Papers on press, politics and democracy


This paper would attempt to look at the role the broadcast media played in the 2003 election in the Nigeria democratic process, it also looks at the several roles or how relevant the broadcast media has been in the Nigerian democratic process. The paper accepts that the Broadcast media are very powerful instruments for mass mobilization. They are capable of many things, they can make or destroy, they can instigate war under certain conditions or, even foster peace initiatives, and they can promote or hinder development. They are medium for mass mobilization and integration. As an aspect or adjunct of mass communication, the broadcast media have become a widely acceptable tool for advancing democracy both in the developed world and developing /third world countries, it is therefore not surprising that Alexander the very powerful Russian activist. enthused that, the mass media which encompass the broadcast media, have become the greatest power within Western countries and more powerful than the legislative, the executive and judiciary put together, the Broadcast media which compasses both television and radio are a medium which possess and combine visual and sound through a long space to accomplish mass communication. For instance, television has the potentials to deliver messages for both retention and impact on audience, like wise radio has a great potential to reach a large mass, and diverse audience. Together radio and television serve as, very powerful medium for information dissemination, enlightenment and education, and can be very useful if well channeled for enlightenment in democratic processes. Oso (2003:8) state that, “it is now a cliché to say that democracy need a well informed citizenry,” and this can only be achieved through robust mass media to which the broadcast media is a sub- set.

In every society, from the most primitive to the most complex, the communication system performs four broad tasks Harold lasswell (1949) had defined three of these as, surveillance of the environment, correlation of the components of society in responding to the environment and transmission of social heritage Wilbur Schramm (1954) has use the simple terms, “watcher. Forum, teacher and entertainment” every society has its watchers who provide other members with information and interpretation of events, they survey the environment and report on possible threats and dangers as well as good of bad omens approaching it from the fundamentals a watcher may be the teacher who complains or observed foreign tendencies of younger generation, or an opinion leader who tries to explain situations and trends of occurrence in a given environment. Which ever the case a group of people who live together, require an identifiable means through which to relate with each other, discussing and sharing meanings with one another. This is where the role of communication comes in. Communication serves as the vehicle through which different segment of people relate with each other. Society relies on communicating systems as a teacher to pass institutionalized patterns to all members as acceptable norms and ways of conduct adopted as standard approach to its aims and objectives. Communication systems are a force for bringing about information that is expected to transform people’s approaches to issues, irrespective of their personality. It is assumed that, the dominant pattern of behavior accepted by a large number of people in society depend on the information process by the mass media. The spiral of silence theory propounded by Noelle-Neumann between (1971 and 1973) maintains that, “individuals receive information from two sources, personal observation and the media. According to Anaeto, Onabajo and Osifeso (2003), “ the theory concerns the interplay among four elements; mass media, interpersonal communication and social relations, individual expression of opinions and perceptions which individuals have of the surrounding climate of opinion in their own social environment” this comment under scores, the Pretoria of organized structures of society in which the various element in society interrelate, that is the institutions in which different members of society have to subscribe to as they relate with one another. Bierstedt (1970) in Oshaikphai States that;

an institution is an organized system of social
relationships which embodies certain common
values and procedures and meets certain basic
needs of society
The word common values as used here refer to shared ideas and goals through common procedures or standards that the group follows and as a system of relationships. The group enormously identifies a network o roles and statues to adhere to and this forms the social relationships through which their acts are assessed.
According to Oshaekphai (2003) there are five most basic important institutions in complex societies, family, religions governmental, economic, and educational institutions. In recent times science has been added because of the important place of science in modern society
He further explained that:

Institutionalization is processes which emerge as unplanned products of living in groups as they sought practical ways of meeting their needs. They find some patterns which gets better through repetition into standardized customs.

From this comments it is clear that, what communication does is, to identify this institutions within society and mobilize different segments or members of society to participate in them. This way communication is able to correlate different components of society, through constant presentation, or repition the media is able to enlighten, educate and inform members of society. Invariably what this means is that, for the different institutions to interplay with one another effectively there must be mass communication. In other words mass communication stands at the center of this institutional relationship. Through effective mass communication, various institutions are able to learn about the activities of others and how these activities intermingle. However in other to achieve effective mass communication, the following communication strategy comes readily to mind and some of them are, the print, and the broadcast media. This paper limits its scope to, the broadcast media and its relevance in democracies in the Nigeria context.

Broadcast media refers to the use of electrical impulse to transmit voice or visual messages to a large audience. The broadcast media has an enormous power to inform, enlighten and or educate a large audience at the same time.
The broadcast media are a very powerful instrument for mass mobilization. They are capable of making things, they cam make or destroy, they can be used as instruments to instigate war under certain conditions or even foster peace initiatives; they can promote or hinder development. As one of the major components of mass communication, the Broadcast media have been very instrumental to the success or otherwise of democracy in Nigeria.

The development of Broadcasting in Nigerian is an off shoot of several events around the globe between the 17th and 19th century when several inventions and discoveries lead to revolutions in the ways men communicates with his fellow man as well as changes in the areas of production and marketing of goodss and services. According to Ciboh (2007:132),

Mans search for better ways of communication- came in 1832 when Samuel Morse invented the electric telegraph. It was an invention by which electrical impulses produced sound on a long wire called “audible tube” which could be picked up at the end of the wire.

Ciboh further maintain that, “Morse soon developed a system known as the Morse code named after him by which sounds were translated into word” (Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, cited in Ciboh 2007:132), upon further study, it is gathered that, through the Morse code, messages were sent from place to place through cables and on land and across seas. These events paved the way for what is regarded today as broadcasting as, inventions of previous of inventors were studied further and modified or fine tuned to arrive at radio broadcasting and later television transmission. For instance, Heinrich Hertz capitalizing on the electromagnetic theory propounded earlier by James Maxell Clark a British scientist, produced the first radio wave. Augliamo Marconi, working on Hertz’s experiment invented the wireless telegraph or Radio telephony in 1895 in Italy. A year later Marconi moved from Italy to Britain where he believed his invention might fetch more financial reward. In Britain he took a patent for his invention and established the, Marconi wireless telegraphy company. By 1901, he was able to send out signals which were received in New-Found Land over 300 kilometers on the other side of the Atlantic ocean. Marconi’s achievements were encouraged by other researchers like, R. A. Fussenden of the Pittsburg University, America in 1902. On the Christmas Eve of 1906 Fussenden performed the first Broadcast in history. He succeeded in transmitting both speech and music. (FRCN, 2001, p.10 cited in Ciboh 2007:133). This breakthrough by Fussenden, lead to what is known today as modern broadcasting, though after a series of reformations and transformations were done through the passage of time by other researchers. In like manner, television went through series of trial mechanics starting from the first Frenchman to name a television system, to Boris Rosing a Russian, who is regarded as the inventor of television to the Frenchman Persky who first coined the name. Concerning the name Ciboh (2007) state that:

It is a hybrid of a name made up of the Latin word, “tele” meaning at a distance and the Greek “Videre” meaning “to see”.

However, it was discovered that, the systematic Rosing built in 1907 could not produce recognizable pictures, because the saline cell used were not so powerful, and there was no means to amplify the impulses. Though other inventors worked hard to improve on his invention which eventually paid off in 1923, by his fellow country man Vladmir Zworykim developed and presented another camera known as, iconoscope. This invention which is shared with, Philo Farnsworth lead to series of other researches and marked the developmental stages of modern television. More researches were carried out to improve what was already on ground towards achieving telecasting, and in early 1936 television receivers started to pick signals from a distance of 100 meters until 1947 when more improvements were made (Ciboh, 2007:134).

In Nigeria, it is not very clear when broadcasting commenced, however, what is regarded as modern broadcasting started by the series of activities of its British colonial masters, who requested the British government to provide an avenue through which the colonial administrators could propagate their activities in the society. Thus the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) was commissioned to actualize the request. Radio broadcasting thus first physically started as, wired broadcasting otherwise called, redistribution or, “re-diffusion system” Ciboh (2007:136) says,
It was a service which provided for relay of programmes by means of wires connected to loud speakers installed in homes of subscribers.

The provision of this service which marked the beginning of broadcast activities first in Lagos was the efforts of engineers of the Post and Telegraph department o the BBC. (Overseas) in 1933. The re-diffusion stations at these points were used to further the activities of the British colonialist who used it as a means to communicate the activities of the government as well as information about Britain. Ciboh (2007:136) maintained that,

The main features of the RDS was the reception of overseas service of BBC and rebroadcast, in the evenings one hour was set aside for local programmes featuring news, entertainment and local announcements.

This explains how the radio stations served society as an information tool especially in the hands of the colonial masters, who were bent on holding their colonies tight. The RDS stations were run strictly by British engineers in the post and tele (P&T) groups, along side the public relations department. The RDS stations were later established in other areas like, Ibadan (1939) Kano (1944) and between 1945 and 1949 others were opened in Zaria, Calabar, and Port Harcourt. One of the key reason of establishing this RDS stations was to firmly weld political authority on the colony the British controls especially as their were external activities threatening their hold on their various colonies in Africa, especially treats from the success Germany achieved in its use of propaganda which almost gave her victory in World War II.
While all of the introduction of RDS stations was going on, it become necessary in securing out surveys of its effectiveness in securing the interest of the colonialist, thus Messrs L.W. Turner of BBC engineering division and F.A. W. Byron of telecommunication department of the crown agents were commissioned on January 10 1949 to carryout a survey of broadcasting in all of the British colony that is, Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, and the Gambia and make recommendations. Africa tour of the countries often mentioned, the two engineers gave their reports in August of that same year. Part of their report was that, the equipment being used for transmission were faculty and out dated an as such should be replaced. Also, since, the transmission of information was carried out within a wide era, the short wave transmitters used in Lagos and Ibadan should be changed or, replaced with more modern and effective equipment. Apart from this, the choice of Lagos and Ibadan as sties for transmission was unsatisfactory. This report lead to a services of others as well as policy implementations which even finally brought about the establishments of modern radio and television broadcasting in Nigeria with programmes that, created opportunities for the society members to participate in government activities. Some of these programmes served or provided feedback access for listeners to air their views and comment on the activity of government. For instance, programmes like, state at the Nation, Radio link, and a host of other interactive radio programmes are all meant to help the people formed about political issues as well as provide platform for the peoples participation.In lending his voice to this statement Ciboh (2007) states that:

The New Management of FRCN through pro-democratic programme content, is determined that radio Nigeria serves as vehicles for promoting democracy in Nigeria and bring government down to the people.

Through different programmes therefore, the broadcast media is able to reach Nigerian to elucidate on policy issues and government programmes. As adjuncts of communication, the broadcast media through its programmes is able to inform, educate and as well enlighten the people. During elections period, the broadcast media comes handy as, it is one medium that can reach far distance, and can provide visuals to support programmes meant to enlighten the populace. For a critical assessment the role of the broadcast media in the 2003 political action will be examined.


