THE MEDIA AND THE CHALLENGES OF DEMOCRATIC GOVERNANCE IN NIGERIA
Price: 2000 Naira (BSC, MSC)
1.1 Background of the Study
Over the past two decades, Sub-Saharan (simply ‘Africa’) has been partly transformed by the winds of democratic change (Diamond, 2010), sequel to the collapse of Soviet Unions in the 20th century. But democratic structures and processes in Nigeria’s history had suffered debilitating distortion, and in some cases, total destruction during theprolonged period of military incursion into politics, which prevailed continuously since 1966 till 1999 before the country returned to another civil rule in May 1999 (Asobie, 2005). In all these years of dictatorship, Nigerians through the media clamoured persistently for a free debate on the grand norms, the fundamental principles and, the basic structures that would constitute the foundation for the practice of democratic politics in a post military era.
Meanwhile, the media systems in Africa are still as insecure and volatile as unstable political and social structures compared to the developed nations (Hutchten, 1971). Apparently, the roles and priorities of the media in a developed nation like United States of America can never be the same in a developing nation like Nigeria with a fledgling democracy- a nation still scrambling for its own identity in the comity of nations. However, the media as the Fourth Estate of the Realm carries an entrenched assumption that is often taken for granted. For not only is it made to appear as having constitutional backing, but also that our modern mass communication media as ‘neutral’ reporters and filters of news and information are an obvious necessity for democracy (Eziokwu, 2004), a condition for the nurturing and sustenance of democracy.
The media are not only chief makers and movers of national development; they are also products and mirrors of the socio-economic and political structures of a nation.
Thus, a meaningful appraisal of the role the media played in Nigeria’s development must take into account ideological aspects of the relationship between the media as a watchdog and the historical and cultural settings of the country.
Historically, Nigeria is not only the most populous country in African content, but also, the largest single geographical unit along the West Coast of Africa, and the largest black nation in the world (Egbon, 2002).
Regrettably, the Nigerian state like many African states, right from independence has been confronted with the problems of economic development and that of nation building. Reflecting on the problems hounding the continent, Omoera (2006) notes that:
Contemporary Africa is plagued by a myriad of problems.
From North to South, East to West, pervasive corruption, hunger,
political, religious and ethnic crisis, unemployment, illiteracy,
Human immunodeficiency virus infection and acquired immune deficiency
syndrome (HIV/AIDS) pandemic, internal and external brain drains, and so on,
are plaguing the continent.
The leadership is almost overwhelmed by these developmental needs
and ever-multiplying challenges.
The aforementioned quote rightly captures the sorry state of affairs that the ardent political leadership in Africa may have foisted on the people and the society. As a political unit (in terms of democracy), African states (Nigeria) may still be said to be relatively young compared to the European nations simply due to persistent and long incursion of the military into mainstream politics. Thus, the exit of the military and politicians in uniform from Nigeria’s political space served as a stimulus to the aspiration of the Nigerian populace for true political unit, which derives from a democratic process. The desirability of democracy over the pretense of the militarized politics was concisely noted by Igili(2005) as:
Virtually all Nigerians believed that the exit, which resulted,
to the return of democratic government will finally put paid to
the leadership problems, which characterized the military regime.
This explains the ardour with which the Nigerian populace embraced
the return to civil rule in 1999.
Constitutionally, the Federal Republic of Nigeria specifies the role of the media in Section 22 of its 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 and uphold
the responsibility and accountability of the government to the people (FGN, 1999).
This section of the constitution recognizes, among others, the role of the mass media in exercising a watchdog role over the affairs of government. For without free and open expression, citizens will not have access to the quality information they need to arrive at a rational judgment on national issues. Based on this recognition, the Nigerian media have cultivated a strong agitation and tradition that has been helping to ensure that the government lives up to its responsibilities. The drive for the progressive realization of rights and freedom, in the context of the right to development, is another hopeful sign for making that the constitution is justifiable to the people. In this respect, Ojo (2003) is of the view that:
To all intents and purposes, the mass media need to be much more determined
in the nascent democracy if they want to be reckoned with as a potent force
of sociopolitical and economic transformation cum development of state.
