Mass Media And Entrenchment Of Political Culture In Nigeria
The Nigerian media has been playing an active role in instituting democratic structures since the inception of the country as a nation state. The newspapers that were established during the early years of colonialism were used as potent tools of propagating the ideas of democracy in Nigeria. The various titles that appeared on Nigerian newsstands then were deployed to fight the colonial government. And through the instrumentality of the press, Nigeria achieved her independence in 1960. This study therefore sought to analyze mass media and entrenchment of political culture in Nigeria. The study is of the view that the mass contributed immensely to the development of political culture, awareness and democracy in Nigeria. The study highlighted the efforts of the mass media in entrenching democratic values in the country because the absence of a competent media may jeopardize an enduring democracy and eventual political culture. Despite Nigerian media great performance in promoting democracy, they are faced with challenges which borders on issues of ethnicity, Lack of adequate modern communication gadgets, pressure from pressure groups and the government, ownership question, corruption, poor welfare and security issues among several others. A synergy among governments, the mass media and indeed journalists towards tackling these problems faced by the mass media, can further empower the media in performing its role towards political cultureand democratic consolidation in Nigeria.For Nigerian media to serve as instrument for stabilizing democracy, they need to ensure that they live up to the ideals of the profession and deal with all cases of unethical practices among its members. The government on the other hand should truly support the noble profession by creating the right atmosphere for media men to operate without friction.
Table of Content
- 1.1 Background to the Study
- 1.2 Statement of the Problem
- 1.3 Objectives of the Study
- 1.4 Research Question
- 1.5 Research Hypothesis
- 1.6 Significance of the Study
- 1.7 Scope of Study
- 1.8 Limitation of the Study
- 1.9 Definition of Terms
- 1.10 Organisation of the Study
2.0 Literature Review
- 2.1 Conceptual Framework
- 2.2 Concept of Mass Media
- 2.3 Origin and Development of the Mass Media in West Africa
- 2.4 Mass Media and the Growth of Democracy in West Africa
- 2.5 Mass Media in Nigeria
- 2.6 Challenges for the West African Mass Media
- 2.7 The Nexus Between Mass Media and Political System
- 2.8 Theoretical Framework
- 2.8.1 The Social Responsibility Theory
3.0 Research Methodology
- 3.1 Research Design
- 3.2 Population
- 3.3 Method of Data Collection
- 3.4 Method of Data Analysis
4.0 Results and Discussion
- 4.1 Political Awareness in Nigeria
- 4.2 Capacity to Make Political Choice
- 4.3 Role of the Mass Media in Enhancing Political Awareness
- 4.4 Challenges Facing The Media
5.0 Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation
- 5.1 Summary
- 5.2 Conclusion
- 5.3 Recommendation
1.1 Background to the Study
Since the 1960‟s when most of the African countries attained independence from colonial rule, the history of governance inthe West African sub region and indeed Africa has been characterised by the presence and activities of the military. Poverty, corruption, abuse of public office and Illiteracy which have been predominant in the West African region are hitherto other salient problems, which did not encourage the entrenchment of political culture in West Africa. The very weak democratic institutions that couldn’t support vibrant and enduring democratic processes, even in states that seemed to be „democratic‟, only meant that the military found a conducive environment to thrive. The mass media in all of these confusion, had to remain resilient in its responsibility as a major player towards democratisation of the region.
Thus the growth and development of democracy in West Africa from where it was to what it is shaping into today, only means that the mass media is thriving in its function as a vehicle for the promotion of democracy and as a watchdog of government. „As early as the 17th century, enlightenment theorists had argued that publicity and openness provide the best protection against tyranny and the excesses of arbitrary rule‟ Coronel, (2001). This means that the mass media which is the tool to provide these “publicity and openness” is crucial in any society that wants to be democratic. Without communication, democracy is non-existent. This is because without the avenue to transmit information to the populace, whether through the print, electronic, or social media as we have today, it is virtually impossible to inform and engage people towards fully participating in the democratic processes of their societies. Any society that does not engage the people in its processes of governance is not said to be democratic. This is seen in the description of democracy by Appadorai 68‟ „as a system of government under which the people exercise the governing power either directly or through representatives periodically elected by themselves.‟ This can only be achieved if the people are aware of their rights as well as the political happenings in their society and also seen to actively participate in the democratic processes thereof. And how can they be aware if the media does not bring the information to them? The activities of the media in any society is a reflection of the level of political maturity or immaturity as the case maybe that exist in such a society. As cited by Asare, “Modern governments, especially democratic ones rely so much on the availability and accessibility of information to both the government and the governed” Asare, (2009). A society where there is a wide range of media choices at the disposal of the populace, with journalists freely engaging in their duties of receiving and transmitting wholesome information is a reflection of a highly democratic society and vice versa. The role of the mass media in informing, educating and thereby influencing public opinion is very key and cannot be overemphasised in any democratic system, because an important element of democracy and rule of law is freedom of speech/expression. If the mass media is able to objectively transmit information across for the consumption of the general public, the public is able to make informed decisions towards participating and contributing to the consolidation of democracy in their society. How freely the mass media is able to operate in any given society is a reflection of how democratic that society is.