Nwaozuzu (1999:18-22) state that;

Elections is an important element of democracy, elections enable the individual to express a sense of belonging to a political system. Elections provid forum for the discussion of public opinion on important issue. Elections allow an exchange of influence between leaders and the electorate.

This statement captures the relevant functions of the broadcast media in elections which serves as a mobilizes of all the different people in society and at same time coordinate their activities as they are made to express their views about candidates who are contesting for political positions. The broadcast media through their programmes create avenues through which the people express their views about candidates. The programmes may be phone in programmes, like radio link, state of the Nation, or debate programmes on topical political issues. also the broadcast media (Radio and Television) provide platforms through which individuals or members of society contribute on issues of public interest. They may be based on stewardship of political offices holders wishing to recontest elections, or it may have to do with electoral laws that are perceived to be cable of fermenting violence. Ebo (1997:132) maintain that;

The broadcast media play decisive roles in the lives of the citizens no matter where they are located and whatever their stage of development. The broadcast media are the most potent and sensitive sectors of the communication industry considering the reach and influence thy have on their viewers and listeners.

This statement succinctly explains who relevant the broadcast media is to all the components of the society a power it acquired from its inception and not only during political campaigns. It is this power that grants it the ability to mobilize people and make them participate in mass in political processes.
To further explain the power of the broadcast media in mobilizing the citizenry towards conforming to expected behavior and participation in electoral processes, Lang and Lang (1959:103-112) state that;
The media force attention to certain issues, they build up images of political figures, they are constantly presenting objects, suggesting what individuals should think about, known about, having feeling about.

This means, the dominant thought that the people carry about, is influenced by the media’s constant projection of what they should be thinking especially concerning the electoral process. This comment conforms to the agenda setting theory which provides explanation to what or how the media can sway the behavior of the people in the society. Given this power therefore, it will not be out of place to say that, the failure or success of any electoral process lies largely in the hands of the mass media, to which the broadcast media is a strong component Innis (2003:298) in support of this state that;
While an unbiased and responsible system can contribute to the success of the electoral process, a bias and irresponsible media contributes to the failure of elections.

On the same power of the media, Orhewere (2003:140) argues;

The Nigerian media in the past did not show enough commitment to professional ethics there contributing to electoral crisis in western Nigeria in 1965 and subsequent elections.

The relevance of Orhewere’s comment is that, not only does the Nigerian broadcast media posses’ enormous powers, but its role as an instrument of mobilization dates back to as far as 1965. In other words, the media has be a very active instrument in democratic processes in Nigeria over a stretch of time, until the military dictatorship took the shine from it. However, with the re-entry of civilian rule in 1999, the media viz the broadcast media have resumed its active role of mobilizing the populace for elections. The media or broadcast media played very important roles in elections within 1999 and 2003, suffice therefore to point out that, the roles the media often plays is either responsible or otherwise and has made people pass judgment or often ascribed to failed out come of elections to it. That is, the success or failure of elections are often judged by the role of the media for instance, Achebe (1993:78) allege that;
The two previous at conducting election under civilian rule generated crisis, which culminated to the collapse of the republics due to several electoral frauds some of which allegedly were aided and abetted by the media.
Achebe’s comment however begs for serious questions as to, how does a watch dog became a conspirator. In other words, how does a media aid and abet fraud, perhaps they will form another basis for a study. However, it is important to note that, indeed the broadcast media has very strong roles to play in elections. To this Burns (1977:45) state that;

The media in a civilized society occupy a very important and powerful position with capacity that can easily influence the opinion of the masses.

While Rivers (1971) state that;

It is expect to be the conscience of the people where divergent views are expressed in order to serve as a check against autocratic and totalitarian rule.

The role media in every society is often to educate, inform and enlighten. It is assumed that, where those roles are adequately carried out, elections are bound to be free and fair. However, in Nigeria, several elections have been married. The question is, how the mass media has mobilized the Nigerian populace. How come electoral processes have not been successful. Is the broadcast media system not commensurate to other media systems elsewhere? This and many others are questions that this study hopes to identify.
1. What roles the mass media in any society expected to play?
2. What is the relevance of the broadcast media in a democratic system?
3. What is the role of the broadcast media in the 2003 elections?

Several theories of mass communication can been used to explain the role of the media in the democratic processes of elections in Nigerian. However, for the seek of this study, a particular theory that best suit the issues identified therein is the audience theory. The audience theory which is situated in the effect modern is a theoretical frame which explains how humans ingest the information transmitted by media texts and how this might influence (or not) their behaviour. Though effects theory is still a very hotly debated area of media and physiology research, no one is able to come up with indisputable evidence that audiences will always react to media text one way or another. In other words, the audience under any media text reacts based on their individual understanding of the facts capture therein. That is to say, just like in the hypodermic needle modern audiences receive media information transmitted via the radio or television, process them and use them based on the relevance it hold for them. This bring us to the uses and gratification media theory which says that the audience use the media to suit their possesses or needs that audience make choices about what they do when consuming media text, rather than the bogus assumption or the all powerful hypodermic needle which assumed that the individual is passive when receiving media texts. Be this as it may, that is not to say that the mass media viz the broadcast media is not a powerful instrument for mass mobilization. No doubt the mass media has very powerful effects on its audiences as suggested by the agenda setting theory which explains how the mass media can influence the action of people in the society. Folarin (1998) states that the agenda setting theory does not ascribe the media the power to tell the people what to think, but it does ascribe to the media the power to tell the people what to think about. Likewise the spiral of silence theory which was propounded by Neolle-Neumann (1972-73) describes how powerful the media can be if used in certain manner.
The relevance of these theories to the role of the broadcast media in electoral process in Nigeria is that, while the media does not assume the almighty power of directing the people on how to go about their lives, it however have inherent powers to direct the flow of how to act in relation to elections.




KOMBOL, M.A. (Ph.D).

19\11\ 2010

This seminar paper concerns with an appraisal of the role of broadcast media in political development in Nigeria. Research into the topic reveals that the broadcast media such as radio and television are powerful tools in mobilizing people for participation in the political activities in Nigeria. The study also found that although they are powerful in their mobilization efforts for political participation, they are in most cases tools in the hands of government in achieving her selfish desires. Also politicians sometimes used the broadcast media only to accomplish their self-seeking set desires. It is recommended therefore that irrespective of


– In any development initiative or agenda to be successful, the people involved must be mobilized. The mass media with their power of reaching a very large and heterogeneous audience are therefore come in handy as tools for bringing people together for development. Broadcast media in particular is said to be more effective in mobilizing the people for development. Aliede (2003:30) says, ‘the broadcast or electronic media are… the most convenient, speedly and reliable means of transmitting values, information, ideas, message and culture as a result of their unique attribute like immediately, audio-visual qualities, linguistic barrier breakage, massive outreach, portability and availability’. Ugande (2007:3) also agrees that the broadcast media are indeed very pervasive. Otherware and Kur (2003:57) have said that the broadcast media are capable of many things. They can make or destroyed: they can instigate war under certain conditions or even foster peace initiatives. They can promote or hinder development. Umechukwu (1997) quoting Haruna reiterated the power o the broadcast media when he said that they are purveyors of information and whoever is in the position to control information exercise enormous power. As formidable tools for development, the broadcast media such as radio and television are used as channels for political mobilization and development.
For effective development of any kind, the broadcast media are chosen to be the most influential and effective media of communication. Their power is due to their attributes like immediacy, wider reach or overage, language friendly, portability in terms of radio, audio visual impact in terms of television and so on. However, how the broadcast media are effective in political development is not known. This paper therefore is an attempt to appraising the role of broadcast media in political development in Nigeria.
1. What role does broadcast media played in political development in Nigeria?
2. To what extent does it perform the function?
3. What is its impact to the overall development of the nation?
a. Broadcasting: This refers to the dissemination of information to the people through the use of magnetic waves.
b. Politics: it is a struggle to gain power.
C. Development: This simply means a change in the way of life of people in the society.

