How Nigerian Journalists Wired Newsmakers and Public Interest Towards Amotekun in 4 Days

How Nigerian Journalists Wired Newsmakers and Public Interest Towards Amotekun in 4 Days

Security and insecurity remain two things that will continue to be the topics of discourse in Nigeria when speaking opportunity presents itself. Varied discussions have happened on the need and issue across the country and outside. When it is obvious that the federal government can no longer contain illegality and criminality in some parts of the country, interest groups that have regionalism as focus called for community and state policing. In the heat of the debates on the two policing systems, South West Regional Security Initiative emerged codenamed ‘Amotekun’.

In our previous analysis, we have shown the hindsight within the context of the Nigerian newspapers’ reportage of the issues that trailed the inauguration of the security outfit by governors in the south west region, most especially naming of the outfit as illegal by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation. After series of meeting and enactment of law for making the outfit constitutional, report has it that the bill initiated has been signed into law by most state governments in the region and that one of the states has concluded its plan to translate the law into Yoruba language.

Like the previous analysis, this analysis leverages the news reports curated between January 19 to 22, 2020. We intend to understand the layers that exist among the reports and between the public. In Exhibit 1, we present headlines of the news, showing the engagement and impression scores.

By engagement score, our aim is to reveal the degree to which the newspapers’ headlining style facilitate people’s span of attention. Impression score focuses on knowing the extent to which the engagement could lead to reading of the content. We explored this further and our analysis indicates a strong negative link between engagement and impression scores. We found -52.5%, signifying that one percent increase in engagement reduces impression by 52.5%. What we could import from this result is that headlines of the news report ensured less than 50% reading intent. Despite this, we further discovered 41.5% connection between newsmakers and public concern for security, kidnapping and herdsmen.  This further establishes the reason we should care about the snippets from the headlines with the significant engagement and impression scores.

Issues in the Select News

Amotekun: Leopard on the spot. This is the headline with the highest engagement score (80). Despite having the highest score, the impression score is one of the lowest recorded scores reveals by our analysis. The report was written by a columnist and expects Nigerians and government officials to reason along the enactment of the Sharia law in Zamfara State in 2000. According to him, “nothing else has tested the sanctity of Nigeria’s practice of federalism like the launch of the Western Nigeria Security Network (WNSN), better known as Operation Amotekun (the Yoruba word for leopard), by the south-western states on January 9, 2020.”

Malami ordered police to stop Amotekun protest, Yoruba group alleges. This headline became necessary when the federal government felt that protesting against naming the security outfit illegal could lead to other criminal acts in the region. With the story, our analyst observes that the government through the Ministry of Justice was of the conviction that groups need not staging protests because of the description of the outfit as illegal by the government.

From group to the renowned Professor and public affairs analyst, The Punch reported Professor Wole Soyinka’s position on the issue. The newspaper says “Soyinka Attacks Balarabe Over Comment on Amotekun”.  Alhaji Balarabe Musa had earlier condemned the outfit on the basis that Operation Amotekun would lead to the declaration of Oduduwa Republic.

In what appears to be the needed voice to consolidate the region’s interest on the security outfit, The Guardian newspaper says “Tinubu Finally Reacts to Amotekun”. The report indicates that Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu stressed the limitless, inoffensive addition of the security outfit to the country’s security apparatus.  Corroborating Tinubu’s position, Pastor Francis Wale Oke described the initiative as noble and expect the governors in the region to legalise it. This further emphasises the Minister of Justice’s earlier stance on the outfit.  Engineer Seyi Makinde, Oyo State’s governor also lent his voice to the issues on the creation of the outfit, saying the initiative has come to stay that police can’t be everywhere.

Understanding the Layers

Beyond the headline analysis and presentation of the issues from the headlines that have highest impression and engagement scores, we examined three categories of layers using neural network analysis. We studied input, hidden and output layers. With the input layer, we input attitudinal disposition of the newsmakers such as groups, public affairs analysts and politicians.

We specifically analysed illegal, legal and neutral positions of the newsmakers in the neuron. The hidden layer entails public interest within security, insecurity and herdsmen. Using Amotekun as the base word search, we have public interests in stakeholders within the law and government, executive branch, legislative branch, courts and judiciary, state and local government. In all, we examined the degree to which public had concern for security. From our analysis, public only had concern for security within law and government, courts and judiciary. With the result, our analyst observes that indeed Amotekun needs legalization.

The Layers Connectivity and Dysconnectivity

To establish the connectivity and dysconnectivity, we employed newsmakers’ attitudinal dispositions towards Amotekun and public interest in the concerns [security, kidnapping and herdsmen] within the context of issues around Amotekun. Our first analysis indicates that attitudinal disposition of the newsmakers connected with the public interest by 35.9%, while 12.9% of the dispositions could only be explained from the interest.

The second analysis reveals 54.5% linkage between the dispositions and categories of stakeholders in law and government and 57.7% for the courts and the judiciary, who supposed to intervene. Over 29% of the dispositions led to the public interest in law and government’s stakeholders, while 33.3% of the dispositions enhanced public interest in the courts and the judiciary.

Using regional approach, our analysis establishes striking results. When we examined the influence of dispositions by region on public interest in the concerns within the context of Amotekun, as expected, we found a positive connection of the north-legal disposition with the concerns (1.6%), while it is -8.1% connection for north-illegal disposition. We discovered 49.7% connection in south-legal disposition and public interest in the concerns. Like the north-illegal disposition, we also found a negative connection in south-illegal disposition and public interest. We specifically found -29.1%.

Analysis further north region maintained its negative layer towards Amotekun during the period we analysed. We discovered that the legal and illegal disposition of the region connected with the public interest in law and government’s stakeholders, who are expected to intervene by -23.6% (north-legal) and -4.5% (north-illegal). While it was negative in the north region, we found positive in the south-legal disposition (56.6%). We could not discover significant result from the south-illegal disposition towards public interest. This implies that the newsmakers’ positions from the south region and public interest in the concerns were wired along the same layers during the period that our analysis covers. Likewise, for the north region which further stresses our earlier hypothesis that the south region favours the security initiative more than the north region.

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