PROJECT TOPIC- ROLE OF WOMEN IN CONFLICT RESOLUTION AS PORTRAYED THROUGH THE THEMES, CHARACTERIZATION AND PLOT CONSTRUCTION OF THE NOVEL: THE LAST OF THE STRONG ONES

CHAPTER ONE

BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

An in-depth investigation and understanding of The Role of Women in Conflict Resolution cannot be anymore crucial and timely given the present socio-political and economic ambience that obtains in Nigeria.
Nigeria, since the colonial era till date is a country ravaged and bedeviled by a depressed mood of daily occurrences of war; war bred from ethnic rivalry, tension, impending collapse of the political system, social decay, corruption and bigotry. Such are the salient and subtle conflicts that stems from our ill-configured federation, and such are the conflicts that impede national development.
Women, especially in their organized group like the Umuada-igbo, Alutaradi among others in the Igbo cultural groups are a very organized, peaceful and endowed women groups in Nigeria. And the attributes of women groups often show in their activities, conducts and achievements.
According to Mana Rojas in Women in Pre-colonial Nigeria (English 32 1990);
The beginning of colonial rule brought to Africa the [Victorian]
European notion that women belonged in the home, nurturing their family.
Also, according to Dadirep (1995):
The Naturalistic movement of the period in England
in the 18th and 19th centuries re-emphasized the fact
that the physiology of women naturally made them timid,
feeble and unable to think because they hold smaller brains
than men. In view of this, women naturally need the protection
of a man with powers and brains.
Such are the theories and beliefs inculcated by these scholars, and that underpin the stereotyping of women as incapacitated in handling resolution of issues, making them passive yet highest victims of war, thereby, overshadowing their agency and contribution in conflict resolution.
As traditionalists maintain a narrow focus on national security, they regard the advancement of women’s perspectives and interests as soft issues; women continue to suffer from “second class citizenship” as they are always excluded from peace, progress and conflict resolution. This is in spite of their sheer biological/genetic makeup, their physiological and intellectual makeup which all accrue in making them the sustainer and maintainer of the home, peacemaker that compel peace for all. Women who have their fingers on the pulse of their homes and communities, who have always been at the very heart of rivalry and conflicts. They sure must own the rhetorics of inter/intra ethnic and community diplomacy and conflict resolution.
It is to be noted that women who especially in their groups are usually strong forces, suffer patriarchal machinations and hegemony. However, their traditional and modern contributions make them to be no pushovers on political, economic, religious and especially social life of the nations. In families and communities, their reconciliatory and resolutive roles are unsurpassed.
The Igbo women for instance, are usually united in their various traditional and cultural cults and groups in support of their husbands and in the empowerment of their fellow women.
According to Eze and Okonkwo: Our Women Our Strength(2009)
The position of women since the pre-colonial African era till date is
a myriad of roles that was influenced by mythology, social laws and
customs, economics, politics, war and inter/intra ethnic diplomacy.
Therefore to ensure economic, socio-political and diplomatic transformation and empowerment which is essential for a new world order and essential for finding solutions to so many conflicts that abound not just in our great country Nigeria but also beyond, the women folk must be integrated in order to create the environment of peace.
The women folk in their groups and institutions which have established strong goals and strategies to pursue peace must be enlisted.
Thus, this essay aims at investigating and evaluating the role of women in conflict resolution as portrayed in the novel The Last of thee Strong Ones so as to validate investigated approaches and reveal their strengths and weaknesses based on a widely accepted and stipulated approaches that have endured the test of times in resolving conflicts.

OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY

The main objective of the study is to find out the role of women in conflict resolution as portrayed through the themes, characterization and plot construction of the novel: The Last of the Strong Ones

RELEVANCE OF THE STUDY

This essay is crucial because it is aimed at finding out the role of women in conflict resolution so as to arm its readership with practical and applicable approaches to solving the inevitable conflicts that arise from our everyday social dynamics.

METHODOLOGY

The essay is a dialectical research that will make use of the novel The Last of the Strong Ones as its primary material.
The research essay will draw its strong points of argument from New Historicism, Feminist theory and John W. Burton’s The Human Need theory so as to show how the author, through characterization, theme and plot construction engaged in the feminist struggle.

SCOPE OF THE STUDY

This research essay ponders on the role of women in conflict resolution as portrayed in the novel The Last of the Strong Ones. The novel was essentially chosen not with any special consideration or preference to the author or of the author’s social, religious or ethnic background but for the novel’s treatment of the issue of conflict resolution and the women folk. The choice of investigating just the role of women in conflict resolution among a myriad of investigative phases is only for the purpose of scope which necessary for research manageability.

THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK

The role of women in conflict resolution as portrayed in the novel will be weighed as New Historicism theory, Feminist theory and John W. Burton’s The Human Needs theory.

PROJECT TOPIC- ROLE OF WOMEN IN CONFLICT RESOLUTION AS PORTRAYED THROUGH THE THEMES, CHARACTERIZATION AND PLOT CONSTRUCTION OF THE NOVEL: THE LAST OF THE STRONG ONES

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USE OF ENGLISH AS AN INTERNATIONAL LANGUAGE

ABSTRACT

 

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Background to the Study

English language is an international language used all over the world as a means of communication. It plays an important role for the people all over the world for political, commercial purposes and event tourism matters. English is a compulsory school subject. Mastering good English is very important thing in learning English grammar. Grammar is the study of words and their functions; one of its aspects in learning is adverbial. According to Douglas (2004) explains that ‘’adverbs and adverbials are similar but not the same. Though they share the same modifying function, their characters are different. An adverbial is a sentence element or functional category. It is a part of sentence that performs a certain function.

An adverb on the other hand, is a type of a word or part of speech. An adverb may serve as an adverbial, but an adverbial is not necessarily an adverb.’’ In a similar View Endley (2010) differentiates between adverbs and adverbials as ‘’ the former term is a label for syntactic category, covering familiar single word items such as quickly, happily and spontaneously. The latter term refers to a function. Linguistic elements that have this function include adverbs plus other linguistic elements such as phrases (on the other hand, at the bookstore, next week, last year, etc,) and clause e.g (after he saw the movie).

’’Basically, most adverbs tell you how, where, or when something is done. In other words, they describe the manner, place or time of an action. Most of adverbs are created by adding ly to the end of an adjective, like slow (adjective) slowly (adverb) hopeless (adjective) hopelessly (adverb). However, this is not a reliable way to find out whether a word is an adverb or not, for two reasons; many adverbs do not end in -ly, some are the same as the adjective form and many words which are not adverbs do end in -ly such as kindly, friendly, elderly and lonely, which are adjectives. Here are examples of adverbs which are the same as adjectives; fast, late, early’’. (http;//www.keepandshare.com/ doc/3270332/complete list of adverbs docx).

However,’’ the possible variation between the fixed and shift placement of adverb makes adverbs more difficult to teach, with this fact, learners have difficulty in learning and using them correctly. The complexity of adverbs is as a result of its syntactical and semantic behavior which is determined by its position in the sentence. The position of the adverbs possibly makes a sentence grammatical or ungrammatical or changes the meaning of the sentence. ‘’adverbs are difficult for students to identify.

