A PUBLIC PERCEPTION OF TELEVISION PROGRAMS ON NATIONAL SECURITY, A CASE STUDY OF “YOU AND THE POLICE” ON NTA ABUJA”
1.1 Background of the study
National security borders on incidence that endangers human existence or welfare. Nigeria’s national security means the protection of the lives, rights, dignity and property of its citizens. It also means the protection of its resources, cultural integrity, territory, sovereignty and lawful institutions of the country. The aim of national security is to secure the just and equitable living conditions for all the citizens of the country. But the leadership of the country has failed in this respect. Security includes the means at the disposal of the government for protecting the state and its citizens from external aggression and internal insurrection. The state exists for the interest of defense, public safety, public morality etc. The freedom of expression and the press is an aspect of national security and it is necessary for a true democracy (Soola, 2012).
One malaise that has continued to ravage many nations all over the world is crisis. As a result of crisis, properties worth billions are destroyed, economies of nations are crippled and ultimately, so many of lives are terminated. The outbreak of crisis heralds fear and devastation amongst the inhabitants of a given location. It impedes on growth and facilitates underdevelopment. Several countries of the world have had and are still having various dosage of one form of crisis or the other. The Liberian war, Somalian crisis, Rwanda’s genocide, Sierra Leonean war, Libyan crisis, Bahrain unrest, clampdown on Yemen, and the Syrian conflict are stark reminders of the crisis-prone global world we have found ourselves. The outcomes of these conflicts have been very devastating in such individual environments (Okoro and Chukwuma, 2012, p.1).
Amongst the crisis infested nations all over the world is Nigeria. Soola, (2012, p.1) assert that;
Nigeria’s socio-political and economic landscape has been blighted by the endemic twin evil of crime and violence of major, tragic and alarming proportions. The widespread frustration and deep sense of insecurity to life and property, occasioned by this epidemic, has become a matter of grave concern to government, security agencies and the Nigerian citizenry at large (Nwosu, 2003). The situation has become most critical, consequent upon the apparent helplessness of the law-enforcement agencies to stem the tide of the epidemic.
One crisis currently feasting on peace and harmony in Nigeria is the Boko Haram onslaughts. The sect (which sees western education as sin) has continued to threaten the existence of Nigeria. After the arrest and subsequent murder of its former leader, late Ustaz Muhammed Yusuf, in 2009, by the Nigeria Police, the sect became very hostile which has led to the numerous loss of lives and the destruction of properties. The sect has fundamentally destroyed the economy of some states in Northern Nigeria particularly Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States. In this regard, the International Crisis Group, (2014, p.ii) asserts that;
A series of clashes between Boko Haram members and police escalated into an armed insurrection in 2009. Troops crushed the rebellion, killing hundreds of followers and destroying the group’s principal mosque. Yusuf was captured, handed over to the police and shortly thereafter extrajudicially executed. Boko Haram went underground and a year later launched attacks on police officers, police stations and military barracks, explicitly in revenge for the killings of Yusuf and his comrades. Its spokesman demanded prosecution of those responsible, release of their detained colleagues, restoration of the mosque and compensation for sect members killed by troops. Since 2010, the group’s campaign has grown, targeting not only security forces, government officials and politicians, but also Christians, critical Muslim clerics, traditional leaders, the UN presence, bars and schools. Lately it has evolved into pure terrorism, with targeting of students attending secular state schools, health workers involved in polio vaccination campaigns and villages supporting the government.
Boko Haram’s four-year-old insurgency has pitted neighbour against neighbour, cost more than 4,000 lives, displaced close to half a million, destroyed hundreds of schools and government buildings and devastated an already ravaged economy in the North East, one of Nigeria’s poorest regions. It overstretches federal security services, with no end in sight, spills over to other parts of the north and risks reaching Niger and Cameroon, weak countries poorly equipped to combat a radical Islamist armed group tapping into real governance, corruption, impunity and underdevelopment grievances shared by most people in the region. Boko Haram is both a serious challenge and manifestation of more profound threats to Nigeria’s security (International Crisis Group, 2014, p.i).
The Boko Haram sect has successfully carried out several attacks which have resulted in the demise of many lives, destruction of properties and the collapse of the economies of some states in the Northern region of the country. Some of the very deadly Boko Haram attacks are the August 26, 2011 bombing of the United Nation’s Building in Abuja which left lots of persons dead, with several others seriously wounded, the December 25, 2011 (Christmas day) bombing of St. Theresa’s Catholic Church, Madalla, in Suleja Local Government Area of Niger State which also left many people dead and several others injured, the February 8, 2012, suicide bombing at the army barracks in Kaduna, September 29, 2013 attack at the College of Agriculture in Gujba which left many male students dead and the May 20, 2014 Twin bomb explosions in Jos, Plateau State which amongst many others killed were some medical students of the University of Jos.
