A Comparative Analysis Of Newspaper Coverage Of Electricity In Nigeria

Project and Seminar Material for Mass Communication

A Comparative Analysis Of Newspaper Coverage Of Electricity In Nigeria


Power sector in Nigeria has been one of the challenging sectors for Nigerian development. It has faced challenges ranging from corruption, lack of infrastructure, insufficient power generation, inadequate supply of electricity to consumers, inflexible tariff system, to non-payment of large bill arrears by the power consumers. Despite all these, Nigerians have increasingly demanded for electricity in the country. This study examined newspaper coverage of tariff increase in the power sector to know how the issue was deemed important. The study used agenda-setting theory to buttress and explain the work while content analysis was the research design used to content analyse The Punch and The Nation newspapers for the period of six (6) months. The universe of the study was 366 out of which 192 was the sample size while coding sheet and coding guide were the instruments of data collection. Findings revealed that the selected newspapers did fairly well in their coverage on tariff increase in the power sector. Both newspapers gave prominence and high frequency to the stories reported. The study recommended that since so many people rely on media messages there is need for the print media to be more proactive on the interpretative function of the mass media and that media professionals should not rely solely on media briefings, conferences and press releases from electricity power brokers; they should equally get the opinions of the common man on the street and know what the masses are saying on any issue of importance.

Chapter One


1.1 Background of the Study

One of the major energy challenges in the world today is ensuring access to clean and sustainable energy in developing countries. International Energy Agency IEA (2010) estimated that in 2008 about 1.4 billion people in the world lacked access to electricity of which 587 million were in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Most of these people live in rural areas. The lack of access to electricity poses a significant barrier to achieving the millennium development goals (MDGs). For example, to achieve universal primary education, educational facilities need electricity for teaching aids, good lighting for reading in homes; to reduce child mortality and improve maternal health, health facilities need refrigerators to preserve drugs and vaccines and need electricity for proper lighting for effective service delivery. Studies have shown that there is a high correlation between annual per capita electricity consumption and human development index (Meisen & Akin, 2008). The government of these countries faces the Herculean task of providing access to electricity to improve the living standard of the populace because the availability of electricity stimulates economic activities. The situation is not different in Nigeria. In 2008, about 53% of Nigerians lacked access to electricity (WHO/UNDP, 2009), although at the different geopolitical zones, the situation is significantly different. It has been observed that the lack of electricity access is more severe in the northern parts of Nigeria with the North-East geopolitical zone having 71.6%. Co-incidentally, the North-East geopolitical zone lags behind other zones in other socio-economic indices like literacy level, access to health care, maternal mortality, access to clean water etc (UNFPA, 2008). Given the importance of electricity access to the socio-economic development of a country at micro and macro levels, in August 2010, the Nigerian government set the target of 80% electricity coverage by 2015 in the Roadmap to Power Sector Reforms (Jonathan, 2010). As electricity utility has been privatized, providing electricity for these rural dwellers implies constructing transmission and distribution lines to reach the communities. However, extending the transmission and distribution a line is capital intensive, as such, it is considered only when it is cost-beneficial.

Moreover, most rural communities have dispersed settlement pattern and rural dwellers are low income earners who will need electricity only for basic needs of cooking, lighting, refrigeration, entertainment, and to power small-scale agro-based businesses and other enterprises like soap making, tailoring, hairdressing, weaving etc. Thus extending the grid will lead to low capacity utilization due to low demand. Since private firms are usually driven by profit maximization motives, they may be unwilling to extend the distribution network to these rural communities as it will not be a viable investment. This situation gives rise to the possibility of providing electricity access in some of these rural communities using off-grid electrification. World Bank (2008) notes that off-grid electrification is usually considered when providing electricity access to small rural communities far from the existing gird, with dispersed settlement pattern and are low income earners. Off-grid electrification provides similar benefits as grid extension in terms of enhancing the standard of living and stimulating the creation of micro-enterprises that increase overall economic benefit, although the available power is lower. Foley (1990) lists the gains of off-grid electrification to include pumping of water in the village and farming environment, and provision of electricity for heating, lighting, and cooking which provide the necessities of life to these rural dwellers. Different technical options can be considered in implementing off-grid models e.g. Biomass, Wind, Hydro, Solar Power, or the combination of two technologies (Kerridge et al., 2008). The use of each technology depends on the domestic resources available. Communities close to a river will likely use mini hydroelectric projects, and communities with high solar irradiation will likely use solar energy.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Erratic power supply has remained a major problem in Nigeria which is affecting the socio-economy of the nation. Nigeria is still using out-dated cumbersome machines and systems compared to the trends of new technology. Therefore, the study seeks to look at the problems encountered by nations electricity power supply to various sectors. Also it seeks to assess the reportage of the two national dailies, The Daily Trust and Leadership Newspapers on the issue of power supply on the Nigeria economy, institution of learning and area of health delivery.