The broadcast media are very powerful media of mass communication more than the print media. Aliede (2003:20) notes that broadcast media are the most convenient, speedy and reliable means of transmitting values, information, ideas, messages, and culture as a result of their unique attribute like immediacy, audio – visual qualities, linguistics barrier breakage, massive outreach, portability and availability. These attributes make the electronic media easy instruments in the hands of the colonial masters for informing the people in the colonial territories. Aliede (2003) adds that the colonialists inherited colonies, for instance, the countries in Africa which were mere conglomerates or units of divergent cultures, religious, linguistic and social-political enclaves. And to weld these mutli-ethnic units together and create sense of nationness, the electronic media were the best tool, because of their ability to scale the endemic barrier of illiteracy and language.
The broadcast media are very pervasive and can effectively be used for political mobilization for peaceful elections particularly in countries such as ours where illiteracy is enormous. Broadcast media can make communication with predominantly illiterate communities very effective. Folarin (1990) in Ugande (2007:6–7) observes that for communication with predominantly non – literate communities such as we have in Nigeria’s rural sector, the broadcast media readily recommend themselves, for the following reasons:
i. They transcend the barriers of illiteracy;
ii. Even the literate, it is believed that broadcast messages demand less intellectual exertion from listener/viewer than print media messages do for their readers;
iii. Broadcast messages have an immediacy which written message lack;
iv. Broadcast media have a greater multiplying effect on given messages;
v. Following from all the above, the broadcast media with their messages tend to have a greater mass appeal than the print media;
vi. Finally, expenditure on the broadcast media messages receiving hardware tends to be seasonal, subsequent to initial investment on them. This accord more or less with the income earning pattern of the most rural dwellers. Political messages can be more effective when they are packaged and disseminate through the broadcast media than print as the case may be. Radio and television can be discussed below as the channels of broadcast media. Soola (2003:25) in Soola (ed) notes that……television, like most technologies, can be used for good or for ill. The critical factor, therefore, is how its potentials are harnessed. Its unique characteristics of sight, sound, motion and consequent demonstrative power is a living testimony of its capacity to sensitize, conscientize and mobilize its audience for development objectives (Soola, 2003). Television and thus be made socially relevant and responsible where and when concern and respect for the viewer is the preeminent criterion for its programming and content.
Commenting on the influence of television on political campaigns, Sabato (1982) in Poopola (2003:66) states that: The process of election has changed dramatically over the decades in the United States and no change has been more important than the introduction of television into America life and politics.
Sabato in Poopola further avers that the basic political attitudes of voters are shaped in a good measure by television coverage of public affairs. Radio as a medium of mass communication also is said to be very powerful in mobilizing people for development purposes, particularly in the developing nations of the world. It is regarded as the most effective medium in mobilizing people for development purposes. Soola (2003:22) in Soola (Ed) affirms that; on a global scale, but particularly in developing countries, radio as a medium of mass communication has been man’s most potent communication innovation since the development of the printing press. Its monumental success in educational projects in several developing countries is a loud testimony of its potentials. Radio has been used, with varying degree of success to promote both formal and non-formal education in Mexico, El Salvador, Nicaragua Thailand, Philippines, Botswana, Kenya, Gabon, Nigeria, and similar other developing nations. Its potentials that make it (Radio) the most effective medium for information dissemination and development are enormous. Soola (2003) in Soola (ed) points out some of the potentials of radio that make it the most effective channel for development thus:
Not being constrained by the barriers of time, space, illiteracy and electricity supply, radio is the ideal means of mass communication in developing societies. Easy to establish, own, operate and maintain, radio can be made to carter to the needs of specialized, small target audiences of fishermen, farmers, the rural poor, the urban destitute, the elderly lactating mothers, children and youths. It does not even demand much intellectual exertion from its listeners.
The above potentials highlighted by Soola (2003) are very true about the medium and are capable of saying that radio is an ideal channel for development information such as politics.
Also several studies in Nigeria such as Olowu and Igodan (1989), Mohammed and Wanaso (19930, Yahaya (1995) gave credence to radio as a major source of information Moemeka (1990) says that radio is one medium of mass communication that is the most appropriate for rural emancipation. This is in support of the special position UNESCO as quoted in Yahaya (2003:103) accorded the radio in rural development activities as far back as 1965. It emphasizes thus; in developing countries, the greater part of the people live on the land, are frequently isolated by illiteracy and lack of transportation but effective communication with rural people and their active participation in the life of their country are essential for developing societies. Radio broadcasting, when skillfully used, has proved to be the most effective medium of communication with these far flung populations.
In the words of William Sweeney, quoted in Yahaya (2003) …Radio is still the most potent communication innovation since the print press. It has a large audience than that of any other mass medium. The large scale manufacture and distribution of inexpensive battery-operated transistor radios have brought much of the world’s population into an international communication network (P.104).
Ayo (2003:90) in Soola (ed) says that radio uses ten major formats for promoting development. These are news, group discussion, lecture or straight talk, interview, testimonial, entertainment, magazine, jingles, spot announcements etc. Oyero (2002:190) in Soola (ed) observed:
Of all the media of mass communication available in Africa, radio is significantly suitable for the people in the continent. Radio can be described as an ideal means of mass communication in third world country like Nigeria because it provides access to communication for a large number of people, both literate and non-literate, and it is very cheap to own and maintain without dependence on electricity supply.
The above expression points out the fact that radio is effective in reaching the general public irrespective of their educational background. Folarin (1990) adds that radio messages, apart from breaking the barrier of illiteracy, reach all people without discrimination and demand less intellectual exertion from the listener than print media. He further maintains that radio messages are immediate and have multiplying effect. A single radio message may be received simultaneously by millions of people and single radio set can serve a group of people. Jamison and Mcanany (1978) in Oyero (2002:190) have pointed out the role of role to motivate, inform, teach and change behaviour in the development process. Ansah (1991:35) observes:
Radio can be used to motivate a country politically towards national unity, or to arouse the public against a common external enemy, or to motivate a group towards a self-development activity. Given the ability of radio to overcome the barriers of distance and illiteracy, it is a very powerful medium for promoting national integration by fostering national anthan, slogan and campaign.
This means that radio can be used to motivate, encourage and mobilize the people for political participation.
In the course of discharging their duties, the mass media are faced with a number of problems which in most cases limit their effectiveness in fostering national development. Soola (2002:121) in Soola (ed) attests that a few factors constrain the use of the mass media in the pursuit of national development objectives. Soola (2002:121) observed:
Virtually all the radio and television stations, as well as newspaper houses are not only urban-based, but are also owned and operated by urban-based and urban-trained professionals. This writer does not know of a single community based radio or newspaper in the country.
This by implication means that sine almost all the mass media channels are situated in urban areas and are handled by urban based professionals; it is become difficult for a lot of people to participate, particularly those living in the rural areas. This hinders development since any communication targeted at development must take a participatory approach.
Another problem is that, the mass media do not operate independent of their own. Oso (1990:23) has rightly observed that the mass media reflect the system of power and control, the system of dominance and subordination. The implication of this is that the urban elite class directly or indirectly calls the shorts for the mass media. Oso (1990:23) notes that their agenda and ideology which are often at variance with those of the people receive prominence in the media.
Language is also a problem in the media. Soola (2002:121) in Soola (ed) explains that though Nigeria is a predominantly illiterate nation, the language of its media is predominantly English. English news bulletins, as Dare (1990:8) has noted, are more frequent, more comprehensive. In the same way, most of the best enlightenment programmes are broadcast in English. Programming in English is superior in scope and quality to those indigenous languages. Thus, Soola (2002) maintains that more that two-thirds of the country’s population is by-passed by news and information programmes that are packaged in English.
The media in Nigeria have a long of credibility problem. Having been used almost on a sustained basis for mass deceit and propaganda by politicians and the military in government, the mass media are regarded, as indeed are, to a large extent, the mouth-piece of the power elite (Soola, 2002).
Government – owned media houses are seen and treated as an extension of civil service arm of government. The staffs of such media houses are not only poorly remunerated but are also conditioned by the bureaucratic bottlenecks that characterize civil service operations. Against the backdrop of the fluidity of operations in media houses, a civil service culture is not only anathema but also provides a disincentive to resourcefulness and creativity (Soola, 2002).
Soola {2002} lamented that perhaps the most worrying trend in media operations and management is the commercialization of news. It is perhaps the most potent threat to the use of the media for development goals, since even development news may have to be paid for to be covered and reported. This implies that the media may be tempted to concentrate on personalities rather than issues. Media news as commercial enterprise thrives by delivering to the advertiser or sponsors the economically viable sector of the population; people with enough purchasing power to justify the advertiser or sponsor’s patronage. To reach this urban elite sector, the media are forced to be urban-oriented in what they choose to cover. Local community people and their development activities are usually unattractive to the advertiser and his agencies.
The main trust of agenda setting theory is that the mass media set agenda on the burning issue in the society for public discourse. Folarin (1998:68) observes that agenda setting implies that the mass media predetermine what issues are regarded as important at a given time in a given society. Agenda setting does not ascribe to the media the power to determine what we actually think; but it does ascribe to them the power to determine what we are thinking about. They set the agenda for political campaigns. Agenda-setting theory comes from a specific perspective because it predicts that if people are exposed to the same media, they will place importance on the same issues. According to Chaffee and Berger’s (1997) in Anaeto, Onabajo and Osifeso (2008:90) criteria for scientific theories, agenda-setting is a good theory because:
-It has explanatory power because it explains why most people prioritize the same issues as important.
-It has predictive power because it predicts that if people are exposed to the same issues are important.
-It is parsimonious because it is not complex, and it is easy to understand.
-It can be proven false if the people are not exposed to the same media, they will not feel the same issues are important.
-Its meta-theoretical assumptions are balanced on the scientific sides.
-It is a springboard for further research.
-It has organizing power because it helps organize existing knowledge of media effects.
Adepoju (1999) in Anaeto, Onabajo and Osifeso (2008:90) says that the agenda setting theory is sometimes unclear about the role of interpersonal influence in the public’s adoption of mass media agenda of issue. In other word, would the information and perceptions which spread by word of mouth (even when they originate from the mass media) be considered as mass media effects or as interpersonal effects?
The theory is good at explaining why people with similar media exposure place importance on the same issues. Although different people may feel differently about the issue at hand, most people feel the same issues are important (Anaeto, Onabajo and Osifeso (2008)).
Agenda-Setting theory was propounded by Maxwell McCombs and Donald L. Shaw in 1972/1973. The main assumptions/principles of the theory as noted by Anaeto, Onabajo and Osofeso (2008:89) is that:
-The mass media such as the press do not reflect social reality because news is filtered, chosen and shaped by news room staff or broadcasters.
-People get their news from limited sources because people do not pay attention to all outlets; thus they rest on the mass media.
-Few media agenda which were chosen by professional gatekeepers lead people to perceive given issues as important.
Kunczik (1988:192) points out that the opportunity for the agenda – setting by the mass media becomes enhanced when the structure of a society is in the state of flux. Kunczik further points out that appropriate procedures for examining agenda-setting involves comparisons between media content over a certain period and the subjects that most people in the society are discussing. The greater the consonance, the more the agenda – setting hypothesis is confirmed. There have been criticism of the agenda – setting hypothesis, but it is generally agreed that it has a strong enough basis in logic and experience. As Marshall McLuhan (1968:204) concludes, the press can colour events by using them in a particular way, or refusing to use them at all.
The theory is relevant to this work because its principles provide the guidelines as to how the media are to be operated.
Owolabi (2008) also conducted a research study on the topic: “media ethics and the issues in the freedom of information act in Nigerian democracy”, historical research methods was used. Findings indicated that FOI act is neither a substitute to good government nor does it address the fundamental problem of rich poor divide. It is only a potent tool that certainly improves transparency and accountability rating of our nation. The public records which were, hitherto shrouded in secrecy will now be made available for public scrutiny, thus creating an enabling environment for fraud prevention and corruption control. The study concluded that FOI act is neither a substitute to good government nor does it address the fundamental problem of rich-poor divide. It is only a potent tool that certainly improves transparency and accountability rating of our nation. The study therefore recommended that the practice of journalism in Nigeria should be immediately professionalized like law, medicine, and engineering and all the quacks in the rank and file of the media should be weeded out.
Ekeanyanwu (2008) conducted a study on the topic: News flow controvery: the global media coverage of Nigerian democracy. Content analysed research method was used. The study found that the news flow controversy is real and there exist imbalances and inequalities in global news flow particularly from the development world to third world. Nigeria as a third world nation, despite all its efforts to correct its bad international reputation and image, unfortunately is still a victim of this treatment by the global media. The study concluded that the news flow controversy is real and there exist imbalances and inequalities in global news flow. The study therefore recommended that media channels that have global reach should be established in Nigeria. This will help secure a voice for the third world to be able to actively compete with the west for attention of global audience.
Gundu (2003) on the topic: Gender consideration in radio option for development support communication: Empirical evidence from northern Nigeria. Survey research method was used and the study population was the people of Northern Nigeria. Findings indicated that radio is undoubtedly a veritable option for development support communication. Those women are favourable predisposed towards participation in radio programmes. The study therefore recommended that government participation in this crusade is hereby recommended. Lesson from the masagana project in the Philippines are encourage, hence development organizations at governmental and non-governmental levels could effectively mobilize Nigerian farmers for particular agro-ecologically related programes.
Idemudia (2008) carries out a research on the topic: Mass media in National Development and integration: An appraisal of Democratic, social and political impact in Nigeria, 1999-2007. The researcher was an expost-facto research method to collect the data. The study found that was practical, was in the hands of a very few people. The watchdog role of the mass media, as the fourth estate of the realm did not receive the response of the government. Administrative reforms undertaken by the government was to widen the gap between the rich and the poor. The study concluded that the country was socially and politically worse-off than when the out- gone administration of Obasanjo took office in May, 1999 and left in May 2007. By and large, the mass media did not fail in its role as watchdog.

