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Keywords:THE BROADCAST MEDIA, POLITICS AND NIGERIA DEMOCRATIC PROCESS IN NIGERIA
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Background of the Study
Statement of the problem
Purpose of the Study
Significance of study
Scope of the Study
Definition of Terms
DATA PRESENTATION AND ANALYSIS
SUMMARY OF FINDINGS, RECOMMENDATION AND CONCLUSION
- BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The broadcast 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), broadcast 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 broadcast media are the major modern means of communicating simultaneously and sometime instantaneously with a large scattered heterogeneous and anonymous audience. Broadcast media transmit information electronically, via such media as film, radio, recorded music, or television.
Because the broadcast 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 broadcast media, the citizens are educated on their rights and privileges so as to participate meaningfully in the democratic process (Mile, 2009).
According to Johnson (2011) “Politics concerns the formulation and execution of decisions binding upon the population of a community or society, and the relationship between those who make or implement such decisions and those who are affected by them”. From the definition, politics focuses on the formulation and execution of decisions taken by some political leaders, whether in collaboration with the led through their representatives or by the political leaders without consulting the masses they represent, which will have either negative or positive effect on the general community of people. From this, it is obvious that some people formulate and execute policies which will affect some other people. Therefore, one could conclude that the effect of the policies on the people depends on the character and personality of those responsible for them.
Over the years, the polity in Nigeria has been characterized by ethno-religious politics which has being the bane to national unity. In the Nigerian, the reconfiguration, formation of political parties, distribution of human and material resources and even crises (coups, civil war, and religious impasse) are hinged on ethno-religious politics (Brown, 2013). Thus providing Nigeria with a cheqeured history – with political transitions from civilian to military, military to military, military to civilian and civilian to civilian; through a democratic, authoritarian, a combination of both or an innovation of a process too unique to be described only in action by its proponents – the political elites (Brown, 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.
Taken together, the mass media and democracy are inextricably linked. The Media for Democracy Monitor (MDM, 2007) clearly understands this link when it avers that modern democracy and the mass media are vital, indispensible link between those who govern and those who are governed. If the mass media do not inform the citizens thoroughly and impartially about government policies and their consequences as well as about the alternatives of government policy proposed by opposition parties and civil society, the people’s democratic choice is severely limited (Ugande, 2010). Umaru and Abdullahi (2012:33) equally confirm that the media are very important and centrally located in the lives of the people and the democratic process. They when further to establish that because of this centrality, the media justifiably focus their attention and accord high priority to government programmes. Lending credence to this Ende (2013:33) citing Balkin (1998:1) argued that the media stimulate political transparency for “without the media”, openness and accountability is impossible in contemporary democracies. He further contend that transparency would entails the assistance the media give to citizens to understand the operations of government; participate in political decisions; and hold government accountable to the people.
In addition, Ojo (2015) pointed out that the media and political system “are involved in an intricate nexus of relationship, cooperation and complimentary activities, all geared at promoting individual and collective interest of the society”. He equally notes that in the performance of these roles, both estates exert considerable influence on one another. Not only do they exert considerable influence on each other, both the media and the political system work towards the same end in the society; ensuring good governance, providing a sense of direction and exercising control over the affairs of a state, protecting the rights of citizens and defending the rule of law.
In holding government accountable to the people, the Nigerian media through investigative journalism held so many politicians to account. According to Lwahas (2004:27) the media acts as a watchdog by uncovering political, economic and corporate corruption, alongside other forms of abuses of power or inept policies. This was exemplified in the series of senate gate scandals that were uncover by the investigative prowess of the Nigerian media.
In addition, the mass media are the fulcrum of all forms of democracy. This submission is on the premise that in a democratic society, the media operate as the market place of ideas for political thought. They likewise ensure that the citizens are well informed about political process and developments in the society. In doing this, the media are generally engaged in political reporting. Political reporting is necessary for the sustenance of democracy where the system of check and balances is required for good governance and democratic sustainability. It affords the media the opportunity to provide an open forum for “legitimated interest groups” to participate in public affairs (Umaru&Abdullahi, 2012:34). In order to keep the people current on political issues the Nigerian media came up with series of political programmes to sensitize the people and awoken political consciousness in them. For example, the broadcast media design programmes like “the president explains”, Political platform, inside the Senate, Democracy today, and Radio Link, presidential media chart, and a host of other political programmes fashion out to educate the citizens on political issues. These programmes have succeeded in creating awareness about government policies and programmes.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
In Nigeria, there have been tales of government officials and elected representatives of the people deliberately embarking on actions that serve as obstacles to the mass media from being able to play its role effectively. They have made attempts at ensuring that the mass media dance to their tune. The polity has been awash with cases of threats, dubious legislation, intense regulation and censorship as well as unmitigated records of records of violation of press freedom.
