Press Freedom In A Democracy (A Case Study Of President Umaru Musa Yar’dua’s Government)

Project and Seminar Material for Mass Communication

Press Freedom In A Democracy (A Case Study Of President Umaru Musa Yar’dua’s Government)


This research centers on press freedom in a democracy Democracy: A case study of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua’s Government. This research work focuses on the extend of press freedom experienced in Nigeria, and encounter between the press and the Yar’dua’s Government.

The methodology used in this research is the survey design, also questionnaires were used in collecting data from respondents and simple percentage system was used to analyze the data. The researcher found that press freedom in Nigeria is qualified and that the passing of the information Bill into law will solve the challenges the press face in Nigeria.

Table Of Contents

Preliminary Page(s)

  • Title page
  • Approval Page
  • Dedication
  • Acknowledgement
  • Abstract
  • Table of contents

Chapter One

1.0 Introduction

  • 1.1 Background
  • 1.2 Statement of problem
  • 1.3 Research questions
  • 1.4 Objective of study
  • 1.5 Significance of study
  • 1.6 Scope and delimitation of study
  • 1.7 Definition of terms

Chapter Two

Literature Review

  • 2.0 Introduction
  • 2.1 Theoretical framework and summary
  • 2.2 The media and the president
  • 2.3 Imprisonment of press freedom
  • 2.4 Freedom of information bill

Chapter Three

3.0 Methodology

  • 3.1 Research design
  • 3.2 Population of study
  • 3.3 Sampling size
  • 3.4 Sampling technique
  • 3.5 Instrument of data collection
  • 3.6 Method of data analysis

Chapter Four

4.0 Data Presentation and Analysis of Data

  • 4.1 Data presentation and analysis
  • 4.2 Discussion of findings

Chapter Five

5.0 Summary, Conclusion And Recommendations

  • 5.1 Summary
  • 5.2 Conclusion
  • 5.3 Recommendations
  • References
  • Appendix
  • Questionnaires

Chapter One

1.0 Introduction

The concept of press freedom requires that media practitioners should have the freedom to obtain and publish news and opinion for public information and knowledge, freedom to probe without hindrance or constraint. Basically, press freedom is a corollary of freedom of expression which in itself is a fundamental right without which genuine democracy cannot succeed. The right of people to freely express themselves and commend on the affairs of the state and conduct of government is an intrinsic part of democracy that demands accountability of rulers and public officials to the citizenry.

The most important of the media is to uphold the government responsibility and accountability to the people, giving constitutional backing under the Nigerian constitution requiring that the press, radio, television and other agencies of the mass media shall at all times be tree to uphold the fundamental objective contained in the constitution and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the government to the people.
The difficulty of fulfilling this role is the purpose of this project “press freedom in democracy” which has been put together in a chronological order from the origin of modern press in Nigeria, extending to the current time.

1.1 Background To Study

Regardless of the ideological differences in the various socio-political systems of the world, press freedom, a logical expression is to-day a universal phenomenon. Globally guaranteed by article 19 of the universal declaration human rights 1948, it is enshrined in constitutions and customarily observed by societies exemplified by Britain which has no written constitution.

Although the modern press began in Belgium in 1605 (Altschull 1984) and Sweden is generally believed to be the first country in the world to constitutional ordain press freedom (Moemeka 1978)

The idea of the freedom of the press first evolved as a component of the libertarian social philosophy which originated in England after the revolution of 1988 (Siebert et al 1956). Between the early 1920’s when the first English “news books” and “corantos” appeared in London (Harris 1978) and the 1688political sidelining of the British monarchy, authoritarianism both as political and press philosophies reigned supreme. Under the authoritarian system of the Time.

Truth was conceived to be, not the product of the great mass of the people, but of a few wise men that were in position to guide and direct their fellows. Thus, truth was thought to be centered near the center of power. The press therefore functioned from the top down. The rulers of the time used the press to inform the people of what the rulers thought they should support (Siebert et al 1956)

The monarch or government had absolute power and control over ownership, content and used of mass media. Criticisms of the political machinery and officials in power through the mass media were forbidden and the press existed chiefly to support and to service the state (Siebert et al 1956) and therefore had no freedom. By 1688, with the over throw of monarchical authoritarianism in British however, libertarianism as a politics and press system took over and with it the concept of press freedom.

By that as it may, there are two types of press freedom and secondly there is a qualified press freedom. The former is a situation whereby the press is wholly free and serves its audience without been subjected to any form of harassment and intimidation. It needs to be emphasized that there is no policy in the world that enjoys this kind of Utopian absolute freedom. Advanced democracies only are close to it.

The later (qualified press) however, is a system where the press is not free to perform its functions. Nigeria appears to be a model of qualified press freedom, existence of the official secrets Act of 1962 is a hindrance, it stipulates some “no go press” with regard to press access to vital information which it may not be in the best interest of the government to release. Ralph observes that conflicting argument on the amount of freedom the press in Nigeria should enjoy continues to amount. For instance he says that: “The Nigerian press has argued on favor of total freedom of the press, the Nigerian government on the other hand, has told the press that it is asking too much……(cited in Sadeeq 1993:19)”.

