Role Of Mass Media In The Fight Against Corruption In Nigeria

Project and Seminar Material for Mass Communication

Role Of Mass Media In The Fight Against Corruption In Nigeria


The study examined the role of mass media in the fight against corruption in Nigeria with a focus on the EFCC activities. Without doubt mass media play very crucial role as the fourth estate of the realm especially in serving as the major watch dog to the people in authority. Mass media especially television has been able to educate, enlighten and inform the general public on the effect of corruption on our national development while mass media have not relented in exposing corrupt leaders, it always pattern with various anti graft agencies such as the EFCC, ICPC and the Nigerian Police to build a corrupt free nation. However, the research is divided into five chapters. The research used cross sectional survey method in carrying out this research with the use of questionnaire as a research tool. The data collected were analysed using descriptive statistics (frequency percentage and tables). The paper find out that mass media have been a major instrument in waging war against corruption and corrupt practices in Nigeria. The media are performing significant roles in the anti corruption campaign.

Chapter One


1.1 Background of 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). This at variance with the Authoritarian media theory which harps on the absolute protection of the State and its paraphenelia by the media at all time. Indeed, it is the libertarian theory that empowers the media to be on the side of the people, bring government officials to scrutiny for accountability and ensure the efflorescence of a democratic etiquette. This paper derives its inspiration from the above theory. The salient thing we have to understand about the media is that, it is the windows that enable us to see beyond our immediate surroundings, interpreters that help us make sense of experience, platforms or carries that convey information interactive communication that includes audience feedback, signposts that provide us with instructions (Oboh&Onu, 2008, p. 122). Through a mosaic of media propaganda and threats, colonialism penetrated precolonial African political economy, and integrated it into the global capitalist economy only visible in its subservience. In fact, in 1851, the Nigerian Broadcasting Service, the month piece of the colonial state used the radio to stress the need for the public to participate in the implementation of the government’s policies and programmes for development and facelift (Oboh, 2014, p. 28). Conversely, the media became a veritable tool of anti-colonial struggles in Africa. In Nigeria, right from 1859 when IweIrohin was established to the 1960s, an avalanche of newspapers emerged such as the popular West African Pilot in 1937 by Nnamdi Azikiwe, Nigeria Tribune in 1949 by Obafemi Awolowo, Lagos Weekly Record in 1890 by John Pagne Jackson, and the African Messenger in 1914 by Ernest Ikoli. These newspapers were unrelenting in highlighting and condemning the exploitative tendencies and fallacies of colonial rule. Today, with the advent of globalization and its concomitant social media, such platforms such as the internet, YouTube, and GSM information is made easy and almost placed at the doorstop of people. These phenomena have shattered the opacity in governance and subjected everything to microscopic scrutiny. This is not strange because the internet is trumpeted as the newest and best for increased democratic involvement and participation, and emboldens ‘citizens journalism or participatory journalism (Tsaaior & Agina, 2011, p.110). Looking at the vital role of the Media, to gag it becomes an exercise in social destruction. Therefore, as an instrument to strengthen and reposition society, this paper seeks to examine the extent of Media participation in the fight against corruption in Nigeria. The study examines different ways in which journalism serves as an impediment to corruption. It also considers how the media can be strengthened, to enhance their role in curbing corruption. Corruption remains a symptom of a poorly functioning state as witnessed in most developing countries such as Nigeria. Indeed, those who give and receive bribes can expropriate a nation’s wealth, leaving little for its poorest citizens. Highly corrupt countries often face particular challenges even when controlled by reform-minded rulers. Reforming public institutions and government policies is essential but poverty limits available options. Policymakers, however, can arrive at plausible solutions only after understanding corruption’s effect on the efficiency and equity of an economic system (Nwaobi, 2004). Investigations into corruption in public life in Nigeria began in 1950’s when the first panel of inquiry was set up to look into African Continental Bank (ACB). The charges were that the highly revered politician abused his office by allowing public funds to be invested in the bank in which he had an interest. The allegation proved to be a big scandal, a tour de force that led to the institution of Justice Strafford Forster – Sutton Commission of enquiry on July 24, 1956 to investigate the above allegation. The subsequent indictment of the politician in the commission’s report (as at January 6, 1957) led him to transfer all his rights and interest in the bank to the Eastern Nigeria Government (Nwankwo, 1999). Moreover, in 1962 another strong political personality in the west was dragged to the court of accountability. This led to a call for an investigation of the relationship between the erstwhile politician (then the premier of western region) and the National Investment and Property Company, a private enterprise said to be indebted to the western regional government to the tune of £7,200.00. On June 20 1962, the Federal government appointed a commission to investigate the allegations and later the commission indicted the said politician in its report. Consequently, the western regional government acquired all the property owned by the National Investment and Property Company. In 1967, another commission of enquiry was instituted to investigate assets of fifteen public officers in the defunct mid –western region. At the conclusion of the panel’s report, all the public officers were indicted for corruptly enriching themselves. The panel recommended that they should forfeit such ill-gotten wealth to the government. Corruption was one of the reasons adduced for the military take – over of power by Major Kaduna Nzeogwu and colleagues in 1966. The history of corruption in Nigeria is strongly rooted in the over 29 years of military rule, out of 46 years of her statehood since 1960. Successive military regimes subdued the rule of law, facilitated the wanton looting of the public treasury, decapitated public institutions and free speech and instituted a secret and opaque culture in the running of government business. Corruption became the dominant guiding principle for running affairs of state. The period witnessed a total reversal and destruction of every good thing in the country (Ribadu, 2006a). The military took corruption to its highest levels ever. Ironically, as previously stated, when military seized power from democratically elected governments, pervasive corruption was cited as the justification.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Corruption in Nigeria has become commonplace. It is a social malady that is pursued by most people because it has become central to the individual socio-economic survival in a country faced with harsh economic reality. Corruption is so widespread that it has become difficult to change Nigerians’ acceptance of corruption—though every citizen pays lip-service to its immorality and illegality. There are tempting conditions and competing motivations to be corrupt. The attractive conditions include inadequate remuneration for working professionals, the high cost of living, and the need for individuals to fund their own access to social amenities, all of which are characteristic of severe inequalities built into the social fabric. The complementing motivations are the readiness of people to give, weak media role in shaming offenders, the inefficient judicial system in prosecuting criminals, and the social accolades poured on the wealthy members of the society. It is in view of this that necessitates the study the role of mass media in fight against corruption in Nigeria.

