AN ASSESSMENT OF THE ROLE OF NEWSPAPER IN MOBILIZING WOMEN FOR POLITIC…

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CHAPTER ONE

 INTRODUCTION

1.1   Background of the Study

          Nigerian women make up of half the population size of the country, yet the constitutional policy of women getting one-third of seats remains a mirage. With only one-third of seats in politics, there is still that misrepresentation of the marginalized group. Statistics has it that only 6 percent of ministerial and sub ministerial officials in Nigeria are women (Population Reference Bureau, 1998).

          According to Gender Audit and Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Parline database (2011 and 2015) as cited in Agbalajobi, (2015,p.88); There was no seat for women in 2011 and 2015 for the governorship office and also the house of assembly with 990 seats; women got 36 and 54 seats in 2011 and 2015 respectively. All these reveal that women participate in politics but there is still that under-representation of women in Nigeria even after women are only vying for one-third of seats to represent their group. Could this be as a result of paucity of knowledge or could this be a result of low level of sensitization by the print media?

          According to Klein (2005,p.17), political participation refers to ‘citizen’s rights to influence public affairs’. In line with this thought, political participation can be identified as those actions taken by the citizens of a country either to influence or to support government and politics. It derives from the freedom to speak out, assemble and associate; the ability to take part in the conduct of public affairs; and the opportunity to register as a candidate, to campaign, to be elected and to hold office at all levels of government.

          In Nigeria, women play a minimal role in politics. Just few women are found in political leadership positions although the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in Chapter 4 sections 30 and 40 guaranteed rights to all citizens of Nigeria- both male and female- rights that are basic and fundamental to all without discrimination between both sexes Onabajo,  (2000,p.13).

          Women have been actively engaged in political struggle since the 19th century. Women like Queen Amina Nikatau of Zaria, Madam Tinubu of Lagos, Olufunmilayo Ransom Kuti of Abeokuta, Margaret Ekpo and Hajjia Gabon Swabia among many others have fought to give Nigerian women a pride of place in Nigeria’s history Luka (2011). In the areas of politics, these women amongst others contributed immensely to the mobilization and sensitization of women with a view to ensuring that women participated actively in politics. According to the former Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) chairman, Professor Attahiru M. Jega, ‘Women should not be reduced to only voting and supporting male candidates win elective positions’. This was the motivation behind the unveiling of the INEC Gender Policy that institutionalizes the following:

1. Ensuring that INEC policies, plans, processes and operations are gender responsive;

2. Encouraging gender equity and balance within political parties, especially in the identification of candidates in line with the provisions of their statutes;

3. Increasing budgetary provision and mobilizing partners to effectively provide funding for gender sensitive actions within their purview and

4. Supporting an enabling legislative environment to achieve gender equality and bridging gaps in political representation in elective posts at all electoral levels.

          The print media in any society cannot operate in isolation. They must operate within a state. The mass media are usually regarded as the fourth estate of government which serves as the watchdog of the society. They see what is happening in the society and report back to the people as it is. The print media could be newspapers, magazines,  etc. That is any medium used to transmit large information to a large heterogeneous group of people. They report the happenings of the Executive, Legislative and the judiciary arm of government in any given state that practices democracy (Olojede, 2000).

          Nigeria claims to be practicing democracy, but this practice does not seem to be absolute as it does not go according to the tenets of democracy. According to International IDEA (2000, p.46), A culture of democracy must reflect norms and values that place a premium on the freedom of the individual- freedom from state abuse and from infringements of rights by other individuals. It further guarantees equality before the law, as well as providing opportunities for all citizens to have equal access to the material and cultural resources that guarantee their basic livelihood. The essence of democracy is that citizens must be able to ventilate their views through unrestrained debates, from the lowest level and smaller unit, and that there should be active citizens participation in governance as well as unrestricted communication between government and the governed (Agbalajob, 2009).

          From the above statement, it is seen that Nigeria’s democracy is not true democracy because not all citizens of the state have equal rights to the material and cultural resources especially for the women group where we still have all forms of stereotyping, Women who make almost half the population of the country are not able to air their views, leading to a low level of participation in governance. Therefore, there is a need to use the tool used for social change which is the print media to effectively sensitize this group of people (women) so that their views can be aired without any restraints and encourage their participation in governance, and not leave government in the hands of the few, but many.

1.2     Statement of Problem

It is not a hidden fact that women are under represented in the field of politics. In agreement with the assertion of Luka (2011), that “Politics is too serious a business to be left solely in the hands of men, the continuous low political participation of women in Nigeria becomes a major concern. In 2011, out of 109 senatorial seats available in Nigeria only 20 seats were occupied by females, same goes for the House of Representatives as only 24 seats out of 362 seats were occupied by women. In addition to the above, with vacancy in 36 states in Nigeria there are no female governors in the country neither has there been any female president or vice president.

          There has been and still instances of women holding high political positions of leadership in countries like, Britain, Philippines, Brazil, Liberia, Germany etc, but in Nigeria reverse is the case. Women are also called to be leaders and not mere followers because they have equal rights as provided for in the 1999 constitution of Nigeria. The mass media especially the radio has an important role to play in mobilizing women for political participation, as this is one of the primary functions of the mass media.

1.3     Objectives of the Study

The objective of this study is therefore stated as follows:

1.     To explain the role of the print media towards mobilizing women for political participation.

2.     To know ways which societal culture and norms affect women   participation in politics in Nigeria.

3.     To examine the effect of media in mobilizing women towards political     participation.

4.To find out some problems facing women in participating in politics.

1.4     Research Questions

In this study, an attempt will be sufficiently made to answer the following questions.

1.     What is the role of the print media towards mobilizing women for political participation?

2.     In what ways is societal culture and norms affect women participation in politics in Nigeria?

3.         What has been the effect of media in mobilizing women towards political participation?

4.     What are the problems facing women in participating in politics?

1.5     Scope of Study

          The study will be centered basically on the Assessment of Print Media Role in Mobilizing Women for Political Participation.

1.6     Significance of the Study

It is expected that at the end of this study, to update knowledge within the framework of the study. Particularly, it will assist people’s views on the usefulness of the print media in mobilizing women to take part in decision-making. This study will draw the attention of government to empower women to participate in politics through the use of newspaper, magazines and motion pictures in their packaging of news reports and events, and to academics in their practices and training of journalist. The government should promote the welfare of women in general. Also the federal government should promote the full utilization of women in the development of human resources and to bring about their acceptance as full participation in every phase of national development with equal rights and corresponding obligations least involving 30% elective positions for women.

          Another important significance of this is for election to be conducted according to the rules, in which all qualified individuals especially women are free to vote or be voted for with out constraints of manipulations.


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