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JOURNAL OF RESEARCH IN NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT VOLUME 7 NO 1, JUNE, 2009

PERCEPTION OF YOUTHS ON THE EMERGING CULTURE OF POLITICAL OFFICE HOLDERS IN EKITI STATE OF NIGERIA

 

A.O.S. Adegoroye, D.J. Tenibiaje, and J.O. Babatunde

Department of Guidance and Counselling, University of Ado Ekiti , and

O. Ojo

Department of Political Science and Public Administration, Babcock University, Ilishan

 

 

 

 

Abstract

The authors developed a set of validated questionnaires for a survey on the views and predisposition of 1500 stratified random sample  of Nigerian youths in Ekiti State to media reports of the conduct and behaviors of many of the political office holders and citizens  in  high public offices in Nigeria . The results of the data show a no significant difference in the sample’s approval  of the unbecoming public conduct of many of the political office holders by the statistics of the  sample in this study. Against the backdrop of the wide room made for the youths’  participation at the different strata of the political structure  in the constitution and the notable number of the present  political office holders in the youths’ age range, the findings were discussed in terms of a need for political education and sociability of the youths in the course of their  preparation to participate in politics. The paper concluded on the recommendation of   a special curriculum that need be introduced as early as possible   in the school system and that must  contain modules that would introduce and impart via practical experiences, broad mindedness, tolerance  sublimation, statesmanship, nationalism and  political knowledge as the needed character, traits  and profile of the ideal Nigerian politicians .

 

Keywords: Perception; culture; politician; office holder.

 


Introduction

In the last decade that Nigeria returned to the electoral process to choose leaders into offices, the fourth estate of the democracy, the Nigerian press, as represented by the print and electronic media had been alive reporting the activities and conducts (private and public, as it ought to be )  of the other three estates, executive, legislative and judiciary arms  in their affairs and efforts at working the  democracy in the nation.

That need be mentioned are the reports of how the constitution is being interpreted and new laws being made  for the day to day running of the  36 states that make the nation and of the nation herself by the senators, house of representative members, the  states’ house of assembly and the elected  councilors in the 774 local government levels.

 

Though the Nigerian press, like her counterpart in the other parts of the world  may sometimes sensationalize public or political  issues as  a common  fault  (Helprin,2006), the reports they present in both the print and electronic media as found in the television, radio, tabloids and daily news papers in the years that have marked Nigeria’s decade of uninterrupted democracy is skewed towards reports of prolonged electoral disputes, uncomely acts and misconduct of the honorable members elected to run and rule the affairs of the state in Nigeria (The  Nation, Nov 12th 2008, The Vanguard, The Nigerian Tribune, The Punch Nov 24th 2008 p7). These are  so much so that a report of the  misconduct of these elected officials is more expected than their acts and conduct of statesmanship or successful legislations. In summary, these elected individuals who are to run the affairs of the nation appear to be every other thing saves being respectable and commanding the accorded honor and dignity that the status of the Nigerian nation reserved for them as her leaders and rulers. For example, in one of their several open brawls and scuffles, a member of the house of representative lost his life as a result of bodily injuries sustained from the blow of a colleague in the same chamber (9 o’clock Network news on Nigerian Television Authority, July11, 2007).

Efforts at controlling and checking  these uncomely and most times criminal acts include the institution of some investigative and judicial commissions, for example, the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC and the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC). The bodies are to investigate the veracity of the claims of these news media, and if there be any truth in them, prosecute them in the law court. 

Other common uncomely acts and behaviour that these commissions have mandate to investigate, prosecute and punish among the politicians and elected leaders are involvement in fraud, embezzlement of government funds, fiscal indiscipline, contract scam, perversion of justice and extra judicial acts, thuggery, arson and disruption of the peace, unlawful detention of political opponents, misuse of power and bribery, large scale economic and administrative mismanagement to mention but a few. The  occurrence of these vices in high places since the return of democracy about a decade ago are so commonly reported and have not abated  that some elder statesmen in the country started calling for a revolution if Nigeria would ever grow as a  democracy (Odunuga,2008). Sensations of the press notwithstanding, the issue is that there are ample evidences that politicians and elected members of the legislative and executive arms of government are fingered in many of these criminal acts.

