RESS COVERAGE OF THE PASSAGE OF NATIONAL MINIMUM WAGE ACT IN NIGERIA
This work is an assessment of the extent of the press coverage of the passage of the national minimum wage act in Nigeria. The assessment is based on the following criteria the number of space allotted to the wage bill, the depth of the story direction favourably or not favourably, the frequently of the wage report and the ethical standard used in the coverage. Two national daily Newspapers were picked at random and their contents were evaluated and analyzed at a given period of time. These were Vanguard and Thisday newspaper. The researcher made use of chi-square method to analyze the data and tested the hypotheses. It was however discovered that the extents to which the national minimum wage act were reported is adequate. It was observed that the successful passage of that act was due to adequate awareness created by the press on the bill. To further strengthen the proper implementation of this act, it is recommended that the media should get the relevant agencies to speed up steps toward the implementation.
1.1 Background of the Study
The 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) recognizes Nigeria as one indivisible and indissoluble sovereign country consisting of thirty-six (36) states a federal capital Territory and Seven Hundred and Sixty-Eight (768) local government Areas. The legislative powers of the Federal Government of Nigeria are vested in the National Assembly. Item 34 of the Exclusive legislative List, under the 1999 constitution (as amended), confers on the National Assembly the exclusive authority to legislate on labour matters, which encompasses trade union activities, individual relations, employees’ conditions of services and welfare, industrial dispute, prescribing a national minimum wage for the federation or for any part of the federation and industrial arbitrations.
Based on the above constitutional provisions, the Nigerian National Assembly recently passed into law a National Minimum Wage (Amendment) Act, 2011. Consequently upon that, controversy, misrepresentations and threats of strike actions have followed the implementation of the provisions of this law with some state governments insisting that they cannot afford to pay the new national minimum wage. A wage is described by the National Minimum Wage Act (as amended) to mean the total emolument paid every month to an employee, for performing the services for which he or she is employed, on the basis of a forty-hour week, and howsoever as the emolument may be designated by the employer. The National Minimum Wage (amendment) Act, 2011 was enacted to amend some sections of the National Minimum Wage Act 2004 by proving for a new National Minimum wage for the entire country and regulating matters relating to the national minimum wage in Nigeria. As from the commencement of this 2011 National Minimum Wage Act, every employer is required to pay a wage that is not less than 18,000 per month to every employee engaged by an employer. The amount of 18,000 (Eighteen Thousand Naira) must be clear of all deductions except fro those authorized by law for example, pension, contributions payee tax etc.
The press serves as the link between the government, other institution, parastatals and the people. It is therefore the platform through which mutual understanding is created between the government and the people. In democracy, power recite with the people and as part of the fundamental human right, such power is expressed through the press. Public awareness and support on any national issues depends on the effectiveness of the media campaign on it. According to Gamble and Gamble (2008:18) insensitivity to another is needs and preferred ways of interacting can hamper our ability to relate effectively. Mark Eze (2008:102) while quoting Shaw (1972:86) says “Greater visibility of an events they say leads to greater public awareness and concern for an issue. Therefore, the manner in which an event or issue is presented in the news media contributes a lot to the knowledge and understanding of such an event or issue”. No wonder, the agenda setting approach by the press in the issue of the National Minimum Wage Act 2011 opened the flood gate of interest, ideas, criticism from the public against the lawmakers until the bill was passed into law.
The importance and the role of press has been stated in Article 22 of 1999 constitution as follows: “The Press, radio, television and other agencies of the mass media shall at all times be free to uphold the fundamental objectives contained in this chapter and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the government to the people”. This study therefore focuses on the influences the press exerted on the authority, the labour union, and other interest groups in the process of the passage of the National Minimum Wage Act 2011. In order to uphold this fundamental objective of the national minimum wage act and inform the people on its level of development, Thisday newspaper, reported from Abuja on 23 February that, “the Senate has approved the #18,000 new Minimum National Wage for workers proposed by President Goodluck Jonathan. The bill was given a expeditious passage as the Senate suspended order 79 of its standing rules to amend the National Minimum Wage Act, thus increasing the Minimum wage from #7,500 to #18,000”. Other related reports have been provided by the press from the very beginning of this bill until the very approval time. The daily proceeding and the debates on the issue of the National minimum wage have also been reported appropriately. Those reports provided the people with the update on the government reaction to such public issue. The organize labour also relied on these reports to strategies influence mobilizing its members and other relevant institutions to express their views and push for its success.
1.2 Statement of the Problems
The problem under investigation is the press coverage of the National Minimum Wage Act. This statement also acknowledges the significance of the press attitude towards government actions on the public welfares. It also looks into the extent to which the national Minimum Wage Act is being reported and covered by the two dailies newspaper.
Other issues to consider in this statement include:
- The level of objectivity in their reportage as against sentiments
- The level of professionalism applied
- The frequency of the report in the dailies newspapers.
- The extent of attention given to the National Minimum Wage Act.
- The sensitivity of the press reportage and the public expectations.
- The likely challenges that might be experienced in their quest for the information on act.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
A number of objectives are considered and set out for achievement in this study to include:
a) To investigate what took precedence in the coverage of the passage of National Minimum Wage Act, that is whether ethical standards or self interest as well as political and religious sentiments of the media owners.
b) To study whether professional training of the journalists or lack of its affects the media is objective of the coverage.
c) To find out the number of space and frequency devoted for the report of the act.
d) To consider the prominence given to the act, the page (front pages, inside pages, back page etc) and the importance attached to the detail report of this wage.
e) To find out whether other issues were placed ahead of this act in terms of frequency or not.
f) To find out the nature of news, feature, advertorials, editorial etc used to educate the people on this bill.
g) To examine whether the press coverage was adequate to create the necessary awareness for public participation.