It can be concluded from above that the broadcast media played the important role in enhancing democracy and politics in Nigeria. They do this by informing and educating the masses constantly on the political activities and programmes. One discouraging tendency is that the broadcast media with their powerful influence are in most cases used as tools for propaganda in the hands of government rather than the purpose in which they are meant to serve.
It can be recommended therefore that for more political development in Nigeria, the broadcast media must not in any way to be the tools for propaganda in the hands of governments. Rather, they must be used as tools of informing and constantly educating people on those policies and programmes that can go along way to enhancing democracy and politics. This will help to enhancing the over all national development.
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SEMINAR ON: Politics and Democracy – situate Broadcast Media in these variables
REVIEWED TOPIC: The Role of Television in Politics and Democracy in Cross River State
This paper endeavours to critically examine the extent and contributions of the broadcast media towards the political and democratic fortunes of Cross River State of Nigeria. As the primary purveyor of information and a watchdog of the society, one of the primary roles among others for which the society solely depends on the media is the dissemination of necessary information to ensure the maintenance of positive standards. Thus the media, through its reportage of the society, strives to herald positive social conduct while conversely condemning the negative and ensuring that the appropriate authorities are put on notice for the purpose of bringing culprits to book. The Press is an integral part of the society, and like the parts of a body, it cannot totally and completely isolate itself from the characteristic nature of the larger society. Emphasis will be placed on the Television medium of the broadcast media. Cross River State is a state that is comprised of multiple nationalities that share a lot of differences both in languages, culture, values, norms and of course historical backgrounds. Through the instrumentality of the modern democratic structure, these semi nationalities have been brought together as a common political entity at the level of the state. This paper therefore, seeks to find out how despite these disparities, they people still forge ahead politically in the current democratic dispensation. Particular attention would placed on the recently concluded Local Government elections in the state.
Cross River State is a coastal state in south eastern Nigeria, bordering Cameroon to the east. Its capital is at Calabar, and it is named from the Cross River (Oyono), which passes through the State. Ejagham and Efii are major languages of this state, but the Igbo tribe and language are also present in its western land borders. The State is a coastal state in South Eastern Nigeria, named after the Cross River, which passes through the state. Located in the Niger Delta, Cross River State occupies 20,156 square kilometers. It shares boundaries with Benue State to the north, Enugu and Abia States to the west, to the east by Cameroon Republic and to the south by Akwa-Ibom and the Atlantic Ocean. This State was created in May 27, 1967 from the former Eastern Region, Nigeria by the General Yakubu Gowon regime. Its name was changed to Cross River State in the 1976 state creation exercise by the then General Murtala Mohammed regime from South Eastern State. The present day Akwa Ibom State was excised from it in the state creation exercise of September 1987 by the then regime of General Ibrahim Babangida. Its capital is Calabar. Its major towns are Akamkpa, Biase, Calabar South, Ikom, Obubra, Odukpani, Ogoja, Ugep, Obudu, Obanliku and Akpabuyo. The State is composed of three major ethnic groups-these are the Efik, the Ejagham and the Bekwarra. The Efik language is very widely spoken in Cross River State, even as far as Arochukwu in neighbouring Abia state. The Efik speaking people live mainly in the Calabar Municipality and Calabar South LGAs, and also in Bakassi, Akpabuyo, Odukpani and in parts of Akamkpa LGAs. There is also the Qua community in Calabar, which speaks Ejagham. The main Ejagham group occupies mostly the northern sections of the State. The other groups north of Calabar are known as the Ekoi’s. The Ekoi’s are the people of Biase in Biase LGA,part of Akampka LGA (i.e Oban) and the Bahumono in Abi LGA. There is also the Yakurr/Agoi ethnic group in Yakurr LGA, while the Mbembe are predominantly found in Obubra LGA. Further up the core northern part of the state are several sub-dialectical groups, among which are Etung, Olulumo, Ofutop, Nkim/Nkum, Abanajum, Nseke and Boki in both Ikom, Etung and Boki LGAs. Also, the Yala/Yache, Ukelle, Ekajuka, Mbube, Bette, Bekwarra and Utugwanga people are found in Ogoja, Yala, Obudu and Obanliku LGA’s. Cross River State epitomises the nation’s linguistic and cultural plurality and it is important to note that, in spite of the diversity of dialects, all the ethnic groups in the state have a common linguistic root -Bantu. Cross River State is divided into 18 Local Government Areas. They are: Abi, Akamkpa, Akpabuyo, Bakassi, Bekwarra, Biase, Boki, Calabar Municipal, Calabar South, Etung, Ikom, Obanliku, Obubra, Obudu, Odukpani, Ogoja, Yakurr and Yala. In line with the objectives of the former Governor of the state Mr. Donald Duke to mix business with pleasure, there are many festivals. These festivals bring in tourists from far and wide into the state to enjoy themselves and also do business in the state. These festivals include The Cross River State Christmas Festival, which promises to be an event that will rival any festival events in Africa, with over 30 days of endless fun, carnival, games, cultural display, art exhibition, pageant and music performance. The Cross River State Christmas Festival is from 1 December to 31 December annually. Other festivities include The Cross River State Carnival Float – 26 December, The Ugep Leboku Yam festival – 28 August and The Calabar Boat Regata all of which have become annual events. Another Interested Festival in Cross River state is Anong Bahumono Festival, in which we have deference cultural dances during the Festival which include Ikpobin the most Entertainment dance in the state, Ekoi, Obam, Emukei, Etangala Dances in the Anong Village of Cross River State. It is no doubt from the above that these communities that make up the state have divergent cultural political systems. Embracing democracy as a common political entity now would demand an intensive effort, and for the media of communication, particularly the Television medium, it would be a herculean task to achieve and harmonize these divergent interests. Thus, according to Laxman Datt Pant (2008):
The broadcast media are attracting young minds and already cover diverse issues. Apart from providing information, broadcast media are a highly influential medium of communication in shaping public opinion, changing social attitudes, entertaining people and bringing about social integration in a society full of diversities. It is noteworthy that media plays an important role in providing information via news stories, investigative reports and timely analysis of current affairs. It plays a deciding role in assessing the political performance of the parties and the government.
In support of the above position, Jason Diceman (2000) posits that “within our large and dispersed liberal democratic society, the media is supposed to play an important communications role: facilitating public discourse, informing the public, representing the public and acting as a watchdog of the power structures that effect public’s well being.”
Government and governance is an all inclusive process involving both the governed and those charged with the responsibility of directing affairs on behalf of others. This activity therefore demands that all parties be sufficiently educated and informed about the affairs of government to enable whenever necessary to make inputs and invoke possible sanctions where there seems to be a betrayal of trust. This responsibility square rests on the media of communication, and according to Diceman (2000):
In order for the people of a state to partake in self-government, they require a communications system to distribute and exchange ideas and messages among the people. A large and complex society such as our own requires a complex and expansive communications system to facilitate this need. We have come to call this system “the media”. The media are the instruments of communication (such as books, newspapers, TV, film and the Internet) and also the people and organizations that support the production and distribution of the messages.
Politics has been defined by the Wikipedia Encyclopedia first as “The art or science of government or governing, especially the governing of a political entity, such as a nation, and the administration and control of its internal and external affairs” and in addition as “the complex or aggregate of relationships of people in society, esp those relationships involving authority or power”.

Democracy as part of a political process or activity is defined by the same authority as:
a political form of government in which governing power is derived from the people, either by direct referendum (direct democracy) or by means of elected representatives of the people (representative democracy).[1] The term comes from the Greek: δημοκρατία – (dēmokratía) “rule of the people”,[2] which was coined from δῆμος (dêmos) “people” and κράτος (Kratos) “power”, in the middle of the 5th-4th century BC to denote the political systems then existing in some Greek city-states, notably Athens following a popular uprising in 508 BC.[3] Even though there is no specific, universally accepted definition of ‘democracy’,[4] equality and freedom have been identified as important characteristics of democracy since ancient times.[5] These principles are reflected in all citizens being equal before the law and having equal access to power. For example, in a representative democracy, every vote has equal weight, no restrictions can apply to anyone wanting to become a representative, and the freedom of its citizens is secured by legitimized rights and liberties which are generally protected by a constitution.
Cross River State is a state that comprises of diverse cultural and pluralistic ethnicities that have been merged consequences of a political process into an entity called a state. Politics and democracy entails an association that is backed by communality of interest and persuasions. In a democracy, the citizens are responsible for making collective decisions to benefit the whole. In order for a democratic community to flourish, its members must share the knowledge they gain. This sharing of knowledge is a form of education that insures intelligent and informed decision-making by all the members of the community for the benefit of the individuals and the community as a whole. The media’s function is to inform the public about contemporary issues. The media gives the citizens an understanding of what is currently happening in their world. If a society is to remain united, its members must have a common culture. In a large society, media helps to distribute culture by giving the mass population shared experience. The more we feel they have in common, the greater bond they will have to each other and the greater chance they will be able to make decisions for the common good. In such societies, media are the principal source of political information and access to public debate, and the key to an informed, participating, self-governing citizenry. On the other hand and on its part, Democracy requires a media system that provides people with a wide range of opinion and analysis and debate on important issues, reflects the diversity of citizens, and promotes public accountability of the powers-that-be and the powers-that-want-to-be. In short, the media in a democracy must foster deliberation and diversity, and ensure accountability. Given the scenario of complexity in the cultural setting of Cross River State, it is only a wonder how possible this can be accomplished by the television medium.
The following research questions have been posed for consideration in this study:
1. What functions does the television medium to fill in relation to the political and democratic process in Cross River State?
2. How can the medium reconcile the cultural complexities associated with the state?
3. Can this medium successfully address these issues given the intervening forces of ownership and alternative interest influence?
4. Is there any likelihood of symbioses between the media and political and democratic variables?