Perhaps, what should be of more concern is the historical, contemporary and futuristic trends that the occurrence appears to trace. On the historical lane, many of the improprieties that are reported of the first generation politicians in the literature and that led to the 3- year civil war and 40 years of military interregnum in the governance of the nation compare with many of the identified acts of the contemporary politicians. At the contemporary level and in the same vein, Nigeria has been  rated by the Amnesty International as belonging to the group of the  ten most corrupt and venal nations of the 212 in the world. This is in a world that  now works towards a global trend in advocating and maintaining  high standards of conduct and rule of law  in private and public lives of  individuals,  nations  and international corporations.

A worrisome futuristic implication of these political happenings  is that many of the youths especially those who are  at the secondary and tertiary institutions appear to approve of these immodest acts of the political office holders and further  find a convergence in thinking and acting  with their counterparts who are not in regular school in the various youth wings of the political parties and in the vanguards supporting groups of many of these politicians. They meet regularly to discuss and fashion out new ways of propagating the views of their mentors. They sometimes cause social upheavals, organize rallies to  protest ‘victimization’ of or   demonstrate their support for their mentors even when evidences show they have committed obvious errors and are being prosecuted in the court of law.

The question then is , are these youths, the hope of change, the trigger of any meaningful shot at social revolution  and of a truly democratic and ideal society, gullible? Could one say that their actions are a reflection of their predispositions if and when they eventually find themselves in these elective positions or high public offices?

These questions need much probing, a research and definitely empirical answers that may come from a survey adopting questionnaires, in-depth interviews and focused group discussions with the youths and their groups. This certainly is with the view to understanding the predisposition of the youths to act were they to be in the positions of these elected officials  and which would  suggest corrective measures that would restore the hope for an ideal, morally founded and focused society.

 

This is the problem of this study, that is, it is aimed at evaluating the perception of the youths of the behaviors and actions of elected political office holders, and hence infers the youths’ pre-disposition to act were they to be in the same position as the elected officers. This is an education and behavior problem because as key players in the political development of the nation, the youths actions in recent times concerning political participation had left much to be desired as they have been involved in massaging the ego of many politicians who frivolously display wealth, use the youths to unleash violence, intimidation and vote rigging for the highest monetary bidder in political contests. These have been so much so that concerned political observers consider the youths  a major threat not only to the political maturation process in the nation but to the continued existence of the nation Nigeria.

 

Research Questions

The following questions that would need empirical answers were focused:

-     How would a representative sample of Nigerian youths perceive or be predisposed to acts and behaviors of the

 

political leaders as often reported in the news media?

-          Do the youths consider  political offices  for self or public service?

-          How much  respectable to do the Nigerian youths consider their political leaders? in other words, do the Nigerian youths consider their political leaders as models?

 

The Null Hypothesis

There would be no significant difference along the 5 variables ( of sex, age, residence, employment status, and level of school attended) of the selected Nigerian youths in their views of and predisposition to the unacceptable acts and behaviours of political / leadership office holders.

 

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to highlight the thinking and hence the predisposition of Nigerian youths to issues relating to and affecting the conduct and behaviors of political /high public office holders in the nation. This study attempts to provide data on the perception / predisposition of Nigerian youths on the experienced irrationalities in the thinking and actions of many a Nigerian politicians  and state men, for example, would they be willing to support the programs of an opposition party as long as it benefits the larger society? Do they consider flamboyant living a component of respectable politician’s lifestyle?

 

Understanding what some of the underlying issues in these youths’ apparent unacceptable political behaviours as the intent of this study is, seems desirable so as to have a base upon which to predicate recommendations for modifying their views and predispositions by counselors and their allied professionals in the helping profession as well as political scientists and philosophers.

 

Methodology

Research Design

This is a survey. It aims at describing the perception / thinking  and hence the predispositions of a selected sample of Nigerian youths to  the conduct of  political and other high office holders as daily reported in the Nigerian press since the return of democracy and party politics nearly a decade ago.

