ABSTRACT: The research was set out to examine the impact of radio on the voting behaviour of the electorates in the 2018 Ekiti governorship election. The study was anchored on Democratic Participant Method Theory and Agenda Setting Theory. Survey research method was adopted and 100 copies of the questionnaire were printed and administered to the respondents within Ikole-Ekiti using accidental sampling technique and out of 100 copies that were administered 90 copies were returned. Therefore, the data collected were analyzed using frequency and percentage method. Findings showed that mass media especially radio plays a significant role in educating, enlightening, sensitizing and general mobilization of the electorates for political development. Radio is the most effective channels of political education because it offers signal in every nooks and cranny of society and it is very rich in educating, enlightening, mobilizing the electorates for political participation. It is recommended that journalists should see their role in the community, especially during election as vital which they must not toy with while government should provide more freedom and security for the press to act without fair or favour.
Keywords: Voting Behaviour
1.1 Background to the Study
Political participation is a process through which individuals or groups of citizens get involved in designing representative decision- makers to enhance an effective governance and societal welfare. The participation can come in form of voting, rally, contesting, partnership, among others. To embark on this task of electing leaders, people must be mobilized in order to get enlightened via enlightenment campaigns, sensitization, information dissemination and advocacy programmes directed at Community Leaders, Age Grades, Development Associations, Opinion Leaders, Artisan Guides and other grassroots movements in order to increase their awareness and foster attitudinal change towards active involvement and participation in politics. (Ikelegbe, 2005).
According to one of the political activists, Anthony Gramsci (2010), “the ruling class or party through agent of socialization ( eg radio) indoctrinated others, their beliefs systems and values towards politics”. This emphasize more on the need and advantages of radio in helping to educate people (rural people) on the aim of embarking on politics and the gain achieved from such in a persuasive and convincing mood to lure them into participation for such as it helps to build an organised and healthy and peaceful community, state, country and the world at large. It is also known that the impact of radio manifests in emergence of political movements by instant group with aim to achieve objectives.
This implies that radio aim at reaching the diversified and heterogeneous people (rural dwellers) in their various destinations simultaneously and also in their different language for both old and young to partake. This is because in most rural areas, old and young women are in a greater number (non-educated ones) and with their votes, one wins any election. There are various ways one can participate in politics. These ways could be through political rally, partnership, contesting, criticism, voting and so on. The above participation means are very crucial in our rural areas, especially where we have a large country. e.g (Nigeria).
From the above statement, Democracy stands as the most widely embraced system in politics and governance as means “Rule by the people,” which implies direct participation and representative terms of rule by the people. But, in most community many people are still showing apathy, alienated, indifference to political participation especially cities populated by businessmen. The more information and education even enlightenment on the importance of political participation are made known to the people, the more interest, sympathy and joy they derive from participating in it by the greater extent of the knowledge they acquire about it.
Therefore, mass media particularly radio play a crucial role in fostering an environment of good governance and political awareness in society. As the watchdog and interpreter of public issues and events, the media has a special role in every society. In information-based society; the media have a disproportionately visible and influential role says (International Foundation for Election Systems, 2011).
IFES (2011) added that democracy cannot exist in the absence of the press. This is because democracy is based on popular will and popular opinion depends on the public’s awareness and knowledge. It is the mass media that brings up, promotes and propagates public awareness. Fischer (2002) says the main responsibility of the press is to provide comprehensive, analytical and factual news and opinion to the people on everyday issues and events of popular concern. To fulfill its duty and responsibility, the press must work according to the fundamental principles of professional ethics, as well as norms and values of journalism.
Goodman (2010) opines that democracy can neither be sustainable nor strong without a free press. On the other hand, press freedom will not be possible without democracy. Therefore, the mass media and journalists must be committed to democracy. For this, the press must be perpetually involved in the establishment and promotion of a democratic culture. The press must remain ever vigilant to protect and enforce people’s freedom of thought and expression and citizens’ right to all information relating to the various aspects of their life and future.
Held (2006) also observes the fact that access to information is a citizen’s right and must be taken to heart, and information must be presented in a simple and palatable manner. Right to information is inherent in democratic functioning and a pre-condition for good governance and the realization of all other human rights, including education and health care. The main objectives should be the promotion of transparency and accountability in governance so as to minimize corruption and inefficiency in public office and to ensure the public’s participation in governance and decision making.
Media must be credible and trustworthy. Trust is the most valuable asset for any media. Once lost, it cannot be earned back. It is for this reason that all media must uphold their principles to provide accurate and factual news and other programmes. Jones (2001). Press must understand the difference between politics in general and party politics. Media should not be a vehicle, or used as an advocate for any political party or ideology. Public and political issues should be clearly understood, analyzed and presented in an impartial manner.
