IMPACT_ OF_ URHOBO_ VOICE_ NEWSPAPER _ON _DEVELOPMENT_ OF_ OVWAIN _COMMUNITY_ IN_ UDU_ LOCAL_ GOVERNMENT_ AREA _OF _DELTA_ STATE

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1. Background Of The Study

A community newspaper is that paper established in the rural area with the basic aim of bringing development closer to the grassroots. A community newspaper should b e community in outlook reporting the activities of the community to the outside world. It is also a veritable medium through which the people are informed about government policies and programmes. To this end, it could be rightly said that a community newspaper has significant impact on national development since effective development of any nation commences from the grassroots.

Igwe (1991:175) agrees with the above postulation when he declares that “a rural or community newspaper serves the information need of a particular locality. Such papers should not be mistaken for provincial papers such as the Calabar-based pioneer. These have a wider coverage and circulation range beyond state boundaries.

The origin of community newspapers in Nigeria could be traced to 1859 when Reverend Henry Townsend established the first newspaper known as “Iwe Irohin in Abeokuta. According to Akinfeleye (1985:28), which launching the maiden issue of Iwe Irohin, Reverend Townsend said: “my object is to get the people to read… that is to beget the habit of seeking information by reading newspapers”. 3

This statement could be interpreted to mean that the aim and objective behind the establishment of the Irohin was for the Egba people to seek information from their environment by reading newspaper.

Initially, Iwe Irohin was published fortnight in Yoruba Language and later in both Yoruba and English Languages. It has eight pages with four pages in Yoruba languages and another four supplementary pages in English Language translating the Yoruba version of it.

Akinfeleye (1985:29) throws more light on Iwe Irohin when he says:

“In January 1866,Iwe Irohim for the first time started publishing two separate editions-one in Yoruba language and the other entirely in English language. It continued with two separate editions until these 1867 when it temporally ceased publication as a result of civil disruption (IFOLE) between the Ibadan and Egba traders…. After a short while, Iwe Irohim resumed publication through under a new management but some title and flag”

Akinfeleye also points out that in the beginning the news coverage of Iwe Irohim was limited in scope. For instance, it carried only religious news items such as news transfer of preachers from one parish or location to another, coronations of pastors or preachers, weddings, baptisms, confirmations and the like. It later expanded its news coverage and began to run non-religions news in addition to religious items. It began to carry stories and news about trade and commerce, exhibitions, sports, health, hygienic, educational and other news items of national significance. fIwe Irohin was particularly informative in its presentation of up-to-date information about schedules of arrivals and departures of slip, cargoes from and to European countries. Crimes reports, nudity, immoral news abstract, alcoholic promotion and the like were unacceptable to the paper.

Akinfeleye concludes by saying that one of the uniqueness of Iwe Irohin is that, it is still the only native language newspaper in the continent of Africa that has lived for over 120 years without any major prolonged stoppage. Today in Nigeria, copies of Iwe Irohin (though how under another management, but same title) can still be found on sale in several Nigerian newsstands particularly in the southern state of Nigeria. Most of its contemporaries have been closed or ceased publication.

Igwe (1991:176) says that “more than 20 years after establishment of Iwe Irohin, three other community newspaper came up in Lagos. These were “the Lagos observer”, “the Lagos Times” and “The Lagos standard”. These papers published the pre-independence socio-political conditions in Nigeria. For this reason, they could have been mistaken for national newspaper. But they were “Lagos community newspapers”.

After the demise of the above pre-independence community newspapers, others sprang up in Nigeria. These could be rightly regarded as post-independence papers. Some of them are already defunct. They are “The Oniwu sun” based in Ikorodu, “The village news” based in Akinale village in the outskirt of Abeokuta, “The Obanta star” and “The Obanta News” based in Ijebu-Ode and “Gaskiya Tafi Kwabo” based in Zaria.

Also worthy of mention are the Onitsha based “Nigerian mirror” which was established in the mid 1960s, “The Lagos News” and the “City Tempo” based in Lagos; 5

the Makurdi based “voice” which circulates in Benue State and the Uyo based weekly, “The pioneer”.

The introduction/background would be inconclusive without mentioning “the Urhobo Voice” … a community newspaper – belonging to the Urhobo ethic group in Delta State – which happens to be focus of this study.

The plan to establish “the Urhobo voice was hatched in 1937 by the current Editor in – Chief and publisher, Mr. Ogbemure Imene. However, it was not until October , 1997 that the first copies of the newspaper hit the newsstands. Its first editor was Mr. Godwin Okpubigbo.