The -ly trick is helpful, but as with everything else in the English language, there are exceptions (ugly, friendly and family). Plus, the adverbs that do not end in -ly are the hard ones to recognize.’’(https;//pinterest.com/pinning teacher/teaching). Despite the important of adverbs and adverbials students still take them to mean nothing. This can be as the result of problematic areas in the use of adverbs and adverbials.

According to the chief examiner report Eguridu (2015), states that “in Nigeria, 1593442 candidates sat for the may/June 2015 West African Senior Certificate Examination (WASSCE) in Nigeria. Only 38.68% obtained credits in five subjects and above including English Language and Mathematics”. The major cause of students’ poor performances is wrong use of adverbs and adverbials. Furthermore, a trick problem for students learners of English is to be conversant with  the words that go with -ly, as can be seen in these examples taken from Nwagu (2009),’’ she expected everybody to take them serious (wrong).

She expected everybody to take them seriously (correct). Outright is both adjective and adverb. As an adjective, the word outright means complete and clear without any doubt. E.g. an outright ban, rejection/victory.  She was the outright winner. As an adverb, the word outright means (a) openly and honestly, without hiding anything; I told him outright what I thought of his behavior. (b) Not gradually or immediately; most of the crash victims were killed outright. (c) Clearly and completely; she denied outright having been there. There is no English word as out rightly. Thus the correct expression should be;’ the principal often tells us outright that delay in life is dangerous’. And not … outrightly tells us … she behaves friendly (wrong). She behaves in a friendly manner. (Correct). Friendly is an adjective but has been made to function as if it were an adverb. He allows them to pay my school fees instalmentally (wrong). He allows them to pay my school fees in instalments (correct). There is no word as instalmentally in the English language. Payment spread over a period of time is said to be made in instalments. Hunston (2000) rules out adverbial modifiers in lexical patterns, stating that ‘’on the whole … patterns of adverbs are hard to capture … and since there is no parallel to complementation patterns adverbs can be better described in positional terms.’’

Regarding meaning, adverbs express ideas such as place, time, manner and location. Some adverbs of manner have a noticeable form that is they end in -ly. Most other adverbs can not be easily noticed by their form because they do not have a specific suffix. According to Agwu and Nweke (2000), describe adverb as a word that describes or modifies a verb, an adjective and another adverb. It adds to the meaning of the words it modifies.

Finch (2000), notes that an adverb may modify a verb by given circumstantial information about the time, place or manner in which an action, process takes place. In addition to the characteristic of modifying verbs, adverbs can modify adjective, a verb or another adverb. Such adverbs can answer the questions where, when, how, how often, how much, etc.  However, Orji (2001), posits that ‘’adverbials include not only single word adverbs but also particles and phrases.’’ The position of adverb can be found in the beginning, middle or at the end of the sentence. Ekechi (2006), explains that adverbials may be a single word adverb, adverbial phrase or adverbial clause. He went further to explain that adverbs are divided into three classes in relation to their functions. The three classes of adverbs are explained below; (a) adjuncts; these are adverbs whose functions indicate place, time, manner, condition, reason, degree etc

(B) Disjuncts: these adverbs indicate the state of mind of a speaker. For instance;

  1. Sincerely speaking, I never stole any money.
  2. Frankly speaking, the man loves his wife.
  • To be candid, I never knew we would lose the match

(c) Conjuncts; these are words or phrases that are used to link ideas. They play the role of conjunctions or linkers. Examples; the patient came to the hospital but he never saw the doctor. (But is used as a linker).

Though the students came late, the lecturer was absent. Conjuncts are also used to introduce new ideas. These conjuncts are transitional words or phrases like; in the first place, secondly, also, furthermore, before I proceed, in addition to the above, finally, in conclusion, etc.

Quirk (2000), also adds that adverbials may be integrated to some extent into the structure of the clause or they may be peripheral to it. If integrated, they are termed adjuncts. If peripheral, they are termed disjuncts and conjuncts, the distinction between the two beings that conjuncts have primarily a connection function. An adverbial is integrated to some extent in clause structure if it is affected by such clausal processes as negation and interrogation.

Ogbulogu (2004), defines adverbials as particles of adverbs used especially after verbs to show position, direction and movement. E.g. come back, break down, fall off, off down, back, etc. he went further to maintain that adverbs refer to all those words ending in -ly and which are mainly derived from adjectives. There are other structures that do not end in -ly or which are not just one word structures, but which are used as adverb. They are referred to as adverbials. According to Awa (2013) defines an adverb as “any word that modifies any part of language except noun, which is primarily modified by adjectives and determiners” that is adverb can modify verbs, adjectives, clauses, sentences and other adverbs, but most often they modified verbs.

Adverbs answer such questions as ‘how’, ‘which’ where’ to what extent and in what way. Obasikene (2001) maintains that adverbs exhibits three degree of comparison, the positive, the comparative and the superlative.  He further classified the comparison of adverb into: “regular and irregular adverbs”. The regular adverbs take the suffixes “–er” and “–est” to add to the basic adverbs to form their comparative and superlative form. The wrong use of adverbs and adverbials affect the students performance in the external examinations and in their construction of English language grammar. According to the chief examiner report, Mr. Eguridu (2015) states that in Nigeria, 1593442 candidates sat for the May/June 2015 West Africa senior certificate examination WASSCE in. only 38.68% obtained credits in five subjects and above including English language. This failure might be as the result of poor construction of grammar by students.

The competence of the students in the English language is challenged as a result of several problems in the construction and use of grammatical structures especially adverbs and adverbials. This may be as the result of non English language teachers teaching English language in some schools. According to little word (1984: 250) in Odoemenam (2007: 7) states that the learner uses his previous mother tongue experience as means of organizing the second language data. However Obeka (2011) says that most English language textbooks in our schools are too stereotyped. That is written as if they for learners of English as a native speaker.   Hence there is need to access problems with teaching and learning the use of adverbs and adverbials in secondary schools in Ezza North Local Government Area.

 

USE OF ENGLISH AS AN INTERNATIONAL LANGUAGE

 

Statement of the Problem

A problem with the use of adverbs and adverbial is a problem in the construction of grammatical structures which mars proficiency competence in use 0f second language. The inability of the students to identify or use adverbs adverbials correctly gave rise to this study as errors in the use of adverbs in writing and speaking are clearly identified. It is obvious that the expressions of the students in English language are not worth listening to. This study sets out to identify the problems and prospects with the use of adverbs and adverbials among students of secondary schools in Ezza North Local Government Area, and to find out the extent to which the problems influence competence in the English language.

 

USE OF ENGLISH AS AN INTERNATIONAL LANGUAGE</h3

PROJECT TOPIC: THE INTRODUCTION OF READING COMPREHENSION IN LEARNERS

 

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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Background to the study

The development of reading comprehension in learners has long been investigated for two basic reasons: Literacy (reading to live) and academic achievement (reading to think). Reading comprehension is now the basic need of a citizen to live and to act successfully in his professional and academic contexts. It is even viewed to be the core language skill to build the development of all other language skills and sub skills such as Listening, speaking, writing, vocabulary and grammar (Anderson, 2012). In addition, the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries have been the time of numerous migrations around the world and the use of world languages increased. Hence, in the modern linguistically diverse societies, the level of expectation for a person to function well is higher than those in the past local communities (Grabe, 2009).