1.3 Objective of the Study

The main objective of this study is to investigate the role of mass media in the fight against corruption in Nigeria; specific objective include; the following;

  1. To ascertain the role of mass media in the fight against corruption in Nigeria
  2. To ascertain if there is any relationship between the mass media and the fight against corruption in Nigeria
  3. To examine the impact of mass media in curtailing corrupt practices among public office holders
  4. To examine the impact of corruption on the credibility of the media

1.4 Research Hypotheses

The following hypotheses were formulated to aid the completion of the study;

  1. H0: mass media does not play any role in the fight against corruption in Nigeria
    H1: mass media does play a role in the fight against corruption in Nigeria
  2. H0: there is no significant relationship between the mass media and the fight against corruption in Nigeria
    H2: there is a significant relationship between the mass media and the fight against corruption in Nigeria

1.5 Significance of the Study

It is believed that the study upon completion will be of importance to the security agency, as the study seek to explore the role of the mass media in the fight against corruption in the country, as the findings will help them collaborate effectively in curing our country from the virus of corruption, the study will also be of importance to the management of media houses both print and mass media in effectively investigating, broadcasting and publishing any corrupt practices by public office holders so as to serve as a deterrent to others. The study will also be useful to researchers who intends to embark on a study in a similar topic as the study will serve as a reference point to further studies. Finally the study will be useful to students, teachers lecturers and the general public as the findings will add to the pool of existing literature on the subject matter

1.6 Scope and Limitation of the Study

The scope of the study covers the role of mass media in the fight against corruption in Nigeria. 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:

Limited Access to the needed finances to broaden the scope of the study was a major constrain as the finances at the disposal of the researcher was very limited.