 

Sample (The Participants in the Study)

One thousand five hundred youths in the age range of 18 -.55 years (Orubuloye and Olorunfemi, 1986) residing in the urban and rural areas of 6 (that is, 2 LGAs from each of the senatorial districts) of the 16 Local Government Areas and across the 3 Senatorial district of Ekiti State were selected for participation in the study.

 

Instrument

These are a set of questionnaires items that were framed in the manner to determine whether the respondents are agreeable to the ways that the present crop of Nigerian politicians and public office holders appear to address issues of collective existence of the Nigerian people.  For example, would they agree that,

-          Being in politics is essentially to enrich oneself?

-          Politics is about settling personal scores with one’s enemies and distracters?

-          One should never be seen with members of the opposition parties no matter the ties that may be between the two?

-          Elections could be rigged in favour of the richest candidate?

-          Living flamboyantly is very necessary for any one who would be influential politicians?

-          Popularity is more important than competence when it is the time to select people for offices occupation?

-          Violence is needful when contesting elections?

-          All political ideologies have positive contribution to make in all societies?

-          It is needful to adjust one’s political stand in the face of superior arguments?

-          It is alright to work to stay put in political offices whether one  is popular or not

-          Government of the day must be ready to ‘buy’ or ‘pay’ the law makers to get their needed legislation through?

-          Courts of the land must support the party in power at all cost

 

 

Validity

The universe from which the  items were drawn essentially comprises the  print and electronic news  media reports as to how the present  political figures and other high public office holders live, act, handle and express social, political, religious and economic views and biases as they  affect the welfare of the citizens.

The respondents are to either agree (2) or disagree (1) on each item to determine their predisposition.

 

A maximum score of 62 and minimum of 31 is possible on the instrument.

 

High scores 45-62 classify respondents as politically immature and predisposed to the actions of the present day politicians that the Nigerian as well as some global media present as capable of upsetting the developing democracy while score range between 31-44 classifies them as mature.

 

The items on the questionnaire format were scrupulously screened to reflect the many wrong assumptions and irrationalities that youths seem to carry and demonstrate when the issue of politicking and elections are at hand. This is so because it seems these had become the political culture and belief system of Nigerians.

The opinions of 3 political science teachers, 3 teachers of  sociology and the approval of a professor of Test and measurement were consensual as to whether the items measured what the intent of the researches were.

 

Reliability

In a test re-test exercise (within a two weeks) with 25 youths who are tertiary students and near part of the final sample, a coefficient of r = 0.46, was derived and was considered high enough for the intent of the research.

 

Scoring

The 1500 properly completed questionnaire returned, were coded and processed for computer analysis. The result is presented below:

 


Results

Table 1: Demographic Data and the Mean Scores of the Sample (N = 500).

 

 

 

N

%

X

S.D

1

Sex

Male

277

55.4

60

1.33

2

Age

Female

223

44.6

53

2.68

3

Residence

Rural

191

38.2

51

2.11

 

 

Urban

309

61.8

56

3.04

4

Employment status

Employed

221

44.2

53

1.04

 

 

Not employed

279

55.8

54

1.17

5

Schools Attended

Non

35

7

58

1.16

 

 

Completed secondary school

261

52.2

51

1.83

 

 

Tertiary Institution

204

40.8

48

1.08

 


Table 1 expresses the composition of the sample along the divisions of the five statistics of sex male/female), age (18-35/36-55), Residence (Rural / Urban), Employment Status (Employed/ Unemployed), Educational Status (Whether they attended school or not / whether they dropped out, completed secondary schools and those who attended tertiary institutions).

277 representing 55.4% were males scoring 60 on the instrument of data collection while 223 representing 44.6% were females scoring a group mean mark of 53 on the instrument of data collection.

304 of the sample representing 60.8% were in the age range of 18-35 and had a group mean score of 58 while 196 representing 39.2% were in the range of 36-55 scoring 46 on the instrument of data collection.

191 representing 38.2% reside in the rural areas scoring 51 while 309 representing 61.8% were employed and had a mean score of 53.

 

279 representing 55.8% were not employed and had a score of 54 while 221 representing 44.2% were employed and had a score of 53.