There are other laws like those of defamation of character, libel and sedition, all which in one way or the other, serve to tame the media or to completely cow them. Several other factors that do truncate media effectiveness in developing countries is generally and Nigeria in particular vis-à-vis it potency but it should be emphasized that the media in Nigeria need to be strengthened for them to do their job as watchdog more effectively. So the challenges facing mass media organization including the Nigerian Union of Journalist (NUJ) and the guide of editors amongst others is to fight for the inclusion of the specific provision in the constitution guaranteeing press freedom.

1.2 Significance Of Study

  1. At the end of the study, if successful, will bring to notice the importance of the passage of the freedom of information bill by the senate into an Act.
  2. The finding would add to the existing body of knowledge or literature in the area of communication and press freedom.
  3. Recommendation will assist students and researchers in other areas of press freedom in their endeavor.

1.3 Statement Of Problem

The statements of problems in this work are:

  1. The study is to review encounter between the government and the press.
  2. Delay of the government to pass the freedom of information bill to an Act.
  3. Harassment of the press by the government.

1.4 Objectives Of The Study

The objectives of this research are listed below:

  1. To ensure the extent of press freedom in Yar’dua’s administration.
  2. To point out the flaws of the 1999 constitution in report of press freedom.
  3. To recommend the passage of the freedom of information bill to an Act.
  4. To put more light on the significance of press freedom to sustainable national development.

1.5 Research Questions

The following questions are relevant to the researchers

  1. To what extent is the press under President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua’s Regime?
  2. How effective have journalists been in reporting political news?
  3. Should the freedom of information bill signed into an Act?

1.6 Scope And Delimitation Of Study

This study centers on press freedom in a democratic government based on Yar’adua’s administration. The study did not go beyond Nigeria constitution and environment, in other words, the nature of press freedom in other countries was not considered.

1.7 Definition Of Terms

For proper understanding, the key terms in this research must be given meaning.


Greek word meaning, rule by the people (oxford concise dictionary of politics p129) that is government of the people, by the people and for the people.

Democracy is recognized of a right to be part and parcel of governance (Momoh democracy watch 2007) also a state of society characterized by formal equality of right and privileges.


the right or condition of being able to do, say and think whatever you want to without being limited i.e. freedom of speech, worship, participation (oxford advanced learners dictionary p473).


it refers to newspapers and magazines and these parts of television and radio which broadcast news or reporters and photographers who work for them.

Mass Media:

this is the dissemination of message to a heterogeneous populace hence mass media is a communication which comprises of electronics and publications. Electronics include TVs, radio and internet.

Chapter Five

Summary, Conclusions And Recommendations

5.1 Summary

This research is on press freedom in a democracy: a study of President Umaru Musa Yar’dua’s Government.
In chapter one the research covered the origin, meaning and types of press freedom, hinting that Nigeria is a model of qualified press freedom (a system where the press is not so free to perform its function) also, stating that laws like those of defamation, libel and sedition, in one way or the other serve to keep the media in check.
In the chapter two of this research the literature review reveals perceptions of press freedom, a review of different encounters between the press and President Yar’dua’s government, also the freedom of information Bill.

In chapter three and four, the analysis of the data collected reveals that the press is not totally free during President Umaru Musa Yar’dua’s administration ranging from the closure of channels television, leadership, newspaper and the recent killings of Edo Ugbuagwu, Godwin Agbroko, Abayomi Ogundeji, Onotolu Falabi and Banjo Ohu all journalist of different media houses.

This research recognized that the powers they do not have a favorable opinion about the media rather they see the media as a threat, resulting to the harassment and denied information when needed.

Some solutions where recommended among which is the passing of the freedom of information Bill into an Act.

5.2 Conclusions

This topic “press freedom in a democracy” a study of President Umaru Musa Yar’dua’s government. Based on this research, the press during President Umaru Musa Yar’dua’s administration was far from totally free due to harassment and obnoxious degree that tends to snuff efficiency out of it.

The researcher believes that this research has contributed to the body of academic researches on press freedom and hopes that the freedom of information (FOI) Bill will contribute to the freedom of the press in Nigeria.

5.3 Recommendations

  1. The recommendation of this research, foremost will add to the overall body of knowledge on press freedom in Nigeria, in this regard, it will be a solid base for further research in this area.
  2. Regular programs should be organized to educate people on the importance of press freedom to democracy and national development.
  3. Unnecessary attack and closure of media organizations should be stopped and laws should be passed to punish anyone who brutalizes journalist.
  4. Law enforcement agencies should also cease the indiscriminate abuse and violations of the right of journalists. They are urged instead to play the primary role of providing security for all and sundry.
  5. Finally, with the passage of the freedom of information Bill when fully implemented will assist in strengthening democracy, ensuring transparency, accountability, good governance and the rule of law in Nigeria.

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