The Nigerian mass media have come a long way in the struggle for the enthronement of democracy in the country. The mass media has been playing this active role since the inception of the first newspaper established by Reverend Henry Townsend in 1859 in Abeokuta. The other newspapers that were established after Iwe- Irohin took a radical stand against the subjugation of the Nigerian people by the colonial government. The nationalist’s that founded these newspapers deployed them as tools for political agitations and demanded for outright independence and democracy for the country. Some notable Nigerians who used the mass media as a vehicle to actualized this noble objective included the following: Dr, Nnamdi Azikiwe who established the West African Pilot, Herbert Macaulay founded the Lagos Daily News, Chief M.K.O Abiola established the National Concord, The Nigerian Tribune was owned by Chief Obafemi Awolowo, and the Nigerian Pioneer was established by Kitoye Ajasa among other several newspapers established by Nigerians. The struggle to entrench democracy in Nigeria was and is strongly been shouldered by the mass media. This is evident in the attainment of the country’s independence in 1960. Even after independence, the mass media did not relent in their efforts to enthrone democracy. Despite the truncations of democracy by various military juntas, the mass media were not deterring in their responsibility of mobilizing the people to seek for the return of democracy in the country. The determination and resilience exhibited by the mass media eventually yielded positive result when on the 29th of May 1999 the country again returned to democratic rule after a prolong period of military dictatorship.
It is an incontrovertible fact that Nigerian nationalists were able to bring the colonial government to its knees through the instrumentality of the mass media. In this regard Iwokwagh (2011), citing Jibo (2003:3) noted that the Nigerian media has been a major political actor long before the country was fashioned as a unified political entity and has continued to play a central role in national politics since then. The mass media is the driven force that facilitates the entrenchment of democracy in any political system. This is because democracy depends on a knowledgeable citizenry, whose access to broad range of information enables them to participate fully in public life and the governance of the society (Galadima&Asemah, 2012).
Since the return of the country to democratic rule, the mass media has continued to play active roles in nurturing the new born democracy. It is therefore the trust of this article to examine through qualitative approach the roles that the Nigerian media has been playing in consolidating democracy in the country.
The mass media refers to all the avenue through which information can be passed from one person to numerous, scattered and heterogeneous audiences. They also mean the vehicles through which messages, information, ideas, knowledge and culture are transmitted to a large audience. According to Nwosu (1996:11), cited in Afamuefuna (2007), mass media are a technical communication concept which refers to the devices employed by anyone involved in a mass mediated communication situation for moving messages across distance or time. Thus, the mass media are the major modern means of communicating simultaneously and sometime instantaneously with a large scattered heterogeneous and anonymous audience. These include radio, television, newspaper, magazine, and the internet.
Because the mass media are the only source of news for most individuals, the presence of democratic or special bias in the media may have profound effect. Public dependence on the media also gives them the power to set political or democratic agenda and determine which issues will be the subject of public debate. Through the mass media, the citizens are educated on their rights and privileges so as to participate meaningfully in the democratic process (Mile, 2009).
On the other hand, the concept of democracy has become a popular concept in every contemporary discourse. It is now a word that resonates in people’s minds and springs from their lips as they struggle for freedom and better conditions of service. In its Greek understanding, the word “democracy” has a remote origin from the word demokratia (demos – the people, plus kratia (from kartos) – sway, authority) meaning the rule by the people. The impression this conveys is that it is a form of government where the people directly takes decisions by themselves without representation as we presently have today in most states of the world (Aguda: n.d :17 cited in Ezonbi& Jonah, 2013).
