1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
The history of elections has afforded Nigerian nation generally the golden chance of assessment of the divergent roles of the media ownership in Nigeria political process within the framework of our national political goal. The issue and question of education, information, mobilization and observation has become a very crucial factor in the realization of the national objectives within the context of the electoral process. This is often as a result of the ugly incidences of different style/forms of electoral malpractices that have repeatedly threatened the possibility of credible elections and national integration in Nigeria. Though the issue at stake is the responsibility of all stakeholders in the body politic, there is however, a rationale in assigning this responsibility as a primary concern of the media ownership on the ground of professional competence as the fourth estate of the realm. It has therefore, become very important to assess the roles of the privately owned radio stations in the electoral history of Nigeria. To what extent has the Nigerian media ownership discharged its statutory functions towards achieving a positive political national agenda? Iredia (2007) the former Director General of Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), states the problem in this regard very clearly that, the people must be assisted to premise their choices of rationality and vote wisely during elections. They must have all information that is needed to elect the right candidates who can ensure good governance. Where such public awareness is lacking, those of us in the media must accept a share of the blame of failed elections in Nigeria. This paper presumes an understanding of the meaning of election or electioneering campaign in politics as a periodic selection of government representatives of the people at various levels of governance by the electorate themselves. It is often argued that a credible and peaceful democratic election is impossible without the mass media. The mass media refers to as the fourth branch of government (the first three are the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary) because of the power they wield and the oversight function they exercise (Idumange, 2013) constitutes the backbone of any democratic state in the world. The media no doubt are essential to democracy. In a democracy, the media assists in building an environment conducive to democracy, promotes free choice of leadership, respect for the rule of law by the rulers and the ruled, social justice and equity as well as respect for human rights (Obasanjo & Mabogunje, 2008) and have the responsibility to ensure that the wheel of the electoral process grinds such that the election is free, fair and credible. In Nigeria, the private owned radio stations have not only encouraged mass participation of the public in the political/electoral process, they have opposed and exposed antidemocratic tendencies at different times and equally play the role of watchdog with a view to promoting and safeguarding Nigeria’s fledgling democracy. No doubt, the Nigerian radio stations were in the forefront of the struggle for enthronement and entrenchment of democracy, especially the transition from military rule to democratic rule which culminated in Nigeria’s Fourth Republic on 29th May, 2009; they had also since its commencement been actively involved in setting agenda for public discourse, providing perspectives and direction on political debates and framing the agenda for political decisions and mobilisation for mass participation in political activities, as well as contributing in no small measure to the sustainability and consolidation of the Nigeria’s democracy (Odubote, 2014). The first time the media will be utilised as platform for propagating and expressing political opinions and manifestoes by candidates and political party during election in Nigeria was during the 1923 general elections with the Nigerian Pioneer, the African Messenger, the Nigerian Spectator, the Lagos Daily News and the likes in place, although the ways, manners and application of the media may vary. Since then it has been an avenue where the electorates keenly awaits the news and development on the electoral process in the country. The role of the media in the electoral process in Nigeria according to Bamidele (2015) have a three tier operational period namely pre-election period, election period and post-election period. However, the impact of the media since the commencement of Nigeria’s Fourth Republic particularly during the elections (2009, 2014, 2007, 2011 and 2015 general elections) cannot be downplayed.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Democracy is nascent in the Nigerian political clime. It is not strange that politicians get away with outright lies, deliberate misrepresentations and assertions as well as ridiculous and unachievable proposals. In each instance, the public and democracy have been poorly served. It is as though the mass media, a subset of the political system, do not have a memory of their own often plunging the people from one political campaign to the other while ignoring the history and antecedents of its political architects. It has been widely observed that broadcast media have enhanced the communication process used in creating and disseminating political messages in recent times in Nigeria. The general elections held in Nigeria, was characterized by an appreciable use of the broadcast media especially the radio for political advertising and election campaigns (Hamilton & Daramola, 2011; Omenugha, Ukwueze, & Malizu, 2011). Several contestants have adopted the use of broadcast media in their election campaigns and actually won to adopt such strategy that has increasingly made an inroad into our electoral process and in the overall political environment (Ezebuenyi & Ejezieh, 2012). The foregoing notwithstanding, this study intends to investigate the role of privately owned radio stations in electioneering process in Nigeria and how the increasing advantages of broadcast media can be harnessed and applied in making the electorate to possess their political sovereignty by transparently voting – in and voting – out political office holders and governments democratically without undue interference or hindrance.
1.3 AIMS OF THE STUDY
The major purpose of this study is to examine the role of privately owned radio stations in the electioneering process in Nigeria. Other general objectives of the study are:
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS
H0: The roles of privately owned radio stations does not influence the electioneering process
H1: The roles of privately owned radio stations do significantly influence the electioneering process.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This study will be of great significance to the following people and in the following ways.
a. The media from time immemorial are charged with various roles of informing and enlightening the public, so this work will be useful to them by encouraging the media to carry out their functions well, despite the challenges that they face from time to time.
b. The study will provide reliable feedback data on audience view of media coverage of elections and also provide its strengths and weakness which will serve as a tool for improvement in the media outfit including both electronic and print.
c. It will serve as a data base for Mass communication researchers and scholars who may be embarking on similar research in the future.
d. It will also avail political actors and players more and better information on the role of the media in electoral processes, especially on the coverage of elections.
1.7 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study is based on role of privately owned radio stations in the electioneering process in Nigeria. Case comparative studies on AIT, Vision FM and Kiss FM.
1.8 LIMITATION OF STUDY
Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
1.9 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Private Owned Radio Stations: Is a set of equipment necessary to carry on communication via radio waves. Generally, it is a receiver or transmitter or transceiver, an antenna, and some smaller additional equipment necessary to operate them owned by an individual not government.
Electioneering Process: Is a highly partisan process that brings together various actors with each playing defined roles such as voters, contestants, electoral management body, and electoral observers among others.
OTHER SIMILAR MASS COMMUNICATION PROJECTS AND MATERIALS