Medium/Media – refers to a/the medium/media of communication including traditional, print, broadcast and the new media

In an article titled The Long Arms of Broadcast Media Posted on the net, the authors seeks to x-ray the contrasting qualities of the broadcast medium with particular reference to Television in relation to the American presidential pools of 2008 and concludes that television is one of the mixed blessings of modern society. He continues that no one doubts its useful capacity to inform, educate and entertain, but we also know it promotes unhealthy eating, encourages alcohol consumption, depicts way too much of what most of us deem senseless violence, and coarsens society in myriad ways. But worrisome as these issues may be, they pale in comparison to the risk television poses for our democracy.
Adverting to the powerful and influential functions of the medium, the author emphatically states that:
Television certainly serves to educate and inform the electorate, thereby encouraging voters to vote. It provides them with some of the information they need to make informed decisions. The problem is that the information provided by the major television networks is being filtered in ways designed not for the benefit of our country and its citizens, but for the benefit of those who own and manage the television networks. The result is that those who set the rules as to who and what will, and will not, receive television coverage have a powerful influence on our thinking. And our thinking, of course, influences our choices when we vote. Broadcast media influences elections.
On the relationship between the media and democracy, the Wikipedia Encyclopedia summarizes it as follows:
The mass media possesses a great deal of influence in society and politics … Newspapers, radio, magazines and television are able to use their own judgment when reporting current events. The power of the mass media is an asset to the government in some instances and a stumbling block in others. Recent technology and regulations given to the mass media have improved the means by which the public can get information. The final say in what goes into a story, however, belongs to the reporter alone. His opinions and biases are often a main part of the mass media is the means by which the citizens( … )are informed of current events in politics. This gives the media huge amounts of power and control. Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell stated in 1974 said, “An informed public depends upon accurate and effective reporting by the news media. No individual can obtain for himself the information needed for the intelligent discharge of his political responsibilities.” Powell is saying that it is the media’s responsibility to inform the citizens of the news, because people cannot get this information by themselves.
This relationship between the media of communication and the political machinery has not always been a smooth one though for now, the necessity for cooperation and coexistence is becoming overwhelmingly evident. Commenting on this position, James W. Carey summarized it as follows:
The journalistic side of the twentieth century can be defined as the struggle for democracy and an independent media against propaganda and subservience to the state. That struggle culminated during the first half of this century in the seizure of the means of communication by the demagogues of the 1930s and 1940s — Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin — and their Cold War reincarnation of the 1950s, Joseph McCarthy — the ghost that still haunts U.S. journalism. While this struggle was imprinted upon the generation of the time, the fear of demagoguery seemed a curious hangover of a forgotten age for those in the post-McCarthy generations.

In the MEDIA, DEMOCRACY AND FAMINE: CASE OF ZIMBABWE, a report on the case of famine and drought in Zimbabwe which press reports to the outside world were muzzled by the president, the power of the press later overwhelmed and the truth was exposed about the urgent and sympathetic situation in the country. Eventually, the authorities were constrained to bitterly swallow the fact that “establishment, maintenance and fostering of an independent, pluralistic and free press is essential to the development and maintenance of democracy in a nation, and for economic development”. MISA has ever since emphasised freedom of the media and expression as the cornerstone of democracy. The report continues that:
The debate of media and democracy has evolved over the years with the changing of the media and the coming of information and communication technologies. Channels of communication and access to information are now diverse. People no longer have to rely on newspapers and broadcasting station for news and information (ICTs). Even in countries where the media are controlled by the government, those citizens with access to ICTs can have a diverse selection of news from the internet. However, in Africa, many do not have access to the ICTs and still rely on radio for their information needs and in many countries radio is still controlled by government.
In an elaborate discuss, referred to the media’s responsibility to the public through the provision of information, Diceman went on to say that in a democracy, the citizens are responsible for making collective decisions to benefit the whole. In order for a democratic community to flourish, its members must share the knowledge they gain. This sharing of knowledge is a form of education that insures intelligent and informed decision-making by all the members of the community for the benefit of the individuals and the community as a whole. In our society this sharing of knowledge is carried out by both the education system and the media. The schools are designed to teach skills and long-term knowledge. The media’s function is to inform the public about contemporary issues. The media gives the citizens an understanding of what is currently happening in their world, and the schools give them the skills to deal with these issues. In addition to the above, the media has the additional responsibility of facilitating social unity. Thus, if a society is to remain united, its members must have a common culture. In a large society, media helps to distribute culture by giving the mass population shared experience. The more we feel we have in common, the greater bond we will have to each other and the greater chance we will be able to make decisions for the common good. He however observes the eventualities of possible failure in relation to the television medium and concludes that TV is not independent of power structures; in fact, TV is often an essential part of them. The expense of creating and maintaining a TV station has restricted ownership almost exclusively to large corporations, wealthy families or the government. TVs dependence on powerful structures handicaps its ability to be critical of them, and thus reduces is effectiveness as a public watchdog.
The theoretical framework adopted for this study is Media System Dependency Theory. This theory was originally proposed by Sandra Ball-Rokeach and Melvin DeFleur (1976). The theory merged out of the communication discipline. It integrates several perspectives: first, it combines perspectives from psychology with ingredients from social categories theory. Second, it integrates systems perspectives with elements from more causal approaches. Third, it combines elements of uses and gratifications research with those of media effects traditions, although its primary focus is less on effects per se than on rationales for why media effects typically are limited. Finally, a contextualist philosophy is incorporated into the theory, which also features traditional concerns with the content of media messages and their effects on audiences. Research generated by this model had tends to be more descriptive than explanatory or predictive. The core assumptions and statements of Dependency theory proposes an integral relationship among audiences, media and the larger social system. This theory predicts that you depend on media information to meet certain needs and achieve certain goals, like uses-and-gratifications theory. But you do not depend on all media equally. Two factors influence the degree of media dependence. First, you will become more dependent on media that meet a number of your needs than on media that provide just a few. The second source of dependency is social stability. When social change and conflict are high, established institutions, beliefs, and practices are challenged, forcing you to reevaluate and make new choices. At such times your reliance on the media for information will increase. At other, more stable times your dependency on media may go way down. One’s needs are not always strictly personal but may be shaped by the culture or by various social conditions. In other words, individuals’ needs, motives, and uses of media are contingent on outside factors that may not be in the individuals’ control. These outside factors act as constraints on what and how media can be used and on the availability of other non-media alternatives. Furthermore, the more alternatives and individual had for gratifying needs, the less dependent he or she will become on any single medium. The number of functional alternatives, however, is not just a matter of individual choice or even of psychological traits but is limited also by factors such as availability of certain media.

In a paper titled The Mass Media and Citizens’ Orientations Towards Democracy: The Experience of Six ‘Third-Wave’ Democracies in Southern Europe, Eastern Europe and Latin America, the paper sought among others to find evidence whether, and if so, in which way the media contribute to the emergence of a political culture that is supportive for the consolidation of new democracies that have emerged at various stages of the third wave of democratization. Do the
mass media in these countries contribute to the emergence and stabilization of political cultures that are congruent to these nations’ recently inaugurated democratic institutional orders? Or are they, to the contrary, undermining the cultural foundations of these fledgling democracies? Further, it is of great interest whether, with respect to these questions, similar trends are visible in all new democracies, or whether we rather find a variety of country specific
relationships. Of similar interest is the role of different media: Do patterns of relationships vary, depending on what type of media we are looking at? Are some media more important than others? Are there counterbalancing forces at work with regard to mass media, where some media exert positive effects, while others have more problematic consequences?
for democratic attitudes? The empirical basis of the analysis was representative surveys conducted in the context of national parliamentary or presidential elections that took place in the late 1990s. All countries used the same questionnaire to ensure comparability. Deviations are confined to national particularities or additional questions. The six countries of our sample represent the specific historical and political contextual background of ‘third-wave’ democracies: transition from military rule in Southern Europe in the mid 1970s (Greece and Spain), and in Latin America in the 1980s (Chile and Uruguay), as well as democratization after the breakdown of communism in Eastern Europe (Bulgaria and Hungary). Thus, each pair of the country sample stands for different backgrounds and stages of democratic consolidation, with the two Southern European countries looking back to the longest period of democratic development after the demise of the authoritarian regime, and the Eastern European countries being the most recent cases of democratization. The Latin American cases were regarded as falling in between. The study found that exposure to newspapers of higher quality as well as to private TV news goes along with more positive stances towards political parties in Greece. In sum, when assessing the media’s overall relevance by ignoring the fact that in all countries
media influences on orientations towards aspects of political systems are partly mediated through webs of hierarchical and transactional interconnections between these orientations, the general impression emerges that in new democracies mass media are really an important, and with few exceptions positive force in the process of democratic consolidation – an importance that is easily underestimated when using a conservative strategy of analysis by
looking only at direct effects. This general observation applies to all new democracies studied in this paper, most of all, however, to those where the process of rebuilding the institutions of government according to the principles constitutive for democracy is of most recent date, implying that citizens’ media dependency is highest. The findings presented in this study pointed to a positive rather than to a negative role in the process of democratic consolidation. In line with the assumptions of media-dependency theory it appears particularly strong in the youngest of the new democracies inspected in this analysis, suggesting that the media’s relevance is highest in the early phase of democratic consolidation.

From the above presentation, it is safe to conclude that there is a significant relationship between the media of communication and political activities especially involving democracies. The media play a vital role for the establishment and sustenance of all forms of political activities. This is moreso in the case of democracy which principles of equality and freedoms are critical for the existence of democracy. In the case of Cross River State, there is the observed problems of cultural complexity which requires a lot of media activity to promote cohesion and common interest which is vital for a democratic system. The media has its own problems which derive from interference arising from control due to the ownership pattern. In addition to this, the divergent interests common with all political forms has a further negative effect on its attempt at mobilization for unity of purpose. This is clearly evident in the pattern of coverage in all types of media. It has been established in an earlier study that the State Owned Newspaper devotes about 95% of its coverage time and space to the advantage of the party in power. This therefore means that notwithstanding the requirement of equal time available to all political aspirants, the candidates in opposing political parties have no reasonable access to the media of communication. Thus, they lack an equal opportunity to present their programmes and address issues for the benefit of the electorate. The broadcast media is not different in its posture in relation to partisan equality. Both the radio and television media concentrate on the activities of government together with promoting the prospects of the candidates in the party of the government in power. These candidates have ample air time to address their programmes and to educate the electorate on their programmes. Where issues are raised that affect the interest of their opponents, these have no opportunity of reply without the due access to the media. On the whole, the government takes all the advantage of the media of communication especially those of the television medium to promote its image, providing the public with only one side of the story. The overall advantages of the television medium which should be used with optimal benefit to the whole society is selfishly being subjected.
It is self-evident that democracy, usually defined as government by consent, is crucially dependent on a sufficient degree of two-way communication and horizontal communication at the grassroots, otherwise there cannot be consensus building and responsiveness. So, democracy, even in its most modest and reductionism concepts- such as the economic theory of elite competition, requires a free public sphere with a free mass media and certain effective channels for two-way communication, bottom-up and top-down and, what is even more important, open and active deliberations of all issues of public concern. Without this there cannot be democracy worth its name.
In the present era of mass media communication, the old questions are still the key to understanding the contribution of communication to the performance of the political system and its political culture. Mass media, such as newspapers, radio and television do have the potential of including practically everybody into the political public sphere and the process of political deliberation, will formation and decision making. But, whether they succeed in materializing this historically new potential or not depends on a variety of conditions which by no means are fulfilled automatically once modern mass media come into existence. Print media, Radio and television can cause depoliticization of the rank and file or contribute to its enlightenment and appropriate information, they can serve the sheer interests of political power or that of the population and the public good. Information alone can be quite a mixed blessing.
Therefore, a large and crucial portion of the responsibility for both the construction and nutrition of a democratic political culture and even for the long-term performance of governance rests with the media system and its actors. And this is all the more so in the modern media-society as it is here that the media is mainly and sometimes almost the only constituent that can give meaning and structure to the society’s public sphere. Whatever the fruitful contribution of other factors for a of public deliberation, such as civil society, may be in the overall public sphere of modern societies, the responsibility of addressing the supreme decision making bodies and the entire society invariably rests within the reach of the mass media. In this sense, they beat the ultimate responsibility for a quality of public discourse that is democratically adequate.
In present day media democracies, the mass media are a crucial part of their respective political culture contributing substantially to shape the rest of it. For the media to be capable of rising to this challenge, two hard and a whole bunch of soil conditions have to materialize. The most obvious of the hard conditions which normally goes undisputed is of course the legal guarantee for a free media and free flow of information to exist. An effective legal framework, which gives sufficient protection to the media system and its actors is one of the necessary conditions for a democratic public sphere. Such a legal protection is, as we all know, still far from being even in the post-totalitarian world of today. And, in some countries where the lake appearance of an independent media is stage-managed it is often dangerous to be a responsible journalist.
The salient aspects of the relationship between the broadcast media vis-à-vis politics and democracy can be summarized thus:
1. that the health of the democratic political system depends on the efficient, accurate, and complete transmission of social, political, and cultural information in society and that of the press
2. that the press are the conduits of this information and should act in the public interest
3. that the mass media have increasingly been unable and uninterested in fulfilling this role due to increased concentration of ownership and commercial pressures
4. that this undermines democracy as voters and citizens are unable to participate knowledgeably in public policy debates.
5. Without an informed and engaged citizenry, policy issues become defined by political and corporate elites.

