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Radio came to be as a result of the invention of technology, therefore the
history of radio in Nigeria started way back with British Broadcasting
Corporation. Radio broadcasting was introduced into Nigeria in 1933 by the
then colonial government, it relayed the overseas service of the British
Broadcasting Corporation through wired system with loudspeakers at the
listening end. The service was called Radio Diffusion System (RDS). From the
RDS emerged the Nigeria Broadcasting Service (NBS) in April 1951.Mr T.W
Chamlers, a Briton and controller of the BBC Light Entertainment programme
was the first Director –General of the NBS. The Nigeria Broadcasting
Corporation, NBC came into being in April 1957 through an act of parliament
No.39 of 1956 and the Director General was Mr J.A.C Knott Obe. In 1978, the
Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation was re-organized to become the Federal
Radio Corporation of Nigeria, FRCN (http://ww2.radionigeria.gov.ng. April
24,2012. page one).
To Uwakwe (2005:165) the third world countries today is being
overwhelmed by the western communication structures. With satellites on the
space, the CNN and BBC for instance, continue to invade the third world
countries effortlessly. Therefore broadcasting both radio and television, started
simultaneously in Eastern Nigeria, Enugu regional capital on the 1st of
October,1960. During the civil war, the Eastern Nigeria Broadcasting
Corporation (ENBC) was known as Radio Biafra. After the war, it was named
the East Central State Broadcasting Service (ECBS) stationed at Enugu. With
the creation of old Anambra and Imo states in 1976, it changed to Anambra
Broadcasting Service. With the creation of the new Anambra and Enugu States
in 1991 and the subsequent disengagement of the staff on March 16,1992 ,the
Anambra Broadcasting Service, Enugu gave birth to Anambra Broadcasting
Service (R/TV) Awka and Enugu State Broadcasting Service (ESBS) Enugu.
After the state creation, the first movement was to Onitsha- the location of the
AM Station. From Onitsha, the headquarters moved to Awka in January 1993
and ABS latter moved to its permanent site on the Enugu/Onitsha Express Way
in Awka in January,2002.Today ABS Radio transmits on the frequency 88.5 FM
with the four stations(2 television and 2 radio) both at Onitsha and
Awka,(http://www.absr-tvawka.com April 24, 2012,page one).
The founding fathers of Onitsha migrated from Benin between 1630 and
1680 and settled immediately after the River Niger. Onitsha in effect started its
growth as a waterside settlement often known as the “waterside town” (Udo
1981:8). In 1857, when the trade expedition led by McGregor Laird on the
Niger arrived at Onitsha, it had a small market like other neighbouring Ibo
markets, which was being held then every four days. In the company of the
expedition, was Reverend Samuel Ajayi Crowther, a freed slave who led the
Church Missionary Society (CMS) team. The CMS Group first arrived at
Onitsha before the Roman Catholic Mission (RCM) which came later. These
two Christian religious groups were responsible for the establishment of schools
and colleges in Onitsha, dating from the 19th Century. Historically, Onitsha has
exercised a great deal of political, economic, and social influence over the
surrounding regions. The neighbouring towns of Obosi, Nkpor, Oba, Ogidi,
Nkwelle – Ezunaka, and Umunya constitute parts of the region of the city’s
The influx of traders from all parts of the country and the Cameroon to buy
at Onitsha is an important factor that invariably contributed to the town’s
physical and population growth so far. A major feature of the Onitsha’s growth
and attraction of traders over the years is that, non-indigenes accounted for more
than 70% the total population. There are two local government areas in the
Onitsha metropolis therefore the main concern of this study is the Onitsha north
local government area, which is where the villages are situated and is
underdeveloped. The cases of slums, physical and environmental unalertness
show that structures are built any how, anywhere. High rising buildings are
constructed with hardly any road access to them, and with no water supplies
even on the ground floors, much less on the higher floors. That the city is
located on the banks of the great River Niger makes no difference to the paucity
of its water supply. Several other sections/ neighbourhoods of the city are a built
up of unregulated, congested, ramshackle housing surrounded by indescribable
filth. There are no drainage facilities or solid waste disposal facilities.
Mountains of refuse are common features everywhere and they continue to
creep increasingly into the limited road spaces”. While slums are residential
areas in towns and cities, that lack adequate access to water and sanitation and
secure tenure; and their buildings are of poor structural quality with insufficient
living area UN-HABITAT (2002:1).
According to UN-HABITAT (2002:2), slums create the conditions for
poor health and insecurity and are the most visible forms of poverty in the city.