In Nigeria, the performance of the mass media in the democratic process at various phases of our history has been well documented (Yusuf, 2001; Nwosu, 2003; Oso and Pate, 2010). Arguably, the mass media have remained in the forefront in the struggle to promote rights of our people through a credible democratic process (Pate, 2012).
1.2 Statement of Problem
The media, throughout the history of Nigeria have always been in the forefront of the struggle to establish democracy in the country. Lending credence to this assertion, Obilade (1999:235), opined that the “press in Nigeria constitutes an active force in the realization of the goal of the evolution of sustainable democracy in the continent of Africa. This giant stride by the Nigerian media was carried all through to the first, second, third, and fourth republics respectively. Even during the periods of military rule, Nigerian media fought gallantly for the restoration of democracy. This struggle culminated and usher the nation to a new era of the fourth republic in May 1999. As part of their constitutional role, the mass media are expected to mobilize the people to participate in the democratic process. This was aptly demonstrated by the Nigerian media during the period under review. For instance, immediately after the Abdulsalami Abubakar led government instituted the transition programme that usher in a new democratic government, the media swung into action by creating awareness on the electoral process.
On the protection of the fundamental human rights of the people, the Nigerian Media fought vehemently well to ensure that those whose rights are violated are brought to face the wrath of the law. Furthermore, the mass media are the fulcrum of all forms of democracy. This submission is on the premise that in a democratic society, the media operate as the market place of ideas for political thought.
However, performance of the Nigerian mass media right from the first Republic to the present one could be described as a combination of both success and failures. This is because in preserving and consolidating the hard earn democracy the media struggled and fought to reestablished, there are a plethora of encumbrances the media is facing which serve as impediments in stabilizing Nigerian democracy. The media is constantly been pressured from the public, political parties, interest groups, and the government respectively. This pressure usually results in a situation where the media is force to take side in reporting national events in order to promote the interest of a particular party or interest group
It is against this background that this study examines the role the media have played and continue to play in the socio-political and socio-economic reengineering of structures in a country faced with enormous problems, which militate against its optimal performance as an emergent democracy.
1.3 Research Questions
This study is guided by the following research questions:
1. What are the roles of the media in the consolidation of democratic governance in Nigeria?
2. What is the nexus between the media and democratic governance in Nigeria?
3. What are the likely challenges of the media in a democratic system of governance?
1.4 Objectives of the Study
The broad objective of this study is to analyze the role of the media and the challenges of democratic governance in Nigeria. Other specific objectives include:
1. To examine the roles that the Nigerian media has been playing in consolidating democracy in the country.
2. To explore the relationship between the media and democratic governance in Nigeria.
3. To also examine the challenges faced by the media in enthroning democratic governance in Nigeria.
The study is guided by the following assumptions:
1. Access to broad range of information enables citizens to participate fully in the governance of society.
2. Access to broad range of information does not enable citizens to participate fully in the governance of society.
1.6 Significance of the Study
Until recently, media and democratic governance is one critical area in Nigeria that has attracted little attention in the academics and development experts. Thus, literature on the role of the media and its implications on democratic governance are scanty, hence the few reviewed concentrated more on general, role of the media in a democracy as well its challenges. Hence, the overriding significance of this study is to add up to the growing literature on media and democratic relations. Thus the study is, therefore, both timely and significant. A detailed analysis of this phenomenon will reduce the dearth of knowledge in this area. Finally, this work will be useful to scholars and students who may wish to carry out further research on the role of the media and the challenges of democratic governance in Nigeria.
1.7 Scope and Limitations of the Study
The focus of the study is on the examination of the role of the media and the challenges of democratic governance in Nigeria. The scope however limited to the fourth republic, a period that stem from 1999-2015
The chief limitation of this study however, is that it does not cover all aspects of the media. This is so because the media as well the role it plays in democratic governance is very broad and contentious to be dealt with in a single study.