The mass media often play a key role in today’s conflict. Basically, their role can take two different and opposed forms. Either the media take an active part in the conflict and have responsibility for increased violence, or stay independent and out of the conflict, thereby contributing to the resolution of conflict and alleviation of violence. Which role the media takes in a given conflict, and in the phases before and after, depends on a complex set of factors, including the relationship the media have with actors in the conflict and the independence the media have with the power holders in society (International Media Support, 2006, p.4).
The mass media play huge roles in public perception, acceptance or rejection of criminal behaviour the world over. Hence the media could influence public acceptance of some ordinarily illegal steps taken by government in combating the activities of Boko Haram by the way they frame and present them. Similarly, the way the media frame and shape the Boko Haram insurrection in the people’s mind can shape and condition the way the public view and responds to the sect’s attacks. The mass media in Nigeria, despite coming under attacks by the Boko Haram sect can help immeasurably in building positive and courageous attitudes in the people in response to the sect’s threats. This can be done through the way the media frame their reports on Boko Haram attacks. In this respect, choices of words, pictures and the language of the reports become pivotal (Ekwueme and Obayi, 2012, p.5-6).
Furthermore, the mass media has that capability to create awareness and knowledge about issues of national interest. The traditional mass media usually consist of radio, television, newspaper and magazine while the news media involves the internet technologies. Contextually, these media have the responsibility to mobilize for national development. In other words, social mobilization for development largely depends on the media for success. Crusade for change and dissemination of useful information against corruption, bad governance and terrorism depend on the mass media. The freedom of expression and the press is crucial ingredient of democracy. The greatest challenge to the mass media in Nigeria today is how to make itself relevant to the Nigerian society particularly where democracy is on trial, and national institutions are taking shape. The press ought to tread wearily and exercise discretion if it is to preserve its freedom. In the light of this national culture, religion, security and tradition should be treated with utmost care more-so that Nigeria is a multi-ethnic state (Okoro and Chukwuma, 2012).
The role of media in every society is often to educate, inform and enlighten. The media comprises the means by which a society disseminates and receives information. One of the instruments of the media to the modern man is television. This is where the issue of security comes in. The media transmit messages about a particular society. No one else can play this role. The information is passed across a destination to achieve a goal, hence the need of this study to examine the views of the residents of Abuja on the manner the Nigerian television station (Nigerian Television Authority) have so far reported the national security issues.
The general objective of this study is to examine the public perception of television programs on national security, a case study of “you and the police” on NTA Abuja”
The specific objectives of this study are:
- To examine the extent to which Abuja residents are exposed to Nigerian Television Authority program of you and the police on the national security.
- To determine the Abuja residents’ perception of the nature of sources Nigerian Television Authority and Channels Television often feature in the coverage of the national security.
- To find out whether the Nigerian Television Authority often highlights peace initiatives in their coverage of the national security.
- To ascertain the views of the Abuja residents regarding the nature of reports Nigerian Television Authority often transmits on the national security.
- To determine the level of credibility Abuja residents attach to Nigerian Television Authority’s program on the national security.
- What is the extent to which Abuja residents are exposed to Nigerian Television Authority program of you and the police on the national security?
- What is the Abuja residents’ perception of the nature of sources Nigerian Television Authority and Channels Television often feature in the coverage of the national security?
- Does the Nigerian Television Authority often highlight peace initiatives in their coverage of the national security?
- What are the views of the Abuja residents regarding the nature of reports Nigerian Television Authority often transmits on the national security?
- What is the level of credibility Abuja residents attach to Nigerian Television Authority’s program on the national security?
The study shall serve as a valuable reference document for future researchers in this area of knowledge. The Nigerian Television Authority shall find the study helpful as it will enable them to know how Abuja residents perceive their programs on the national security. This will help in strengthening their strategies in reporting the national security and other related issues. In essence, the study shall serve as feedback mechanism for the television station. The intelligent community (Police, DSS, Military, etc) will equally find the outcome of this study very useful, since it will promote the need to build a common bridge between the media and intelligent communities, in the quest to restore national security. Also, institutions of higher learning (universities, polytechnics, colleges of education, etc) shall find this study very helpful in the teaching and learning of crime and conflict reporting.
1.6 Scope of the Study
The scope of this project will only cover the people within Abuja. This focus will be on the people living around Abuja
1.7 Limitations of the Study
The research work may be faced with time & fund constraints being an academic based research. The time allocated for this study is not enough as in combining the work on this study with daily academics routine. Also, the study will be limited to some areas due to the problems of funds, shortage of texts, journals and information relevant to the study.