Good comprehenders know how to control reading, to construct meaning, and to monitor their reading by using reading strategies appropriately. Lots of strategies have been devised and revised so far. However, choosing the appropriate strategy depends on different factors like, the level of students, the kind of the text, students’ culture and background knowledge, purpose of reading, etc.

McNamara (2007) mentioned three reasons to claim the necessity of reading comprehension strategies. First, many readers do not know exactly whether they are adequately comprehending the text. It is believed that acquisition of reading strategies help readers improve their comprehension calibration. Second, many readers have a misconception of comprehension. When they read a text, they settle for shallow levels of comprehension. These Shallow readers believe they have adequately comprehended a text if they can recognize the words and most of the sentences. However, “deep comprehension requires inferences, linking ideas coherently, scrutinizing the validity of claims with a critical stance, and sometimes understanding the motives of authors” (McNamara, 2007). Third, deep comprehension of technical text is a difficult challenge for nearly all adults even skill readers. As a result acquisition of better strategies of reading comprehension is needed as a lifelong reading. And finally, Lems, Miller, and Soro (2010) put it in their words: “Reading comprehension requires the use of strategies before, during, and after reading” (p. 172).

Reading comprehension strategies can be divided in two groups: single reading comprehension strategies and combining reading strategies.

Single Reading Comprehension Strategy: Different lists of reading comprehension strategies were identified by various scholars and organizations. Some reading strategies are repeated in each list showing the importance of them. Zimmermann and Hutchins (2003) identified following seven reading comprehension strategies (as cited in Moreillon, 2007): Activating or building background knowledge, Using sensory images, Questioning, Making predictions and inferences, Determining main ideas, Using fix-up options, and Synthesizing. Guthrie, Wigfield, and Perencevich (2004) identified the following as strong strategies which can assist elementary readers: Activating background knowledge, Questioning in reading, Searching for information, Summarizing during reading, organizing graphically, and Structuring story.

Combining Reading Strategies: Some researchers have examined how reading strategies work together in strategy packages (Guthrie et al, 2004). It seems reasonable since good readers coordinate a set of strategies to comprehend a text (Reutzel, Smith, & Fawson, 2005). Blachowicz and Ogle (2008) introduced two groups of reading strategies: reading strategies for informational texts which include: The KWL, Reciprocal teaching, External text features, Nonfiction book report , Text previewing, Tables of contents, Internal text structures, Text structure frames, I-Charts, Reciprocal teaching, Questioning the author, Levels of questions. Reading Strategies for Fiction Texts: Map literature circles, Bookmarks, Story problem solving, Story impressions, Sketch to stretch, Save the last word for me, Journal writing, Great books shared inquiry, Grand conversations, Book clubs, Literature circles, and Readers’ workshop.

It is therefore pertinent to begin with the notion that English language is a language without which there could not have been an entity called Nigeria (Ogunsiji and Olanrewaju, 2002). This Ezeokoli (2005) gave credent to when he also dispelled that English language is very crucial to the Nigeria education system .It is not only the medium of instruction especially at the upper primary, secondary and tertiary level of education but also the language of text-books. It is through the vehicle of English language that student accesses knowledge in other subject areas.

Yet, the academic performance of students both at secondary school and postsecondary school is worrisome .This Adesanoye (1994) pin-pointed while he referred to Adeniran that there is indeed a lot wrong with the performance in English even among University students and graduates for that matter. Djihed (2013) also confirmed that even among the Arab students, students perform poorly in General English which compound their reading comprehension difficulties.

To this effect, proficiency in the English language is essentially not only for academic success alone but to perform in life as various individuals. However, there is low proficiency in English language and this to a very large extent resulted in under-achievement among Nigeria senior secondary school students and those at the higher institutions (Olanipekun, 2012). This shameful failure Akinsolu (2010) axiomatically noted in the public’s unhappiness which becomes more prominent following the annual release of the West Africa Senior School Certificate Examination results, since the student outcomes do not match the government and parental investments both at the senior secondary schools and tertiary institutions. Nevertheless, it is obvious that students’ academic performance in English language is abysmally low.

In this sense, the overriding need for English, not only as the language of instruction in schools alone but also as the language of science and technology even in technically inclined institutions has thus resulted in its integration in the Nigerian educational system at all levels. At the tertiary level, English or General English is taught as a compulsory subject in both the science and vocational faculties. Without doubt, English is significant to the students’ academic success, especially for graduate and post-graduate students as most of the documentations related to their field of specialization are written in English (Djihed, 2013). More accurately, these learners require English to comprehend texts written in English, which are related to their discipline.

On the rostrum of some the causes of poor academic performance in English language is attitude to the language and according to Okoye (1982), he averred that if we develop a negative attitude, it may seriously interfere with one’s performance not only in the examination but even in life. Some educators and social scientists have argued that peer influence contributes to a lack of effort and interest in school work as unfolded by Olanipekun (2012) while citing Bishop. These factors may be accountable for poor performance in English language.

The directed reading thinking activity (DRTA) was developed by Stauffer in 1969. The DRTA is a strategy that guides students in asking questions about a text, making predictions, and then reading to confirm or refute their predictions. In fact, DRTA provides the teacher an opportunity to guide students to think like good readers do by anticipating, predicting, and then confirming and modifying their ideas with the story. DRTA is mostly used with fiction, but it can be used successfully with nonfiction too. Blachowicz and Ogle (2008) believed that DRTA is one of the strongest ways which can help teachers engage students actively in the pieces of literature they are reading. Al Odwan (2012) noted that the directed reading thinking activity is a much stronger model for building independent readers and learners.

DRTA is designed to assist students in setting a purpose for reading; making, justifying, and verifying predictions; and coming to conclusion. DRTA encourages students to make prediction while they are reading. After reading segments of a text, students stop, confirm or revise previous predictions, and make new predictions about what they will read next. DRTA technique can help the students to study especially in extensive reading. As the teacher knowing that extensive reading become an important subject in reading skill. By using DRTA the teacher can improve the ability and intelligence simultaneously in teaching extensive reading in the English Language classroom.

From the foregoing, this study is geared towards ascertaining the application of Directed Reading and Thinking Activity (Dr.TA) strategy in the language classroom among JSS 2 students in Ishielu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State.

 

PROJECT TOPIC: THE INTRODUCTION OF READING COMPREHENSION IN LEARNERS

 

Statement of the problem

          The problem in comprehension could be a result of the lack of instruction in reading comprehension strategies. In searching for a solution to students’ poor comprehension skills all over the world, many researchers (e.g., Bongratz, et al., 2002; Cramer, Fate and Lueders, 2001; Song, 1998) found that reading strategies are beneficial in helping poor readers improve their comprehension skills.

DRTA is a motivating teaching strategy but yet to be utilized by the teachers in our secondary schools. Students enjoy making predictions and then finding out whether or not their predictions were correct and this shows that the application of Dr.TA strategy will improve the students performance in English language classroom. DRTA is also a very flexible strategy in that it can be used individually, with a small group, or with an entire class. It can also be used in any subject and can meet the needs of any levelled reader.