1.4 Significance of the study
This study is scholarly unique and original as it takes a critical look into the extent of the media performances in setting agenda for economic and social welfare of the people in Nigeria. It is significant in the sense that it educates the people, interest groups, trade union and ally groups on the role of the media in changing a strong held opinion and policy toward a better and improved standard for social harmony. The study examine the quality of the media service delivery in Nigeria and seeks to strike a balance between what used to be and what ought to be. It further evaluates and recommend for adjustment if any, for better understanding and mutual benefit. Issues on the passage of the National Minimum Wage law are still fresh in the minds of Nigerians. The passage has just been done; however the implementation still remains a mile stone in the government sector. It is, therefore very important that the press don’t relent on the nature of making sure that the implementation is quickly done. This study leaves no stone unturned on all various issues surrounding the smooth implementation of this act.
1.5 Research Questions
(a)How can we assess the number of space allotted to the discussion of the issue on the national minimum wage act?
(b)What is the level of importance and regard placed on the wage issues regarding the position either front page, back page or inside page?
(c) To what extent can we attribute the success of the wage law to the quantity of information published on it.
(d)What were the nature of the story used to have greater influence on the masses for whom such stories are written?
(e)How can we examine the level of professionalism of the press men who covered the bill proceedings?
(f) Did the ownership of the press in any way influenced the story and its publication?
1.6 Research Hypotheses:
The following hypotheses are relevant for test and verification:
H1 The Press devoted enough space for adverts editorials, cartoons in favour of the minimum wage more than anything else.
H0 The Press did not allocate more space on cartoons adverts advertorials, and editorials, more than anything else.
H2 story lines and placement were appropriate and attractive in favour of the wage act.
H0 The story placement were not appropriate and attractive but hidden within the pages inside.
H3 The minimum wage issues were more frequently reported than other information at the time of its passage.
H0 issues on minimum wage were less frequently reported than other information at the time of its passage.
H4 Interpretative, opinion articles, letters and advertisement were adequately used to educate the people on the minimum age act.
H0 interpretative opinion articles, letters and adverts as devices were not adequately used during the passage of the act.
H5 press publications on the national minimum wage were highly favourable about the passage of the bill.
H0 the press remained undecided and non favourable about the bill passage.
1.7 Theoretical Framework
The background approach of this project will be incomplete without a deep knowledge and the application of the mass communication theories. Agenda Setting Theory; The proponents of agenda setting theory of media communication-Defleur, Jack Mcleod and associates believed that, “an audience member will adjust his or her perception of the importance of issues in the direction corresponding to the amount of attraction devoted to those issues, in the medium used. The position this idea support is that, the media has the power to determine what people think about by pre-determining what issues are important in the society. The media can ascribe importance to an issue through:
i. the quality/frequency of reporting
ii. the prominence given to the report.
iii. The degree of conflict generated in the report.
iv. And cumulative media, specific effect overtime.
(Mc Combs and Show 1972:26)
Benard Cohen is generally credited with refining Lipman’s ideas into the theory of agenda-setting. Cohen (1963:13) wrote “the press is significantly more than purveyor of information and opinion. It may not be successful much of the time in telling people what to think, but it’s stunningly successful much of the time telling people what to think about. Thus the press played this over bearing goal of placing importance and set agenda for public understanding on issues of the passage of the national minimum wage act.
Use and Gratification THEORY:
This view of this theory is that the recipient of the mass media message influences the effect process. The study of perception has revealed that people selectively choose, perceive and retain media message on the bases of their needs and beliefs. Contemporary research indicates that, people seek various forms of media content for many reasons, to fulfill certain obligation and expectations for the society. The physiological reward which people receive from reading, hearing or viewing specific content determine the use to which they put the media. This is the case; the media according to “uses and gratification” do not do things to people rather people of things with the media. This theory also attempt to answer the questions why do people use the mass media and what functions mass communication performs for the people? According to infatuate et al (1990) identified six reasons why children and adolescent use television. Television is generally used for learning, passing time, companionship, to forget or escape unpleasant circumstances, for excitement or arousal and for relaxation.
In view of the forgoing, it is important that the media practitioner understands its audience very well including his need in packaging messages for the audience. The theory according to Folarin (1998:30) sees public broadcasting organizations in particular as too elitist too susceptible to the whims and caprices of those in government, too rigid in structure and too slavish to professional ideas, even those ideas that tend to hinder social responsibility. He noted that, the theory also reflects disappointment with democratic political structure which and politicians who have become increasingly alienated from their origins. This theory emphasizes the need for grassroots communication or the horizontal approach to communication rather than the top down approach emphasized by the earlier theories.
1.8 Definition Of Terms (Conceptual/Operational)
The conceptual definition of terms:
Press: This is a machine that is used for printing of books, cards and other publishing material
Coverage: The reporting of news or other important events or subject in the media of communication.
Passage: An act of travelling or moving through somewhere.
National: Belonging and serving the interest of all the people in the nation or country.
Minimum Wage: the smallest amount of money that an employer is legally allowed to pay someone who works for them.
Act: A law or formal decision made by a parliament or other group of elected lawmakers.
Operational Definition of Terms:
Press: All body of media practitioners, reporters, broadcasters, editors, media proprietors and the practice of journalism through print and broadcasting news is known as press.
Coverage: The act being consistent and conversant with the development of news is known as press.
Passage: The legislative process of debating and voting for a bill which on approval could become law from the parliament.
National: The business of carrying the people along with what is considered as important for the people in a country.
Minimum Wage: the lowest hourly, daily or monthly remuneration that employers may legally pay to workers and at which the workers may sell their labour.
ACT: A body of law made by the parliament of a country to regulate certain practices in the lives of the people in that country
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