SO how has the average Nigerian youth taken all this? How have they been influenced by the onslaught on the pages of newspapers and the words being daily transmitted on the electronic media?
From findings, the youth in Nigeria have immense confidence in the power of the mass media. They love free press, many of them are clamouring for the independence or freedom of the press in no little words. The youth interviewed pointed out that “. . .the Nigerian media do not only enlighten, educate and inform us, we live by their versatility”.
THE YOUTHS IN THE SCHEME OF THINGS
According to Social Psychologists, development follows an orderly and sequential pattern, with one state leading to the next. It also involves both quantitative and qualitative changes in the individual. The youth are members of the Generation Next – young adults between the ages of seventeen and twenty-one.
The general principles that govern their development is the same with any other human being, and they are:
1. A characteristic growth rate
2. A characteristic directionality
3. A characteristic pattern of differentiation and integration
4. A characteristic sequence
Freud (1923) taught that there are three basic structures of the personality:
1. The id
2. The ego and
3. The superego
He pointed out that these are not physical entities, which influence people, but however represent the major aspects of the human personality. Each of these has its own function but they interact in the control of behaviour. The Id acts by “primary process”. It is the original source of personality, and from it the other two entities, ego and superego later develop. The sole purpose is to seek for and obtain pleasure. It is the source of all human drives operating on the “pleasure principle level”.
THE EGO: develops from the id for the purpose of facing reality.
THE SUPEREGO: represents the internalized ideals, values and morals of society as taught to the child by both parents and other adults. It can be taken as the conscience or arm of personality. By it we are enabled to decide for ourselves whether something is right or wrong and then choose what is right in order to be socially conformable.
LAWS OF YOUTH BEHAVIOUR
1. Reactionary Tendencies
2. Discriminative Stimulus
3. Exposure to the target
4. Transience to behaviour change
5. Home tutelage
6. Interdependent and Mixed contingencies
7. Vicarious reinforcements
8. Open manners of delivery
9. Direct consequences
10. Informative/Emulative functions/Additional variables
EFFECT OF MEDIA REPORTS ON YOUTH
Through:
1. Newspapers and Magazines
2. Televisions and Radio
MEDIA AS A CHECK
1. The media provides the youth with diverse and developmentally progressive input.
2. Helps accelerate positive social interaction in withdrawn, socially unresponsive youths.
3. Decreases negative interaction in socially negative and abusive youths.
4. Accelerates co-operative interactions in social play and activity settings.
5. Acts as social/moral reinforcers.
BARRIERS IN SENDING MESSAGES
Type of mass media, the messages sent, the nature of recipients, receiver’s attitudes, opinions, habits, flexibility, selective content, youths manipulated by adults on social situations.
YOUTHS RESTIVENESS IN A DEMOCRATIC SETTING, MEDIA INVOKED OR WHAT?
The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary defined the word ‘restive’ as ‘unable to stay still, or unwilling to be controlled, especially because of boredom or dissatisfaction’. Restiveness has usually been understood as a form of generalized discontent that has the ever-present potential of overt expression. Thus the significance is the potential to act in response to some dissatisfaction or discontent. Sometimes what the youths read in the papers, hear or see on radios and television could be a predisposing catalyst to how they respond on the deficiencies of successive governments. However, the main issue is that there is always an integral disorientation, disgruntlement, dissatisfaction and destabilization.
REASON FOR RESTIVENESS, FRUSTRATION
When goal directed activity is barricaded, the form of aggression may be externally driven situations and causes which may not be in individual psychology but in the social context in which behaviour occurs.
Youth restiveness in the Niger Delta, clashes between youth organizations in Benue, religious riots in Kano, cultism in citadels of learning are all instances of youth restiveness, but in a democratic setting a misplaced government policy could trigger off restiveness, death of a member of youth organization in unnatural circumstances, death as a result of government’s insensitiveness (like on a high voltage electric wire fallen and left on an inhabited quarters or area unnecessarily), a collapsed building left totally undemolished by the authorities, outbreak of cholera because of lack of potable drinking water, lack of power supply in areas where youths mostly reside (as in academic setting) lack of employment and other social amenities.
HOW THE YOUTHS LEARN
1. By imitation
2. Assimilation
3. Induction
4. Utilization
5. Diffusion
6. Digression and by
7. Confusion
The importance of imitation in the social development of young people has been so widely emphasized as to become axiomatic in the literature of psychology and education. Recently, increased attention has been directed toward investigating the role of imitation during early adulthood. Much of the answers being culled from youths themselves is motivated by a conceptualization of imitation as a potentially powerful resource in the development of the youth.
YOUTH RESTIVENESS IN THE NIGER DELTA
According to Dr Festus Iyayi, the restiveness of youths in the Niger Delta not only differs from the restiveness that expresses itself in cult wars in tertiary institutions, but also from that which occurs between community groups as a result of some territorial disputes. It is also different from the type of youth demonstrations that occurred in 1960 over the Anglo-Nigeria Defense pact, and then in the 80’s and 90’s in opposition to SAP and to military rule. Youth restiveness can take the forms of advocacy, demonstrations, protests, war, crime, religious or ethnic cleansing, mass movements, etc.
