Mass Media As An Instrument In Eradicating Corruption In Nigeria

Project and Seminar Material for Mass Communication

Mass Media As An Instrument In Eradicating Corruption In Nigeria


The study examines the role of mass media in curbing corruption in Nigeria as well as the problems encountered in the process of performing this role. The study revealed that corruption has been and continues to be a destructive element in the governance of Nigeria and perception of the country in the comity of nations. The study showed that poverty, threat to life, undue interference by government, harassment, injury and lack of laws to protect journalist are the major obstacles to mass media in their fight against corruption. Passage of freedom of information bill, training in mass media and good remuneration are recommended for mass media to be effective in the fight against corruption.

Chapter One


1.1 Background to the Study

The Media represent an essential and integral part of democratic process in any political community. Their statutory functions of enlightenment, education and entertainment have placed them on a pedestal of alertness and vigilance such that they have become an indispensable part of social governance. As whistle blowers, they inform the populace, set agenda for social discourse and hold public opinion through their editorial comments, public opinion corner and opinion articles.

Through their watch dog oversight, they bring to the public space shoddy deals of government which in most cases violate the basic freedoms of the people. It is through these checks that the principles of good governance are respected. This lays the essence of the libertarian theory of the Media. It proposes that it is the duty of journalists to protect the rights of the citizens against the excesses of government officials, not for the Media to protect the government against public criticism (Oboh, 2014, p. 40).

The image of a nation might as well be its destiny. Nigeria’s disfigured image in the global village has become an insignia of dishonesty, dishonour and disrespect. It is a known fact that majority of Nigerians are industrious, God-fearing and law-abiding, but a tiny minority is destroying the image of the country through their activities. Inept leaders who rule with impunity and have complete disregard for the people, spending their resources without a recourse to the feeling of other is like adding insult to injury (Olupohunda, para 15).

The positive perception of a country’s image is therefore an important gauge for judging her stand in the international political system. A good image translates into respect, influence and prestige. On the other hand, a bad or negative perception points to the contrary. Consequently, all countries endeavour to build, maintain and enhance their images in relation to other countries.

There is no arguing that the image we have of another country says a lot about how we view it as a tourist destination, a place to invest or a source of consumer goods (Frost, 2004:8). The factors that determine a nation’s image (for good or for bad) can be both internal and external. Internally, a succession of regimes of bad policies and practice can lead to this. Externally, it could be through participation in foreign military and humanitarian missions. An image problem usually occurs when there are both internal and external factors that sway the pendulum towards a negative image. Whatever the source of an image problem, many a country would do all that is possible to overcome such an image.

Nigeria for a very long time has witnessed an abysmal rating among the comity of nations. According to Saliu (2002) “it could be argued that the negative image of Nigeria was part of the biases of the global system towards the African continent”. He pursues the argument “a section of the international system – often derives pleasure in advertising negative occurrences in Africa while the positive aspects of the continent are conveniently ignored, or half-heartedly projected”.

However, corrupt practices by both the leadership and followers has not helped Nigeria’s image. Monday (2010, para.4) listed Nigeria’s rating by the Transparency International starting from 1996 when she was rated as the most corrupt country in the world. The same occurred in 1997 and 2000 respectively. According to Monday, in 1999, 2001 and 2003, Nigeria was rated as the second most corrupt nation in the world. In 2004 and 2005, she was tagged the third most corrupt; in 2006, she became the fifth and subsequently the ninth and sixteenth in the year 2007 and 2008. Currently, she holds the position of 134th out of 178 countries in the year 2010. This shows that nothing much has changed in the way Nigeria is viewed by her neighbours despite the attempts at re-branding the image of the country.

It is important to note that the expectation of the media with regard to their contribution to development lies in their ability to put the government of the day under close monitoring. This is made manifest in the media’s watchdog’s role in examining the conduct of public servants, especially the politicians, which is a task that is germane to democracy. This democratic task becomes challenging, owing to the fact that democratic institutions in Nigeria and Africa are still evolving and therefore require the efforts of midwives whose responsibility is performed by the media. Mass media performance concerning public sector ethics and civil servants morality should be seen as significant and therefore requires a close scrutiny.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Nigeria is regarded as the giant of Africa and one of the world’s largest oil producing countries. Her position is therefore strategic and vital in the scheme of things in the world. A lot of countries in Africa look up to her for help during conflict and in fact receive financial aid from her to drive their economy when in distress. The western world also sees her as the stabilizing factor in West Africa and a good source for doing business in the oil sector.

However, over the years, Nigeria’s image has eroded badly due to poor leadership and management problems. She is no longer regarded as a force to be reckoned with in the international arena and Africa due to the myriad of image problems that have bogged her down and made her a pariah of sorts. Her citizens have also lost credibility in the international fora because of various antisocial activities by both the citizens and government officials that portray the country in a bad light.

Successive governments have fashioned out re-branding projects, which were meant to launder the image of Nigeria, positively both internally and externally. The major instrument used by the government to achieve this aim is the mass media.

Political activities assumed a dangerous dimension as contestants see their victory as the ticket to loot and amass wealth. Specifically, corruption became legitimized, especially during the Babangida and Abacha regimes

(1985-1998), with huge revenues, but wasteful spending, and nothing to show in terms of physical developments.