From the foregoing, the study tends to ascertain the application of Directed Reading and Thinking Activity (Dr.TA) strategy in the language classroom among JSS 2 students in Ishielu Local Government Area of Ebonyi St

 THE INTRODUCTION OF READING COMPREHENSION IN LEARNERS

EFFECT OF EXPOSURE TO FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE ON SENIOR SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS’ ACHIEVEMENT IN ENGLISH READING COMPREHENSION

 

ABSTRACT

This study focused on the Effect of Exposure to Figurative Language on Senior Secondary School Students’ Achievement in English Reading  Comprehension in Awka Education Zone of Anambra State. Three research questions and six null hypotheses were formulated to guide the study. The study engaged quasi-experimental research design, otherwise known as pretest-post test non-equivalent control group design involving two intact classes from each of the randomly selected schools. Two hundred and ninety-nine (299) Senior Secondary Class Two Students, comprising males and females exclusively from four schools located in urban and rural areas of the Education Zone served as subjects in the study. The experimental group was made up of one hundred and fifty two (152) students, comprising 43 males and 47 females from urban; 26 males and 36 females from rural schools. In the control group of (147) students, 47 males and 45 females were from urban, and 25 males and 30 females were from rural.

Each of the intact classes in each of the schools selected for the study through simple random sampling was also randomly assigned to experimental and control groups. The instrument for data collection was the English Language Reading Comprehension Achievement Test (ERCAT) based on two reading prose passages. Five different lesson plans for the two groups with the same instructional objectives and questions but different teaching strategies were developed. Two reading passages one for pretest and the other for posttest were used for the assessment. An internal consistency reliability estimate of each of the reading passages was calculated using Cronbach Alpha at .84 and .91 for the pretest and posttest respectively. Kendall’s Coefficient of  concordance (W)Test was used to determine inter-rater reliability which yielded .51. Data obtained were calculated using mean and standard deviation to answer the research questions while the Analysis of Covariance (ANCOVA) was used to test the null hypotheses at 0.05 level of significance.

The results of the study indicated that the strategy of exposure to figurative language significantly enhanced achievement in reading comprehension more than the conventional method. Gender had no significant influence on the students’ achievement while location significantly did. The interaction effect of gender and instructional strategy was not significant but there was significant interaction effect of instructional strategy and location. Again, the interaction effect of gender, location and instructional strategy was not significant. Following discussion on findings, the educational implications of the study were posited and recommendations made. Among others, English Language teachers should adopt the exposure strategy to figurative expressions as added alternative to the conventional method of vocabulary learning in reading comprehension.A stronger reading foundation should be laid right from prenursery to junior secondary school during which learners engage in extensive reading for moreexposure to figurative expressions embedded in texts. The limitations of the study and suggestions for further research were given. 


CHAPTER ONE

 

INTRODUCTION

 

Background of the Study

English Language has become an invaluable legacy of the British colonial masters to Nigeria. The language has provided Nigerians with another means of
expressing their culture. Before the British came into Nigeria, the country already had its many indigenous languages. One would have expected that with the attainment of Nigeria independence in 1960, the language referred to as the language of conquest and oppression would have been abolished (Akindele and Adegbite, 1999). On the contrary, the English Language has come to stay as the country’s official and national language. Globally, English is recognized as a world language. Language is understood as the particular set of speech norms of a particular community (Alersandrowicz-Pedich and Lazar, 2002).

It is expressed using a set of symbols in form of letters or pictures which represent its sound system. According to Offorma (2009) language expression can be verbal or non-verbal to convey thoughts, feelings, and information. The way the information is conveyed would reveal that language operates within a systematic arrangement. Again, there are some elements or characteristics of language which one cannot easily explain or find reasons for (Schmmit, 2000). For instance, in English, the object called “house” is so called not on the basis of any rational explanation but that the English people have conventionally agreed to call it so, otherwise different languages would have had the same name to designate the same object. Therefore, no two languages express the same idea exactly the same way. This suggests that language learning is by imitation and that to be clear and acceptable one must use words and patterns of expression which people of the group understand and accept and which have the same meaning for the hearer as for the speaker (Alersandrowich-Pedich and Lazar, 2002).

Every language is made up of four skills in their hierarchical order of  acquisitions as follows: listening, speaking, reading and writing. The listening skill as
the first of the four major language skills is the key and the gateway to language learning and it is very vital and fundamental in the process of language acquisition. The three other skills, speaking, reading and writing build upon it and are more or less dependent on it (Mgbodile, 1999). As the child  consolidates his listening skill he moves into the speaking stage that will enable him join his speech community. Listening and speaking stages are termed natural stages because they are acquired without any formal learning. Long before the child learns to read, he has started to communicate. Reading is the extension of communication and it naturally builds upon listening and speaking skills already acquired.

With practice and further exposure to reading materials children gradually learn to read at primary school and perfect their reading as they move higher to secondary school and higher institutions. Skills for reading aloud, silent reading, intensive, extensive and fast reading are then acquired. According to Agwu (2003) and Nduka (2003) reading is an indispensable tool of learning at the various levels of education. Reading is an active mental process through which the reader gets into the author’s mind and comprehends his view –expressed and unexpressed – on a subject which is presented before him in the form of printed language. In other words, the reader is involved in both mental and emotional interaction with the author’s ideas, processes these ideas in the light of his total experience past and present. In order to do this, the reader has to make speculations, think over, interpret, judge and evaluate all that the author has said. In comprehending what is read, mere understanding of sentences and language are not enough but the semantic (underlying meaning) and
not the syntactic (sentence arrangement) content which is retained after reading.

In other words, comprehension is an act or process of understanding the nature or meaning of something, the act or process of grasping with the mind (Alberto and Troutman, 2003). In the same vein, Nduka (2003) could be said to have lent support to the above view when he observed that comprehension, as it refers to reading, means getting meaning from what is perceived in writing. Perception here implies forming mental images and concepts generated by the written symbols (words). These images and concepts are not restricted to only the visible language symbols but extend far beyond to include ideas not directly represented by the symbols of the language. Basically, authors often use words perceptively to achieve special effects. Using language figuratively is one such use. ` Figurative expressions are the expressive, non- literal use of language for special effects usually through images. Figurative language is one of the richest means of emotional communication and it is an indispensable tool for arousing the feelings of hearers or readers.

It enriches literary writing as images and evocative expressions. According to Nwachuwkwu-Agbada (2001) the use of figurative language makes for  conciseness in speech and writing. In other words, its use gives rise to economy of words, enhances clarification of meaning, provides vivid examples, stimulates associations and emotions and gives life to inanimate objects and ornaments. The kinds of figurative language people use stem from the underlying values and assumptions of their culture or society. A well understood metaphor inone culture may have an entirely different meaning in another culture. For example,the figurative meaning of different colours varies from one language group to another. According to Palmer and Brooks (2004) the conventional association in British English between the colour “green” to mean nature and innocence might not be the same for students in other cultures. Students ought to be aware of these associations in order to make tense of idiomatic usages like “to be green” (referring to the colour of a thing and “to have green fingers” which means “one good at making plants grow”, as well as more literary uses of the colour green.

The teacher’s task is to sensitize students to the cultural significance obtainable to particular examples of figurative language in English, while encouraging them to compare the  ssociation with those in their own language. Figurative language is found both in literary and study-type reading materials. It is used in conversations too. Hence, it is part of every individual’s cultural background. The embedded figurative language in a reading passage carries the culture of that language and the reading process involves recognition and handling of such cultural meanings (Dellicarpini, 2007). On the problem of recognizing and handling cultural meanings, Dellicarpini (2007) stated that because figurative expressions have become conventional components of everyday language, listeners and readers are unaware of the extent of the metaphorical nature of language. Some popular idioms, proverbs and metaphoric expressions are so deeply embedded into language that they are comprehended immediately when used in oral conversations without the individual k owing the initial,  historical context of the word or phrase.

