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Development Communication Training in Nigeria: Notes and Observations

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Development Communication Training inNigeria: Notes and Observationsby Jubril Bala Mohammed*AbstractThis article is a response to the quest for more relevant strategies for communicationtraining in Africa. It reviews the liberal social theories upon which Third World studies havebeen anchored and rejects them for having led to the current crisis of theory incommunication training. Opting for a Marxian political economy approach, it suggests,inter alia, the study of imperialism in all its manifestations as a way of understanding thecurrent reality in Africa; the need to relate theory and practice (through field work) incommunication training; and the incorporation of sufficient social science theories andapplications thereof into communication syllabi of African training institutions.*Mr. Jubril Bala Mohammed is a lecturer in the Department of Mass Communication,University of Maiduguri, Nigeria.75Stage sur la Communication deDeveloppement au Nigeria: Notes etobservations.ResumeCet article est une reponse a la quete pour des strategies plusappropriees de formation en matiere de communication enAfrique. II passe en revue les theories sociales liberates surlesquelles les etudes des pays du Tiers-Monde ont ete basees etles rejete pour avoir conduit a la crise actuelle de la theorie sur laformation en matiere de communication. L'article opte pour uneapproche politico-economique marxienne et propose, entreautres, I'etude de I'imperialisme dans toutes ses manifestations,comme un moyen de comprendre la realite actuelle en Afrique. Lebesoin d'etablir une interaction entre la theorie et la pratique (ou letravail sur le terrain) dans la formation sur la communication et('introduction de suffisantes theories en sciences sociales et lasubsequente introduction de celles-ci dans les programmes desinstitutions africaines de formation en matiere de communication.76IntroductionSome contemporary African social scientists, confronted with theinability of liberal social science theories of development to explain thepeculiar social environmental realities in Africa have had to recourse toMarxian political economy as an alternative analytical model. (Onimode1985; Nabudere 1977; Ake 1979; Barongo 1983). These social scientistsfocus on the understanding of the nature of imperialism as a necessaryprelude to scientific inquiry into the genesis and historical processesinvolved in Africa's complex post-colonial existence. Thus they studyvarious aspects of imperialism ranging from examination of the concept,its features, and historical development of neo-colonialism.Bade Onimode (1985:27) notes that classical theories of economicspreoccupy themselves with scarcity and (economic) relations betweenthings, while Marxian political economy theories focus on how specificsystems of economic relations in given historical epochs originate,develop, function and change. He says that:While Marx recognized the importance of scarcity and analysed it for commodityproducing economies, he insisted that different systems of production deal withscarcity and resource allocation differently. Thus, contrary to the false universalism ofneoclassical economic theory anchored on this bogus notion of scarcity, Marx insistedthat the theory of value relates to a historically specific (capitalist) method of resourceallocation. While there are laws regulating the allocation of scarce resources in allsocieties, the form in which these laws operate differ with the social relations embodiedin different systems of production such as capitalism, feudalism, socialism and so on.In international relations the focus of much liberal scholarship haseither been on the behaviour of states.or balance of power while theirtheories vary from systems (integrationist and functionalist) actions ofstates or their interaction leading to the justification of imeprialism.Citing Morganthau's view of the theory of balance of power, which hepresents as a 'device' for self defence of nations 'whose independence andexistence is threatened by a disproportionate increase in the power ofother nations' in the international system, Nabudere (1977) points outthat such a theory provides a good disguise to rationalize and justify theirridentist and terrorist behaviour of the strong against the weakernations. He shows how Morganthau's view of imperialism not onlylegitimized imperialist behaviour but also offered tacit apoligia for U.S.imperialism in particular.Manning Nash (1963) identifies three basic currents in liberaltheoretical approaches to the problem of social change and economicdevelopment in the Third World; he says:The first mode is the index method: the general features of a developed economy areabstructed as an ideal type and then contrasted with the equally ideal typical features ofa poor economy and society. In this mode, development is viewed as the trans-formation of one type into the other....77The second mode is the acculturation view of the process of development. The West(taken here as the Atlantic community of developed nations and their overseasoutliers) diffuses knowledge, skills, organization, values, technology and capital to apoor nation until, overtime, its society, culture and personnel become variants of thatwhich made the Atlantic community economically successful....The third mode ... is the analysis of the process as it is now going on in the so-calledunderdeveloped nations. The approach leads to a smaller scale hypothesis, to aprospective rather than a retrospective view of social change, to a full accounting of thepolitical, social and cultural contexts of development.Similar theories are advanced by Hoselitz (1960), Parsons (1960),Moore and Feldman (I960), Lerner (1958), McClelland (1964), andKunkel (1965).Frank (1972:320) points out that when confronted with reality, thesesocial theories have been found 'to be empirically invalid..., theoreticallyinadequate (even) in terms of...classical social scientific standards, andpolicy-wise ineffective for pursuing (the) supposed intentions ofpromoting the development of the underdeveloped countries'. Thesetheories have not borne fruitful results in terms of understanding andexplaining contemporary African social reality either (Ake 1979; 1981,Barongo 1983, Nnoli 1980, and Nabudere 1977).Summing up the experiences of African social scientists, Jimada (1987)points out that these liberal social theories of development have merelysucceeded in making 'the African to be able to apply European solutionsto


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