1.8 Methods of Data Collection and Analysis
This study employs the secondary analysis method of data collection. Secondary analysis involves the extraction of information or data from different relevant academic works. This methodology is mostly employed when the research problem under investigation cannot be measured through personal interviews with questionnaires administered or by direct observation. Relevant literature is also sourced from written records and under this, there are two types of written records. They are the episodic and running records. The former (episodic record) is a record that is not part of an ongoing systematic record keeping program but is produced and preserved in a more casual, personal and accidental manner. While, the latter (running record) is produced by organizations rather than by private citizens and it is a record that is carefully stored and easily accessed as well as available for long period of time. The study uses this running record in collecting the relevant data, which are not primary data but secondary data. Therefore, secondary data will be sourced, internalized, evaluated and then put down via this method from relevant scholarly books, journals, articles, newspapers, magazines and most importantly from the Internet, such as the search engines, like the Google, search.com and E-journals, like the JASTOR and many more from reputable libraries, such as the University’s library and others within the state and beyond.
1.9 Definition of Concepts
The following concepts are key to the study.
Democracy this study, democracy is a form of government, which the supreme power of the political community rest on popular sovereignty. According to Oyovbaire (1987:37) democracy as a system which seek to realize a generally recognized common good through a collective initiation and discussion of policy questions concerning public affairs and which delegated authority to agents to implement the broad decisions made by the people through majority vote. The most popular definition of democracy was that of Abraham Lincoln, which sees Democracy as the government of the people, by the people and for the people. This definition is widely accepted.
According to Madhav (2007) Democratic Governance has much to do with the ethical grounding of governance and must be evaluated with reference to specific norms and objectives as may be laid down. It looks at the functioning of the given segment of the society from the point of view of its acknowledged stakeholders, beneficiaries and customers… Therefore, to describe governance as democratic requires the understanding of the essence of the state which is not only embedded in the constitution but also a function of religious ideals and the nature of the current problems confronting the state.
The above explanations capture the view of Ogundiya (2010) in his analysis of Democratic Governance as he maintains that Governance is democratic provided it is able to achieve the desired end of the state defined in terms of justice, equity, protection of life and property, enhanced participation, preservation of the rule of law and improved living standard of the population.
From all these definitions, we can infer that democratic governance, as a concept, is applicable to all sections of society such as the government, legislature, judiciary, media, private sector, corporate sector, trade unions and non-government organizations (NGOs).
The Mass Media
For the purposes of this study, the conceptualization of the mass media in both developed and Third World countries are all encompassing. It embraces all communication outlets commonly called the mass media.
Regardless of the size of the mass media in any polity, they can be mechanical device or mechanism, and (ii) presumed level or degree of impact on society (Uyo, 1987). Using the first criteria, all mass media can be grouped into two classes as Blanke and Harolsen (1975) did: (i) print media – such as newspapers, news magazines, pamphlets, direct mail, circulars, billboards, skywriting, and any technical device that carries a message to ‘the masses’ by appealing to their sense of sight. Print media communicate information through the publication of written words and pictures. There are then (ii) electronic media: (a) radio and audio recordings that appeal to the sense of sound, and (b) television, motion pictures and video recording that appeal to both the sense of sound and sense of vision. Broadcast media communicate information electronically
through sounds or sights. The telephone, although it transmits sounds, is usually used for more targeted communications and audience, and is thus not typically included within the mass media (Janda et al., 1992). Perhaps the latest addition to electronic media is the Internet.
1.10 Outline of Chapters
This project is divided into five chapters.
Chapter one consists of background to the study, statement of research problem, research questions, objectives of the study, propositions of the study, significance of the study, scope and limitations of the study, methods of data collection and analysis, definition of terms and the outline of chapters.
The second chapter is entirely devoted to “Literature Review and theoretical frame work” where evaluated scholarly works germane to the research problem shall be reviewed.
Chapter Three looks at the Nigerian media in perspective and the nature of Nigeria’s democracy.
Chapter Four consists of the role played by the media in consolidating democracy in Nigeria and the challenges of mass media in democratic consolidation in Nigeria. Lastly, chapter Five consists of the summary of the study, conclusion and recommendations.
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