But Batolva (2006) observed that despite the copious usage of figurative language in conversations, many readers struggle to interpret the language when it is encountered in a text. This inability to interpret the language leads to a breakdown in text comprehension which in turn can frustrate readers and discourage them from continuing the reading task. Figures of speech are numerous but the most commonly used are metaphors, synecdoche, metonymy, personifications, idioms, proverbs and allusions (Palmer and Brooks, 2006). Other commonly known forms are hyperbole (overstatement), litotes
(understatement), simile, which is a formal comparison of two things usually introduced by the words “like” or “as”, and, irony. Metaphors on the other hand,
provide direct comparisons between two things that are usually considered not similar. An important characteristic of one thing is used to describe another in a metaphor. For example, in the statement, “The child was a bolt of lightning,” characteristics of lightning are associated with the child’s quick movements.

Another important figure of speech in English Language is idiom. Idioms are defined as fixed phrases or sentences whose meanings are different from the
meanings of the individual words (Baldeh, 2001). They form integral part of  everyday colloquial speech of native speakers. For instance, idioms such as “making a mountain out of a molehill or burning the midnight oil are expressions that do not mean what they literally say (Akmajian, Demers, Farmer, and Horrnish,2004). One may ask what implications these examples have for the teaching of figurative language. First, understanding figurative language involves a process of inference whereby the learner is able to comprehend that two things which do not normally collocate are being brought together. Understanding figurative language requires a deeper level of text comprehension, an understanding beyond the literal level using analytical and inferential skills. According to Fredricks (2006), analyzing figurative language for meaning is found to be complex and challenging for both native and nonnative English speakers.

As a result, students’ inability to grasp figurative language can lead to a breakdown in understanding key points or even comprehending the passage as a whole. In the same vein, its being complex to understand can also cause difficulty in teaching particularly if students’ prior exposure occurred in a dry, dull format with material that they could not relate to, thereby decreasing their incentives to learn. Therefore, two major tasks are needed to interpret figurative language. These are the ability to recognize figurative language and the ability to understand it. According to Batolva (2006), to recognize figurative
language the reader should see if the writer used language that would not make good sense if taken literally; if he made a direct comparison; if the writer said that one thing is something else; if the writer exaggerated the comparison. To understand figurative language, students are expected to do the following: decide what things are being compared; think of the qualities that are characteristic of the figurative language; and, decide which of these qualities is appropriate to the context in which the figurative language is used. In reading for comprehension then, word recognition is not enough.

Vocabulary knowledge is needed (Scarborough, 2001). For English as a Second Language (ESL) learners, many factors have been known to influence reading negatively. These factors have been categorized into psychological, physical, environmental, pedagogical and linguistic. Generally, reading achievement can be hampered by psychological problems and physical defects ranging from general low intelligence leading to poor mental and perceptual
ability; auditory defects which lead to poor auditory perception; eye defects, defects of the speech organs and emotional instability (Mgbodile,1999). Also, studies have shown that Nigerian learners of English have poor reading habits which influence comprehension. These habits include pointing at words thereby delaying the fast movement of the eyes for fast reading; moving the head sideways along the line of print, thereby making reading tiring and boring; vocalization in which the reader pronounces words to oneself equating the speed of talking with the speed of reading; sub vocalization, in this case, the lips are not moved, the tongue and vocal cords are intact but a sort of inner speech is made to oneself; and, word by word reading which results in excessive word analysis (Nduka, 2003; Ikonta,2005; and Offorma, 2009).

A variable considered important in reading skill is gender. Gender in this study is regarded as a cultural constraint which distinguishes the roles, behaviour,
mental and emotional characteristics between males and females developed by a society (Azikiwe, 2005). A society in this regard is a group of individuals who share common interest and norms, living together in a particular geographic location (Nwafor, 2002). In language learning, especially reading, there have been controversial reports on gender performance. For instance, Akabogu (2002) and Marja (2008) recorded no gender difference in performance of male and female students in reading comprehension. Offorma (2001,2009) reported that girls achieve more than boys in foreign language acquisition. On the other hand, Anizoba (2004) and Oluikpe (2004) also reported no significant influence of gender on the students’ achievement in essay writing.
Closely related to the influence of gender on students’ performance in reading comprehension is location of the school. Differences in location imply the existence of differences in demographic and socio-economic parameters of the school.

(Anizoba, 2004), Uwa (2005) and Adepoju (2008) observed that students in schools located in the urban area perform better in second language learning than those in schools located in the rural area. The observation was that schools in the urban centres had access to electricity which in turn attracted infrastructures like language laboratory, computers for computer based learning, well equipped school libraries, conducive classrooms and enough qualified English language teachers. On the contrary, schools located in the rural areas lack most of these amenities. So far studies carried out on the influence of location on reading comprehension have shown controversial results. For example, Ene (2002) and Akabogu (2002) reported that students in the urban area scored higher marks in reading comprehension than the students in the rural area. Okeke (2000) and Anizoba (2004) reported a no significant difference in achievement in reading comprehension of students from the urban and rural areas.

Closely related to location variable is a linguistic factor which influences reading comprehension among Nigerian students. This problem arises as a result of interference of the learners’ mother tongue (MT) on the target language (TL). According to Uwa (2005), students who are used to the pronunciation, stress, rhythm and intonation patterns of their mother tongue before learning to read and write in a language which has different phonological, lexical and syntactical arrangements with their (MT), get in the printed material distorted thereby influencing the students’ rate of comprehension (International Reading Association, 2001). Unfortunately, students’ performances in examinations conducted by examination bodies like West African Examination Council (WAEC) and National Examination Council (NECO) have been very poor in English language. Reading skill is at the centre of all the subjects offered in the school (Nduka, 2003). Therefore, failure in reading is failure in all the other subjects including the English language.

For instance, WAEC’S statistical report on candidates’ performance in English Language, May/June (2006-2008) showed very poor achievement. In May/June (2006), 32.48% obtained credit and above; in May/June (2007), 30.32% scored credit and above; in May/June (2008), 35.02% scored credit.
In the same examination, NECO’s statistical presentation on candidates’ performance in the same subject has not showed any improvement as one would
expect with all that the computer age has to offer. In NECO June/July (2009), 25.99% candidates scored credit and above. In June/July (2010), 21.00% candidates scored credit and above; and in June/July (2011), 20.16% obtained credit and above (http://www.neco.com). The results so far presented call for urgent need to explore ways of making reading lessons effective in order to enhance students’ achievement. WAEC Chief Examiners’ Reports on English Language Paper 1 sections B and C which comprises Comprehension and Summary of passages have never attracted favourable commentary on students’ performance for some years now. For instance, they expressed sadness that after six years in the secondary school and given a paper that conformed to standards, most candidates still performed very poorly (WAEC, 2008).