Democracy is adjudged as the most popular system of government in the world. It is popularly seen as the government of the people, by the people and for the people. As a concept, according to Obasanjo and Mabgunje (1992) cited in Ogah&Ogeyni (2014:55), democracy as an ideology is the philosophy of governance which sets a high premium on the basic freedom or fundamental human rights of the citizens, rule of law, the right to property, the free flow of information and the right of choice between alternative political positions. Simply put, democracy is that system of politics in which sovereignty is vested on the people rather than in a small clique or an oligarchy, where the rule of law, majority rule and constitutionalism are basic guiding principles of governance. It is in this context that Ramaswamy (2007:377) posited that democracy means the rule by the people as contrasted with the rule by one person or a group. He went further to say that it is the people who are both rulers and rule unlike other systems like monarchy, dictatorship or oligarchy where a distinction between the ruler and the ruled exists. But a cursory examination of the scenario in Nigeria negates this basic ingredient of democracy. In the context of Nigeria, instead of majority having their way in the process of governance, a few cabals have hijacked the state of affairs in the state. And any attempt to challenge the powers that be would amount to the brutal maltreatment of the fundamental rights of the innocent and suffering masses.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
In today’s world of politics, it is paramount for those whose duty it is to choose leaders to consider various factors in making their choices. In the various democracies, it is essential for the mass media to make immense contribution to the people’s capacity to choose their leaders. This is because the media are an inextricable part of the social system and by that very fact, shoulder some responsibilities in the creation of the much – needed environment that is capable of guaranteeing the opportunity for the people to make a choice.
Several factors would naturally determine the capacity and ability of the people to make a political choice. Such factors include awareness of the options open to them, from which they can choose, information about those options, the people’s ability to interpret such information for the purpose of making the right choice, as well as the guaranteed freedom to choose. All these depend on the prevailing political system of the society in question.
The Nigerian political system is characterized by the winner – takes – all, syndrome. This leads to highly acrimonious campaigns which end up in discredited polls and disputed results. This presents quite an interesting scenario, the study of which will reveal new vistas of interest. Such new vistas would either confirm or contradict some existing theoretical postulates regarding the operation of the media.
This study thus focuses on the political awareness of Nigerians based on political communication from the mass media. In this regard, the study looks at the focus on political issues by the media to find out whether such issues are well analyzed to the extent of determining the people’s political culture. The study also analyzes how such presentation of the issue affects the capacity of the people to make their respective choices. The study finally examines the political system itself to find out whether the system creates the right environment needed to enhance the ability of the people to make their own political choices.
1.3 Objectives Of the Study
The aim of this study is to analyze mass media and entrenchment of political culture in Nigeria. Specifically, the objectives of the study include to;
- To assess the focus on political issues by the mass media to find out whether such issues are well analyzed to the extent of determining the people’s political culture.
- To investigate the level of political awareness influenced by the mass media
- To determine how mass media presentation of the issue affects the capacity of the people to make their respective choices
- To examine the political system and its influence in creating the right environment needed to enhance the ability of the people to make their own political choices
- To identify the challenges the mass media face in the promotion of political awareness in Nigeria
1.4 Research Question
The following research questions are formulated to guide this research:
- What is the focus on political issues by the mass media to find out whether such issues are well analyzed to the extent of determining the people’s political culture?
- What is the level of political awareness influenced by the mass media?
- How does the mass media presentation of issues affect the capacity of the people to make their respective choices?
- What is the influence of the political system in creating the right environment needed to enhance the ability of the people to make their own political choices?
- What are the challenges the mass media face in the promotion of political awareness in Nigeria?
1.5 Research Hypothesis
- HO1 There is no significant relationship between mass media and entrenchment of political culture in Nigeria
- HA1 There is a significant relationship between mass media and entrenchment of political culture in Nigeria
1.6 Significance of the Study
The findings of this study will be of immense benefit to the government authorities, mass media bodies and the public, which will help in understanding the influence of the mass media on the political culture as well as promote positive political awareness, participation and consequently democracy consolidation. The study also gave an insight into the problem and practices of mass media and entrenchment of political culture in Nigeria.
This study by its objectives will cover the focus on political issues by the mass media to find out whether such issues are well analyzed to the extent of determining the people’s political culture; the level of political awareness influenced by the mass media; how mass media presentation of the issue affects the capacity of the people to make their respective choices; the political system and its influence in creating the right environment needed to enhance the ability of the people to make their own political choices; and the challenges the mass media face in the promotion of political awareness in Nigeria. Lastly, the study will contribute to empirical literature on the subject matter as well as contribute to future studies and serve as a reference for other researchers.
1.7 Scope of Study
This study was carried out to analyze mass media and entrenchment of political culture in Nigeria.
1.8 Limitation of the Study
Access to information relevant to the study was the major difficulty the researcher encountered during the data collection. Certain stakeholders were reluctant to grant the researcher interview and others who did were not forthcoming with the information. However there were others who were more than willing and provided adequate information that was needed for the work.