1. Abubakar H. Kargbo (2006) Corruption: Definition and Concept Manifestations and Typology in the Africa Context.
2. Corruption and Good Governance, Discussion paper 3, UNDP New York, 1997.
3. Corruption in Nigeria: The Niger Delta Experience| 2002 | Fourth Dimension Publishing Company, Nigeria, Christian Akani (ed)
4. Daniel Jordan Smith (2008) A Culture of Corruption: Everyday Deception and Popular Discontent in Nigeria

5. Dr Olusegun Fakoya(2010) Nigeria Mass Media – The Fourth Estate Of Graft

6. Global Corruption Report 2003, Transparency International, London.
7. Global Corruption Report 2005, Transparency International, London.
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9.; retrieved 11/11/2010

10.; retrieved 11/11/2010

11. Jeremy Pope (2000) Comforting Corruption: The elements of a National Integrity System, Transparency
International, Berlin, Germany.








This study is on the media especially electronic media. It is aimed at assessing broadcast media critical role and effect in election in Nigeria. With a view to determining the extent of its influence on the pattern and direction of various election conducted in Nigeria.

The Nigerian media has played critical roles in the life of the nation from the colonial to the military dispensation. Its roles under both dispensations were largely positive and earned it deserved influence and difference. From the point of view of democratization since its restoration in 1999, the media has played roles that have been significantly reflective of proprietary and sectional interest, rather than national interest. This has been defined by a plethora of factors ranging from dearth of ethical journalism to projection of proprietors interests, poor or beggarly remuneration to media practitioner and above all ethnic, tribal, regional or clear journalism. The result has been the penetration of the media by diverse interests and the media’s projection of these interests which are often at variance with national interest.
Meanwhile, the media’s power as an agenda setting instrument has ensured that the nation has often experienced periods of considerable stress as a result of the media’s manipulation by these interest. For instance, a largely jaundiced view on Nigeria’s electoral process and related issues have led both Nigerians and foreigners a negative perceptions of the same, to the detriment of the nation. In a paper presented at the maiden election of the political science lecture series of Babcock university, Ijesha-Remo, Ogun State, the former governor of Enugu State Chimaroke Nnamani (Dr.) posit that “…A second factor in confusing the individual citizen/voter is the press. It may sound strange but it is true that our media have run on the fancies of pressure groups. No group or person ought to have a better grasp of the value of democracy, party system and governance other than the press. Such full acquaintanceship, which is played on the skill of mass communication, is easily passed on to the citizenry who are reinforced in their judgement as they relate with the factors of the national system”. The presenter pinpoint that, today’s democracy, the party and the individual are reduced to the lamb in the hand of the lion, the pressure groups, who are given the vent by the kind of all, the press.

Role of mass media in generational political conflict in Nigeria is the central concern of this study.

The role of the media in Nigeria democracy is more in accord with its history and culture of the people. How has media operation heighten partisan politics in Nigeria? To what extent has historical perspective of Nigeria mass media impaired sustainability of democratic governance.

The study intends to look at historical perspective and media phenomenon that often lead to political conflicts in Nigeria. It also seek to appraise role of media in partisan politics especially such act which often lead to social discourse and conflict and to suggest ways to neutralized or reduced media midwife political conflict.

This aspect of study is devoted to defining the key terms central to the study. Democratic governance – coined from “democracy and government”. This represented a system of government where the people are rule by representative who emerged or were elected through democratic processes.
Media – Oxford Advanced Learner Dictionary defined media as “the main ways that large numbers of people receive information and entertainment that is television, radio, newspaper and internet.
Political conflict – This refers to issue, discourse confrontation and conflict associated with politics as a process in Democracy and government.

Review of Past Literature
Burns (1977:45) once argued that, “the success of failure of any electoral process is largely dependent on the role of the mass media”.
Given the above assertion by Burns, one might be tempted to ask the question “why the media”. The answer is strung in the very nature of democracy as a system of government which give right of full participation to the people and supposedly unlimited freedom of expression to the people and especially to the mass media.
Under democratic dispensation, the mass media are not just called the fourth-estate of the realm, but are recognized and accord respect due the privilege, that is to say, the societies through subsisting constitutions and laws has given to the press its right of place in political and democratic process and consequently function and responsibility in the administration and or how men are govern world over.
The above attest to why “societies” attach much importance to the coverage of elections and election related issues by the media. While an unbiased and responsible media system can contribute to the success of electoral process, a bias and irresponsible media can contributes to the failure of elections.
According to Orhewere (2003:140) the Nigeria media in the past did not show enough commitment to professional ethnics thereby contributing to the electoral crisis in western Nigeria in 1965 and subsequent elections”. However, what Orhewere failed to capture is the fact that, it is not the do little attitude of the western press that fueled the crisis known as “wet-e” – but the actual method of reportage of issues that led to the crisis. It is important to note that, the media scene at the period were rather dominated by tribal and regional interest. For example the Nigeria tribune which was established 1949 by Chief Obafemi Awolowo was employed to serve the founder political, economic, and social interest. Remember also that, at the period the paper came to lime light, its founder was fighting for political dominance in the region and also how to use the paper to possibly serve the best interest of the region at the centre.
However, this syndrome is not an exclusive reserve of the western region at the time, as posit by Okoye (2003) though Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe set up the pilot newspaper to fight the colonial government”. The paper is not without its own ethnic tone and so is Sadauna new Nigeria established in 1966 albeit to protect northern hegemony and interest.
This competition among these regional power player was to set pace for regional media beginning with newspaper. Consequently, the “sketch” emerge from the western newsstand, the Eastern region debut with “star”, “observer” for the mid west, standard of Benue-Plateau, Triumph for Kano state and a host of others.
Electronic media was to later join in the jamboree with the establishment and operation of Western Nigeria Television Service (WNTV) established by Chief Obafemi Awolowo in 1959. Other region followed suit, with Eastern Nigeria Television (ENTV) established in October of 1960 by the then Eastern region government while Radio Television Kaduna (RTK) completed the regional rounds of broadcasting media in March 15, 1962.
Today, almost every state in Nigerian owns one form of broadcast media or another. This media has remain exclusive mouth piece of government of these states while the aim and objectives of most of these media is to seek and pursue interest of the state within the ambit of national affair/identity.
With the deregulation of broadcast media by Babangida’s administration, private individual were encouraged to enter into media business, thus today, we have twice as many privately owned broadcast media organization as those owned by government, however, the problem of how to harnessed these media harmoniously for National goal and development has defile all known remedies. It appear that the entrant of private individuals into broadcast business rather worsened the situation in view of the fact that these individuals are first and foremost business men whose primary motives for venture into the media business is profit. Their interest is therefore align to anyone with the cash. Especially in Nigeria where politics and election mean money. These media therefore are less interested in issues of national integration if the idea have inherent tendencies to suffer their pursue. Chief Raymond Dokpesi has continually being in the news for unprofessional/unethical conduct of its organization. His latest appearance is even rather more damaging where he was associated with Nigerian independent day bombing. Dokpesi is the campaign coordinator of Babangida campaign in the South-West. One can clearly see where the interest of his media outfit would be aligned.
On the other hand, their pursuit and increasing search for hard news have continued to hutting up the polity. The quest for patronage have driven many such media to embrace sensationalism. Perhaps, print media is more guilty of these offences in view of its inherent characteristic and feature.
But these media are supposedly correcting the imbalance of the past, Okoye (2003) pointed out that… the editorial content and coverage of the electioneering campaigns by government owned media in the past, was designed to favour the government in power to the detriment of the opposition parties”. This assumption is best captured by the nationalist struggle especially the issue that gave rise to consideration for and eventual establishment of WNTV in 1959. A trace through history would revealed that the first premier of the west and leader of the action group due to his confrontational stance against the colonial master was flagrantly accused of treason. The refusal by the colonialist to grant Awolowo the use of the media to reply to the charges lead to establishment of WNTV which there and then became the official information channel of western Nigeria.
From the above, one can therefore deduced that, over the years, government and people have realized the potent power of mass media as weapon to do good or evil. Social thinker of the 19th century perceived the mass media as the tribulation of the age of industrialization and technology. The media was radically criticized for the crumbling social order together with the fall of the era’s culture and politics. The theorist at the time were apprehensive of domineering posture of the media and its inherent potentiality which they feared offer nothing but uncertain future.
Today the power and influence of media across the field of human endeavour is undisputable. All mens affair revolved around administration and government, Carl Sandburg once wrote “I am the people – the mob – the crowd – the mass. Do you know that all the great work of the world is done through me?”. Therefore, if government is the people and the people are the government, the media according to Burns (1977:45) occupy a very important and powerful position with capacity that can easily influence the opinion of the masses. Rivers (1971) corroborated the above view when he wrote “media is expected where divergent views are expressed in order to serve as a check against autocratic and totalitarian rule. These therefore, underline why contenders for political offices and power in any society employ this avenue (mass media) to wage their war and struggle to gain control of government and power.
This has put media operator at vantage point, a position of honour often misused to the detriment of the national aspiration and fair democratic process. Press men and women have severally been accused of culpability in Nigeria elections woe. A recent example readily come to mind is the role played by Radio Adaba, located in Akure which weeks before Ekiti re-run election was crying foul play. The station was later sanction by the (NBC). Financial benefit and other gratition may not be the only reasons for media compromise as and during election. There are such issues as ethnic tribal and religion learning. These issues especially in Nigeria, play an important role in national life and identity. The concern however, is the integration of these ideology into the National affairs with the assumption that, it would rather be difficult for Nigeria to come out of the cloud if the status quo must persist, here in lies the duty of the press.
Perhaps, it is good that the federal government has realized where the problem of national integration and cohesion lies. Through the ministry of communication and national orientation, the federal government rolled out drums to conscientized its citizens and awaken them to their responsibility to nationhood. It’s message tagged “Rebranding Nigeria” was to first and foremost encouraged Nigerians to see themselves just as a Nigerian before tribal or ethnic consideration, but as it is often said, charity must begin at home, the media being used to propagate the message need to purge itself of these sentiment, the media need to deployed its agenda setting function and bring about attitudinal change require for national rebirth being canvassed by the mother ministry.