According to the report, the candidates’ expression was generally poor and the range of vocabulary knowledge so limited. In the reading comprehension and summary sections, candidates lost a lot of marks as a result of lifting seeming answers. The report indicated that many candidates were yet to understand the skills of reading comprehension one of which hinges on vocabulary recognition and vocabulary knowledge. The Senior Secondary Certificate  Examination (SSCE) English Language Syllabus has revealed the WAEC and NECO objectives for setting comprehension questions. According to the objectives, it is expected that after six years in the secondary school, candidates should be able to do the following:
(i) Find appropriate equivalents for selected words and phrases;
(ii) Understand the factual content of a passage;
(iii) Make inferences from the content of the passages;
(iv) Respond to uses of English expressions to reveal, reflect
sentiments, emotions and attitudes;
(v) Identify and label basic grammatical structures, words, phrases or
clauses, and explain their functions as they appear in the context;
(vi) Identify and explain basic literary terms and expressions;
(vii) Recast phrases or sentences into grammatical alternatives.

(WAEC 2004-2008:192-193) Method of teaching the subject has been under severe criticism in recent time. In most Nigerian secondary schools the  conventional method of teaching reading comprehension is teacher-oriented and not student -centred. It is patterned after the Audio-Lingual Method which often ends in habit formation. The learning theory underlying the (ALM) is the behavioural theory of stimulus-response which upholds that language, like much of human behaviour, takes the form of repeated responses to similar stimuli. In the adaptation of (ALM) to teaching reading comprehension in the
classroom, the English teacher has often done the following :(i) sets out purposes for reading;(ii) builds background experience of the reading passage; and, (iii )teaches unfamiliar vocabulary through the use of the dictionary. The audio-lingual method of language teaching has been criticized for a number of reasons. For example, the method is seen as an all- teacher affair. According to Richards and Rodgers (2001), learners are viewed as organisms that can be directed by skill training to produce correct responses such that teaching focusses on the external manifestations of learning rather than on the internal processes of learning. Learners play a reactive role by responding to stimuli.

On the contrary, a humanistic approach which centres on the schemata and meta-cognitivism have gained increasing prominence in English Language teaching and it has recognized the learner as a whole person who has analytic ability (Fredricks, 2006). The theory of constructivism on which this teaching strategy is based, states the nature of interaction between the cognitive processes resulting from the influence of prior experience, both social and cultural, on the reading passage as aids to comprehension if properly harnessed. This includes all the variables which may influence the meaning any reader can give to a text. Exposure to figurative language is discussion oriented. Recourse is made to first language association (Peregoy and Boyle, 2000; Fredricks, 2006). The use of the dictionary is encouraged so that learners can generate more metaphorical extensions of the target words. Exposure takes the form of teaching vocabularies in their context. The teacher adopts the following steps in exposing figurative language in a passage:

(i) Categorizing language according to metaphorical propositions which may require act of “completion” from the readers whereby a “linkage” is established between the two elements being compared and linguistic inferences made (Lazar, 1996:47). For example, to what is “Love” compared to in the two verses below:
(a). Love is a smoke raised with the fume of sighs: Being purg’d, a fire sparking in lover’s tears: A madness most discreet. (from Romeo and Juliet I.i.)
(b). Love is feeling cold in the back of vans.Love is a fanclub with only two fans. Love is walking holding painstained hands. (from “Love is” by Adrian Henri in Mc Gough 1981:108)
The question can be “Which comparison in the verses above about “love” do you think is the most effective? and why? Figurative language can be taught by asking the students to list the literal qualities in a group of words in order to decode their figurative meanings in a text. The aim of the activities which follow is to help the learners grapple with the more sustained metaphors often found in certain texts such as humorous journalism, advertisements, poetry and other literary texts. For instance in the following words “peak”, “mountain”, “torrent”, can you match each word with the definition that best explains its meaning?

a. a large amount of water that flows or falls very quickly
b. an extremely high hill that usually has steep sides
c. the pointed part of a mountain
The words defined have at least one other meaning which the students can find out. According to Fredricks (2006) idioms and collocations with deeply entrenched metaphors create the most difficult problems for ESL readers as the embedded metaphors carry the culture of the second language. Unfortunately, many studies have not been carried out on the extent to which figurative language can expand students’ vocabulary for enhanced reading comprehension. Few works available have given credit to its usefulness to ESL learners. For instance, Palmer, Shackelford, Miller, and Leclere, (2006) observed that providing ESL students with explicit instruction in interpreting figurative language- a bridge to reading comprehension- is a significant goal for teachers who design instruction for culturally and linguistically diverse population. Lazar (1996) suggested using figurative language to expand students’ vocabulary. Fredricks (2006) identified it as an aspect of vocabulary difficult to teach. In the present study, the researcher has attempted to investigate whether exposure to figurative language will have any effect on the achievement of senior secondary school students in English reading comprehension.

EFFECT OF EXPOSURE TO FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE ON SENIOR SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS’ ACHIEVEMENT IN ENGLISH READING COMPREHENSION

 

 

Statement of the Problem

 

There have been consistent reports of poor achievement in English Language among Nigerian students over the years. Also, results on students’ performance in Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (SSCE) in English Language over the years have not been commendable. Failure in this subject area has often been attributed to the methods and strategies of teaching the reading skill which is the core of the school curriculum. Another observation made is the limited vocabulary which ESL students have. Previous reports from WAEC Chief Examiners noted that in reading comprehension section, most candidates usually exhibited poor understanding by giving the surface meaning of the passage, lacking the ability to read between the lines or draw inferences. The reports also added that most  candidates performed poorly in questions testing figures of speech and concluded that all these pitfalls pointed to the fact that the candidates were not adequately prepared for the examination by the schools. The conventional method of teaching reading
comprehension has been found to have some limitations, one of which is that it is teacher-centred instead of learner-centred. Therefore, considering the need to improve students’ performance in reading comprehension, the present study attempted to investigate the effect which exposure to figurative language would have on senior secondary school students’ achievement in reading comprehension. Put in question form, the problem of the study was:

What will be the effect of exposure to figurative language on senior secondary school students’ attitude and achievement in English reading comprehension?

Purpose of the Study

The main purpose of the study was to determine the effect of exposure to figurative language on senior secondary school students’ achievement in English
reading comprehension. Specifically, the study set out to determine: i. the achievement of senior secondary school students exposed to figurative
language in English reading comprehension and those taught using the conventional method. ii. the influence of gender on the achievement of senior secondary school students exposed to figurative language in English reading comprehension. iii. the influence of school location on the achievement of senior secondary school students exposed to figurative language in English reading comprehension.

 

EFFECT OF EXPOSURE TO FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE ON SENIOR SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS’ ACHIEVEMENT IN ENGLISH READING COMPREHENSION

 

 

boko haram insurgency measurement

MEASURING PUBLIC OPINION ON BOKO HARAM INSURGENCY THROUGH EDITORIAL MATTERS IN SELECTED NEWSPAPERS: AN ASSESSMENT OF THE PUNCH, THIS DAY, DAILY SUN AND DAILY TRUST

 

 

ABSTRACT

 

In an investigation into soft news public opinion on Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria, the study content analyzed 520 issues of four newspapers (The Punch, This Day, Daily Sun and Daily Trust) over a six-month period from October, 2011 to March, 2012. With five units of analysis (including editorials, features, letters to the editor, opinion articles and press interviews) and four content categories (including editorial framing, agenda focus, frequency and editorial reaction) the study employed a coding sheet to collect relevant data for analysis and presentation. Findings revealed that political undertone that drove the Boko Haram violence was far more than the religious motive popularly associated with it. Findings also showed that the government and the elite class got less criticism in newspaper editorial reactions than the Boko Haram insurgents. The study concluded that the newspapers did not fully utilize the potency of editorials to hold the ruling class accountable for their contribution to the worsening case of violence brought about by Boko Haram insurgency. The study recommended that more critical editorials be done by newspapers on the shortcomings of the government and the elite class in order to foster national interest and curtail violence.

