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

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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

1.1 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. 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:
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 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;
(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 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 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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