1.7 Operational Definition of Terms

Mass media

The mass media is a diversified collection of media technologies that reach a large audience via mass communication. The technologies through which this communication takes place include a variety of outlets


Corruption is a form of dishonesty undertaken by a person entrusted with a position of authority, often to acquire personal benefit


The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is a Nigerian law enforcement agency that investigates financial crimes such as advance fee fraud and money laundering

1.8 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 (background of the study), statement of the problem, objectives of the study, research questions, research hypotheses, significance of the study, scope of the study etc.
  • Chapter two being the review of the related literature presents the theoretical framework, conceptual framework and other areas concerning the subject matter.
  • Chapter three is a research methodology covers deals on the research design and methods 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 role of mass media in the fight against corruption in Nigeria.

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 challenges of mass media in the fight against corruption in Nigeria.

5.2 Summary

Our discussion so far has shown that the Media is an indispensable instrument of social reformation and transformation. Their indispensability is hinged on the vital and statutory role of educating, entertaining and informing the people on events that concerns them. Through this process, there is popular awareness and a social awakening to participate in public discourse and protect human rights. It is this daunting responsibility to the vast majority of people that prompted Omojola (2010;23) to state that the media constitute the golden triangle (government, citizens and the media) of political communication-an equilateral triangulation of the political process whereby each party is a functional partaker, effectively adding value and contributing to development. More importantly, the Media which represent various communication channels serve as a check on Government excesses and report any shoddy deals to the public. It is through this whistle bowing activity and watchdog role that society is stabilized and democratic governance sustained. Therefore to gag the Media from performing its duty, is to deny the people the benefit of communication, and invariably to guarantee a dead end and demote development. Since they can be used to maintain social equilibrium, facilitate change or seek radical alternatives (Oboh&Onu, 2008, p. 3), it becomes necessary that the Media must be at the vanguard of the anti-corruption in Nigeria. Since the early 1960s, corruption has been noted as one of bane of the country’s development. Disguised in various forms, it is anti-people and greatly inhibits human development. As a phenomenon that is primarily focused on personal satisfaction, it has the capacity to introduce mass poverty amidst of plenty. This is the paradox in the country. One of the aims of those who initiated the first military coup in Nigeria on January 15, 1966 was to curb the tide of profound corruption. They state that Our enemies are the political profiteers, swindlers, the men in high and how places that seek to keep the country divided permanently so that they can remain in the office as ministers and VIPs of waste, the tribalists, the nepotistic those who make the country big for nothing before international circles, those that corrupted our society and put Nigerian political calendar back by words and deeds (Akani, 2001, p. 41).

Unfortunately, sixteen years into the twenty-first century, the virus of corruption is still growing fat into the marrows of our political economy. This is in spite of the legislations against graft. Today, the prodigious revelation by the media about corruption and corrupt practices has shown clearly that there are two inevitable options facing Nigeria. To confront corruption and all its manifestations, or succumb to the dictates and whims of the virus Nigeria has decided to take the former option. The trial of corrupt public officers and the conferences whose theme centre on anti-corruption attest to the seriousness of the country in confronting this menacing nuisance. Other affirmative measures include the setting up of the National Prosecution Coordination (NPCC) Committee by the Vice President, Prof. YemiOsibanjo. It is made up of twenty people and headed by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, AbubakarMalami (AGF) NPCC is to ensure effective investigation and prosecution of high profile criminal cases in Nigeria. The establishment of a special court to try corrupt offences is also considered as one of the options.

5.3 Conclusion

The role of the 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 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 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 media must decide which information to report and which to leave out.

5.4 Recommendations

Haven completed the study, the researcher recommend that autonomy of the 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 media must be transparent, and they must not compromise the essential autonomy of the media, either in practice or in public perceptions. Also critical to autonomy and objectivity is the separation of media ownership from Government or political factions or, if this is impossible, ensuring that there is a diverse media to represent a full range of political opinion. Similarly, the staffing of individual media should be multi-partisan, if possible. C For the 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 media reporters. Training, awareness-raising and technical briefing of media personnel in anti-corruption efforts may also be useful. C 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 media’s contributions towards the anti-corruption campaign in the country.

Role Of Mass Media In The Fight Against Corruption In Nigeria

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