While there have been concerted efforts at the national, state, local and global
levels to eradicate poverty, the efforts to effectively improve the lives of people
living in slums have either been missing or less than desired. An assessment of
the slum conditions in Onitsha and environs is therefore imperative for devising
appropriate strategies for addressing poverty reduction and to achieve
sustainable urbanization in the planning area. Epileptic electricity supply has
hampered industrial development, there are also bad roads as a result of erosion,
From this history, radio is known as the channel for the broadcasting of
marketing information especially in the development of the rural areas and is
popular as a result of its wide reach to a heterogeneous audience. This channel
remains by far, the most appropriate for a rural population that has an illiteracy
rate of nearly 90%. As a starting point, development cannot occur without
communication, many writings on rural development problems in Nigeria
reflect a wide spread of opinion as to the origin of the problem. However, there
seem to be a consensus that a combination of economic and political factors has
contributed in no small measure to the problem, (Mboho 2005:151). Therefore
rural development problems in Nigeria are multifarious, the classification of the
problems is therefore much more complex than one can think. Available
statistics indicate that more than 80% of her population live in the rural area, yet
most of her development efforts; providing basic facilities like electricity, roads,
water supply to mention but a few are concentrated in the urban centre while the
rural area remain outside the dynamics of modern development processes
(Mboho, 2005 p.154).
To Mboho (2005:155) these problems are common to most African
countries, they tend to be more acute in Nigeria where the British colonial
system failed to develop the rural areas. During the colonial era, development
was restricted to urban centres which provided support for political and
economic interests of colonial power and their collaborators. Thus two powerful
mutually impeding forces that can be identified as the roots of Nigeria’s rural
underdevelopment are firstly, imperialism and neo-colonialism secondly, in the
past, nationalist government had depended on the theory that with a high rate of
urban development, modernization in rural area would be realized or at best be
seen to occur. But in recent times, however, this paradigm has been known to be
irrelevant because over the years, various government development plans and
other polices have failed to justify this assumption. In order to have a
progressive transformation there is need for effective communication strategies
so as to achieve a significant collective participation by the masses, for without
this any long run economic or social planning will either be more much less
effective than it could have been or it could even go in the wrong direction.
This brought about the mission of a progressive mass communication
policy of 1990 during the regime of Gen Ibrahim Babangida, in the new global
arena to help strengthen democratic practice, a healthy culture, and popular
participation in governance process. This vision underscores the central place of
a communication policy that is vibrant, transparent and supportive of democratic
and development goals (http://nigeriacommunityradio.org.September10,2011,
page one). The characteristics of radio are as follows:
3. Economic medium.
This brings about, information broadcast by radio as contained in a
summary file that is processed by the market researchers. These files indicate
the average prices of the principal food products in the locality, such as maize,
rice (both local and imported), yams (tubers), garri, cassava, beans and other
commodities and services, apart from food stuff. This information is generally
broadcast on the day preceding, as well as on the market day of the locality in
which the radio station is situated. In addition to broadcasting prices, the radio
stations indicate the days on which the different markets are in operation.
The broadcasts are made in the dialects of the rural area in which the
radio station is situated. The radio in carrying out one of its duties, in
developing the rural area, does what is called development communication.
Quoting Edeani in Okorie (2006:95) development communication means the use
of all forms of communication in reporting, publicizing and promoting
development at all levels of the society .It implies communicating development
messages to the audience of the mass media, for example the radio. It takes a
form of transaction between the source and the receiver, in nature it is
participatory and collaborative of which the expected result is behavioural
Furthermore, Okorie (2006:67) pointed out that the major aim of such
communication is to make better the lives of people in a given society
economically by encouraging them to understand the development agent, accept
to participate by developing their capacity and skill that will enable them change
from unprogressive and under developmental conditions of the past to a better
However, Ekwelie (1992:2) explains that a remarkable feature of
development communication is that, it is only concerned with peoples welfare
as defined by them. Thus radio, places the self determined needs of the masses
at the centre of development communication. In this study, rural development
implies progressive economic change for the betterment of the conditions of the
rural area and consequently of the society. Therefore, development is not
necessary without communication in that, the whole mediated programmes of
the radio stations are packaged bearing in mind the development needs of the
rural dwellers, ranging from information on agriculture, health education,
cultural awareness, environment alert etc. And as such, there would be no need
for the media (radio) if there was even development. This goes to say that
development and communication are complementary.
Moreover, Nigeria is a developing country which has 250 different ethnic
groups with Igbo, Hausa, Yoruba as the three major tribes. All things being
equal, radio in developing the rural area is expected to facilitate, even
development in a given country by playing the following societal roles.
