioneering campaign had been a subject of intense debate. Regardless of why cynics might say, media of mass communication to large extent do have influence on attitude and behaviours, at least they keep people adequately informed about events happening outside their immediate experience (Nwosu 2003: 51). To buttress the above view, Baran (1991) is right when he says: “The media so fully saturate our everyday lives that we are often unconscious of their presence not to mention their influence. Media help define us, they shape our realities. There was also the issue of negative political values like rigging which can negate the effect of political advertising. Over the decades, electoral processes have always witnessed one problem or the other. Elections in Nigeria, have been marred by violence and rigging. In fact, I seriously doubt, if there had been any election in the country that has not been characterized by one electoral malpractice or the other. According to Oyediran (1976: 17),
The 1964-1965 election has often been referred to as a classic case of the politics of brinkmanship. It was during the election that the first plot for military coup d’etat was planned. Myriads of factors are responsible for this unfortunate reality. One major factor is poor political socialization of the country, family, church and of course the mass media.
Indeed, the purpose of this study is to find out if radio political adverting does influence voters voting behaviour in Nigeria.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The zeal to pilot the affairs of the state and by extension, ensure strict compliance to acceptable pattern of shared norms which Defleur etal (1971:448) describe as “consensus” which gave rise to modern government. And while some individuals in the society assume leadership position by forcefully imposing it on themselves, as in the case of fast fading authoritarian states others attain the same goal through popular election. The later alternative is common feature of democratic variant of governance allow the members of any society while latitude of freedom to choose their leaders. Again it gives the citizens equal participation in the process of public decision making. Irrespective of the varying philosophies and the attending economic ideologies that tends to differentiate various human societies every nation aspires to project, promote and protect h
er socio-politically and economic interests through the effective use of mass media (radio) organs. As a result of this, Schramm and Roberts (1978: 635) argue “… each of the various forms of political power can be characterized in terms of information distribution which it allows, of how communication channels are controlled, of how and to whom information is made available”. Lasswell’s (1936) conception of politics as “a game of who gets what, when and how” still guides the political drives of most Nigerians. The burden of this study therefore is to critically examine the influence of radio political advertising on the voting behaviour of the electorate of Mgbowo Community.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
This study is to analyze the influence of radio political advertising on the voting behaviour of the rural residents of Mgbowo Community. It is also an attempt to find out how the radio political messages determines the voting behviours of the Mgbowo electorates or otherwise.
To determine the extent radio political advertising influence the electorates to vote during the April 2007 election.
1.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The result of this study will be useful to policy formulators and implementers for devising viable political campaign policies that will be in line with the socio-cultural and political orientation of the rural residents or electorates. This study will also help the government and its agencies in making policy decisions on the best way to channel political education to the rural electorates or votes for effective participation in the electoral process. Besides, the study will immensely enhance media organizations to understand the appropriate way of structuring information for its rural audience and assist them in knowing the most effective medium of political information dissemination available to rural residents.
It will also be useful to Nigerian media practitioners, communication experts, politicians, political science students, as well as other members of the public, to improve their knowledge and skills in the area of utilizing the mass media for the execution of political campaign or mobilization of rural residents. Finally, it will serve as a veritable reference material for scholars and students of political communication.
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
For the successful completion of the study, the following research hypotheses were formulated by the researcher;
H0: radio advertising is not a potent tool of politics in Nigeria
H1: radio advertising is a potent tool of politics in Nigeria
H02: there is no significant relationship between radio advertising and participation of electorate in the election
H2: there is a significant relationship between radio advertising and participation of electorate in the election
1.6 SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
The scope of this study covers radio political advertising and the participation of the etche electorate in the February 2017 re-run election, but in the cause of the study there were some factors which limited the scope of the study;
Availability of research material: The research material available to the researcher is insufficient, thereby limiting the study.
Time: The time frame allocated to the study does not enhance wider coverage as the researcher has to combine other academic activities and examinations with the study.
Finance: The finance available for the research work does not allow for wider coverage as resources are very limited as the researcher has other academic bills to cover.
1.7 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Radio advertisements or "spots" are available when a business or service provides valuable consideration, usually cash, in exchange for the station airing their spot or mentioning them on air.
In politics, campaign advertising is the use of an advertising campaign through the media to influence political debate, and ultimately, voters. These ads are designed by political consultants and political campaign staff.
An election is a formal group decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual to hold public office. Elections have been the usual mechanism by which modern representative democracy has operated since the 17th century
1.8 ORGANIZATION OF THE STUDY
This research work is organized in five chapters for easy understanding as follows Chapter one is concern with the introduction which consist of the (overview, of the study), statement of problem, objectives of the study, research question, significance or the study, research methodology, definition of terms and historical background of the study. Chapter two highlights the theoretical framework on which the study it’s based thus the review of related literature. Chapter three deals on the research design and methodology adopted in the study. Chapter four concentrate on the data collection and analysis and presentation of finding. Chapter five gives summary, conclusion and recommendations made of the study.
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