Impact Of Nigerian Press On Shaping The Country’s Political Structure

Project and Seminar Material for Political Science

Impact Of Nigerian Press On Shaping The Country’s Political Structure


This paper examines the role or the impact of Nigerian Press on shaping the country’s political structure period of study 1999-2004.

A general study of Nigeria is because it happens to be the period when we witness a transition to civilian rule. Many library materials constituted the sample source and literature review. Dates were also collected through extensive reading of information material on the government administrative policy.

There findings showed that by the period of 1999, government activities in respect to the policy of administration supposed to have passed the stages of mobilization to that of execution, and that newspaper will not only covered those activities by use of newstones but also comment on the policy formulation and application through the use of feature articles and editorials. The newspaper also identifies problems that should be solved for the government programmes to succeed.

Chapter One

1.0 Introduction

In all aspects of social life, the onset of a new decade triggers an effort to summarise and charactrised what happened 2-5 years ago, and to look forward to changes. The onset of a new era. The press stands as a bridge between the old and the new (History). The experience of the past in relationship to the new events. When a new regime arrives in power, it can blame its predecessors in government for many economic problems. The newly arrive uses press to compare its record in funding popular services with the previous regime and reminds the public in periods of time and unpopularity about how much worse off or more dis-granted they felt when the current opposition themselves held power. All these tactics cannot work effectively without the press. Even at this period of time.

The periodic Nigerian press has been on important source of government policy news for opinion leaders and decision makers or takers within a political structure as well as for the public at large. Since most people in decision making position of this country never come into direct contact with international communities that are the basis for foreign policy, they most rely on the press information about the particular issue.

This chapter surveys a segment of the Nigerian press during a series of related national policy decision made by Nigeria in the period of loss of sovereignty and company rule in Nigeria to the present civilian rule. (1999-Date).
However, citing when as one country, Nigeria came into being in 1914 as a result of amalgamation of North and South protectorates under the governorship of Lord Fredrick Lugard. This means that the political units that came together to form this nation were the old kingdoms whose people had a complex system of interaction (communication) before they ever made contact with the Europeans. Though comparing this old political history with the present, one can deduce that more political units are in vogue now than that of the old political units.
Moreover, the how and why the Nigeria press defines situations as it did and some possible implication of the behaviour of the press for rational national policy decision making influences the political structure. The press a surveyors of information can easily influence or control the behaviour of the society politically. In this regard, any political institution that under-estimates the power of the press does so at its own peril. In the frame work of the institution of the press freedom, the media must be so regulated and guarded especially in this democratic period that the desired judicious application of their power is assured.

The press council must be given appropriate legal status and power to impose sanctions and fines on media houses that erred. The council also should be given emergency power to regulate media activities in all election period. The aim of such emergency power will be to assure that press do not become tools in the hands of politicians to the detriment of the concept of free press and fir play in the time of elections.

1.1 Background of the Study

The dilemma and challenges facing Nigeria today after her Military handover are many. The elite Nigerians must be an active participant in the democracy o our nation. They should not wait for the war class before they join in restructure of our socio-economic and political systems. History has taught us that both human and natural resources alone do not make a great nation but by development and utilization of these resources are responsible to achieving greatness.

To any dispassionate observer, this country is endowed with greatness but appears to be at war with each other. Money and wealth appear to be the only recognized value in our society whose elite citizens are one of the most unproductive in the world. So many educated Nigerians has cost hope today despite their skills. They are not inspired by any hope and should not be a tool of enslavement, inequality, and corruption against the poor deprived masses of this great country. The mobilization of our resources and constructive forces must be a creative contribution of these elites in the life and growth of our country.

In our new Nigeria, men must refuse that bank of justice and opportunity is finished. Public enlightment system in this regard must be utilized effectively informing appropriate authority of any need for cleaning environment of jungle discord and transforming our nation into a symphony of brotherhood and love.

1.2 Statement of Research Problems

Information available indicates that Nigerian press was born in freedom. When Rev. Towsend established “Iwe Irolin”, he “said that his objective was to get people to read and cultivate the habit of reading and seeking for information through newspaper. The appearance of the newspaper started the first phase of History of the Nigerian press which graduated and lasted up till today. Then, the government us control of the press until about 1930’s, which still exist. (Government ownership).

The 1930s saw the emergence in Nigeria of political parties and the beginning of creating mass awareness in political matters. Private ownership began to emerge with the return of Nnamdi Azikiwe from the gold coast and realizing the impact of the press in political mobilization, established the Zik’s press limited, a newspaper chain that is all over the federation in Nigeria.

The problem now is to investigate the impact of Nigeria press in shaping the political structure of Nigeria. With this period as a case study.

This Eva/period is selected because of the unique role the political Actors played especially in pioneering the press as a great weapon to fight for the benefit of the country. The appearance of Enugu metropolis of Eastern Nigeria outlook and Cameroon star which are the oldest newspaper in the East of the Niger and therefore is expected to lead the rest of Nigeria press in the coverage and interpretation of political issues. Eg. The sun, Guardian, vanguard etc.

1.3 Objectives of the Study

The objectives of this study are:-

  1. To ascertain the political structure of this period in sensitizing and creating awareness among people towards press information as it relates to political programmes.
  2. To find out the extent the political period played in highlighting issues of political importance in the country.