 

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background of Study

 

The study was informed by the need to explore what kind of public opinion was disseminated in Nigerian press through their opinionated contents, such as editorials, features, letters to the editor, columnist‟s opinion articles and media interviews on the protracted Boko Haram insurgency from October, 2011 to March, 2012. In its core essence, this research study was inspired by the escalating modes of operation of Boko Haram militants, who initially were fighting government forces with swords, bows and arrows, home-made hunting riffles and petrol bombs. But now, they have developed their warfare into devastating acts of terrorism which include suicide bombings, shellings, assassinations and hostage takings. Similarly, Boko Harram targets have moved beyond government security operatives and the ruling class.

They now include Christians, opposing Muslims and media establishments. The situation is so grossly alarming that hardly does any day pass by without a reported case of violence orchestrated by Boko Haram in Nigeria, especially in the northern region. From July 2009 when the insurgency began up till this present time, the violence has claimed hundreds of innocent lives and properties worth several billions of naira. Beyond this, it has unleashed an alarming internal insecurity on the country across board, subsequent to which the nation suffers huge international disrepute. The current period in the nation‟s history offers a similitude of bitter experience of spites and antics that characterized the build-up to the Nigerian civil war in the late sixties and the socio-political disenchantment which set the tone for outburst of public disorder that portrayed the June 12 national crisis of the early 1990s. What, other than Boko Haram insurgency, has been setting the tone of national debate in Nigeria? The federal government has found it a very hard nut to crack, and the citizenry have acknowledged it as a devastating terror.
In the media environment, newspaper reporters have had a field day on happenings pertaining to Boko Haram, going by the volumes of news reports they turn in to their media houses on daily basis.

Apart from these conventional straight news stories which are ethically written without bias or personal sentiments, newspapers also explore an array of organized avenues to put opinionated messages across to people. Such include feature articles and personalized columns of in-depth news analyses and interpretations, with which volumes of viewpoints have been written on Boko Haram mayhem in different newspapers all over the country. However, there exists a very unique thing in a newspaper called editorial page. This page contains the corporate view of every newspaper industry on a topical issue that affects the public and on which necessary action should be taken for better situation to exist. Editorials have been noted as an effective tool for bringing about change in the governance and society. They are the only mouthpiece with which newspaper establishments can plainly express their views and opinions on a given issue, take a position on such issue and make an appeal for action (Chilton 2004). To investigate how well the Nigerian press set public agenda on the Boko Haram insurgency, the proposed study finds the newspaper editorial opinions and other opinionated write-ups as a relevant ground. Thus the pivot around which the focus of this research shall revolve is the editorial and soft news pages which, as a matter of fact, form the only avenue to discover the official and corporate stand taken by newspapers on the Boko Haram issue. A good background for an enquiry into media agenda on Boko Haram insurgency in the press cannot be complete without shedding light on certain issues. In a bid to fully comprehend what this study intends to unravel, therefore, a review of how, when, where and why the entire Boko Haram trouble was hatched is provided in the following chronicle.

Boko Haram in Hausa language literally means “Western education is forbidden”. The word boko originally means “fake”, but it has become the name with which Western education is generally called by Hausa people. Haram is an Arabic word for “forbidden”. Boko Haram is a label with which Jama‟atul Ahlis Sunna Lidda‟wati Wal-Jihad (People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet‟s Teachings and Jihad) was dubbed by residents of Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, where the Islamic group was founded in 2002 by Mohammed Yusuf. Residents gave it the name because of its strong opposition to Western education and Western culture, which it sees as corrupting Muslims. For almost three years now (since July, 2009 specifically) the radical organization has notoriously remained on the centre stage of bloody conflict with the government, security operatives and civilian targets in Nigeria. Widely known as a group of armed and dangerous Muslim dissidents, Boko Haram now seeks to abolish the secular system of government and establish sharia law in the country through terror and aggression

. The group is also infamous for attacking Christian churches, opposing Muslim clerics and media establishments. As regards the circumstances under which the group was established ten years ago, it is obvious that it came into being to fulfill both religious and political agenda. For instance, the group worked in partnership with the government under former Governor Ali Modu Sheriff of Borno State. In a statement attributed to the People‟s Democratic Party (PDP) chairman of Borno State, Alhaji Baba Basharu, Daily Trust (2011) reported that Boko Haram came to prominence in Borno State when it helped to bring Governor Ali Modu Sheriff to power in 2003. However, troubles began when Ali Modu Sheriff of All Nigeria People‟s Party (ANPP) was working to win the state from his predecessor Mala Kachallah (who became governor under ANPP but defected to Alliance for Democracy [AD] in order to seek second tenure) in the wake of 2003 gubernatorial election. Sheriff entered into a pact with Boko Haram (then popularly known as Yusufiyyah Movement) with a promise to implement shariah rule in Borno State. After becoming governor, Sheriff created a Ministry of Religious Affairs and appointed Alhaji Buji Foi, who was then Boko Haram‟s national secretary, as its first commissioner. The amity between the two camps lasted for a while until they fell out when Sheriff did not fulfill his promise to implement shariah law. At that point Muhammed Yusuf ordered Foi to resign from Sheriff‟s cabinet. Foi resigned, and most staff of the Religious Affairs Ministry whom he had brought there also left along with him.

Subsequently, Boko Haram began working to achieve shariah rule through preaching. Soon, there was growing tension between Boko Haram members and the ruling class in Borno State. At a point there was a major clash between them and the police at Maidokiri, near the GRA in Maiduguri, and some of their members were killed. When Boko Haram members staged a procession to the cementry to bury their dead members, another clash took place with the police. The police accused some of them of riding their motorbikes without crash helmets and in the ensuing clash, 19 people died. Muhammed Yusuf then went to a number of security agency offices demanding for justice for the two incidents. Soon after, Boko Haram members were attacking police stations and prisons. This ultimately led to gruesome events of July 2009 in which confrontations between federal forces and Boko Haram led to the death of over 700 members of the group, including its leader Mohammed Yusuf, who was killed in police custody. A number of reasons have been attributed to the enormous followers mustered by Boko Haram group in northern Nigeria. Prominent among them is that Yusuf successfully attracted loyalists from unemployed youths by speaking out against police and political corruption (Eric Guttschuss, 2010).

It has also been established that Boko Haram violent uprising in Nigeria is ultimately due to the fallout of frustration with corruption and the attendant social malaise of poverty, unemployment and low rate of formal education in the mostly affected states of northern Nigeria (Abdulkarim, 2011). Beyond this, the manner in which Boko Haram was founded is another factor that endeared it to its followers. Set up in Maiduguri with an Islamic centre which included a mosque and a school, the group attracted many poor families in northern Nigeria and neighbouring countries of Chad and Niger to enroll their children. The centre also comprised a sprawling compound with an area of land covering about 2.5 miles. Thus the centre was used both as school and recruiting ground for jihadis to fight the state government in the confrontations that would follow Boko Haram‟s severed relation with Governor Ali Modu Sheriff (Johnson, 2010). From its inception, Boko Haram conducted its operations more or less peacefully, especially during its first seven years of existence. However, that changed in 2009 when the Nigerian government launched an investigation into the group‟s activities following reports that its members were arming themselves.

