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Keywords:ANALYSIS OF AUDIENCE PERCEPTION OF MEDIA COVERAGE OF APRIL 2011 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
The study focuses on the analysis of audience perception of media coverage of April 2011 Presidential election using South-East geo-political zone as a case study. However, the research study was restricted to five South-East states of Abia, Imo, Enugu, Anambra, and Ebonyi to collect different perception from the audience about the conduct of April 2011 presidential election. Major findings of this research study reveals that parties and officials were offering bribe to voters to allow them vote for their preferred candidates. More so, many political parties were in the habit of threatening voters to allow them vote during the election. Questionnaires were administered to the relevant population samples. Audience were interviewed and data were collected, analysed and interpreted. The analysis used was based on percentage. Data collected were tabulated. Conclusion and recommendation were based on the data collected. Finally, it was inferred from the analysis that electoral commission should embark on more voters education and to enlighten the populace about the punishment that await election offenders. Again, election officials should encourage its officials to remain incorruptible, dutiful and desist from accepting bribe.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
1.3 OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTION
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS
1.6 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
1.7 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
2.0 LITERATURE REVIEW
2.1 THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
2.10 AGENDA –SETTING BY THE MEDIA FOR CREDIBLE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
2.2 THE ROLE OF MEDIA IN THE 2011 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
2.3 CANDIDATES FOR APRIL 2011 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
2.4 MEDIA COVERAGE GUIDELINES OF APRIL 2011 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION.
2.5 SUMMARY OF THE RELATED REVIEWED LITERATURE
3.0 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
3.1 RESEARCH DESIGN
3.2 AREA FOR THE STUDY
3.3 POPULATION FOR THE STUDY
3.4 SAMPLE AND SAMPLING TECHNIQUE
3.5 INSTRUMENT FOR DATA COLLECTION
3.6 VALIDATION OF THE INSTRUMENT
3.7 RELIABILITY OF THE RESEARCH INSTRUMENT
3.9 METHOD OF DATA ANALYSIS
4.0 DATA PRESENTATION AND ANALYSIS
4.0 DATA PRESENTATION
4.1 TEST OF HYPOTHESIS
5.0 DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION OF RESULTS
5.1 DISCUSSION OF FINDINGS
5.2 CONCLUSION OF THE STUDY
5.4 IMPLICATION OF THE FINDINGS
5.5 SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER RESEARCH
5.6 LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Presidential elections are about choices and for these choices to reflect the wishes and aspirations of the people for improved standard of living, they must be based on accurate and reliable information about the three key elements in the electoral process: the presidential candidate, the issues and the political parties. The media provides the basic information required to make the right choices during an election. The media also provides the framework for communication between the presidential candidates who seek the votes and the electorates.
In addition, however, the media facilitates the electoral process through diminutions of constant information on the voting arrangements and procedures, mobilization of the electorate and serve as watchdogs of the electoral system.
The chance to decide who will govern the country at these level serves as an opportunity for the public to make choices about the policies, programs, and future directions of government action. At the same time, elections promote accountability.
In Nigeria, presidential elections take place every four years. The responsibility for organising presidential elections rests largely on INEC. This commission establish and staff polling units and verify the eligibility of individuals who come to vote ion presidential election. Political party leaders select presidential candidates for office in a general election.
In presidential elections, voters select the party’s presidential candidates for office. The primary is followed by the general presidential election, which normally is the decisive electoral contest. However, run-off presidential election between the candidates receiving the largest number of primary votes may proceed the general presidential election.
For the April 2011 presidential election, variety of stakeholders including political parties, youth, women, media, persons with disabilities and civil society groups has focused on enhancing the conduct of free, fair and credible electoral process. The last presidential elections was overshadowed by the massive post-election violence that erupted in Northern parts of the country by individuals ostensibly rejecting the loss by the main presidential challenger, General Muhammadu Buhari, a former head of state. The violence has resulted in at least 200 deaths, thousands gruesomely injured and the displacement of more than 40,000 people across six states. This development is worrisome since it shows that a significant section of Nigerian voters had lost faith in the capacity of the country to organize free and fair presidential elections despite the attempts of the Independent National Electoral Commission to organize credible polls, including pushing the presidential election forward by a week to solve the intractable logistic and technical problems.
It is well settled that presidential elections in Nigeria have always been a source of concern in the country taking into account the do or die attitude of certain politicians who are most often than not bent on undermining the low governing elections into order to have an advantage over their opponents.
As a country where free and fair elections at all levels since independence in 1960 is rare, and where at least three generations of politicians have risen to power without fear of the ballot box due to electoral manipulations, Nigeria is ripe for genuine political reforms. In a country where no senior political figure has ever been tried for inciting political violence despite thousands of lives lost in the past, the possibility of future violence is not only real but can become more deadly and widespread.