(1) Participatory information/communication of the masses towards
(2) Promotion of economic knowledge, understanding and wisdom in the
(3) Promotion of employment opportunities for the people.
(4) Accelerate the accomplishment of the economic development
programmes or policies of the Nigerian government.
(5) Help in the national integration for national economic progress, which
must be in line with the policies or constitution of the government.
(6) Help in marketing government development programmes or policies
to the masses in the society in order to encourage their adequate
participation for collaborative societal development.
(7) Teaching and encouraging the use of modern strategies and technology
(8) Encouraging the establishment of small industries.
(9) Help in mass business/multi skill development.
(10) Encouragement of self development and self reliance of individuals
than on the society and government.
(11) Social motivation/ mobilization of citizenry for proper participation in
the nation’s economic development process.
(12) Promotion of right attitudinal and behavioural changes in citizens
especially in the economic development process.
(13) Setting role models for the masses to emulate.
(14) Ensuring responsiveness, responsibility and accountability of the
government to the electorates.
(15) Enhancing effective resource management, etc.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The rapid growth of radio stations has raised concerns over whether they
are serving the public interest or the interests of advertisers and their profitminded
owners. On one hand, there are people who argue that radio is a conduit
of Western cultural products like music and advertisements, which are
suppressing development-oriented local content. On the other hand, there are
those who believe that radio has taken the government and its policies closer to
the people than in the days back, and therefore helped to raise the level of
awareness among the rural people, on government policies, national and
international events, etc. The fact is that radio, play significant roles in the
development of rural areas .Before the advent of digitalization, AM radio
(amplified modulation) was the order of the day but today, FM radio (frequency
modulation) is in vogue. As technology takes us to a new stage, new things keep
emerging and there is bound to be some changes and new development. In the
opinion of Okigbo (1990:343-344) the argument may not end because, the effect
of media communication will for a long time remain a controversial issue
among scholars in any society.
In view of this, Ebeze (2002:282) stated that some schools of thought
believe communication cannot effect economic development in the society (Null
effect media school of thought) ,While some allude that some people under
certain circumstances behave in certain ways to certain mass media messages
(Minimalist media school of thought). The former, maintains that the mass
media have no effect at all on the society while the latter implies that some kind
of communication on some kind of issues brought to the attention of some kind
of people under some kind of condition, have some kind of effects. Therefore
the researcher aim is to find out empirically if radio, aid in the development of
the rural areas in Onitsha north local government.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The study tended to find out the role of radio in rural development.
Therefore the major focus of the study was:
1) To determine whether radio has been making positive impact in the
development of Onitsha north local government.
2) To examine the challenges of radio in rural development.
3) To find out the main contributions of radio in the development of the
rural areas of Onitsha north local government.
4) To find out possible adjustments in the editorial policies of the radio
stations to help promote development in Onitsha north local
1.4 Research Questions
Bearing in mind the problem, which the research intends to solve as well as
the aims and objectives, which this research intends to achieve, the following
are the research questions:
i) Does the community participate in the production of the radio
ii) Can radio help in improving the lives of the people in Onitsha north
iii) Has communication through radio made positive impact towards the
development of the Onitsha north local government?
iv) Can sound radio information make Onitsha north local government
area’s development plans to fully excel?
v) Are there challenges in communicating the rural development policies
of Onitsha north local government area?
vi) Can radio contribute meaningfully towards solving the development
problems of the Onitsha north local government?
1.5 Significance of the Study
Therefore it is hoped that this research will be of help to many in the
society and of great relevance to the follow.
(1)The profession or practice.
(2) The academia/ scholarship.
(3) The researchers/ scholars in terms of future research efforts.
It is important that radio serve the interests of the most vulnerable people
in the rural area. More than 80 percent of the people live in the rural areas, and
up to 38 percent of the country’s 27 million people live below the poverty line;
they cannot earn more than a dollar per day. Both the Poverty Alleviation
Programme (PAP), the National Mass Communication Policy, and the mission
statements of many radio stations concur on the need for radio to enhance
development programmes countrywide, since there is widespread need to
improve the lives of the population, thus this study becomes pertinent and
relevant. In addition, this study will be useful to the makers of communication
and economic policies in Nigeria.
1.6 Definition of Relevant Terms.
To enhance comprehensive readiness of this work, the research deems it fit
to define some of the terminologies that are used in this work.
(1) Radio : This is a device used to disseminate information, to the
(2) Development: This is a change for the better in human, cultural,
socio-economic and political conditions of the individual and of the
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