Prior to that, the government had reportedly ignored – in repeated manners – warnings about the increasingly militant character of the organization, including that of a military officer colonel Ben Ahanotu, who was then in charge of a local anti-crime operation in Borno State (Associated Press, 2009). Eventually, with the July 26 (2009) Boko Haram attack on a police station in Bauchi at the end of which 39 militants and a soldier were killed, and clashes between militants and the Nigerian Police Force spread to kano, Yobe and Borno states, the Nigerian government swung into action. Federal forces launched a deadly attack on Boko Haram stronghold in Maiduguri where members of the group had barricaded themselves. From July 28 to 30 when the federal offensive was carried out, more than 700 people were killed in the city of Maiduguri alone, according to the Red Cross (Press TV, 2009).

Documentary sources gleaned from press reportage between July 2009 and June 2012 reveals a vicious string of bloody violence ranging from Boko Haram bomb blasts to assassinations of prominent political and religious leaders, prison breaks, kidnappings and killings of expatriates, bank robberies, arsons, etc. It has also led to declaration of a state of emergency in the violence-ridden local government areas of Borno, Plateau, Niger and Yobe states as well as temporary closure of Nigeria‟s border with Chad and Cameroon. In addition to this, several offensives and raids have been unleashed by government‟s Joint Task Force (JTF) on Boko Haram hideouts, many of which resulted in gun battles and occasional shellings that brought about scores of casualities. After three days of intense gun battles and mortal shellings, the federal forces succeeded in capturing Mohammed Yusuf, founder of Boko Haram. However, less than 24 hours of Yusuf‟s stay in custody, he was killed by the police for allegedly trying to escape. His mutilated and bullet-poked body was publicly displayed with his hands still handcuffed to his back. This raised the question as to whether he was actually trying to escape when killed by the police or he was summarily executed in the interest of the ruling class to hide certain things about Boko Haram sponsors and operations which might be indicting. Subsequently, there was an outburst of suspicion and foul play as some segments of the media, the general public and international human rights organizations believed some conspiracy lay beneath Yusuf‟s death (Council on Foreign Relations, 2010).

First, Yusuf‟s hands were still handcuffed to the back of his mutilated body. Second, some of the officers who witnessed Yusuf‟s killing told reporters that he had pleaded for mercy before he was executed. The fact that voices of officers shouting “no mercy” could be clearly heard in background of the video of public display of Yusuf‟s dead body further corroborates this allegation. Third, he was not allowed to be properly investigated and tried at law court. His killing was thus regarded as extra judicial.Sequel to the killing of Yusuf, Boko Haram members regrouped and succeeded in carrying out their first terrorist attack in Borno in January 2010, killing four people. Since then, their extremism and violence have kept escalating in terms of both frequency and intensity. In July 2010, an interesting twist was added to Boko Haram setting when Abubakar Shekau, Yusuf‟s former deputy who was hitherto believed to have been killed during July 2009 federal onslaught on the militant group, appreared in a video posted on line claiming leadership of the movement. According to Reuters, Shekau took control of the group after Yusuf‟s death in 2009. One after the other, Boko Haram has posted more than four on-line videos among which was a raw clip of how This Day Newspaper offices in Abuja and Kaduna were bombed on 26 of last April in suicide attacks carried out by the group. The story of Boko Haram fundamentalists and their acts of violence complicate the conventional account of religious insurgency in Nigeria; it is one religious uprising twice intertwined with political subterfuge. The group‟s flexibility in change of tactics and targets has defied all estimation of government security and intelligence services. Up north, the situation is such that for some time now it has become a challenge to get people to talk freely about the group‟s activities and modes of operation.

Families and individuals are scared to open up because they don‟t know who is Boko Haram and who is not. For the first time since he assumed office, President Jonathan recently admitted that there were Boko Haram sympathizers in his government and the security agencies, thereby pointing to how much the extremist movement might have penetrated into government and security circles (France 24, 2012). This is no gainsaying, given the fact of how Boko Haram succeeded in bombing the “heavily secured” National Police Headquarters and United Nations House last year August in Abuja, the federal capital of Nigeria. Boko Haram has continued to interest the reading public as a topical national issue up till date, and it may remain so for some time more.

 

MEASURING PUBLIC OPINION ON BOKO HARAM INSURGENCY THROUGH EDITORIAL MATTERS IN SELECTED NEWSPAPERS: AN ASSESSMENT OF THE PUNCH, THIS DAY, DAILY SUN AND DAILY TRUST

 

 

1.2 Statement of Problem

One of the major roles of mass media is to bring society into a system of harmonious integration. Through this correlation function, the mass media are expected (among other things) to explain, interpret and comment on the meaning of events and conditions. They are also responsible for providing guides for established authorities in their policies and procedures as well as setting agenda and conferring status. All these constitute one of the four items of roles played by the fourth estate of the realm (Ndolo, 2011 & McQuail, 2005). As the Boko Haram insurgency rages on with rising tension in Nigeria, there appears to be need for assessing how the press have played their roles in setting agenda on it through opinionated contents. There is also need to find out the press evaluation of measures taken by the government towards quelling the persisting insurgency. Going by the plethora of public outcries which trail the incessant violence occasioned by the Boko Haram insurgency, there is no gainsaying that the Nigerian masses are very much concerned about the problem and government measures towards putting it to rest. Although there has been general assessment of Boko Haram violence in terms of material losses, such as Clothia (2012), Abdulkarim (2012) and Bartolotta (2011), what has not been determined is the way and level of mass opinion about Boko Haram in the context of the press. Consequently, a huge question arises from in the researcher‟s mind; what if the media contents run contrary to public agitations and yearnings about Boro Haram? This is a poser that begs for an empirical answer.

There is thus a need to investigate whether media contents are in consonance with general feelings or not, and also to make recommendations. This is the haunch that sparked off the focus of this research effort. Similarly, there seems to be some relationship existing between the escalating violence and the media role of correlation of society. Hypothetically, if the press perform their correlation function well, it is expected that their editorial contents will impact on the government and society at large. However, as the Boko Haram violence keeps mounting, can we say that the media have not discharged their editorial responsibility or that Boko Haram issue has been ignored in the editorial focus of the press? There is clear need for this study in order to carry out an objective investigation of the problem and arrive at a reliable conclusion. The most effective way of going about this is by content-analyzing newspaper‟s editorial comments on the Boko Haram issue, and this is exactly what the study intends to carry out on The Punch, This Day, Daily Sun and Daily Trust newspapers. Furthermore, given that Boko Haram has carried out suicide bombings on two offices of This Day newspaper as a “warning to deter the press from misreporting its activities to the public”, it was vital that a study of this kind be done to ascertain the level of press neutrality and grasp of the whole issue editorialwise. Hence This Day was included as one of the four newspapers whose editorial opinions were content-analyzed in the enquiry carried out.

 

MEASURING PUBLIC OPINION ON BOKO HARAM INSURGENCY THROUGH EDITORIAL MATTERS IN SELECTED NEWSPAPERS: AN ASSESSMENT OF THE PUNCH, THIS DAY, DAILY SUN AND DAILY TRUST