Press And Democracy In Nigeria (1999 Till Date)

Project and Seminar Material for Political Science

Press And Democracy In Nigeria (1999 Till Date)


The press has been defined as the fourth estate of the realm. It has undergone a sustained or a continuous system or repression by those who control the state machinery.

But fortunately, one of the most intriguing phenomenon of this century intellectualism, is the widespread interest in the press, expressed without a critical analysis of its intrinsic significance to state and foremost members of the society.

Thus the structure of this project is as follows:

  • Chapter one, the introduction, its objective, theoretical framework, scope and limitations of the study, basic assumption, hypothesis and end notes.
  • Chapter two, there is a literature review on the historical background of the work, growth of the Nigerian press and end notes.
  • Chapter three, this deals with basic issues of the press freedom, press freedom and democracy in Nigeria.
  • Chapter four, finally, this chapter summarizes the whole work and recommendation were also given

Chapter One


1.1 Background of the Study

The mass media in the modern world has become so important that hardly can we think of a nation that can exist without the press. The notion of the pres is fundamentally strewn with the idea of modern governance itself.

Since, mankind proved to be in love of gregarious living, experience has revealed to him, the wisdom that no individual or body of individuals should be allowed, the power to direct the affairs of the state without recourse to the wishes and will of other members.

Man has traveled through various evolutionary and experimental stages of governance absolute monarchs, capitalism, welfarism etc.

But one fundamental principle that stands valid through history has been that the essential safeguard of the society in protection, is that government should have the obligation to consult, inform and be sensitive to the wish to the governed.

This wish was given a complete expression in the small city of Greek, where every member of the state was part of the policy machinery because all the people need to make policies that will regulate the affairs of the state. From the above, one can from the onset, see the relevance of the press giving meaning to the responsibility of government to consult with, and evaluate the wishes of the people in the course of government.

The press has been described as the fourth estate of the realm, the watchdog, the conscience of the nation. In the modern state, where policy formulation executive and law making are done by a few members of the society on behalf of the rest. The press has been and still the most effective medium through which the rulers makes themselves accountable to the ruler into critical analysis to raise the consciousness of the ruled, and to give them the opportunity of keeping vigil on their rights and alive to their obligations.

In the enduring scenario contrived by the historical development of modern state, the people look at the press with high expectations as the watchdog, the conscience of the nation, the defender of liberty, freedom of the masses, an indispensable sub-system of the state organization.

Of all the roles the press is expected to perform, the most daring and formidable task that breeds executive antagonism is the watchdog. In this roe, the press will expose and analyze the action of government whether the government is keeping faith with the constitution. Without such role, the public cannot evaluate the working of the system, the wisdom, probity, altruism, patriotism, responsibility and other virtues of leadership is believe to have.

The role of press, prove in a number of cross, very useful and led to greater understanding of the public affairs as people in government were made to explain policies and measures were there is question mark.

The civilian rulers have a direct mandate that makes them beholder into the people, the imposition of the restriction itself is represented by a conglomerate of political, economic and social interests which makes it quite uneasy for the executive to push legislative propositions that will do much harm to press freedom. Yet politicians all over the world still look for ways and means of chaining the press or clip the wings of mass media.

In Nigeria the conflicts between the press and government is real. Also there is the assumption that restrictive laws against the press exist more in military regimes than in civilian administration. The relevance of comparison like this came from the fact that the phenomena of military intervention in third world politics has become a fashionable design “being in a state of emergency or wars, hence the press should cooperate with the regime accepted by the society by deliberately restraining its freedom of action in two areas of defence and security”.

According to Dr. Patrick Dele Cole, he said that the military and the press are two institutions in our national life that are apparently in irreconcilable conflict both in terms of the way they perceive their role in their mode of operations.

An enlightened military government in Nigeria, once said that by training soldiers were not used to having their orders questioned, much less disobeyed, thus, when soldiers in government found their actions being questioned or quarrel on the pages of newspapers or on radio and television. Their reaction is to order the critic toe brought to book.

1.2 Statement of Problem

The democratic approach to the resolution of some problems led to serious infringements on the fundamental human rights and principles of the individual and groups.

The military regime promulgated several obnoxious decree for instance decree No 2 which allows the military to detain an individual for so long as it wishes in decree No 4 which was meant to curtail the right of the press. Decree No 16-17 was aimed at legalizing the military onslaught on the economic and political rights of workers. These decrees pre-military tribunal were also setup to try cases that were even civil in nature.

