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IKOT EKPENE RESIDENTS REACTION TO THE “DO-THE-RIGHT THING” CAMPAIGN IN THE MEDIA
1.1 Background of the Study
Communication has been identified as the life-wire of every society. As Udoakah (2006) puts it, communication is to the society what skeleton is to human body. This is because of its crucial role in the effective functioning of the society. Simply put, no society can function efficiently without communication.
The media of mass communication have remained a veritable tool in this respect. Apart from their conventional functions of informing, educating and entertaining the mass media also regulate social order. They are agents of socialization, educating members of the society on social norms and values.
The mass media also set agenda in the society. Their agenda setting function stems from their capacity to bring to the public sphere issues, events and personalities they deem worthy of attention and emphasis (Mboho and Iwokwagh, 2006). The need to embark on media campaigns against issues threatening the harmonious co-existence of members of the society, given the spate of crimes such as armed robbery, kidnapping, rape and assassination in Nigeria as well as advanced fee fraud and moral decadence especially among youth, cannot be over-emphasized.
Audience members have long been intrigued and thrilled by the potential power of the mass media to help solve social problem. This potential, which rests on the persuasive power of the media, has greatly influenced people’s beliefs, attitudes and behaviours. For instance, television, radio and print media especially advertising and public service campaigns can entice people to buy a wide range of products and services while television entertainment programmes and movies can exert enormous influence on ideas, values and attitudes.
Conventional wisdom, theories, experiences and research tend to affirm that the media of mass communication are capable of getting people to act on behalf of their own health and well-being or to “do right” by promoting social causes. Elsewhere government at all levels, private foundations and non-governmental organisations have sponsored hundreds of public services campaigns to promote social rather than commercial “goods” (DeJong, 2002). The Federal Government of Nigeria is not an exception.
As Omoloso (2009) observes that campaigns through the mass media serve as reliable tool for inducing audience members to act in certain ways. This explains why governments and other relevant agencies and stakeholders engage in various campaigns geared toward protection and improving public health as well as social and environmental issues. Thus, the mass media remain a key component of the global strategy for sustaining health and social development through adequate information and education on various health and social issues (Abone, 2008). Mustapha (2008) thus reasons that without the media, it would be impossible for stakeholders as well as health and social issues promoters to disseminate information, monitor same and coordinate activities associated with their campaigns.
Public health and social issues have remained regular features in Nigerian media. As Omoloso (2009) notes, hardly a day passes by without at least one form of public health, social or environmental issue or the other on television or radio and pages of print media, posters, handbills and stickers. It is not surprising that the Federal Government, through its National Orientation Agency (NOA), would look to the media as a crucial aid in addressing social, health and environmental problems in the country by floating series of attitudinal and social re-orientation campaigns, including the “Do-the-Right Thing” Campaign. The campaign was launched simultaneously on 11th May, 2012 in all the 36 states of the Federation and Abuja.
The National Orientation Agency’s “Do the Right Thing” Campaign was intended to create consciousness in Nigerians to do what is right at all times and in all circumstances, with a view to transforming the country. It is a transformational development programme seeking value re-orientation among Nigerians. The “Do-the-Right Thing” campaign has series of advocacies including “Avoid Dirt”, “Plant a Tree; “WASH Nigeria”.
1.1.1 Background information of National Orientation Agency’s “Do The Right Thing” campaign
In order to effectively implement its programmes and achieve the stated objectives, National Orientation Agency structures are aligned to the political set-up of the country. Thus there are a National Headquarters, state directorates and Local Government Formations.
The National Orientation Agency (NOA) is a corporate body which resulted from the merger of the Public Enlightenment (PE) and the War Against Indiscipline (WAI)/National Orientation Movement (NOM) Divisions of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture with the Directorate for Social Mobilisation, Self Reliance and Economic Recovery (MAMSER).
The merger was necessitated by the need to pool together and consolidates all efforts and resources utilized by the three bodies in the fields of public enlightenment, social mobilization and value-re-orientation.
The Agency was formally established in August by the National orientation Agency Decree of 1993. The decree provides for the Agency to be a scheduled organisation and consequently guarantees for the staff security of tenure including pension and gratuity.
Structurally, the Agency is a three tier organisation aligned to the Federal set up of the country. It therefore has a National headquarters, State Directorates and Local Government formations.