The paper is printed by Uvoh – Amroma International ltd. at No. 1 Orofin Street (Goodday Communication), Maza – Maza, Lagos.

The aims and objectives of the papers are:

  1. The creation of awareness for the upliftment of the Urohobo nation,
  2. To unite the Urhobo people into one universal spectrum;
  3. To act as an organ of universal information to the Urhobo people and become partners in progress with their neighbour for the betterment of all.
  4. To capture the essence of the Urhobo world,
  5. To champion excellence in grassroots journalism.

Although, the paper has not joined the Audit Bureau of Circulation (A.B.C.), its distribution is undertaken by Mr. Dominic Onunu who is the marketing manager.

The paper has approximate circulation figure of seven thousand (7,000) copies.

At the inception of the paper in 1997, it was published monthly. In April 1999, it became a fortnightly after. Again in September same year (1999) it became a tri-monthly newspaper. With effect from January 2000 the management will make it a weekly newspaper.

1.2. Statement of the Problem

It is not out of place to say that in most rural communities in Nigeria, there are no community newspapers through which the rural folks could be informed about government policies and programmes and above all mobilized towards improved condition of living. This unfortunate situation has compelled many people to lastly conclude that the print media have no relevance in community development in Nigeria.

It is also known that there are some other communities in Nigeria which are not development, just like Urhobo community at this jet age when even the smaller countries around us are boasting of continues supply of electricity.

The researcher does not want this phenomenon to continue to occur and that is why she has carried out this research.

Also farmers do not have the means of knowing how to make use of the modern farming implements and other things like fertilizer, so farm produce in that community do not yield well. To add to the fact that the traders among them have no means to advertise their products.

This research is therefore undertaken to find out whether community newspaper has impact on development, with particular reference to the Urhobo voice. And this research will also go a long way to but these problem to an end, if they carry out their role in the community properly.

1.3. Objective of the Study 7

  1. To find out whether the community newspaper can be used in the development of our community.
  2. To find out the strategy used by the community newspaper in impacting development on Ovwain Community.
  3. To find out the benefits of having developed community
  4. To examine the factors that many militate against the community newspaper in their effort to help develop our community (Ovwain Community). 8

.4. Research Question

  1. Does the employment of Ovwain people by government of Delta State as a result of Urhobo voice?
  2. Does the new developmental project in Ovwain community as a result of sensitize of government by Urhobo voice, like-new school, good road, hospital and creating of awareness etc as a result of how Urhobo voice sensitize the government by Urhobo voice?
  3. Does the Urhobo voice have any consequences in mobilizing the people of Ovwain community toward development?
  4. Does the Urhobo voice encounter hindrance in their effort to develop Ovwain community through Urhobo voice.

1.5. Scope Of The Study

This study is restricted to a particular community newspaper in Delta State known as “the Urhobo Voice”.

The choice is based on it‟s proximity and patronage. Moreover, Urhobo is Ovwain community is in Udu Local Government Area of Delta State.

1.6. Significance Of The Study

The rationale/significance for this study is high-lighted as follows:

  1. To discover the role of community newspapers plays in development.
  2. To discover the effectiveness of the Urhobo voice as a medium of information, education, entertainment and for mobilization the Ovwain community towards sustainable development. 9
  3. To ascertain whether there is alternative channel through which information could be best disseminated to the community under focus.
  4. To unravel the problems and prospects of the Urhobo Voice since it inception.

1.7. Limitations Of The Study

The inability of the researcher to visit the Ovwain community in Delta State to solicit the people‟s response to the project topic, due to time constraint is a major impediment. Nevertheless, it does not in any way affect the overall credibility of the work.

Finance is another limitation. The unfavourable economic climate in Nigeria Limited the acquisition of books on community newspapers and development. Again, this limitation does not affect the credibility of the project since the researcher was able to improvise where necessary.

A lot of traveling was done in searching for search of materials. This involved enormous spending.

Finally, booking appointment with media practitioners, scholars and other personalities whose contributions were crucial to the completion of this projection involved a lot of time and energy.

1.8. Definition Of Terms

Impact:

Impact in this context refers to the effect which community newspapers have on community development. Impact is also the measure of effect or influence of certain event on people.

Urhobo Voice Newspaper 10

Urhobo voice newspaper is a community newspaper belonging to the Urhobo ethnic group in Delta State, which happens to be the focus of this study. Urhobo voice newspaper is also a newspaper covering event in Urhobo land and offering diverse perspectives on Urhobo history.

Development

The process of economic and social transformation that is based on complex cultural and environmental factors and their interactions.

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