Everyone spoken in solemn voice about press freedom and the right of freedom of expression, but what do we mean by a free press? All it takes to enjoy freedom of expression is simply presses? All it takes to enjoy free the individual ability to have an ability and to express it. In terms of the right guaranteed in article 19, why then should the government of developing countries like Nigeria prefer to commit scarce resources to an expensive right.

The basis of this research study is therefore to find out why freedom of expression of press is desirable? What is press freedom actually about.

Whether press actually existed and still in Nigeria and has press freedom really enhanced democratic process in Nigeria in both military and civilian dispensation.

The research study will focus on those factors that are mot likely to engineer free press and also to know if such factors are present in Nigeria politics. The main of the study is to examine in Nigeria politics. The main of the study is to examine the various ways by which the Nigerian press has influenced the politics in both civil and the military era.

1.3 Theoretical Framework

In the process of research, two theories were used to explain the concept of press freedom. The first theory is the authoritarian which going back to at least the invention of printing, insist on the right of a small and presumably wise ruling class to decide what the society should know and believe and hence hedges society with licensing, sedition, blasphemy and similar statutes.

The other theory could be called liberalization whose roots go back to the 17th century, according to this spokesman for ruling elites, but a critique and mirror of the society.

1.4 Basic Assumption

The opinion of most Nigerians on the issue of press is that the continuous restrictions on the press freedom will not argue well for democratic process in Nigeria. This has necessitated the passage of freedom of information bill by the national assembly into laws.

1.5 Hypothesis

The following hypothesis were formed or created for the basic of this research.

Democracy cannot thrive where there is restrictions of press freedom and dissemination of information.

The continuous restrictions on press freedom in Nigeria will hinder the growth of democracy.

1.6 Conceptual Clarification

In the course of carrying out this research on press freedom in Nigeria, some concepts were enumerated. These concepts will be clarified at these points.

Press Freedom:

Press freedom means the absence of governmental restraints on the media.


Democracy as a concept implies a system, which gives periodic opportunities for the masses to choose their leaders.


Government is a body of persons and institutions or agencies that makes and enforce laws in a given state.


Administration simply means the management of public affairs i.e. the management of governmental activities in a state.


Regime is a system of government/administration i.e. a military regime that has come to power.

1.7 Objective of the Study

The main objective of the study is to ascertain the role of the press and in democracy in Nigeria, but to aid the successful completion of the study, the researcher intend to achieve the following specific objective;

  1. To examine the role of the press in Nigeria’s democracy
  2. To examine the relationship between the press and the growth of Nigeria’s democracy
  3. To evaluate the impact of press freedom in the democratic process
  4. To ascertain the effect of press freedom in the electoral process

1.8 Significance of the Study

It is believed that at the completion of the study, the findings will be of importance to the media houses and news outlet as the study seek to envisage on the vital nature of the role of the press on the political development of Nigeria. The study will also be useful to journalist, potential journalist bloggers and some social media outlet as the play a vital role in the dissemination of information in the country. The study will also be of importance to researchers, who intend to embark on a study in a similar topic, finally the study will be useful to academia’s, students, lecturers, teachers and the general public as it will contribute to knowledge and also add to the pool of existing literature.

1.9 Scope and Limitation of the Study

The scope of the study covers an assessment of the press and democracy in Nigeria from 1999 to date. In the cause of the study, there were some factors which limited the scope of the study;

(a) Availability of Research Material:

The research material available to the researcher is insufficient, thereby limiting the study.

(b) Time:

The time frame allocated to the study does not enhance wider coverage as the researcher has to combine other academic activities and examinations with the study.

(c) Finance:

The finance available for the research work does not allow for wider coverage as resources are very limited as the researcher has other academic bills to cover.

1.10 Definition of Terms


Democracy, in modern usage, is a system of government in which the citizens exercise power directly or elect representatives from among themselves to form a governing body, such as a parliament

Freedom of the Press

Freedom of the press or freedom of the media is the principle that communicates and express through various mediums, including printed and electronic media, especially published materials, should be considered a right to be exercised freely


Journalism is the production and the distribution of reports on recent events. The word journalism applies to the occupation, the methods of gathering information, and the organizing literary styles.

