ABSTRACT: The paper examines broadcast media and crisis management in elections. The paper was anchored on Agenda Setting Theory and Social Responsibility Theory. The survey research method was adopted while 40 copies of the questionnaire were administered to respondents within NUJ, Osogbo, and Ilorin while 32 copies were returned and analyzed using the frequency and percentage method. Findings show that the level of violence in the 2019 general election is moderate in so many states in Nigeria. Also, inadequate security (40.6%) and greedy/godfatherism (28%) have been attributed to be the major factors that accounted for violence in the General Election while 46.8% of the respondents agreed that insecurity is the most challenge facing broadcasters in their efforts to promote violence-free election while 25% said it is a hostile environment, apart from 18.7% that talked about kidnapping and threatening the press. It is recommended that the media managers should train and retrain their staff on the best practices during the election and give them proper means of identification and other logistic supports while broadcast media are expected to be ethical in gathering, processing, and disseminating political information, especially the kind of violent scenes and the image they portray while they should also present themselves as a credible platform.
Keywords: CRISIS MANAGEMENT
INTRODUCTION: The political culture and structure of Nigeria elections have been embedded with violence. The mass media particularly radio and television over the years have embarked on various campaigns and programmes in educating, informing, and enlightening both the electorates and political parties concerning the necessity of curbing any act of violence, before, during and after elections.
According to the report by the Human Rights Watch (April-May 2007-2011) virtually all elections held in the past since independence till 2011 general election was characterized by violence. The 2019 General Election was approached by politicians and political parties with violence, fraud, assassination, ballot stuffing, ballot snatching and kidnapping by political thugs.
Onwudiwe and Berwind-Dart (2010) identify that violence is one of the challenges facing Nigerians and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) concerning the conduct of a free and fair election. In the political culture of the country, it should be recalled that 2015 general elections was shifted from February to March 2015 due to the reports by the National Security Council that political violence may occur.
As a result of the lapses here and there, both the media and other interested bodies have embarked on national campaigns to sensitize, educate, and mobilize the electorates to abstain from violence before, during and after elections period with slogans “vote, not fight”, say no to violence, “one man, one vote” and so on.
From Professor Maurice Iwu, to Professor Attairu Jega and Professor Mamudu Yakub, Nigeria political environment comes with its violence characteristics. However, one of the efforts to curb or reduce crisis and other insecurity in the country is through the media. Media, indeed, remained resolute and continued to advocate for peaceful co-existence among the politicians and electorates who have turned apart as a result of political ideology differences. This study, among other things, will vividly look at the role of broadcast media in crisis management in the 2019 general election including campaigns against ballot box snatching, voting buying and vote, not fight campaign.
The important role media plays in fostering an environment of good governance and coverage of government activities needs hardly be emphasized. As the watchdog and interpreter of public issues and events, the media has a special role in every society. In our information-based society the media has a disproportionately visible and influential role (Tapanath, 2018). Democracy and good governance cannot exist in the absence of a inadequate coverage by 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.
Tapanath (2018) posits that 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.
2019 General Election like every previous poll in Nigeria did not go without some record of violence. In fact, there is no a single state including the FCT that a life was not lost, that people were not injured. There were high level of violence in the common political flash points in Nigeria particularly in Rivers State, Akwa Ibom, Imo State, Lagos State, Oyo State and Plateau state. Some violence cases reported by the Nigerian Tribune Newspaper are highlighted under the review of literature.
The 2019 General Elections was the 6th elections since Nigeria Return to democracy in 1999. The election was initially slated of 16th February and March 2nd 2019 and later postponed to February 23rd 2019 and March 9 2019 when it was less than 6 hours to the poll due to what INEC called logistic reasons. The election was contested by over 80 political parties. The general election held on 23 February 2019 to elect the President, Vice President, House of Representatives and Senate while that of the Governorship and House of Assembly election was held on March 9th 2019. Although, election was declared inconclusive in some states (Kano, Benue, Plateau) while the governorship election was canceled in Rivers State and was later held on 23rd March 2019.
The total number of the registered voters were 84,004,084 while the turnout for the election was 35.6% of the registered voters. It should be noted that the incumbent president Muhammadu Buhari won his re-election bid, to defeat his main challenger Atiku Abubakar by over 3 million votes while certificate of return has been issued and shall be swear in on 12 June 2019, although, Alhaji Atiku and his party are currently seeking court redress. It is against this background that the study examines broadcast media and crisis management in the 2019 general elections.
There is no doubt that lots of studies have been conducted on the role of mass media in prevent crisis, election rigging and other insecurity in Nigeria, but little or no empirical study has specifically explored broadcasting media in crisis management in the 2019 election. This paper is thus interested in the role played by the broadcast media in crisis management in the 2019 General election particularly in Osun and Kwara state as little crisis was experienced in the most political flash points in the state.
Objectives of the Study
Although, the primary objective of this paper is to examine role of broadcast media in crisis management in the 2019 General Election. The other objectives are:
- To determine the contributions of broadcast media in reducing /preventing violence during the run for 2019 election.
- To identify from the perspective of the broadcasters, factors that account for violence in election circles.
- To what extent did broadcast media contribute to the reduction/prevention of violence during the run for 2019 election?
- What factors account for violence in the 2019 General Election?
Scope of the Study
The study has been narrowed in scope to the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) Press Centre, in Osogbo and Ilorin. The rationale for selecting journalists in Osun and Kwara was to have southern opinion and Northern side of the opinion, as journalists in Osun state represented the Southern States while Kwara Journalists equally represented the Northern states. Another reason for the selection was the fact that there were some forms of political crises in those two state before and during the election. Also, proximity of the two states to the researchers is another factor that were considered as there was no adequate fund, time and other logistics to travel to several state in the federation.
Significance of the Study
As an academic work which intends to pass through scientific scrutiny in terms of empirical analysis, aims to be of help in so many ways:
It will add to the academic knowledge for the benefit of researchers who might want to engage in the same topic or something similar in the future especially on the role of mass media in crisis management in the 2019 general election while it serves as reference point for students.
It will also set a focus for the media practitioners to understand their weak areas at the same time improve on salient parts for a socially responsible media coverage and reportage that will help reduce and improve our democracy. It will also benefit government and other stakeholders on how to empower and use mass media especially broadcast media in crisis management.