Sustaining credible election/governance in Nigeria: expectation from the press
June 12 1993 election in Nigeria was adjudge by all as freest and fairest election ever conducted in the country. However, this election has only remain a reference point because the role of the press was by analysis adjudged to be above average. Certain circumstances are however responsible. The election itself was in the first placed made possible by action and reaction of the press who inspite of constant killing and incineration of its member, seizure of media material and closure of media outfit especially the print, the media continued waging war against anarchical rule of the military which later step down from power but not before it annulled the freest election. The press strives to ensure its reality. 1993 election has remain an important mile stone in the history of Nigeria press, it shows that in unity, the Nigeria press can chart a course of political progress for the nation. However, the event is also an eye opener of the evil of divide and rule embellished by regional, tribal and or ethnic sentiment, such negative trait that has be deviled the country for too long, since immediately after the independence. If the press is, to be able to confront the reality enormity of its power and influence in nation building, however, it is expected of the press in Nigeria to as a central issue first purge itself of all inhibiting, negative tendencies, this on its own is not a little task.
The aftermath of the annulment is another issue entirely. Immediately after the episode that led to the annulment by the military puts, the Northern press are quick to defend the military moves while the western press perceived the military head of state himself a Northerner as behind calculated attempt against the Yoruba race and thus a battle line was quickly drawn between the Western and Northern press. It is also important to state that, the same force which drove the Nigeria press to in unison fought colonial master for the independence also influence the resolution of the Nigerian press to fought the military junta into conducting the election in the first place. At the time, Nigerians were tired of the military rule and as the only two way communication avenue for government and the people, the media played their role effectively culminating into the annulled June 12 presidential election purportedly won by Yoruba man M.K.O Abiola.

The media’s power as an agenda setting instrument has ensured that the nation has often experienced period of considerable stress as a result of the media manipulation by sectional politician and their allied pressure groups. The power of mass media to affect opinion and perception especially of a large group can not be over emphasized. Therefore, a press system which continued to indulge in building an impression of tension and impending doom just as the pressure groups wants is extremely dangerous and could be injurious to the polity.
As a theory supportive of the above view, agenda setting theory articulated by Berhard Cohen postulate that media provide list of topics that the public is expected to think about and perhaps act on. Thus the media create awareness, establish priorities and perpetuate issues. This theory became even more adaptive in view of herd mentality aspect of the theory which seems to be the core line of journalism practices in Nigeria especially when view against the lenses of Northern-southern axis journalism and the subsisting political rivalry between and among the regions.

Given the powers associated with the media and the role of political talking drum in electoral matters and the struggle of the political actors to control press, McQuail (1968:16) found in his study that, media did not only contribute to the spate of electoral violence and crises, which brought about the collapse of the democratic system in Nigeria in 1965 and 1981, but also contribute to the spate of electoral fraud during the 2003 general election. His information were obtained from content analysis of newspaper features, cartoons, advertisement, opinion polls, editorials, news coverage, interview and questionnaires.
Corroborating the above, ThisDay Newspaper, Thursday January 9th edition (2002), state that, from the beginning of the 2003 electoral campaigns, rather than focus on issues, the media began to set ethnic religious and regionalism agenda as a way of diverting the attention of the voter from the campaign issue.

Given the Nigeria media antecedent, the press, especially the broadcast media is capable of making or destroying governments given appropriate conditions. It can cause war or create condition for peace. The mass media have potential to promote development or create difficulties in the way of development. This reality, encourage the politicians and other players in the affairs of the state to exert certain authority and influence on mass media.
The extent to which the media are able to resist the pressure in favour of fairness and justice is crucial to the determination of larger societies reactions to election’s results and the consequences to the political stability or otherwise.

1. Free media is synonymous with liberal democracy, broadcast media operators should strive to ensure unhindered freedom.
2. Operator of broadcast media should strive to maintain ethical conduct at all time.
3. Media operator must ensure they reconcile the channel independence and the obligation they have to the society.
4. Aspiring politicians should be force to accord the media their place and be resisted from taking undue advantage of broadcast media for selfish interest.
5. Towards entrenching sustainable democratic practice, broadcast media needs to be continually sensitized and enjoyed to be cognizant of the strategic interests of the ration and promote same in the over-all interest of all including the media.
6. As an important institution in democratic societies where transparency is the watch word, the mass media should carry out news reporting without any parochial or tribal bias and be free from either internal or external distraction.

Tyodzua, A. (2010) The Media and Electoral Politics in Nigeria. Makurdi: At-Mishad Publishers.

Sambe, J.A. (2008) Introduction to Mass Communication Practice in Nigeria. Ibadan: Spectrum Book Limited.

Eugene, G.H. (1994) Groping for Ethics in Journalism. IOWA. IOWA State University Press.

Annonymous (2003) Election 2003: A nation Confront Its Fears, North vs South, Christian vs Muslim, General vs General, ThisDay, January 9, P.I.

Chimaroke, Nnamani (2002) “Transition Democracy 2003: the Voters World” A Lecture Delivered at the Maiden Edition of the Political Science Lecture, Babcock University Ileshe Remo Ogun State.







The history of democracy in Nigeria has been that of a worrisome nightmare. According to Ogbemudia 2003:174) democracy has never been allowed to thrive Nigeria in the proper seen of the word as seen elsewhere in the West. Most times, democracy in Nigeria has been thwarted by either the Military interventions, ethnic tension struggles for power (Ogbemudia 2003:174). He argued that Nigeria once regarded as the beacon of hope for Africa and the black world in general, the story has been the same- civil war, military interventions, unbridled corruption, political violence and pseudo democracies at one period to another. Soyinka in Ogbemudia (2003: 174) in apparent disgust over this lament “Nigeria has consistently behave like a reckless driver who indicates that he is turning one way, but in reality is turning in quite a contrary direction.” Ogbemudia asserted that the only stable thing about the political life of the country has been its instability.
However, with the return of democracy in 1999 till date, it seems the Nigerian people are getting it right. That is not to say that there are no problems. In fact, the Nigeria democracy is bedeviled of with a lot of problems that most times endanger its survival. Ogbemudia observed that even under democratic rules, selfish and greedy politicians have bastardized, polluted and dehumanized the world’s definitions of democracy. This not withstanding, democracy has survives for over ten years.
Having come this far, it is apt to acknowledge here that our concern in this paper is how we can use the broadcast media to sustain the Nigerian democracy.
Throughout the world the broadcast media and indeed the mass media through their functions of surveillance, correlation and mobilization have been proven to sustain democracy. In the United State of America for example, the broadcast media has been tested and proven to having direct impact on sustaining democracy. No wonder the government in that nation lays much emphasis on the broadcast media. The reasoning therefore is that if the broadcast media can sustain democracy in America and elsewhere, why can’t the same thing be done in Nigeria.

Statement of the Problem
Before now in Nigeria, the democratic process had been, chequered and arduous. It had been characterized by all manner of vicissitudes and pains. Democracy in Nigeria had before now witnessed truncations and distortions. But Nigerians, have always clamoured for the democratization and peaceful organization of the political system as the preferable option. With the restoration of democracy in Nigeria from 1999 to date, it seems we have gotten it right this time therefore, this paper books at the roles the broadcast media can play to making sure democracy is sustained in Nigeria. In other words, what role can the broadcast media play in sustaining democracy in Nigeria.
Objective of the Study
The general objective of the paper is the role of the broadcast media in sustaining democracy specifically, the study seeks:
(i) To fashion out ways the broadcast media can sustain democracy.
(ii) To what extent the broadcast media can be used for the purpose of sustaining democracy.
Research Questions
(i) What role can the broadcast media play in sustaining democracy?
(ii) How can the broadcast media sustain democracy
Definition of Terms
Democracy:- Here simply refers to a representative government.
Broadcast Media:- Here refers to radio, television and never media such as interest, and cell phones.
Role:-Here refers to functions performed by a thing.
Review of Related Literature
The mobilizational powers and potentialities of the broadcast media have been long recognized over the ages (Konkwo 2003: 87). According to Konkwo, even statesmen of antiquity were always conscious of these powers to influence their subjects. In apparent recognition of the mobilizational power of the press, Thomas Jefferson, an erstwhile American president said that he would rather prefer having in a country with a government but without a newspaper.
More recently, the broadcast media has been associated with tremendous capabilities or potentialities to mobilize whole audience and even influence attitudes. Konkwo said Ivan Parlov’s findings in psychology and his creation of the stimli-reponses theory have been instrumental to the evolution and development of several theories that attest to the “maximum effects” and or omnipotence of the mass media in the first quarter of the 20th century. Wilbur Schranum’s “Hypodermic Needle Theory” was informed such perceived capabilities of the media to bring about wholesale or landslide and predictable effect on whole predictable on Harold Lasswell’s formula for dealing with questions and issues of how the communication phenomenon can be effectively understood and applied “who says what through what medium to whom with what effects.
Functional role of t he Broadcast Media in a Democracy
According to Atim (2010: 22), democracy is a hollow word unless those who exercise their right to vote have the facts on which to base their choice at the ballot box. It is therefore the responsibility of the broadcast media to report the activities of the government accurately, to tell the citizenry the truth.
In order to ascertain the role of the mass media during elections, Paul Lazarsfed, Bernard Berelson and Lt. Gandet (1944) did a classical and pioneering work. Using the Eric country elections in the United States as a reference point, their studies yielded the two-step flow theory of mass communication and its variants. According to the two-step-flow-theory information usually flows from the mass media to opinion leaders who pass them on to others whom they unavoidably influence, during elections campaigns. Konkwo said;

From the Eric country studies, we can see that owning to the social categories to which the individual differences of the audience of members the media can elicit different responses or effects from different categories audience (Konkwo 2000: 87).
In 1968, Robinson conducted voter behavior studies which showed that media had considerable effects on voting behavior through their editorial endorsements. He studied in this regard, five election campaigns and concluded that voters choices were related to endorsements by the media to which they were exposed.
In a related study Martin (1976) as cited in Konkwo found that during elections, the mass media informed rather than change attitudes. Konkwo (1997) found in a study conducted to establish the actual sources of political information among audience in Ihitter Uboma, Imo State during 1997 local government elections, that radio was pre-eminent.
Ways the Broadcast Media can Sustain Democracy in Nigeria
To effective sustain democracy in Nigeria, the broadcast media should ensure that the information it gives out is predicated on justice, equity and fairplay during elections. To this end the following based on findings of a research conducted by Konkwo should be adopted;
(1) Liberate the Mass through Political Education
Mass enlightenment of the electorate by media practitioners to enable them to appreciate their political rights and obligation should be given priority in Nigeria. When the electorates are enlightened, ignorance and its attendant dangers will be reduced to the barest minimum. This can ensure the existence and survival of democracy at all times. In this regard syllabi and curricula at the various levels of education should be structured or expanded to include constitutional citizenship education to be taught by experts in the subject. A significant objective of such a programme is to inmbue the student citizen with the spirit and values of political consciousness and patriotism needed to function properly gladiatorally spectatorilly in the democratic process. The media should be deployed in this regard to play their traditional role.
(2) Conscientize the electorate against further military incursions into politics

