EXAMINATION OF NEWSPAPER REPORTS OF TRAGEDY INCIDENTS INVOLVING NYSC MEMBERS IN NIGERIA

ABSTRACT

The study examines the newspaper reports of tragedy incidents involving NYSC members. The study was anchored on agenda setting theory since the study is focus on the direction of media contents for public debate. The research design adopted was the content analysis of which 120 editions were selected purposively and the publication days are Monday to Friday for a period of six months. The study used simple percentage to calculate the data and the data was presented in table format for clear understanding. The study concluded that it is evident that Vanguard newspaper reported tragic incidents involving NYSC members is straight news format, interview format and pictorial format. These were used to clear and vividly portray the reality of the incidents the news were classified under crime beat and reported as tragedy and human interest values of news reporting style, the Vanguard newspaper presented NYSC news on tragedy interview format where most of the interviews were conducted on relatives of the casualties and different management of the NYSC camps and  the perpetrators of these incidents, research concluded that most of perpetrators are political thugs, Agbero in the park and drivers who drive recklessly. Also, the study recommended that there is need for National newspapers to focus more on the security reports as it relates to individual citizen with proper investigative reporting so as the uncover the culprits, Road Safety Corp should take out time to sensitize computers and other road users of the need of safe driving so as to eliminate road accidents, newspapers should criticize in writing and publications the government where necessary on lack of maintenance attitude for Nigeria bad roads and religious leaders should discourage their subject from perpetuating tragedy on NYSC members in Nigeria.

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

 

1.1      Background to the Study

        The National Youth Service Corps is one of the oldest nations building mechanism in post-colonial Nigeria. General Yakubu Gowon in his Independence Day Anniversary broadcast on October 1st 1972, announced that graduating University students would begin to offer a year of National Service beginning in 1973 to foster National Integration in post-war Nigeria (NYSC, 1998) among other things, to foster a feeling of nationalism among the various groups that make-up the Nigerian state.

        Most importantly, following the bloody 1996 to 1970civil war between the Federal Government and the Biafran forces, the General Yakubu Gowon regime was confronted with managing the mutual suspicion and hatred that the war had brought. The regime had in response set in motion a policy of reconstruction, rehabilitation and reconciliation (3Rs), an aspect of this policy was the creation of the National Youth Service Corps.

        Nevertheless, when in October 1972, Gowon announced his regime’s intention to commence a national service programme for Nigerian graduates in 1972, the announcement generated student’s protests and criticisms (NYSC, 1998).   A number of reasons have been advanced to explain the actions of the students. First, it was advanced that student considered the announcement as a way of punishing them having been involved with in earlier protests against some of Gowon’s earlier policies (Elaigwu, 1986). Second is that students were impatient with Gowon’s continued stay in power (Ibid). Inspite of this opposition, by 1973, the  first set of University graduates began National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme.

        According to BolajiOdumade (2016), the National Youth Service Corps Scheme, once in a life time experience which was established on May 22, 1973 by Decree24 to promote unity and develop ethnic ties among youths in their various states of the federation. The thrills, frills and fun fair usually associated with the orientation part of it makes it enjoyable and inspiring for participating graduates from all parts of the country.

While some see it as an avenue to explore other people’s culture and tradition outside theirs, others see it as an opportunity to recreate, catch fun and make some savings for future use. In fact, the desperation of some young graduates concerning NYSC makes one wonders what is actually in it for them.

However, away from the glorious and storied past of the scheme, presently the programme is searching for relevance. It has actually deviated from the original purpose, it was meant to serve. It is now almost of little or no relevance to the economic aspirations of the country. Of late, the interests of corps members are not adequately protected, as it was in the past. Many public/private businesses enterprises that used to accept services of corps members have either closed business or downsized due to insecurity and general state of the nations’ economy. Whether the large turnouts of fresh graduates are overwhelming or not, facilities for orientation are sometimes inadequate for the population, this scheme has to carter for each year. Political and religious insecurity have equally exposed many corps members to needless death. Foods, structural facilities, essential for the up keep of corps members are grossly deficient in some orientation camps.

        Meanwhile, since the emergence of the fourth republic, the National Youth Service Corps Programme and its participants have been faced with a number of issues, challenges and problems which have continued to attract public attention to National Service Scheme and its managers. Among these include the rape of corps members, kidnapping and armed robbery attacks, road accidents, poor state of facilities, and poor state of facilities at orientation camps, misuse of participants, low funding and corruption, the height of which is the emergence of fake NYSC members and orientation camps. (Iredia 2012; Madike and Akinmutimi 2012, Marama 2009; Yusuf and Esebonu 2012). Yet none of these aforementioned issues had generated the kind of public reactions generated by the death of corps members in ethnic and ethno-religious conflicts/violence. The reality of ethnic and ethno-religious violence in the fourth republic remains a tragedy for the Nigerian state as well as the NYSC programme set up to promote nation building among component ethnicities.

        Broadly, the tragedies for the NYSC programmes are in fourfold. First is the tragedy of deaths and other violence against corps members, second are the resultant evacuations of corps members from trouble spots; third is economic loss, and four is the calls for scrapping the scheme. Rather than view these tragedies as independent of one another, in reality they contribute to the re-enforcement of one another. On the first tragedy, ethnic and ethno-religious violence have led to deaths and destruction of property of corps members. With the nation building goal of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in mind, the death of a corps member in such violent conflicts is a major dent on the nation building owing to the wordings of section 1 (4) paragraph (c) of the NYSC Decree that views participants are “representatives of Nigeria as far as possible”.