Organization Of The Study

This research work is organized in five chapters for easy understanding as follows

  • Chapter one is concern with the introduction which consist of the (overview, of the study), statement of problem, objectives of the study, research question, significance or the study, research methodology, definition of terms and historical background of the study.
  • Chapter two highlights the theoretical framework on which the study it’s based thus the review of related literature.
  • Chapter three deals on the research design and methodology adopted in the study.
  • Chapter four concentrate on the data collection and analysis and presentation of finding.
  • Chapter five gives summary, conclusion and recommendations made of the study.

Chapter Five

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

5.1 Introduction

It is important to ascertain that the objective of this study was to ascertain the efficacy of press and democracy in Nigeria 1999 till date.

In the preceding chapter, the relevant data collected for this study were presented, critically analyzed and appropriate interpretation given. In this chapter, certain recommendations made which in the opinion of the researcher will be of benefits in addressing the challenges of press and democracy in Nigeria from 1999 till date.

5.2 Summary

In summary, the job of taking Nigeria to the next level on the journey to true democracy is arduous but attainable. It is a job every Nigerian must be committed to. It only requires commitment, patriotism, sacrifice and discipline. It starts with seeing the reality in the words of Solomon that “vanity of vanities; all is vanity (Ecclesiastes 1 v 2 KJV). Nothing but service and promotion of the joy of others in this world is worth pursuing. Every other thing is ephemeral, perishable and a vanity. Whatever gift God has given to man should be used to advance the happiness of mankind. That is the only value worth pursuing. It is interesting that man cannot see God but, for those who seek Him, God communicates effectively with humans (Colossians 1 v 17;Hebrews 1 v 13). It was communication that was the foundation of the world, it is communication that has sustained it and it is communication that will ensure its continuity (Pye, 1963, p. 3). When man begins to live on other planets, he will have to learn how to communicate with the inhabitants of those planets, in order to live happily with them. Communication, not mere information or persuasion, will guarantee man his space and help him to achieve his potentials in this highly competitive world of ours. In order not only to manage the mandate entrusted to them well, but also to convince the electorate that they are doing so, Nigerian politicians need to engage those they claim to be representing in active communication. The critical stakeholders, journalists and other communicators, political and appointive office holders, and the citizens themselves, should play their roles well to ensure that Nigeria transits to the next level of democratic growth and development. Those in the position to assist the citizens to derive maximum advantage from God’s blessings upon this land – the media and political officers – must encourage the citizens to ask questions and demand their rights always. It is clear from the analyses above that re-dedication and recommitment to the cause of Nigeria is needed, if we must carry on as one united, prosperous, fair, just, egalitarian and secure society

5.3 Conclusion

Today, we can safely boast that democracy is gradually taken root in Nigeria with the successful transition from one democratically elected government to another on May 29, 2015. However, we can’t say Nigeria democracy has developed, as the mass media must work assiduously hard to sustain the democratic successes we have achieved thus far. To further consolidate the success recorded by the mass media so far, the government must take some deliberate and concrete steps in overhauling the entire media industry in the country. First, priority must be given to the welfare of media practitioners. Nigerian media practitioners are among the least paid in the world. The government must look intently into this issue if they would be motivated to give their best to sustain democracy. Better training and timely payments of journalist’s salaries will moderate the tendency to be driven by the imperative of “stomach infrastructure” as the play their trade (Adibe, 2015). Closely related to the above is the provision of modern communication equipments. In today’s technology driven world, Nigeria mass media cannot afford to be lacking behind in this respect. We therefore call on the Federal government to be proactive in ensuring that the deadline set for broadcast stations in Nigeria to switch over transmission from analogue to digital service is achievable. To this end, increase funding of allocations to media stations should be encourage as well as be strictly monitored to ensure that the disbursed funds are appropriately utilized.

5.4 Recommendation

Haven completed the study, the researcher is of the opinion that the media industry needs to properly position itself and put its house in order so as to sustain democracy in Nigeria. The unending cases of corruption and unethical practices perpetrated by media practitioners should be squarely address by journalism regulating bodies like the Nigeria press council (NPC), Nigerian Union of journalist (NUJ), Nigeria Guild of Editors (NGE), and National Broadcasting Commission (NBC). Strict adherence to professional practice should be enforce among members. And all legal frictions inhibiting the prosecution of earring members should be addressed. The ability of these regulatory bodies to sanction media practitioners, especially when done fairly, can moderate the centrifugal pulls of media institutions with irredentist inclinations. When media men discharge their duties with a sense of responsibility to the Nigerian people and in the best professional manner, they will further strengthen and sustain the hard earn democracy they fought to achieve.

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