Political Socialization in Nigeria


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This essay is aimed to examine one of the agents of political
socialisation for the way in which it operates and the effects it may
have in Nigeria. Political socialisation is learning process that
begins very early and continues all throughout ones life. Through
political socialisation people acquire their perceptions and feelings
about their political environment. It accounts for both the
commonalties and diversities of political life. (DP Dawson p1). It is
an approach to understanding both patterns of similarities and
differences in political outlooks among the constituents a given
system.

On the other hand political socialisation helps one to understand the
development and dissemination of consensus values or common outlooks.
Political socialisation is also an approach to understand the
differences in political perspective that exist among constituent.
Political socialisation is a tool for understanding these intranation
differences as well as for intranation similarities and intranation
differences. In some instances the family may be the most important
structure. . (Ibid9-11).

Political socialisation begins early on in life and is an ongoing
process affecting individuals throughout. It is how people eventually
identify personal beliefs and expectations. These political views can
include our level of patriotism, faith in democratic System, standards
by which we hold governing bodies, and opinion regarding public
policies from the classroom, the office, to the dinner table. Much of
our life affects our political opinions. The most easily identified
agents of this are family, schooling, peers, mass media, social
parties and religious influences. Furthermore, this means indoctrinate
us in the political society through four basic methods, talent,
manifest affective and instrumental socialisation.

Youth in all nations anchor their documents within a basic family
frame history. The mode of mention differs in different cultures. But
the unquestioned fact remains that the family is the primary social
institution in all lands, and clearly in every culture universally.
Political socialisation is the process by which individual acquire
attitudes, beliefs, and value related to political system of which he

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is a member and to his own role as a citizen within that political
system. (Edward S Greenberg, 1970 p3).

More recent analysis, however, has called into question much of the
conventional wisdom on the impact of family on political learning. R.W
Connell (1972) has raised several mythological question about the
research on which this practice rested. Among other things, many
studies misconstrued agreement across generational lines with
agreement between parent and child. (Stanley A Renshon 1977 p46).

When children and their parents are measured independently and
agreements in political views are established, it supports the
inference that family transmits politics to the children. Furthermore,
the degree of such influence can be established, and by proper
comparison these correlation’s under varied conditions. Example, for
children of different ages, one can establish subtle features of the
socialisation process.

(Herbert H Hyman1969, pp51-52). While influence might conceivable flow
from child to parent, is much likely that parents are the agents who
transmit politically relevant attitudes to their children. (Ibid,
55).

The Michigan study seems to argue the stability of adult politics
starting from roots in family life. But, certainly there something
paradoxical involved which is political change as consequence of
voting behaviours. Lubell has suggested on such factor, that granted
the children mirror families’ politics. (Ibid, 73). The parental
influence is essential to make child have a certain preference, and
thiese preference transformed into over activity of voting.
Consequently political change may come about through different
patterns of turn – out in particular elections.

Polygamy accepted in various ethnic groups in Nigeria. Extended family
as a means of social security and dominance through family extension
and makes their views and decision collectively. School’s has expanded
and last twenty years have seen large rises in enrolment. Reduce of
number of parochial in society. And also English has the instruction
language for the part of Nigeria State. Media are very active in
Nigeria, although there is constant threat of government punishment
and censorship and religion as a mobilising political force in
northern part of Nigeria.

According to Aspin (1992,14) there are many different phases of the
socialisation process, and each take place at different stages of
one’s life. The process of socialisation begins at birth, and
continues until we die. During early childhood, primary socialisation
takes place, which occur mostly within the family. Secondary
socialisation occurs during mid-late childhood, during the child’s
school years, whereas socialisation that occurred within the family is
reinforced and strengthened. Tertiary socialisation occurs mainly
within adults, and is an ongoing process because individuals are
constantly encountered new social situations.

