A CASE FOR COMMUNITY RADIO IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF OKUAMA, EKU AND JEDDO…
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