Another limitation has to do with time. The researcher did not have enough time to undertake the research since she had to meet a deadline. This notwithstanding the researcher was able to make proper use of the limited time therefore the quality of the work was not affected. However, it facilitated a detailed and in depth understanding of the study.
1.9 Definition of Terms
Mass media refers to a diverse array of media technologies that reach a large audience via mass communication. Print media transmit information via physical objects, such as books, comics, magazines, newspapers, or pamphlets. Event organizing and public speaking can also be considered forms of mass media.
Refers to the process or fact of an attitude, habit, or belief becoming so firmly established that change is very difficult or unlikely, in this case, the difficulty of a health political culture in Nigeria.
A political culture is a set of attitudes and practices held by a people that shapes their political behavior. It includes moral judgments, political myths, beliefs, and ideas about what makes for a good society. Political cultures matter because they shape a population’s political perceptions and actions.
1.10 Organisation of the Study
This study is organized into five chapters. Chapter one included the background of the study, research problem, research objectives and questions as well as limitation of the study. Chapter two contains the literature review. Chapter three includes the methodology. Chapter Four contains the results and discussion of key findings of the study. Chapter Five finally looks at the summary, conclusions, and recommendations based on the findings.
5.0 Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation
The aim of this thesis was to analyze mass media and entrenchment of political culture in Nigeria. The study revealed that the proliferation of media outlets in Nigeria within the past decades have brought in remarkable improvements in the role of mass media towards the consolidation of democracy and a political culture. The resilience on the part of journalists in their cause to promote and entrench democratic values through informing and educating the populace is highly commendable. The Nigerian constitution which has provided a rather conducive environment for the mass media to operate is also worthy of note. The reality however is that the challenges discussed above are still working as forces against the performance of the mass media in the efforts towards entrenching democracy in the region.
When the mass media is able to freely receive and disseminate wholesome information, without being biased or partisan, thereby educating the people, when the mass media is able to make available platforms that engage the people in the debate and discussion of political issues, then invariably democratic values such as popular participation through awareness is achieved and in turn democracy is being entrenched in west Africa. A synergy between and among the governments, journalists as well as the owners of media outlets towards providing unbiased information to the people, will increase the confidence and loyalty of the people on the media as the “fourth pillar” as well as the voice for the voiceless. It will also enable the media carry out its function without fear or favour. With this in mind, the West African mass media can still boast of a brighter political future ahead.
The capacity to make a political choice depends on the awareness of the individual. Awareness is equally contingent on the information available. Availability of information depends on the performance of the media. It is hereby concluded that owing to several challenges confronting the Nigerian mass media, political communication which can enhance the information level of the ordinary citizen is grossly inadequate. This, therefore, greatly reduces the political awareness of the people. This affects their capacity to make the right political choice.
It is thus recommended that for the mass media to play their role in political culture (or socialization) in Nigeria, they must cleanse themselves and place themselves at the service of the majority, rather than corrupt political elites who would continue to use them to perpetuate the debilitating system.
From the findings and conclusions, the following recommendations are made;
For the media to be credible and also be able to win the confidence of the populace as a channel for the dissemination of wholesome information and as the”fourth pillar‟ in democracy, extensive, periodic and professional training of journalists and other media personnel is paramount. This way journalists are kept abreast with professional reportage, they are aware and appreciate the importance of giving unbiased information, and are able to resist ethnicity, tribalism, regionalism and other forms of bigotry even on religious lines. The challenge of journalists not paid their salaries is another problem especially for the privately owned media, when Owners of these media outlets understand that it is criminal to withhold their staff salaries and other benefits, and that it is the right of the staff when they work to be paid their salaries as and when due, it will become easier for them to be committed in paying them. This is because when they are not paid even the enthusiasm to put in their best becomes a problem as they are not able to meet their basic needs. But when they are financially comfortable, i.e able to afford beyond the normal food, clothing and shelter, they are better equipped mentally and otherwise to engage in meaningful and intelligent debates thereby helping the people make informed decisions on political, social and religious matters.
It is also important that the government provides an enabling environment for the media to thrive by providing stable electricity, good and accessible roads in both urban and rural areas as well as providing a safer environment especially in volatile areas like the North Eastern parts of Nigeria through abating the boko haram insurgency. Violence matted on journalists should be seen as crime against humanity even if it is done by security forces and the police the government should withdraw from punishing journalists that report about political corruption and other disservice by the government.
Journalists in the course of their jobs should also learn to see beyond financial gains the „brown envelop journalism‟, knowing that their role as the watchdog of the government is priceless in helping to consolidate democracy and promote political culture in Nigeria.
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