Incumbent President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan should use the ugly events of recent days to launch genuine, comprehensive political reforms in Nigeria.
As a country ruled by military governments for more than half of its 50 years as a nation, political reforms need to be embedded in the fabric and tapestry of Nigeria body politics.
In conclusion, however, it is clear that the presidential election held on 16th April 2011 was a flop and the floundering and messing up of the election was one of the immediate causes of the crisis which greeted the declaration of result of the presidential election by INEC.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE RESEARCH PROBLEM
There has been concerted effort by the INEC to conduct free, fair and credible presidential election to enhance the credibility of the electoral process in Nigeria. For instance, INEC and the mass media jointly organized seminars and public awareness to educate the electorates on the need to shun electoral violence and rigging. Nigerias April 2011 presidential election was historic and shows a significant improvement over the countrys flaw presidential contest in previous elections. Audience often complain that the media coverage of April 2011 presidential election has not been satisfactory. It shows that a significant section of Nigerian voters lost faith in the capacity of the country to organize free and fair presidential election. All these problems if not checked will be detrimental to the countrys political process.
However, there was general laxity amongst the electorates that presidential election was overshadowed by massive violation of electoral laws and manipulation of ethnic sentiments for cheap political gains, therefore, there is a need to launch a genuine and comprehensive political reforms in Nigeria.
The researcher therefore, wants to know whether presidential candidates representing minorities regions and different political opinions are allowed to seek election or does the media provide reliable coverage of all presidential candidates and parties? An investigation into this question is the main basis for this research work.
1.2 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
Based on the problem we have already defined, the following research objectives were highlighted:
1. To find out audience perception of media coverage of April Presidential election.
2. To identify and evaluate weakness in April Presidential election.
3. To find out why the voters engage in election violence.
4. To find out why parties or officials threaten voters on whom to vote for.
5. To recommend what can be done to enhance the credibility of future Presidential elections in Nigeria.
1.3 RESEARCH QUESTIONS OF THE STUDY
Whiting the context of my research project, the following research questions were formulated to guide my enquiry into audience perception of media coverage of April 2011 Presidential election;
1. What are the audience perception of media coverage of April 2011 presidential election?
2. Are all eligible citizens on the voters list or registered to vote?
3. Do parties or officials try to bribe voters with money, large gifts or promises of jobs?
4. Are Presidential candidates representing minorities, regions and different political opinions all allowed to seek election?
5. Are the media, non-governmental organizations and international observers able to monitor and report to the public about the electoral process without fear or inference?
6. Does the electoral commission respond quickly to complaints from the media, the voters and political parties about all alleged violations of electoral laws?
7. Does party threaten voters or electoral officials or tell voters whom to vote for?
8. Are there security arrangements to protect the ballot boxes so that nobody can stuff them with false ballots?
1.4 RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS
The hypothesis that will be tested in the course of this research work are mainly derived from the research questions asked above and they are:
1. Audience do not show good perception about media coverage of April 2011 Presidential election.
2. Many eligible citizen’s on the voters list were not voted during presidential election.
3. Most parties and officials were offered money and large gifts to vote as bribe.
4. Not all the Presidential candidates from various minorities and regions were allowed to seek election.
5. The effort by the media and international observers to monitor and report to the public about the election process were accorded some praises.
6. Election commission do not respond quickly to complaints from the media, voters and political parties about alleged violations of electoral laws.
7. Many parties threaten voters and election officials on whom to vote for.
8. There were inadequate security arrangements to protect the ballot boxes so that nobody can stuff them with false ballots.
1.5 THE SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This research study is to analyse audience perception of media coverage of April 2011 Presidential election. No research carried out in any field of human endeavour could be said to be perfect nor without limitation.
Therefore, the researcher cannot delude herself that the study will take into account all that is required in the field of research. The fact that the researcher ventured into this research field for the first time is a limitation, no matter the uniqueness taken in conducting such a research, ther must be some act of omission or commission.
Secondly, the research study was restricted only to South-East states and so it will be improper to generalize the results obtained since presidential elections were conducted in all the states of the federation.
Again, finance and time were also my major constraints, otherwise this research would have been extended to other Geo-political zones of the country.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This research study is very timely, especially that all hands must be on deck to conduct free, fair and credible elections in Nigeria.
However, it is expected that the findings will help to bridge the gap that may exist and to encourage efficient and more reliable media coverage during election.
The research study will be of immense benefit to the media to appreciate areas where improvements need to be accorded priority.
Above all, the research study will address issues such as right and responsibilities of the voters, the candidates involved and what they stand for in election.
Finally, this research study will also be useful to the electoral commission to look into ways and address alleged violations of election laws and impose stiff penalties where appropriate to punish electoral offenders.
Keywords: ANALYSIS OF AUDIENCE PERCEPTION OF MEDIA COVERAGE OF APRIL 2011 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
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