All the respondents have had a measure of schooling as only 35 representing 7% dropped out of school and had a score of 58. Those who completed secondary school were 261 representing 52.2% and scored 51 while those who are still in or had completed tertiary institutions were 204 representing 40.8% and had 48 as their group means score. In all of these descriptive groupings, and performances on the instrument of data collection, does one notice the score range on the instrument of data collection to be high indicating the sample’s classification as politically immature, crude and ignorant?

 

Further, it reflects their low tolerance for opposition political views, unwillingness to cooperate with the opposition parties when they are in power, and an indication of lack of ability to sublime when their needs or wishes are delayed.  These indications are further corroborated by the sample’s tendencies on each of the 31 items of the instrument of data collection. Table 2 presents the data.


 

Table 2

Tendencies of the sample on each of the items of the questionnaire

Sample’s mean is given by

__

X = px2 + qx1

P + q (p + q = n = 1500) Talmage, 1987).

 

Items

__

X

S. D.

 

Items

__

X

S. D.

1

1.89

0.12

17

1.76

0.11

2

1.56

0.21

18

1.69

0.21

3

1.51

0.31

19

1.42

0.32

4

1.68

0.68

20

1.38

0.44

5

1.89

0.22

21

1.71

0.28

6

1.55

0.81

22

1.78

0.13

7

1.47

0.53

23

1.87

0.31

8

1.54

0.44

24

1.91

0.11

9

1.67

0.66

25

1.83

0.52

10

1.83

0.23

26

1.41

0,44

11

1.66

0.83

27

1,34

0.71

12

1.52

0.11

28

1.96

0.18

13

1.63

0.34

29

1.18

0.36

14

1.86

0.61

30

1.84

0.17

15

1.43

0.33

31

1.76

0.21

16

1.51

0.52

32

1.22

0.31

 


The sample’s tendencies as indicated in their group mean scores on each item reflect their agreeing to violence as the means to settling political misunderstandings (items, 22, 9, 12, 31),  non cooperation with members of the opposition parties even when they are in power (items 6, 10, and 24, flamboyant life style for political office holders (items 1, 5, 14) while they tend to disagree on issues of resiliency in pursuing political goals (items 6, 8, 29) dialogue (items 19, 20, 26) and sublimation (items 27, 29, 32).


 

Table 3

One way ANOVA on the perception of the sample on politics and political participation

Source of variation

Ss

df

Ms

Fcal

Ftable

Between groups

467365023.83

4

11681255.96

2.236

2.37

With groups

112446874.04

496

45068.89

 

 

Total

579811897.87

 

 

 

 

 


Table 3 depicts f calculated for five statistics of the sample showings no significant difference in the view of the sample on the issue of research.

P ≤ 0.05 f calculated < f table => no significant difference

Null hypothesis was not rejected.

 

Discussion

The data in this study suggest that Nigerian youths are favorably disposed to and appear to approve of many of the indecencies that the Nigerian press accuses many of the elected political and high public office holders of. This appears to be supported by the arguments of Adegoroye et al (2004) who consider many of Nigerian youths as venal and corrupt and unwilling to take up jobs that are  decent and respectable  or be signed on  for apprenticeship for some of the traditional blue collar jobs. They seem to have found patronage with many of these corrupt politicians who hire them for their political campaigns and harassments of opposition parties or perceived enemies. That the youths approve of their disagreeable acts only go to confirm that as these politicians pay the youths who are the piper of the political tune in the country, the politician dictate the tune and are always right. Many of the youths look up to these politicians as mentors and models.

 

A situation in which some notable elder state-men are calling for a social change that has to come through a revolution, and the youths who are to lead such a revolution have had their cloak and conscience stained, by their association with this crop of politicians who use them to grace their rallies and social engagements, where they flaunt their ill-gotten wealth from mismanagement of the offices they occupy, calls for careful consideration and planning. This is so because the questions arise as to if the call to a revolution is justified, who would lead it? Would  these youths who are falling over themselves and outdoing themselves, in planning and executing programmes and events, to portray the political office holders as messiahs, be the ones to work out a program of change of government? We need to remember that ‘he who pays the piper, dictates the tune’. If Nigerian political tune would change, the present crop of  youths may need to be taught a set of new notes to play to the politicians who appear to have a hold on the soul of the Nigerian youths.         

