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1.1     Background  to the study

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.

This material content is developed to serve as a GUIDE for students to conduct academic research

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