Media Reportage Of The Agitation For The Sovereign State Of Biafra: A Case Study Of Public Perception

Project and Seminar Material for Mass Communication

Media Reportage Of The Agitation For The Sovereign State Of Biafra: A Case Study Of Public Perception


Chapter One


Introduction

1.1 Background of the Study

The name Nigeria is claimed to have sprung from the Niger River, which is one of Nigeria’s main rivers today. Lord Lugard, the colonial governor, established the name. Apart from the connection to the Niger River, no other meaning has been derived from the name Nigeria (Uwaechu ,2004). During the powerful wind of nationalism that swept the continent in the 1950s, Nigeria joined other African colonies in agitating for freedom and political independence. Nigeria gained independence and self-rule in 1960, and became a republic in 1963. This autonomous Nigeria, which was characterized by numerous ethnic and cultural groupings, was taken over by the military, which deposed the civilian government of the day in a coup d’etat in 1966, and Gen. Aguiyi Ironsi became Nigeria’s first military head of state. Aguiyi Ironsi’s military regime arrested, jailed, and removed key political office holders, especially from Nigeria’s northern area. The executions of people holding political position were strategically selective, with the majority of those from the South being spared. J. Wogu (2008). The military hierarchy was sown with acrimony and rancor as a result of this. This led in a covert strategy to destabilize and overthrow Ironsi’s military administration, which was in power at the time. In the same year, he was deposed in another brutal coup d’etat. The unitary government created by his immediate predecessor, Gen. Aguiyi Ironsi, was shattered when Yakubu Gowon became the new military head of state in July 1966. Nigeria’s original regional status was restored, with the Eastern, Northern, and Western regions, respectively. Col. Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, the military governor of the Eastern zone, has called for balance, equality, and justice in Nigeria’s political affairs. The Aburi Accord, which took place in Aburi, Ghana, another former British colony in West Africa, was a nonviolent endeavor to settle these perceived political divisions. The conference between the supreme military council of Nigeria and representatives from Eastern Nigeria, headed by Col. Ojikwu, the then military governor of the Eastern area, took place in Aburi, Ghana, and resulted in this agreement Wogu (2008). Lt-General J.A. Ankra, the head of the Ghana National Liberation Council, was also there. The meeting’s main goal was to resolve the political disagreements that have arisen between Northern and Southern Nigerians, which have harmed their mutual existence. Several topics were debated, including leadership, the makeup of the Armed Forces, finance/economics, infrastructure, and even the media. At the end of it all, an agreement and a communiqué were signed. Each region’s delegate was expected to report on the conference’s outcomes to their respective Nigerian areas (Adibe, 2017). “The meeting’s success was then hailed with champagne, and the Nigerians bid the Ghanaians farewell” (http://emeagwali.com/biafra/nigeria-biafra-civil-war-ah). The Nigerian government allegedly did not respect the Aburi agreement made to handle the aforementioned political challenges. The inability of Nigeria’s Federal Government to honor the Aburi Accord, as stated by Ojukwu, resulted in Biafra’s proclamation and the civil war that lasted from 1967 to 1970. By virtue of the authority, and pursuant to the principles recited above, I, Lieutenant-Colonel Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, Military Governor of Eastern Nigeria, do hereby solemnly proclaim that the territory and region known as and called Eastern Nigeria, together with her continental shelf and territorial waters, shall henceforth be an independent sovereign state of the name and title of “The Republic of Biafra.” (Ozogwu,1992). The aforementioned announcement was issued on the 30th of May 1966, marking the start of the three-year civil war that destroyed the area. Many historians believe that the effects and injuries inflicted on Nigeria as a result of the civil war have remained relevant in the lives of Nigerians and in the country’s history. “The Nigeria Biafra War, which lasted from 1967 to 1970 has remained a controversial subject in Nigeria and in academic circles,” Toyin and Ogechukwu (2016) contend. This is neither a make-up or a purely academic/mental exercise, since recent events have demonstrated that the civil war is still fresh in the minds of Nigerians, particularly those from the country’s south-east and south-south geopolitical zones. Movement for the Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND), Independence People of Biafra (IPOB), Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), and other militant and socio-cultural groups, among others, are still saying the same or similar things that led to the Nigeria-Biafra civil war of 1967. even though the issue of resource control, fiscal federalism, and ultimately the creation, total and unconditional independence of the people of Biafra, who are mostly from Nigeria’s current South-Eastern geopolitical zone and some from the current South-South geopolitical zone, are prominent among these groups’ demands. These conflicts and agitations have persisted for many years, but since 2015, there seems to have been a revived and re-energized agitation, particularly for the actualization of Biafra as a sovereign state( Adibe,2017). The emergence of Mr. Nnamdi Kalu and the rebirth of the defunct Radio Biafra have given a fresh face to the movement for the establishment of Biafra’s independent state. This has sparked a fresh worldwide political discussion rife with controversies. They also pushed journalists from various media organizations to increase coverage of problems and events emanating from recent agitations, culminating in the demand for the sovereign state of Biafra’s independence. As has been the case in the past, the media has been hard at work doing what they do best, and their different audiences across the world have been attempting to piece together the tales that have emerged from the media’s coverage and reporting on the simmering topic of agitation. As a result, it is obvious that charges of political imbalance in Nigeria persist over five decades after the civil war ended. The inhabitants of Nigeria’s Old Eastern area have continued to clamor for political independence as a result of this. The media has been engaged in this story, both now and in the past, via their constant coverage on the simmering concerns. The substance of media reporting have played a significant part in igniting these agitations, but in other situations, the media has also served as a mediator between the secessionist area and Nigeria’s federal government. The public typically perceives these media reports of various points of view as trustworthy, genuine, authoritative, fair, unfair, seditious, ethnic, and so on. Some other media audiences are also concerned, and some of these media stories are viewed with suspicion (Daily sun,2015).


