THE INFLUENCE OF ‘NNỌKỌ UMUNWANYI’ PROGRAMME IN RAISING THE POLITICAL CONSCIOUSNESS OF RURAL WOMEN IN ENUGU STATE

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Price: 4000 Naira (BSC, MSC)

ABSTRACT

As part of human development initiative, the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN)
Enugu designed Nnoko Umunwanyi programme to educate rural women on their political and
other rights. Over twenty years after this Igbo programme was designed and broadcast to rural
women, how has it influenced their participation in politics? To investigate this, the opinion
of 400 rural women in six selected villages in three local government areas in Enugu State
were studied using explanatory mixed method design which accommodates survey and focus
group methods. The survey method was used to generate quantitative data through the
instrumentality of questionnaire, while focus group discussion was used to generate
qualitative data. The analysis of both quantitative and qualitative data generated revealed that
Nnoko Umunwanyi programme has to a moderate extent, increased the political knowledge of
rural women in Enugu State and as such increased their level of political participation. The
finding also showed Nnoko Umunwanyi programme has to a moderate extent, raised the
political interest of rural women in Enugu State. Based on these findings, it is recommended
that the programme should be made more attractive and proper step should be taken to
encourage the rural women to expose themselves to the programme in order to consistently
secure increased listenership.

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Background of the Study
The mass media are social drivers in all human society. They determine most times what
we do and how we do them. Unarguably, a lot of social changes occasioned by increase in
knowledge level have taken place in most parts of the world because of media influence.
Experts in the communication circle insist that the mass media are vehicles of social change
in the dynamics of human existence.
No doubt, the mass media have powers to change people’s attitude and persuade them to
take up a particular course of action. In most cases, the media persuade you to do only what
they want you to do (Okunna, 1999, p.210). The agenda setting function of the media explains
better how the media tell us what to think about.
In the area of politics, agenda setting function of the media demonstrates how the media
determine the topic for political debate and discussion in the society. Okunna (p.210) asserts
that the “ability of the media to mould public opinion by defining the boundaries within
which people think about and discuss political issues, has been widely noted”. In line with
this, the media might not succeed to tell the electorates what to think, but they inevitably tell
them what and what to think about. This has been the power of the media over the years.
Many studies support the fact that people gain knowledge about public events, politics and
social trends from the media. However, experts wonder why women’s participation in
politics is still low despite all that the media are doing. Why some said that women are
marginalized by men, some argued that men have more access to the media than the women.
Whether this is true or not is another matter altogether; the fact remains that women
participation in the politics of the third world is abysmally low.
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According to Ogbiti and Onosu (2012, p.139), many third world “countries lag behind other
world regions in ensuring gender equality in educational attainment, politics and control over
economic resources”. Ogbiti and Onosu (2012, p.139) explain further that:
The 2008/2009 global Gender Gap Reports (GG GR) (2009) by the
World Economic Forum shows Africa fared poorly among the 130
countries featured. Mozambique ranked (18), South Africa (22),
Namibia (30), Tanzania (38), Uganda (43), Botswana (63),
Madagascar (74)… Mali (109), Mauritania (110), Algeria (111),
Angola (114), Bukina Faso (115) and Chad (129). On the global ladder
of GGGRS, Norway came first while among the top 10 are Finland,
Sweden, New Zealand, Philippines, Denmark, Iceland, Netherlands,
and Lativia.
Ogbiti and Onosu (p.139) also observed that of all the countries in Africa, only President
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia is the only female president. The case is even worst in
Nigeria as all the elections held have not produced significant number of women in elective
positions. Okonkwor and Nwammuo (2012, p.9) write that:
There is no surprise about the results of 2011 elections that still
portrayed male domination in Nigerian politics. Although this is an
improvement from what it used to be in Nigerian politics. A lot still
needs to be done.
After the 1999 general elections, only 14 women made it as cabinet members of the
President. Odii (2011) cited in Okonkwo and Nwammuo (2012, p.9) observed that, as always,
men occupied all sensitive positions. According to them “there has never been an elected
female president, vice president, Senate president, etc”. This ugly development is in spite of
the noise of 35 percent Affirmative Action for women representation in Nigeria politics
during the run up to the 2011 elections. In fact, observers claimed that the so called ‘Women
for Change Initiative of First Lady Patience Jonathan, did not yield much result.
Ogbiti and Onosu (2012, p.14) noted that the 2011 general elections, like other election, did
not show that any serious effort was put in place to encourage women to participate actively.
At present women constitute:
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A paltry nine (9) percent of the number of persons in the Senate,
7.29 percent of the membership of House of Representative, 16.6
percent of the deputy governorship positions, 5.45 percent of the
state house of assembly and zero percent at the presidential
election office (Ogbiti and Onosy, p.140)
Worst still, 98.1 percent of all the women that got elective positions came from the urban
areas leaving less than 2 per cent for rural women (Madu, 2012, p.124). This has made the
need to encourage a genuine and effective participation of Nigerian women in politics is not
only imperative but a must do.
To be able to meet Goal 3 of the Millennium Development Goal (MDGs) which has to do
with gender equality and women empowerment, a serious communication effort must be put
up by all to encourage and mobilize women, especially those in the rural areas to participate
since over 80 percent of Nigerian women live in the rural areas. Moemeka (2012, p.139)
writes that about “80% of the people (Nigerians) are very poor and live in rural environment”.
Since the mass media occupy a privileged position and also have as their social
responsibility the duty to inform and encourage women to participate actively in politics, one
expects them to perform these roles effectively (Obot, 2012, p.489). Anything short of this
will see everyone offloading all the blames on the media.
In line with the quest to develop an effective communication strategy, the Federal Radio
Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) Enugu zonal station came up with a gender empowerment
