INFLUENCE OF URBAN- RURAL INFORMATION IMBALANCE ON VOTER EDUCATION IN NIGERIA (A STUDY OF EBONYI STATE)

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ABSTRACT

The information flow pattern between urban and rural dwellers in Nigeria has become worrisome to many scholars in the country, It has been observed that the only things that constitute news for reporters in the country are only when a strange thing or negative happens in the rural areas. This study looks at the influence of urban-rural information imbalance on voter education in Nigeria (A study of Ebonyi state). In conducting this study, the researcher used survey research design method to generate quantitative data for the study. The quantitative data were generated through questionnaire distributed to each respondent by the researcher. The populations for this study are Nigerians residents of Ebonyi State with the estimated population of (2,866,618) for 2014; sample size of 385 was drawn using Australian Calculator as provided by the National Statistical Service (NSS). After a thorough analysis of the data generated, findings revealed that majority of the respondents have access to mass media messages, they are also aware of and have access to voter education programmes on the media; however, voter education programmes do not often reach the people in the rural areas. It was also founded that poverty, illiteracy and lack of social and infrastructural facilities in the rural areas are factors that lead to imbalance of informationflow in the country. Based on these, it was recommended that for Nigeria to achieve free, fair, credible and successful elections, thecitizenry especially the rural dwellers must be sensitized on how to exercise their rights to elect the leaders of their choice. This is because the people need to know the importance of participating in the electoral process in the country.

TABLE OF CONTENT

Title Page
Abstract
CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION
1.1       Background of Study
1.2       Statement of the Problem
1.3       Objectives of the Study
1.4       Research Questions
1.5       Significance of the Study
1.6       Scope of the Study
1.7       Definition of Terms
            References

CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW
2.1       Focus of Review
2.2       Global Information Imbalance
2.2.1    Information Imbalance in Nigeria
2.3       Mass Media in Nigeria Rural Reporting System
2.3.1    Challenges of Rural Reporting in Nigeria
2.4       Voter Education in Nigeria
2.5       The Role of the Mass Media in Voter Education
2.6       Empirical Studies on Voter Education in Nigeria
2.7       Theoretical Framework
            References

CHAPTER THREE: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
3.1       Research Design
3.2       Population of the Study
3.3       Sample Size
3.4       Sampling Technique
3.5       Instrument for Data Collection
3.6       Validation of Research Instrument
3.7       Reliability of Research
3.8       Method of Data Analysis and Presentation
            References

CHAPTER FOUR: DATA PRESENTATION AND ANALYSIS
4.1       Data Presentation & Analysis
4.2       Discussion of Findings
            References

CHAPTER FIVE: SUMMARY, CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
5.1       Summary
5.2       Conclusion
5.3       Recommendations
            Bibliography

APPENDIX

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Background of study
The mass media, no doubt, are veritable tools for communication and social re-engineering of the society. As vehicles through which information can be disseminated in the society, they play fundamental roles in the democratization of any nation-state.

In the discussion of media power by both Habermas(2006) and Castells [1994], there is an underlying assumption of a pivotal role for the mass media in politics and political participation. They also raise the question of media and power processes in the society. Downing (1995) stressed that the media are structures of power in any society. The media mediate; they do not stand independent of a given social system but instead provide channels of communication between elements within it. To varying degrees this has meant that they are instrumental to dominant institutions and interests within the society (Randall, 1998). The mass media also act as the platform through which people and interests in the society express their views (Ibraheem, et.al, 2013).


However, the distribution of information by the media to provide the citizenry with the platform to express their views has over the years been on an unequal pedestal. This has resulted into urban/rural information imbalance which has led to two social divide in the society; the information rich and the information poor with adverse effect on voters’ choice especially in rural areas during elections in Nigeria. MacBride et.al, (1980, p.137-157) note that information imbalances are of both quantitative and qualitative and exist within the Third World Countries.
To this end, Ogadigo (2006, p.10) posits that “national development no doubt, is closely tied to availability and accessibility of information in a given environment. Where there is weak internal information flow structure, there is no national development because national development is a product of good information system”.

Thus, the goal of development can only be achieved where the information available is capable of exploring and exploiting the potentials of the people of different classes in the society for development purposes. Information imbalance is a situation whereby some class or segment of people in the society are better exposed to high quality information than others, due to their availability and accessibility to news outlets and sophisticated gadgets of information delivery, and reception.

Writing on the role of the mass media in rural information system in Nigeria, Ocheni and Nwankwo (2012) averred “Arguably, most media houses in the country today believe that since they are situated in the urban areas, their primary task is to satisfy their urban colleagues, who, after all, are mostly those who attend to the media and, of course advertise in the papers and magazines or buy up available air time to slot in their commercials”.


The offshoot of this imbalance, no doubt, has its roots in every facet of national development in Nigeria. It is on this basis, that the researcher would want to ascertain the influence of urban/rural information imbalance on voters’ education in Nigeria, and what should be the role of the media in bridging the divide bearing in mind that education is one of the cardinal functions of the mass media in any society. The mass media are indeed endowed with capacities to wield an enormous influence on the people through widespread voter enlightenment and awareness.
Umechukwu (2004), as cited by Ochonogor and Omego (2012), observes that the role of the mass media in the electoral process can be subsumed under enlightenment.He notes that:

Political mobilization means the role played by the mass media in creating awareness, interpretation of issues, personalities, programmes and educating the people purposely to ginger, encourage and motivate them to exercise their political rights and take informed political decision. Such decisions will basically include participating in elections (p. 18)

Voter apathy can actually be eroded through voter education. If people do not participate in the electoral process, then democracy loses its essence. The media through content can enthrone a culture of sound democracy that will surely engender egalitarianism. In corroboration, Ochonogor and Omego (2012) note that;

Following voters’ apathy that has pervaded the entire nations, there is the urgent need for government at all levels to embark on a vigorous citizen’s orientation programme using the mass media and interpersonal communication media to enlighten the public on their civic responsibility. The people should know why they have to participate in the electoral process and what benefits would accrue to them for their involvement (p. 337)


In the same vein, Anim (2008) stressed that the “first fundamental role of the mass media for an opensociety is to gather, process and disseminate the news and information by which people in the society canbe guided to be able to make meaningful contribution towards their own governance” (p. 133). It is in the light of the foregoing, that the extent to which information dissemination between the urban/rural populace during electioneering in Nigeria, does affect the outcome of voters’ choice of candidate, political party, and willingness to participate in the electoral process will be considered. This is taking into cognisance, that voter education is a prerequisite for sustaining democracy. Sewant (2000) corroborates this when he notes that “the requisites of democracy include; a well-informed citizenry.....

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