1.3 Research Objectives

The study has the following objectives:

  1. To identify how often Daily Trust and Leadership newspapers have covered news on the impact of electricity on Nigeria economy.
  2. To assess the extent to which Daily Trust and Leadership cover news on the impact of electricity on institution of learning.
  3. To ascertain the attention that has been given to the coverage of news on the impact of electricity on health delivery.

1.4 Research Questions

From the above stated objectives arises the following research question:

  1. How often do Daily Trust and Leadership newspapers cover news on the impact of electricity on Nigeria economy?
  2. To what extent have the two newspapers covered the impact of electricity on institutions of learning?
  3. How much attention has been given to the coverage of news on the impact of electricity on health delivery by the two newspapers?

1.5 Significance of the Study

Media helps to carry out information to citizens of particular societies; it is also the same function that mass media performs in Nigeria. According to McQuail (2002), mass media is a means of communication that operates on a large scale, reaching and involving virtually everyone in a society to a greater or lesser degree. Mass media especially the print, ‘newspaper’ plays a major role in informing the citizens on the issue of power sector in the country

The researcher tends to highlight the coverage by newspapers given to national power sector. Mass media especially the print,‘newspaper’ plays a major role in informing the citizens on the issue of power sector in the country.

Mass media as medium of communication has indeed remain one of the platforms of conveying messages across and way of life to relatively large heterogeneous and anonymous readership in Nigeria.

This study is significant to Nigeria society because it will help in making Nigeria mass media to play its role in promoting communication sector, it also unravel the reasons why journalist need to put more emphasis in their work in order to attain the certain objectives.

1.6 Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study is to examine the role of print media in the power sector, specifically newspaper, it is very important for the media to show more concern on government policy of the power sector so as to impact on local economic development, strategies and measures adopted to resolve the problems and possible pathways to reviving the electricity sector in Nigeria.

The researcher tends to highlight the coverage by newspapers given to national power sector.

1.7 Scope of the Study

The research work is restricted to the coverage of the impact of electricity on Nigeria economy, in the Daily Trust and Leadership newspapers. The period of coverage is between January and May 2015.

1.8 Definition of Key Terms


The newspaper is described as a collection of folded printed sheet of papers published periodically, usually daily or weekly for circulating news.


Media attention given to an event or topic by newspapers, radio, and television in their reporting.


Physics energy created by moving charged particle, a fundamental form of kinetic or potential energy created by free or controlled movement of charged particles such as electrons, positrons and irons.

Watchdog of the Society:

This term refers to the media as a watchdog to the society in the sense that media as the forth realm arm of government which sit in between the public’s and the government as mediator for interference.


This refers to all those media technologies such as television, radio, internet, newspaper, magazine etc. that are intended to reach a large audience by mass communication.

1.9 Organization of the Study

The study is divided into five chapters. Chapter one deals with the study’s introduction and gives a background to the study. Chapter two reviews related and relevant literature. The chapter three gives the research methodology while the chapter four gives the study’s analysis and interpretation of data. The study concludes with chapter five which deals on the summary, conclusion and recommendation.

Chapter Five

Conclusion and Recommendation

5.1 Conclusion

The study examined Newspaper coverage of tariff increase in the power sector by two selected Newspapers, The Punch and The Nation. The media are known to be indispensable in any society because of their potency to shape germane issues and set such issues before the public. It is used to inform both the public and the government, create a particular view in the minds of the people, educate, sensitize and mobilize the people for actions and serve as social regulator. Many aspects of this study as observed from the data collected and analysed have shown that, the two Newspapers content analysed reported the topic of discussion within the period examined. More so, the data generated have shown that, these two Newspapers really covered the manifest content of electricity tariff increase in Nigeria. Both newspapers reported the types of the stories, direction of story, frequency and prominence of coverage.

From the result of the study, the research showed that out of 192 editions of the two selected newspapers (The Punch and The Nation), 84 stories on the topic of discussion were reported on tariff increase. Though, 84 stories in a 192 editions sampled was small, but, the number was significant. This implied that the press did a relatively seeming adequate report on the issue within the period studied. Thus, corroborating the views of the proponents of the agenda setting theory of the press that the public sees as important, what the media tell them. The findings of this study pointed to the fact that the press did fairly well in the coverage of tariff increase in the power sector.

5.2 Recommendations

Based on the findings of this study, the following recommendations were made: Print media should correlate part of the society the more by setting the agenda and raising issues of public importance like the electricity tariff increase to the level of public discussion to effectively balance their four cardinal points functions. In this study, surveillance function overshadowed other functions. Since mass media professionals are knowledgeable in shaping public opinions –– they should use features, editorials, articles and other nature of stories to enlighten the members of the public. There is the need to do critical analysis on the effect of stories or events like the electricity tariff increase so that members of the society could avail themselves of all sides to the issues at hand. Since so many people rely on media messages there is need for the print media to be more proactive on the interpretative function of the mass media.

Newspaper editors of these two newspapers should endeavour to give prominence to important or controversial national issues by publishing the stories both on the front and back pages since their back and front pages usually carry diverse issues.

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