The culture of corruption through what Nigerians have come to know, as settlement syndrome became part of the country’s political culture. All the positive values for development were jettisoned. Governmental agencies that were the pilots of socioeconomic developments were decimated. The decline in the education sector today has its roots in this period (Nwaka, 2003).

1.3 Objectives of the Study

The general objective for this study is to examine Mass media as an instrument in eradicating corruption in Nigeria. The specific objectives of this study are:

  1. To ascertain the impact mass media on the rate of corruption in Nigeria.
  2. To find out the factors responsible for corruption in Nigeria.
  3. To determine the effects of corruption in Nigeria.
  4. To investigate the role of mass media in curbing corruption in Nigeria.

1.4 Research Questions

The relevant research questions related to this study are:

  1. What is the impact mass media on the rate of corruption in Nigeria?
  2. What are the factors responsible for corruption in Nigeria?
  3. What are the effects of corruption in Nigeria?

1.5 Significance of the Study

The significance of the study are thus;

It will enable the government and policy makers to put adequate measures in place to check the movement of investigative reporting in Nigeria Media.

It will help remove the idea of imitating investigative reporting in Nigeria.

The conduct of this research will enable the government to know what role the investigative reporting media can play in the development of a country and therefore, harness the mass media in the democratic process and development process in general.

1.6 Scope / Delimitation of the Study

The scope of this study is to find out the efficiency ofMass media in the fight against Corruption in Nigeria. Also to suggest possible solution to solve the identified problems

1.7 Conceptional and Operational Definitions of the Terms.


It means young journalist and reporter.


It is defined investigative journalist


The means of giving news and opinions to large number of people.


The media is operationalised as Internet. Broadcast used to generate or circulate information to the public.

Chapter Five

Conclusion and Recommendation

5.1 Conclusion

Journalists are presumed to play a critical role in the democratic process. Yet politics can become a scripted event where spectacle can overwhelm substance. Spin merchants may seek to create a series of television friendly vignettes, where critical questions are discouraged and performances are enhanced. Journalists can then become seen as minor players in the same unfolding drama they are attempting to critique.

This blurring of such roles is evident both in domestic political reporting and the coverage of international events. During the Hong Kong handover, more than five thousand members of the international press were screened by government public relations controllers, security checked, balloted to even enter events, and mostly denied the opportunity to ask questions; giving them little alternative to a “press release reality”. A former news editor of the Far Eastern Economic Review suggested that such reporters might as well have been in South America when it came to the quality of eye witness coverage of the handover.(Knight/Nakano: 1999. p162.)

The role of the mass media is critical in efforts against corruption. As a result, there must be careful structuring of the relationship between anti-corruption officials and, in many cases, there must also be efforts to develop or enhance the capabilities of the mass media to ensure that they can function effectively as recipients of information about corruption, appraise such information in an independent manner, use it meaningfully as the basis of further communications and disseminate it to the general public. In addition to independence and credibility, critical functions of the journalistic mass media include their ability to digest and render detailed technical materials accessible to the general population. This is essential to general awareness raising and public education, but also entails a high degree of responsibility and the exercise of discretion, since it necessarily involves editorial or “gatekeeping” exercises, in which the mass media must decide which information to report and which to leave out. Some of the critical issues that will enhance the role of mass media in curbing corruption are as follows:

The autonomy of the mass media is essential to enable it to assess Government information critically and objectively and to ensure its reports are credible to the population as a whole. Thus, Government contacts with the mass media must be transparent, and they must not compromise the essential autonomy of the mass media, either in practice or in public perceptions. Also critical to autonomy and objectivity is the separation of mass media ownership from Government or political factions or, if this is impossible, ensuring that there is a diverse mass media to represent a full range of political opinion. Similarly, the staffing of individual mass media should be multi-partisan, if possible.

5.2 Recommendation

Should journalism practitioners explore new methods of news gathering; ones which are beyond the reach of the spin merchants seeking to dominate reportage? The Internet may provide alternatives here for pressed reporters. The computers and modems which they increasingly use to file their stories from field, might just as easily be used for news gathering. investigative reporting could then offer a more substantial solution to contrived press release realities. For the mass media to assess anti-corruption efforts critically and independently they must possess adequate technical, legal, economic and other expertise. In many cases, other sources, such as retained professional or academic experts, can supplement the knowledge of general mass media reporters. Training, awareness-raising and technical briefing of mass media personnel in anti-corruption efforts may also be useful.

Passage of Freedom of Information Bill by the National Assembly will guarantee the right to seek for information without inhibition and to publish or broadcast news safely and effectively. The passage of this bill will give legal cover to the mass media’s contributions towards the anti-corruption campaign in the country.

The mass media should be encouraged to develop and enforce adequate standards of conduct regarding their professional competence and their objectivity.

Owners of mass media houses most especially private owners should be explicit with their interests to their editors so the latter would make good use of their profession to fulfill their roles in the society including that of fighting against corruption and any other practices related to it. Also they should enable their journalists to perform their duties effectively so that they would avoid any temptations of accepting gifts, envelopes, fare or any other support that would interfere with their free reporting.

Mass media presentations should clearly distinguish between factual and fictional programmes and between news reporting, which reports fact, and analysis or editorial commentary, which comments on facts.

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