programme, Nnko Umunwanyi. The programme designed for rural women in Enugu State to
enlighten them on certain issues such as women development in terms of politics, health,
culture and other matters concerning them. The programme is an aged long programme
produced by Ngozi Obi and was first broadcast over 20 years ago. It is a magazine
programme that accommodates two or three persons in a panel. The programme was formally
aired on Wednesday by 9.30 am but later changed to Friday by 8.30pm due to demand of the
audience. It is aired on 828KHZ 362 Meters MW Band or AM Band. The time belt for the
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programme is 30 minutes and it is run in Igbo language. The English version of the
programme is called Women’s World and it comes up every Wednesday by 6:30pm. For over
twenty years that this programme has been running, one is quick to ask: what effort has it
made in empowering rural women in Enugu State whom the station claims are active
participants?
1.2 Statement of the Research Problem
For over twenty years that Nnko Umunwanyi programme was developed and
broadcast by the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) Enugu, observers have been
watching with keen interest the role the programme has played so far in educating and raising
the political consciousness of Enugu State women who are audience of the programme. Why
some argue that the programme has done so much in educating women and mobilizing them
to participate actively in politics, some have however argued that the programme has not done
much in rural women’s political life (Ugwu 2009 and Okeke 2010).
However, a close look at these observations revealed that they were mere
observations which are outcome of perceived happenings in the programme. No thorough
study has been done on the influence of the programme in raising the political consciousness
of rural women in Enugu State.
Hence, this study evaluates the influence of the programme in raising the political
consciousness of rural women in Enugu State. This helped to reveal whether the programme
is achieving it set goals or not.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
In order to evaluate the influence of FRCN’s Nnko Umunwanyi programme in raising the
political consciousness of rural women in Enugu State, the researcher set the following
objective:
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(1) To find out whether rural women in Enugu State are exposed to Nnko Umunwanyi
programme of FRCN Enugu national station.
(2) To ascertain the extent to which rural women in the State are exposed to the programme
(3) To examine whether their political knowledge has increased as a result of their exposure
to the FRCN’s Nnko Umunwanyi programme.
(4) To also find out the extent to which the programme has raised the political interest of
rural women in Enugu State.
(5) To determine the extent to which rural women’s participation in political activities has
increased as a result of their exposure to the programme.
1.4 Research Questions
From the objectives above, the researcher asked the following research questions:
1) Are rural women in Enugu State exposed to Nnko Umunwanyi programme of FRCN
Enugu national station?
2) What is the extent of rural women’s exposure to Nnko Umunwanyi programme?
3) How has the political knowledge of rural women in Enugu State increased as a result of
their exposure to the FRCN’s Nnko Umunwanyi programme?
4) To what extent has the programme raised the political interest of rural women in Enugu
State?
5) To what extent has rural women participation in political activities increased as a result of
their exposure to the programme?
1.5 Significance of the Study
From the literature available to the researcher, it is very obvious that there is dearth of
studies on the progress made so far in the Nnko Umunwanyi programme of FRCN Enugu
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Station even though the programme has been running for over twenty years now. Since
studies are limited in this area, this will contribute to the available literature and reveal
whether the programme has contributed in anyway in raising the political consciousness of
rural women in Enugu State.
The findings of this study equally reveals to the producers and sponsors of the Nnko
Umunwanyi programme whether the programme is meeting its set goals. This will help them
to re-strategize.
Again, communication scholars who are interested in gender communication can use this
study as a reference. This is because, the study reveals in part the influence of the media in
mobilizing women in politics.
1.6 Scope and Limitations of the Study
This study covers the influence FRCN’s Nnko Umunwanyi programme in raising the
political consciousness of rural women in Enugu State. This means that rural women in the
three senatorial zones in the state formed the population of this study. However, this study
like many others has some limitations. First, the researcher could not study the entire 17 local
government areas that make up Enugu state because of its vast nature. This, no doubt, forced
the researcher to use sample areas which effectively made it difficult for the result obtained to
be generalized on the entire State without caution.
Another problem the researcher envisaged is the negative attitude of rural people
towards research. Most of them were not willing to give out needed information for fear of it
being used against them.
1.7 Definition of Terms
For the purpose of clarity, some key variables were defined operationally.
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Influence: This means the power of FRCN’s programme, Nnko Umunwanyi to sway
rural women in Enugu State to participate actively in politics.
Nnko Umunwanyi: This is a programme developed by FRCN Enugu over 20 years ago,
which the rural women of Enugu state are exposed to which is meant to educate them on
certain issues.
Raising: This means stepping up rural women political consciousness through FRCN
Nnko Umunwanyi programme.
Political Consciousness: This has to do with the awareness about political happening
with possible participation.
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References
Ezeocha, J. C., and Mojaye, E. M. (2011). Mass media influence on discrimination and
violence against women in Delta State, Nigeria. In Journal of Communication and Media
Research.3 (1) pp.75-92
Moemeka, A.A. (2012). Development and mass communication: Effective use of mass
media in rural (or inner-city) development. In A.A. Moemeka’s Development
communication in action: Building understanding and creating participation. Abraka:
Journal of communication and media research.
Obot, C. (2012). The mass media in decommodification of women and children. In
M.Mboho and H. Batta’s The companion to communication and development issues.
Uyo: BSM Resources Limited.
Ogbiti, C., and Onosu, J.E. (2012). The mass media and the promotion of gender equality
in African politics. In journal of media and Aesthetics. Pp.138-157
Okonkwor, C., and Nwammuo, A.N. (2002). Political empowerment of women: The
effective communication strategy. ANSU Journal of Arts and Social Science. 1(1) p. 9-
20.
Okunna, C.S. (1999). Introduction to mass communication Enugu: New Generation book

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