The empirical forms of youth restiveness need to be separated from the characteristics that differentiate one form of restiveness from the other.
POINTS TO CONSIDER
1. The critical conditions that produce restiveness.
2. Frequency
3. Consequences
4. Categories of actors involved
5. Targets
6. Levels of observable and expressed restiveness
7. Orientation
8. Mode of expression and
9. Degree of its pervasiveness.
Restiveness may be localized or globalized, latent or manifest, blind or focused, youths versus adults, male versus female, youths versus government and with social, political, economic or religious origins, or it could be chronic, manifest, progressive, constructive and politicalised.
YOUTH RESTIVENESS AS AN AGENT OF SOCIAL/ECONOMIC
CHANGE IN A DEMOCRACY
1. Several youths organizations were involved in the struggle for Nigeria’s independence when shortly after independence Nigerian youths rose up against the Nigeria -Anglo Defense Pact in 1960.
2. Nigerian students took active part in the struggle against military and civilian dictatorship in Nigeria.
3. Anti-SAP, anti-imperialist and anti-world Bank/IMF coalitions.
IN THE NIGER DELTA
Massive demonstrations against the ills in the Nigerian state, legal action against the global oil companies that are seen as infiltrating the fabrics of the Niger Delta, resistance to the Nigerian state, mobilization of their local communities and drawing international attention to the situation in that region. NANS also participated in the struggle against systematic and systemic increases in the prices of petroleum products.
THE GENERAL ANALYSIS
a.    Psychological factors (it is in the nature of youths to be restive)
b. Contextual factors (it is triggered off by the background of prevailing social, economic and political conditions. Deprivation and poverty as well as injustices, whether real or imagined, or in expected revolutions.
c. Organizational factors (occurs when individuals create organizations or form groups to give expression to felt dissatisfaction)
In Nigeria youth restiveness is a result of the nature, character and under performance of the Nigerian economy and polity. The ruling class has been anti- Nigerian in character, and has preferred to adopt policies that favour the interests of the ruling elite within the domestic ruling class and those of international capital. The arbitrary increase in fuel pomp price and the inflationary negative impact of this on the lives of the people between 1999 and 2004 have been explained away by the rulers via the arguments provided by the World Bank and the IMF (Dr .F. Iyayi, 2004) Prof. Iwayemi (2002) similarly noted that:
“A second characteristic of failed development in Nigeria is the dramatic upsurge in poverty in the last decade in Nigeria. This is evident in the fact that two out of every 3 Nigerians are now class as poor, compared to 1 in every 3 in the 90’s”.
Summarily, there are several competing theories on the freedom of the press, and some say it will be gradual and may not be distributed evenly among media. Others say editorial forums will gain prominence in a democratic setting as ours.
OWNERSHIP ANA CONTROL
1. Free market will continue to exist. No government will wake up and say only government media should hold sway.
2. The government will be cynical about political power of private media and may attempt to compete.
3. As the media continue to grow, more constraints will be placed on its paths and power.
PROBLEMS/PROSPECTS
Internal constraints, economic problems, ethics and conventions of journalism practices, lack of skilled manpower, conflict in hierarchical arrangements, external constraints, government regulatory agencies, private individuals or groups, the public is not sure what is news, pressure from competition, cost of litigation, organizations, more investigative work, more specialization, more personnel to handle case load.
CLARION CALLS ON THE PRESS
1. Not to throw caution to the wind
2. To investigate properly
3. To write more humanely
4. To be more gentle in their reporting
5. To have balanced reports
6. To base their reports on good conscience
7. To avoid propaganda, sensations and hurried reports
8. To avoid testimony destroyed by hypocrisy
In recognition of 4 things
1. Strengths
2. Topics
3. Optimal conditions and
4. Relationships
Meanwhile, Abraham Maslow, a professor of Philosophy, said “if the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail”, but the media works with two tools, Intellect and The Pen. The problem of a corrupt society is the nail. What do you do when you have a hammer and there’s a nail? You hit the nail on the head!
However, Lady Dorothy Nevil observed, “the art of conversations is not only to say the right thing in the right place, but to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment”. And that may be an advice for members of the 4th Estate in the area of propaganda and sensational reporting.
Finally, democracy is a learning process, it is always evolving, never static. It takes understanding and patience to gradually guide an illiberal, post-military, democracy like ours towards real and full democratic practices. We cannot expect those who had learnt the art and practice of politics under the most undemocratic and anti-democratic conditions to divest themselves of the authoritarian habits that had taken them three decades to cultivate. Patience is required from all of us. And I must emphasize at this point that it is not only politicians, but all of us as Nigerians, that must undergo a positive attitudinal overhaul to divest ourselves of imbibed wrong notions of democracy and governance. Our expectations of our leaders must be modest, honest and realistic.
And like the youths in Nigeria, we should join hands with the press to nudge our leaders towards good governance by mass mobilization to demand accountability from them. It is not important to vote under rain or shine in an election only to thereafter fold our arms, watching governments misrule us and then turn around to grumble under our breath. Eternal vigilance is the price to pay for liberty, so we must be ready to defend democracy and make it the line of equity, justice and good conscience.