1.2 Statement of the Problem

Nigeria as a country has a number of issues such as, claims of marginalization among diverse ethnic and cultural groups are prominent among these issues. In Nigeria, there seems to be a political imbalance, and many people believe that significant reasons that escalated the civil war in 1966 have not been resolved (Umechukwu 2001). After the civil war in 1970, Gen. Yakubu Gowon’s military administration stepped in with three policies: reconciliation, rebuilding, and rehabilitation, after pronouncing the conflict “no Victor, no Vanquished (Madiebo,1980).” The goal of the reconciliation strategy was to reintegrate the people of the ancient eastern region into the Nigerian country as a whole. Despite this guideline, war survivors from the area were only awarded £20 (twenty pounds) regardless of their bank account balances. Not only that, but their properties, particularly in the states of Rivers and Lagos, were declared abandoned (Madiebo,1980). One could also believe that the spirit of reconciliation should influence political appointments in this area, but this has not been the case. This is shown by the fact that no Igbo man has been elected President of Nigeria since 1970, and no Igbo man has ever led the army until Goodluck Jonathan’s administration in 2011. These are some of the reasons why some in the area still believe there was no reconciliation and that the Igbos continue to be neglected. The same could be said of rebuilding and rehabilitation, since no new buildings were built in the area after the civil war. In reality, in the North and West, where there was no conflict, rehabilitation and other government programs are more noticeable. People in the area continue to complain about marginalization and inequity in the distribution of political posts, contract awards, and political initiatives, among other things. As a result, there has been renewed movement for the sovereign state of Biafra’s independence. The media, on the other hand, has been following and reporting on these concerns since their creation. It’s important to figure out how media audiences react to these news. As a result, it is necessary to investigate media coverage of the Movement for the Sovereign State of Biafra.


1.3 Objective of the Study

The primary objective of the study is as follows

  1. To evaluate the role played by the media in the reportage of the agitation for the sovereign state of Biafra.
  2. To examine public perception on the report by the media on the agitation for the sovereign state of Biafra.
  3. To examine if media coverage and reportage have contributed to increase in the agitation for the sovereign state of Biafra.
  4. To find out how the Nigerian government and the people of Biafra can reach a compromise and put a stop to the agitation for secession.

1.4 Research Questions

The following questions have been prepared for the study

  1. What is the role played by the media in the reportage of the agitation for the sovereign state of Biafra?
  2. What are public perception on the report by the media on the agitation for the sovereign state of Biafra?
  3. Have media coverage and reportage contributed to the increase in the agitation for the sovereign state of Biafra?
  4. How can the Nigerian government and the people of Biafra can reach a compromise and put a stop to the agitation for secession?

1.5 Significance of the Study

The study examines Media Reportage of the Agitation for the Sovereign State of Biafra: A case study of Public Perception

The study will be of benefit to the Nigerian broadcasting commission as it will regulate the kind of news report been printed out by the media houses.

The study will be of benefit to the Nigerian government in the sense that it will make recommendation on how government and the people of Biafra can reach a compromise .

The study will be of benefit to the academic community as it will contribute to the existing literature.


1.6 Scope of the Study

This study focuses on Media Reportage of the Agitation for the Sovereign State of Biafra: A case study of Public Perception. The study will also evaluate the role played by the media in the reportage of the agitation for the sovereign state of Biafra. The study will further examine public perception on the report by the media on the agitation for the sovereign state of Biafra. More so the study will examine if media coverage and reportage have contributed to increase in the agitation for the sovereign state of Biafra. Lastly, the study will find out how the Nigerian government and the people of Biafra can reach a compromise and put a stop to the agitation for secession. Hence the study will be delimited to Anambra state.


1.7 Limitation of the Study

This study was constrained by a number of factors which are as follows:

Just like any other research, ranging from unavailability of needed accurate materials on the topic under study, inability to get data

Financial constraint , was faced by the researcher ,in getting relevant materials and in printing and collation of questionnaires

Time factor: time factor pose another constraint since having to shuttle between writing of the research and also engaging in other academic work making it uneasy for the researcher


1.8 Definition of Terms

Media Reportage:

The form of presentation of stories on displaced persons by the media

Agitation:

The act or an instance of agitating something.


Media Reportage Of The Agitation For The Sovereign State Of Biafra: A Case Study Of Public Perception


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Media Reportage Of The Agitation For The Sovereign State Of Biafra: A Case Study Of Public Perception


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