The Mass Media, Self-reliance, and National Development. (Part 1)
By Richard Imhoagene and Ignis I. Ekwe
October 17, 2012.

The Mass Media have come to assume tremendous influence in all aspects of human life over the years. In the process, they have attracted titles such as "The fourth estate of the realm", "Watchdog of the society", and so on. This is because they have grown to become a global tool not just for information, communication, and education, but for surveillance, correlation, and mobilization, and moreso, a vital agent for positive change.

Wikipedia defines the Mass Media as "all media technologies which are intended to reach a large audience via mass communication." Note that the power of the Mass Media lies in their ability to reach a "large, scattered, and heterogeneous audience simultaneously." No wonder their roles have increased overtime. Today, they are inexhaustible.

The roles of the Mass media in a country like Nigeria continually evolves. During colonialism, the mass media were established by Nationalists to serve as agents of anti-colonialism, used in expressing their agitation and desire for independence. The colonialists, on the other hand, used the media to promote their policies, garner support, and encourage Africans to war against Germany during the second world war. The Independence era witnessed a shift as both federal and state governments set up and utilised media houses for propaganda and for the promotion of government policies and programmes.

Consequently, a decree was pronounced allowing for private ownership of television and radio. This pronouncement set the stage for a media revolution. The roles increased beyond expectations. In no time, they recognised their active and dynamic role in the quest for self-reliance and National Development. Obaze (2002; 2) explained that "it is in recognition of this dynamic role that a place is found for them in the Nigerian constitution- the Press, radio, television, and other agencies of the media shall at all times be free to uphold the fundamental objectives contained in this chapter and highlight the responsibilities and accountability of the Government of people. (1989 constitution, section 21)."

Definition of terms

To clearly understand this topic, it is ideal to seek the understanding of the key terms that comprise the topic.

* Mass media: what are they?

Wikipedia submits that they "refer collectively to all media technologies which are intended to reach a large audience via mass communication." The term "media technologies" refer to instruments of mass communication which are sub-divided into two;

> Broadcast Media: otherwise known as the electronic media. They refer to all instruments of mass communication that transmit their messages electronically. They include; television, radio, film, movies, DVDs, internet, and so on. These media are undoubtedly the fastest forms (channels) of transmitting information globally.

> Print Media: these, on the other hand, refer to that medium of communication that employs the use of visual representations. Newspapers, magazines, pamphlets, books, newsletters, brochures, etc, all fall under the print category.

Having clearly spelt out the sub-divisions of the mass media, it is important to note that the mass media also represent the organisations and establishments which set up and control these technologies. They can also be referred to as the totality of all instruments of mass communication. Whether print or broadcast, they are saddled with similar responsibilities of informing, educating, entertaining, mobilising, correlation, and surveillance.


Literally, self-reliance means independence or being self sufficient. Although, practically it goes beyond these. Domatob (1987) citing Nnoli submitted that "it is a strategy of production which focuses attention primarily but not exclusively on domestic resources and priorities for the accomplishment of national objectives." But unlike Nnoli and many others who tend to view self-reliance as an exclusive economic concept, Domatob asserted that former colonial masters, their agents and surrogates do not only control black african states' economies, but also subtly direct the political, cultural, educational, military (especially information and intelligence services), and other major sectors of their national life.

From all these, we can deduce that Self-reliance is a situation that allows for political, economic, educational, military, cultural, and social independence of a country from international influence. The absence of this in most African countries, including Nigeria, has forced people to coin terms such as neocolonialism and interdependence as a reference to the situation in these countries.

National Development

National Development is an ambiguous concept. It encapsulates human capital, economy, social improvement, democracy building, national defence, and so on. The pursuit of national development is the pursuit of all these and much more.

More so, National development seeks to achieve social improvement, political stability and economic buoyancy. It is geared towards the growth of all crucial sectors of a country for the good of the people. It is the progressive state of well-being of a people.

Roles of the media

The roles of the Mass media have been summarised by Eyiah (2004);
* Surveillance of the environment
* Correlation of parts of the society
* Transmission of cultural heritage
* Educating the masses
* Entertainment function, and
* Mobilisation function

Note that surveillance, correlation, education, and mobilisation are key factors towards the attainment of self-reliance and national development. If the media play these roles, then we can conclude that they have an important role to play in the quest for self-reliance and national development. The questions are;

* In what ways do the media play these roles?
* How well do they play these roles?

Perhaps, the issue has been over-flogged over the years. Analysts, media critics, and mass communication authorities have submitted analyses and counter-analyses on the topic and related subjects. This paper therefore carefully go into detailed and empirical analysis of varying propositions, criticisms, assertions, and contributions made over the years.
Furthermore, it would contribute immensely through further investigations on ways through which the media have achieved this feat, how well they are doing, and suggest ways on how they can better do this.

Attaining Self-Reliance and Development through Media Performance

It is important to note that self-reliance and development begins with the individual. A nation is not merely structures, facilities or physical elements, but comprises individuals who have dreams and a need to express their dreams and aspirations. Therefore, we shall look at the individual development of the citizenry. Note that for a nation to be developed, the citizens must have achieved a sense of fulfilment in their individual lives. A few concepts must be considered here;

> Self-actualization: Self-actualization was introduced by Kurt Goldstein in the 19th century to mean the realisation of one's full potentials. Maslow (1954) asserted that it is the highest level of personal development. These brief explanations tell that one has to first recognise and realise one's full potentials to attain the highest level of personal development. "It is a term for the realisation or fulfilment of one's talents and potentials, especially considered as a drive or need present in everyone."

Affirmatively, Self-actualization is growth-motivated. The implication is that individual growth, if achieved by a majority of the entire citizenry, can lead to the collective growth and development of the entire nation.

> Self-esteem: The Webster's Universal Dictionary defines Self-esteem as "confidence and respect for oneself" or "an exaggerated opinion of oneself." Self-esteem does not concern itself with what the public says or thinks, but with how the individual sees himself.

Building a healthy self-esteem requires that the individual mind is uplifted. Here, the individual pursues a status that defines self development through a process of self-actualization. Self-esteem can also be regarded as "self-worth", "self-regard", "self-respect", and "self-integrity." All these added together is the result of personal fulfilment.

According to Brandon (1969), self-esteem is the experience of being competent to cope with the basic challenges of life and being worthy of happiness." In effect, happiness brings about a healthy self-esteem, and happiness is derived from self-fulfilment, which is as a result of the process of self-actualization. Therefore, one can now see clearly the relationship between these factors that bring about individual development.

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