There are certain institutions within society that enable political
socialisation to take place. According to Juredini, Kenny and Poole
(1997, pp168-176), Newman (2000, pp111-121), and McKee (1969,
pp98-103) they all argued that the institutions are the family, school
and mass media. Other agent of political socialisation includes peer
group, religion and work place. Each of these institutions contributes
to the type of person we become. It evident that children socialised
into certain ways of thinking and behaving by their families and the
schools they attend and also by media especially television. (J, K and
Poole1997 p173). I would like to discuss some agent of political
socialisation. Family normally the most important influence which they
use over their children’s political attitudes. Research shows most
children imitate their parent and family’s party identification.
School is the pledge of allegiance and patrotricrituals are learned in
school. These important symbols are taught in civics and other courses
and are important in establishing legitimacy in government and
society. Peers can influencechildren political attitudes because
politics is not the most important topic to many teenagers.

The family is the main agent of political socialisation; in fact many
cultures the primary socialisation agent is family initial bond
that may form between a baby and its primary giver can viewed as the
first and the intense part of the political socialisation process.
(J,R and Poole 1997 p169). Families can socialise children in many
different ways both intentionally and unintentionally. Nigeria family
system sometime have their ethnicity law that guide each members of
tribal abide to the rules and if any of the family go against this
rules it may result to a severe punishment. Generally, in being a part
of the family, the child is able to observe the behaviour of those
around them, and is able to learn right from wrong, and what behaviour
is considered appropriate for certain situations.

Research by sociologists, and vast body of psychology theory shows
that in case whereby parents are completely successful in controlling
the socialisation of their children offspring, they may not want to
replicate their own values. A good example in Nigeria politically,
parent consciously rearing their children to a different set of
political values than themselves due to civilisation. A comparable
example is in case immigrants wanting their children to grow up as
well educated person, whereas the parent has no or little education,
and sometime they change their lifestyle to the culture of the country
they reside. (Stanley A Renshon 1977 p48).

The importance of family in Nigeria political socialisation is
ethnicity, which formed different ethnic association by distance
family. Association came to constitute the basic social units of
political interestrepresentation and activity. Initially founded as
kingship unions to help to help family members in multi-tribal areas
to fund work, pay for burial or naming ceremonies, or deal with
employers, for example Middle Belts Association, Odua People and
Niger-Delta Youth Movement. These groups grew during the 1930s and
1940s into a great cultural section of Igbo or Yoruba. Yoruba’s and
Igbo’s were now made aware, for the first time, of their respective
common cultural and family ties; previously their reference group had
been primarily clan or kinship groups.

These communal associations assumed a number of important functions
like wages negotiations, articulation of demands for welfare, interest
representation of occupational groups. But the latter forms of
interest organisation were stifled in Nigeria by the effects of the
colonial system. Worker were few in the number and thoroughly
integrated into wage labour economy. Most farmer remain formerly
outside capitalist agriculture, and indigenous business was relatively
powerless since most large and medium business concern are foreign
owned and staffed, while almost three quarter of all firms with a
capital over ($70000) were owned by non Nigerians (Nafziger 1977:56).

In view of clearly visible absence countervailing interest groups,
then ethnic and cultural association emerged as principal organisation
bases of new political parties during the period of decolonization and
political party formation. The ethnic socialisation of Igbo’s is one
the example in which they formed grouping around. Herbert Macauley’s
Nigerian national democratic party, and Nigeria Youth Movement from
which all their leaders are Igbo’s such as H.O Davies, Ernest Okoli
and Nnadi Azikiwe, they has no real organisational or mass social base
outside Lagos. Thus, as decolonozation was affected within regional
perimeters during the late 1940s and throughout 1950s, The Nigeria
Youth Movement distingrated along communal lines and was transformed
into Pan- Yoruba Organisation, while Azikwe and the other Igbo members
left and constituted their own party. (WD Graff 1988:31),

The family provides the major means of transforming the mentally naked
infant organism into an adult, fully clothed in its own personality
and most of the individual personality his tendency to think and act
politically in particular ways. (Dawson P Dawson1977 p118). We had
observed that parental influence to be stronger in transmission of
party loyalty than in the transmission of logically congruent areas of
ideology. Finally, the studies show that small portions of children
still deviate from the views of their parents but nevertheless most
children still consider their parent political idea. (Herbert H
Hyman1969, p75).

Conclusion, family was singly the most important agent in political
learning, It was as paramount institution through which political
information and outlooks were transmitted from one generation to
another, and it provided the context in political outlook.


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