 

An appreciable thing, however, is the call by the elderstatemen for the revolution and the expected change to be peaceful and not involve bloodletting. The submission of the authors is that a mid path that would be of radical teaching and re-orientation of the youths to the prevailing problem need be adopted viz : radio and TV programmes

-          public lectures

-          development of appropriate curriculum for the different levels of schooling, to effect the needed reactions on the part of the youths and who are the next generation of politicians, to the well less than acceptable behaviours of the present political office holders is essential.

 

Conclusion , Implication and Recommendation

It appears the irrationalities, indecencies and uncomplimentary actions and that seem to leave the nation in perpetual state of tension (Obasanjo, 2006; Akinkuolu, 2006) reported by the press, (the fourth estate of the global structure of democracy) of the notable politicians of the fourth republic is agreeable to the sample of this study, for example using political office to enrich oneself, rigging elections in favour of one’s preferred candidate, disrupting the peace when one’s wish is jettisoned in favour of a superior argument .becoming militant to either checkmate  decisions they do not agree with or force the ones they wished. These seem to be the pattern of behaviour of the politicians and the other high office holders in the nation.

 

By the claims of Reed (2001), this is not the way politics run. The welfare of the people and the survival of the larger society come uppermost in the considerations of those who are state men and seasoned politicians. Such deft politicians patiently wait for ample opportunities to drive home their points and sway the people on their side. These youths need to be taught the act of sublimation when their wishes are delayed and be able to see these in the light of sacrificing for the common good of the members of the larger society and the survival of the nation (Akinkuolu, 2006).

 

From the data in this study and the unfolding drama in the political scene in the nation, indication is rife that if Nigeria would meet her expectations in developing her youths towards the ideals of democracy, her efforts at re-educating her youths towards imbibing the character content of the citizen in advance democracies need by geared up and given more attention than is presently being done. Issues like political tolerance, sublimation, co-operation to educate both the present political office holders and the ones that are coming and that are presently at the different level of schooling.

 

The content of the general studies curriculum in the tertiary institution need be reviewed to contain modules of this intent in the higher institutions, a simplified version of which need be at both the primary and secondary schools. These need to be reviewed to reflect emphasis on the recipients’ not only gaining the knowledge of the content of the universe of the modules but having exercises to demonstrate its essence. These may come in their demonstrating these in giving them the opportunities to elect their class monitors as against teachers impositions and for t hem to come up with ideas of innovations they would wish and how to go about meeting these marvelous, honestly and peacefully, no matter how long it would take the class.

The role of the electronic media, especially the television and radio in popularizing these modules, via creating specific times on their channels, sensitizing community development associations (CDAs) to making their members listen and participate in such programs, inviting professional and credible teachers as could be found among professional counselors and other allied helping professionals and presenting drama sketcher to drive home the points being advocated is also very needful. It need be offered too that counselors are every level of the society need be made ready to fully participate in this great national task.

 

References

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Akinkuolu, A. (2006). Opinion: The politics the North should play in 2007. Tell 25. p3.

Bennet, W. J. (1998). Does honor have a future? Imprints 27 (12)

Connerly, W. (2000). The content of our children character. Imprints 20 (2)

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Forbes, S. (1999). Training minds and hearts: Principle-centered education reform. Imprints. 28 (10)

Helprin, M. (2001). The way out the wilderness. Imprints. 30 (1)

Obasanjo, O. M. A. (2006). Presidential Greetings as in Voice ,  a publication of the Full Gospel Bussiness Men Fellowship. 51st World convention edition.

Ogundare, S. O.  (1991). Correlates of citizenship behavior of Nigerian secondary school students. Educational Studies, 17(2), 149-156

Orubuloye, J. O. and Olorunfemi, J. F. (1986). Introduction to Population analysis. Akure: Afrografic Publishers

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Soyinka, Wole (2006). Starting out at dawn. London. Macmillan Pub Coy.

Talmage, Harriel (1987). Statistics as a tool for educational Practitioners. N. Y.

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