During elections/political campaigns, equal time slots or opportunity must be allocated to each of the legitimate political parties and candidates. In the course of elections, messages that encourage goodwill and harmony among all the ethnic groups, religions, genders, cultures, languages, regions and communities should be broadcast. Media plays the role of watch-dog in reporting corruption, complacency and negligence.
In a changing, competitive landscape, compliance to good governance has never been taken so seriously, as people demand more transparency from both the government and private sectors. Responsible practices from government, universal principles on human rights and the fight against corruption have assumed great importance. To this end, the research looks into the impact of the radio on voting behaviour of electorate in the 2014 Ekiti Governorship election in Ikole Ekiti local government.
1.2 Statement of Problem
This study aiming at study the impact of radio or contributions of radio on voting behaviour of electorate in the 2014 Ekiti Governorship election in Ikole Ekiti local government. But, there are some problems caused by communication and other social problems.
There are problems of apathy, indifference or alienated on the people towards political activities and programmes. Most citizens show no interest and do not contribute their opinions or information about political issues in general. Majority of the people show no interest, but few minority give attention to political issues that even concern them. To solve the problem stated above, we need information campaign, which helps to breakdown any barrier to politics and as well win the acceptance and support of people.
There is lack of this information campaign by the media operators. This information campaign involves educating, mobilizing and sensitizing the host community to fully participate in politics. One of the problems was pre-project research. Pre-project research entails going down to the people, mixing with them and finding out their different characters, styles and the priority of their participatory need ( Des Wilson, 2003).
1.3 Objectives of the Study
Below are some of the objectives of this research:
- To examine the roles of radio in mobilizing electorate towards participating in the last governorship election in Ekiti state
- To study some of the problems facing radio stations in mobilizing people towards participation in election.
1.4 Research Questions
In this study, an attempt was sufficiently made to answer the following questions.
- What are the roles of radio in mobilizing electorate towards participating in governorship election in Ekiti State
- What are the problems facing radio stations in mobilizing people towards participation in election?
1.5 Significance of the Study
It is expected that, at the end of this study, it updated knowledge within the framework of the study. Particularly, it assists people on the usefulness of radio on voting behaviour of electorate and in mobilizing people towards political participation in the 2014 Ekiti Governorship election in Ikole-Ekiti.
This study will help to create awareness on the role mass media (radio) play during or before election to persuade and enlighten the city people in the political activities and participation, and bringing to limelight the responsibilities of radio as an aid to government and electoral commission in integrating urban and rural dwellers into political process.
This study will help to know how effective radio can be when used in implementing political oriented programmes and other programmes meant for people living in the city. The contestants and the electoral body will be opportune to see and be convinced of the relevance of correct choice and selection of communication channels involving in executing any political programme.
When this research study is readily made, it will serve as a point of reference or consultation for present and future study in terms of media strength and selection. Media practitioners will gain from the research findings as it will expose them to what responsibilities media are to play in society.
Finally, this study will ginger, encourage and motivate people of Ikole-Ekiti and Ekiti state in general to participate in politics and the media operators on how to channel their messages to reach their target audience in the cities and rural areas.
1.6 Scope of the Study
The study revolves on the impact of radio on the voting behaviour of electorate in the 2014 Ekiti Governorship election in Ikole-Ekiti. This cannot be effectively discussed without considering the demographic factor of residence in Ikole-Ekiti. The work has been narrowed in scope due of the time, geographical locations, fund and other logistics, the study is narrowed down to Ikole-Ekiti as a case study because of the aforementioned reasons.
1.7 Operational Definition of the Terms
There are some outstanding terms in this work with their appropriate definitions given.
MEDIA: They are means through which political programmes and issues are disseminated or received in Ikole-Ekiti (Urban)
MASS MEDIA: They are the agents of mass communication which help in reaching or disseminating information and influencing heterogeneous numbers of people in rural and urban areas eg. Ikole-Ekiti community
RADIO: The process of receiving and broadcasting messages through the air to listening audience in rural and urban communities using electromagnetic waves.
POLITICS: This is the activity involved in by the people living in the areas as a direct participation in running government affairs of taking part in the exercise that will influence or affect the nation, state and community.
MOBILIZATION: This is an act of organizing a group of people to participate in political exercise in order to achieve needed development in the community and to change their wrong motives about politics.
PARTICIPATION: This is the act of taking part or being involved in political activities or events by the people of Ikole-Ekiti in order to get their decision makers or representatives and development in the communities.