1.3 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
The objectives of the study are to;
- Critically asses the roles the mass media have played in entrenching democratic values into the Nigeria political System.
- Asses’ democratization especially with regards to the Nigerian political system.
- Consider how conducive the political atmosphere has been for the mass media especially in the Fourth Republic.
- Make attempts to consider, through a policy prescription, a more plausible and objective way for the mass media to assert its responsibility in the democratic process.
1.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY
The significance of this study is unquantifiable. It would be of immense importance to the media as this would be an eye opener on the power of the media and their role in ensuring a steady economy and governance in Nigeria. This study would also be of importance to the scholars and researchers who are interested in the impact of the social media on democratic participation. This study also seeks to address the problem of poor developmental policies in Nigeria and the need to run an all-inclusive government to enhance development across all tiers of government.
1.5 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This study focuses on the Fourth Republic in Nigeria which spans from May 29, 1999 till date. It takes care of the first seventeen years period which spans from 1999 to 2016. The main area of focus is the print (representing newspapers and magazines) and electronic media (radio and television). And since it is nearly impossible to cover the whole of the country because of some limitations, Osun, one of the thirty six states that make up the country is focused upon.
- RESEARCH QUESTIONS / HYPOTHESIS
- To what extent has the mass media played its role of sustaining the democratic values into the Nigeria democratic system?
- What challenges have the mass media had to battle with in the course of carrying out its responsibility within the polity?
- How conducive has the political climate as a whole been for the mass media to effectively play its part in the democratizing process?
- What better ways/methods are there for the mass media to carry out its tasks and responsibilities more effectively?
- To what extent has the mass media been autonomous enough to be able to carry out its tasks effectively?
- To what extent has the mass media facilitated the strengthening of Nigeria’s fourth attempt at democratic governance?
1.7 LIMITATION OF STUDY
Like every other study, this study is limited in many ways, one of which is the inability to study beyond the current fourth republic. This will enable the researcher solely focus on the democratic process in the fourth republic. The study is also limited due to financial constraints and most importantly, time factor.
1.8OPERATIONALDEFINITION OF TERMS
Below constitutes the conceptual frame work for the conduct of this research:-
Broadcast Media, according to the African Leadership Forum through their publication, Farm House Dialogue; The Media in Democracy (1991) refers to any agency, modern or international that operates for the articulation and dissemination of ideas and information, generally with intent to influence or control an audience or the institutions that constitute legalized power or authority.
The meaning of the word democracy is best captured in the thoughts of Idowu A.A (2008). In the world of today, democracy has become a popular concept in every contemporary discourse. It is now a word that resonates in the people’s mind and springs from their lips as they struggle for freedom and for a better way of life. In its Greek understanding, the term democracy originally referred to the right of the citizens of the Greek City states to participate directly in the act of governance.
Democratization on the other hand is said to be a process of making a country or an institution more democratic. That is, moving the ladder in entrenching democratic norms and values in the polity or system. Ifeanacho and Nwagwu (2009) offer a more explanation of what democratization entails, ‘’Democratization is more appropriately viewed as the institutionalization of democratic principles as part of everyday culture in a society. It finds expression in the channeling of behavioral patterns towards democratic ideals. It permeates all facets of community life from religion through economy, marriage, family to politics. These institutions legitimize the activities of those who exercise authority. If these institutions are absent, militarism might be misconstrued for democratization.
The freedom of the press according to Ogunsiji (quoted in Owolabi, 2008) means allowing the press to perform its traditional role of keeping the masses informed about events taking place within or outside their immediate community without any hindrance, harassment or legal or social constraints. Oloyede (1996) puts it this way, regardless of the ideological differences in the various socio-political systems of the world, press freedom – a logical extension of man’s inalienable freedom of expression – is today a universal phenomenon. Globally and ideally guaranteed by Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it is enshrined in the constitution of almost all countries with written constitution and customarily observed by societies, exemplified by Britain, which have no written constitution.
Keywords: THE BROADCAST MEDIA, POLITICS AND NIGERIA DEMOCRATIC PROCESS IN NIGERIA
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