The aim of this project was to establish the role of traditional media in the electioneering campaign of the general elections in Akwa Ibom State.
The study established a relationship between the modern media Mass Communication, the local or traditional media, and the electioneering campaign patterns. The study was also aimed at appraising the effects of the authorities in romancing the local media as a key information in politics. The survey method was adopted, and the populations of the study were women, youth, leaders, political stewards as well as young boys and girls of voting age. The major findings shows that that the local media played a distinctive role of mobilization and it has been recommend that political campaigns should not be left in the hands of the mass media alone, that the local or traditional media are very effective tool in the dissemination of information.
BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Prior to the general elections in 2007, Chief (Dr.) Godswill Obot Akpabio, the current governor of Akwa Ibom State, with many titles accorded him with the most outstanding being Onomkpo-Imam Akwa Ibom State. During this electioneering campaign, employed and spoke the typical dialect during his campaign in the rural areas of the state. Why? One may ask. Because in his wisdom, “if you go to Rome, you must behave like a Romans”.
He thus related and conversed freely with each group of people. Hence, this was therefore a local source of media used in political campaign is called “Local inter-personal communication”. Hence, there as never a dull moment with the grass rooters, when politicians come down to their level and related locally. It is therefore on this note that an expose on the role the local media play in political campaign is appraised.
Not only that, devoid of typical rural entities which apply traditional means of communication, constitutes and can account for about 80% if not 90% of grass rooters, needed to participate in voting and in electioneering process to deliver the government of the day without malpractices.
This is because the rural populace speak in one voice and are ways on their heels to vote according to their conscience while the reverse is always the case in the urban, with election malpractice, violence, kidnapping and other unhealthy motives all in the bid to ascend wrong leaders into office.
Therefore, the local media, has and will continue to play a vital role in instructing, educating and informing the rural dwellers on how to vote, where to vote, the basic for voting, thereby setting appropriate agenda for the people of the rural populace to make choices based on conscience.
Apart from this, in previous elections that has brought in many governors, president, house of assembly members and the likes, the traditional media has played tremendous roles in mobilizing, creating awareness and above all facilitating participatory democracy at all levels. This is only the traditional media which is still a very strong force to reckon with.
Apart from this, the traditional media has not only played active in political campaigns alone. It has been tasted and proven that the local media has recorded satisfactory results in Agricultural campaign, educational campaign, health campaign as it involves mother and children and lots more to mention but a few.
Hence, the local or rural dwellers needs voices they need encouragement, they need to participate and following; and thus, be partners in progress in the realization of national developmental goals, most especially as in this case which is on electioneering campaign.
Hence, if all these is to be put in place, then the campaign processes must be brought down to the level of the people, it must be their media, their pride, it must be their lifestyle and above all, these processes must be within and inherent in them.
The rural or traditional media is alive and firmly place in the consciousness of the rural dwellers. It is force to reckon with in the information dissemination process and should not in any way be regarded as inferior, outdated, and incompetent, to assemble the rural populace in a clarion call to political participation.
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
According to Udoakah Nkereuwem (1998) “Development Communication”, one the word “Rural” is mentioned in most societies, certain images are conjured in peoples mind. These images centres around acute under development and poverty are the manifest themselves in the form of bad roads, lack of water supply, power, housing, poor satisfaction, lack of electricity, malnutrition and above all literacy.
This chain has constantly and consistency been a course of concern, that the local media cannot be used in sending signals within a given society on issues, let alone political campaigns, hence, where the problem lies is that:
1. The traditional media communication are not important and not regarded as important to thrive in new communication age, and can in no way impact positively into consciousness of the people, let alone being an instrument for agenda setting.
2. The Eurocentric chains that the local media values and lifestyle are wrong and out model values. And the neglect of the rural entity, to mention but few. Therefore, this study will address issues as it pertains to both system and its attendant structures, as well as it’s effectiveness. Also this study will provide an insight to the travails of the dwellers, the traditional media and its significance in information dissemination.