1.4 Significance of Study

This study will be a useful reference work to our political administrators, policy makers, students of mass communication and political science in polytechnics and universities in Nigeria.

It will also guide the federal and state government in planning their future political programmes.

1.5 Research Question

The research problems involved in this study is to ascertain the magnitude of impact the press has on shaping the political structure of Nigeria especially in this period.

The scientific problems there include preempting of the historical data etc.

1.6 Research Hypothesis

The investigation will be based on the following hypothesis:-

  1. Hi The present political period played an impact on shaping the Nigeria political structure through various information material.
    Ho The present political period did not play an impact on shaping the Nigeria political structure through various information material.
  2. Hi That Nigerian citizens highlight problems, roles and impact encountered by the press in shaping the political structure in this present period.
    Ho That our people did not highlight problems, roles and impact encountered by the press on shaping the country’s political structure in this present period.

1.7 Limitation of the Study

This study centre on the impact of Nigerian press on shaping the country’s political structure. It is limited to this present period of politics in Nigerian metropolis as a country who witness sense of political turmoil. The founding may not be a representation of the entire Africans. Most of the countries are more turbulent or peaceful than Nigeria.

Secondly, many number of government officials in the service of Nigerian government are now living in their various locations and because of our present transportation increment and school activities, we were able to reach some of them for an interview.

1.8 Assumption

When the chips are all down, the assumptions made in the research work are as follows.

  1. The research assumes that the press has a very important role to play in the political structure of Nigeria.
  2. Also the research, assures that without the press the political structure of Nigeria is left dead – and – alive.

Chapter Five

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

5.1 Summary

The research problems involved in this study is to ascertain the magnitude of impact the press has on shaping the political structure of Nigeria especially in this period.

Survey research design was employed for the study and with the aid of convenience sampling method, 80 journalist among the NUJ in Enugu Metropolis was selected as the participant for the study. Well structure questionnaire was issued to the enrolled participants of which 77 of the instrument were retrieved and validated for the study. Data was analyzed in simple percentage using frequencies and tables. Hypothesis tested was conducted using Chi-Square and Pearson correlation Statistical Tool (SPSS v.2.3).

5.2 Conclusion

There is no doubt that sustainable political governance in Nigeria can be achieved, but the strategies for executing it should include the contributions of independent, robust, and free news sources capable of informing the citizens and challenging their political thoughts to participate in democratizing their political system.

All over the world, the role ofthe press as the Fourth-Estate of the Realm is incontrovertible. Every autocracy needs the press just as democracy needs it. However the progressive motive of the press is often misinterpreted because of the ideological orientation of the state and its functionaries. Nigeria has been at least through three situations; the colonial, the independence and the military. The anticolonial press had one “enemy” the colonial government. Its role was to break the yoke of imperialism, the independence press is supposed to guide the new rulers, point out hurdles and direct their steps for the well-being of the citizens, the press in a military government had the role of fighting for democracy and the observance of human rights and freedom.

Findings of the study revealed as we read and play out the history of Nigeria’s quest and fight for political freedom and democracy, we continue to see and experience the cardinal role, which the press had played, and which the press has continued to play in the struggle. And as we read the history, and as we follow events in the other parts of the world, we are constantly reminded that the press will remain a major army in our on-going battle to entrench democracy in Nigeria.

There findings showed that government activities in respect to the policy of administration supposed to have passed the stages of mobilization to that of execution, and that newspaper will not only covered those activities by use of newstones but also comment on the policy formulation and application through the use of feature articles and editorials.

More importantly, the press is not just a fighting army; the press plays the critical and unique role of mobilizing and enlisting other soldiers in the battle. This latter role is considered a far more important role, especially in the context of present day Nigeria.

5.3 Recommendations

Based on the result of this study, the following suggestions are made:

There is the need for the Nigerian press and the Nigerian government to work towards the realization of socio-political democratization in Nigeria. This can be achieved through absence of complete interference of government on what the press content should be. Although the press is considerably free under present study but the principle of forth estate of the realm as enshrined in the Nigerian constitution that provides press autonomy has also been constitutionally denied with some extended definitions of “state security” as contained in the constitution.

A more important need is to enact anti-censorship statute that outlaws censorships and total governmental interference in the media. The law should guarantee the media and the journalists the right of editorial independence, and it should criminalize arbitrary detention and other forms of extra-legal actions against the press and journalists. The enactment of this law is to further strengthen the constitutional protection of the press under any democratic dispensation.

In as much as Nigerian press is guaranteed the freedom of expression and of the press in the constitution, and other international human rights instruments which Nigeria is a signatory, government at all levels and its agencies must uphold these provisions. Fundamentally, the press in assuming rightful roles must fight doggedly for the exclusion of intimidating provisions limiting the performance of their duty from the constitution.

Restrictive laws on the press should be expunged from the nation’s statute books. Specifically the Official Secret Act which has hindered the free flow of information to the press and the provisions of the Criminal and Penal codes on sedition and similar laws should be abolished. One of the more urgent aims that need to be accomplished as soon as possible is guarantee offreedom of the press that must be institutionalized in the form of legislation. The National Assembly should as a matter of urgency expedites action on the passage of Freedom of Information Bill, as information is not just a necessity but an essential part of good government. With the enactment of this bill, the people will be actively involved in decision-making; build confidence in government programmes; and above all, secure free flow of information and ideas essential to intelligent self-government.

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