        These representatives of the Nigerian state have not only been subjects of attacks but have been killed in the cause of National service. According to SegunAwofadeji, the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) has asserted that the scheme, which was established to foster unity among Nigerians and encourage compatriots to render selfless services to the country, could not effectively achieve the set objective without the support of the mass media that could help in publicizing the activities of corps members.

        Also, the director General of the scheme, Brig. General Suleiman Kazaure, said that the scheme had in recent times been under-reported by the media and faced some ‘crises’ which he ascribed to poor human relations, management, poor handling of official matters. Favoritism, over zealousness on the part of some camp officials, inactions, negligence, abduction of responsibilities, hoarding and suppression of information that breed rumours mongering, stressing that the best way to manage the crisis is through engagement with every stakeholder.

        Furthermore, there is need to be bear in mind that crises are sometimes escalated by the media hype especially with one-sided reportage or outright falsehood as was the case with the alleged assault of a corps member by policemen in Zamfara state.

        Therefore, I charge you all to cultivate cordial relationship with the media. With this, it is important to note that the newspaper reports given, that is, that the information provide and interprets by the Vanguard Newspaper on the issues of tragic incidents involving National Youth Service Corps Members would go a long a way to give the masses/public, NYSC members, NYSC officials, and the country asa whole stories with facts to hold in hand and of course give individual judgments to those facts.

        Thus, the media functions of Surveillance and correlation would serve as a voice for the NYSC members pertinent to the tragic incidents that has erupted the programme. It is therefore in line with this, that an attempt is made to cover the Vanguard Newspaper reports on tragic incidents involving National Service Corps (NYSC) members.

This study focuses on The Vanguard newspaper. Vanguard Media Limited, publishers of Vanguard Newspapers was established in 1984 by Mr. Sam Amuka (a renowned, veteran journalist and columnist of the sad Sam fame. Sam Amuka was editor of Sunday Times and the first managing director of the Punch Newspaper). The maiden copy of Vanguard hit the news stand as a weekly newspaper on Sunday June 3rd, 1984 with the motto: Towards a better life for the people. It went daily on July 15,1984. It aims to serve the people through unflinching committment to free enterprise, the rule of law and good governance.

The Vanguard has a total print run of 130,000 copies daily. Vanguard has a four way core value that’s operational: “Equity and fairness, integrity, people-centeredness and Excellence.

 

 

 

 

1.2   Statement of the Problem

        Some reporters and media houses have reported overtime on the issues of Death, Robbery, and Kidnapping etc. of the National Youth Service Corps Members either to report on the incident at that particular alone but no preferred solutions are given through these stories. It is important to realize for information to have crucial value, and for prominence to be accorded a particular issue or story by the reader, it must take the headlines, become lead, cover pages and so on in newspapers and other media, importantly too the messages must be passed effectively.

        Despite the fact that the Pointer Newspaper have been given several reports on the tragic incidents involving National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members, these stories have not been studied know their direction and importance. Therefore this research seeks to examine the tragic incidents involving National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members are reported in the Pointer Newspaper.

 

1.3   Objectives of the Study

        The objectives of the study are to find out whether the objectives and aims of NYSC have or have not been distorted by the tragic incidents involving the corps members.

  1. Determine whether The Vanguard Newspaper serves the function of surveillance and correlation in reporting tragic issues involving members.
  2. Identify The Vanguard Newspaper report on the tragic incidents involving NYSC members over a period.
  3. Identify possible solutions for a better report of the Vanguard Newspaper on the tragic incidents involving corps members.

 

 

 

 

1.4   Research Questions

  1. In what ways do the Pointer Newspaper report tragic incidents involving members of the national Youth Service corps.
  2. What prominence is given to the tragic incidents involving NYSC members by the Pointer Newspaper?
  3. What is the direction of coverage of incidents involving NYSC members by the Pointer Newspaper?
  4. How does the Pointer Newspaper frame reports of tragic incidents involving NYSC members?

 

1.5   Significance of the Study

        This study seeks to examine the relevance of the Pointer Newspaper report on the National Youth Service Corp Scheme and the related tragic incidents involving corps members by establishing the functions of not just providing but interpreting information in such a way that remedies to the issues are proffered and actively carried out.

    This study will be of importance to reporters and the Pointer Newspaper house pointing the way for media practitioners and reporters to come up with new ideas on how best their reports could proffer positive solutions to the tragic incidents re-occurring among corps members.

 

1.6   Scope of the Study

        The primary objective of this research is to examine the impact of the overtime on tragic incident involving National Youth Service Corps Members. Therefore, this study has been limited to the print media, a study of Pointer Newspaper and it will show the diversity of the coverage of report related to tragic incident involving corps members.

This study is limited to the news content of Pointer Newspaper.

 

 

1.7   Definition of Terms

  • Coverage – An amount by which sometime or someone is covered.
  • Newspaper – A collection of media technologies that reach a large audience via Mass Communication.
  • Report – A systematic presentation of ascertained fact about a specific event or subject.
  • Tragic – Something sad, harmful or fatal.
  • Incident – An action likely to lead to grave, consequences especially in diplomatic matters.
  • NYSC – National Youth Service Corps, one of the oldest nations building mechanism in post-colonial Nigeria.
  • Print Media – Transmitting of information via physical objects, such as books, comics, magazines, newspaper or pamphlets.
  • Reporter – A reporter is a journalist who reports news.
  • Surveillance – To provide information about issues, events and development in the society.
  • Correlation – Media interpretation of events and issues as well as ascribing meaning so that an individual understands their roles in the society.

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