Every Nigerian citizen should not only be sensitized to understand and appreciate the supremacy of the Nigerian constitution but should also be conscientized to resist any further attempt by the military to seize political power by force, no matter the reasons adduced. The Nigerian citizen or solider should be oriented towards appreciating the constitutional obligations of the military which are to defend the country against external aggression and to maintain the territorial integrity of the nation and not be venture into politics as it is only the people that have the right to remove a bad government constitutionally.
(3) End the Depolitilzation of the masses
In this study we have identified that the incipient and berenial depoliticization of the majority of Nigerian citizens has been as a result of prolonged military dictatorships that have truncated and stymied the vital latitudes of freedom and flexibility which are integral to the flourishing of any meaningful political consciousness and participation of the citizenry. Therefore there should be a movement to end depoliticization of the masses in Nigeria which is vigorously and conscientiously pursued through the mass media to cultivate the enabling environment for the growth and development of democracy as well as for the promotion of peaceful elections in the country.
(4) Reduce political violence and Thuggery by Resorting to the Mass Media.

With the mass media and new communication technologies now increasing taking the center stage in human, national and international affairs, political violence and thuggery can be reduced if politicians understood the efficiency of mass media in political engineering and mass mobilization. The various media (Newspaper, radio, television films) have great potentialities for political mobilization and should be used extensively and intensively by practitioners to pursue the gladiatorial objectives of the contending political forces. This is inspite of the of the fact that such intra-party transitional functions as attendance to political meetings or rallies of the spectatorial activities of wearing party T-Shirts, Face caps etc can still hold at the party levels without any immediate like-hood of sporting of violence as could be the case were these to take place between parties,
(5) De-materialize Politics
The mass media should be used to orient politicians to begin to use politics as primarily a call to serve the republic: not as an invitation or license to ride on the back of the masses to steal what belongs to them. The “do-or-die” syndrome prevalent today in Nigerian, politics led to all forms of unethical and objectionable conduct by politicians and political aspirants, such as spending billions of naira to “win” elections. If politicians saw politics as a call to serve why should they often want to engage in bribery and corruption of the electorate in order to succeed?
Using the mass media, the electorate should be informed and educated to vote for candidates not on the basis of how much they (the electorate) have been given but on their assessment of the acceptability of the political candidates of them.
(6) Empower the masses to make use of the mass media
Functional democracies in different parts of the world realize that the mass media, specially broadcasting, are a system of free competitive enterprise governed and managed within governmental regulations, ten years ago (1992) through the promulgation of Decree 38 broadcast media ownership was liberalized in Nigeria. Subsequently the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) was created as a governmental agency charged with the responsibility of regulating broadcasting in the country. However, up until now, only a handful of persons in Nigeria can fulfill the rather suffocating requirements to be met before a broadcast media outfit can be established. Nigerians were required to pay N500.00 to obtain a broadcast license in 1992 and shortly thereafter but today more than 200% of this amount is required. Certainly not mainly people can afford to meet this requirement. We hereby call on the relevant Nigerian authorities to review these requirements to ensure that as many Nigerians as are able or willing to broadcast in the public interest are granted licenses to operate. This will boost the chances of our eddling democracy to grow into adulthood.
Apart from creating the enabling environment for adequate private sector participation in broadcasting in the country. Nigeria masses should be further enable to have access to the broadcast media by a policy of the federal Government to remove or reduce the cost of radio and television sets by removing or reducing the tariffs on them.
(7) Let Nigerian Mass Media Practitioners Practice the Fairness Doctrine and the Equal Opportunity Rules

One of the most effective ways of ensuring peace during elections is when Nigerian mass media practitioners can practice the Farness Doctrine and the Equal Opportunities Rule. Originally American in concept, these doctrines have gained worldwide acceptance in recent times. The fairness doctrine requires every broadcast station to provide balanced and pair coverage of controversial issues of public interest. According to the Equal Opportunities Rule, political candidates should be given equal treatment on the air. If an individual or group is attacked over the wireless or where a situation exhibits tendencies that endorse or oppose a candidate for public officer, that radio or television station is required by law within one week after the attacked to transmit the group or person attacked.
(i) notification of the broadcast
(ii) a script or tape of the broadcast and
(iii) an opportunity to respond over the license’s facilities.
Should an individual or group be denied such opportunities they can seek redress through the regulation body as has been constitutionally provided.
Theoretical Frame Work
This work is anchored on Agenda setting theories of the press Agenda setting theory does not give the media the ultimate power to determine what the public think, but it does give them the power to determine what the public should be thinking about. In this theory (Agenda setting) the media can bring to the knowledge attention to the events. Mutere (2006:27) demonstrated that the case of Ethiopian famine in 1984, and the ability of the one conscientious media man, Mohamed Amin to see and act to get people thinking about famine, represent the more positive contributions of electronics journalisms agenda setting function.
In Ojobor, Lippman (2006:21) captures that the media help to put pictures in our heads which explains the power of media to set the agenda and raise issues of public importance.
Agenda setting is a way in which the media can have an effect on the public. By display of news media determine the issues the public think and talk about it. But when the agenda setting is not properly used by the media can have negative effects on the society.
The relevance of this theory to this study is anchored on the ability of the media particularly radio/television to set public agenda. Thus radio/television through its enlightenment programmes can set in motion process that will determine what the people think about democracy and how to vote audible people and avoid election corruption. It is also hope that continuous focus and persistent approach and powerful enlightenment programmes on broadcast media. On negative effect of election corruption and the need to have money bags polities for sustainable democracy will change the people’s perception and attitude to politics in our society.
Conclusion and Recommendation
Democracy in Nigeria have survived since 1999 till date, that is not to say that there has been no problem since then. Ogbomidia views are that in a democratic rule, selfish and greedy politicians have bastardized, polluted and dehumanized the world definition of democracy.
Having come to that far one would need to acknowledge the contribution of the broadcast media in our country. This paper has X-ray the role of the broadcast media. How it can be used to sustain the Nigerian democracy. In the whole world their surveillance correlation and mobilization have been proven to sustain democracy.
Why should our case be different?
The world has discovered that democracies in different parts of the society realize the mass media especially broadcasting are a system of free competitive enterprise governed and managed within government regulation.

Politicians should understand that the call to serve is not a do-or-die affair. There is need to present yourself to the public and the political party in which one is contesting on the platform and in doing that there should be clear manifestos of the both political party, and the contestant.
The so called money base politics should be avoided and enlightenment campaign be introduced allowing the electorate to chose who they want.
During campaign the broadcast media be made available to all political parties to air their views.
The broadcast media should produce programmes of enlightenment in vanacular languages to enlighten the people on the danger of money politics.
The media (broadcast) role during campaign is that of educating the people but not bring conflict, there by informing the society on the negative of political issues, such as thuggery, harassment and killing.

Atim .T. (2010) The Media and Electoral Politics in Nigeria AT. Mishad Publishers, Makurdi.

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Konkwo, D.E. (2003). Role of the Mass Media in Mobilization the Nigeria Masses for peaceful Elections. In polimedia, Journal of Media and Politics in Nigeria, Enugu.

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Ogbemudia, S. (2003). “Democracy: Taking the Bull by the Horns” Tell, September, 11.


The broadcast media is popularly used by politicians to portray their political ambition. The media in this light have been a partner in progress serving as a gate way for disseminating these messages. The broadcast media has through the years served as a medium to convince and confuse the public to support and vote for candidates they actually did not want to vote for and allowed politicians to use them to confuse the public. This study looked at an over view of the broadcast media and ownership / Regulation of the broadcast media. The study is hinged on the agenda setting theory. Review of related empirical studies and review of related literature were made, then conclusion was made and recommendations given.

The broadcast media (with particular reference to radio and television) got recognition in 1956 and 1959 respectively. In 1956 the ordinance for the establishment of a corporation to be known as the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) came into existence and its functions include:
• It shall be the duty of the corporation to provide independent and impartial broadcasting services by means of wireless telegraph and by television for general reception within Nigeria.

• It at any time the Governor – General-in Council so requires, it shall be the duty of the corporation to provide like services for general reception in countries and places outside Nigeria. Any service so provided shall be called external in the country services.

• The corporation shall ensure that the services which it provides, when considered as a whole, reflect the unity of Nigeria as a federation and at the same time give adequate expression of the culture, characteristics, affairs and opinions of the people of each of the federation.
From the sections of the 1956 ordinance, the operational guidelines to regulate broadcasting in the country became immediately obvious that:
• It was to broadcast through radio and television

• It was to lay foundation for the establishment a few years later of the ‘voice of Nigeria’ to relay to those outside the country.

• It should adopt a programming mechanism that would reflect and enhance the unity of the federation of Nigeria.
Consequently, NBC zonal stations were established in Ibadan, Enugu, Kaduna and Lagos to provide Impartial broadcast services to the country. All these stations were owned by the federal government.
Radio broadcasting came into Nigeria first as wired broadcasting popularly known as radio distribution or “rediffusion system”. It provided for the relay of programmes by means of wires connected to the loudspeakers installed in homes of subscribers. The engineers of the Post and Telegraph Department in Lagos made efforts and introduced Wired Broadcasting in Nigeria through the Broadcast Relay Service of the BBC. While monitoring BBC test transmission, they carried out experiments on local broadcasting and decided on a central receiver for wired distribution of programmes from abroad was most possible.
The RDS stations were run by staff of both the Post and Telegraph and the Public Relations Department whose workers were wireless monitors and announcers who serviced and maintained the technical equipment and made local announcements. They planned the weekly programmes schedules, read the news and translated them into local languages. The RDS opened several offices in Kaduna, Enugu, Abeokuta, Calabar, Zaria, Port Harcourt, Jos and Ijebu Ode.

In 1959, the first television station in Africa was established in Ibadan by the Western Regional government in accordance with the fulfilment of the first demand of the 1956 NBC ordinance, which made room for television for general reception within Nigeria.
The politics of Nigeria just before independence placed premium on developing the regions rather than the centre. Television became the innovation that was to enhance the pace of regional development. Between 1960 and 1962, the ENTV in the Eastern Region, the Radio television Kaduna in the Northern Region and the NBC – TV known at that time as Nigerian Television Service (NTS) Channel 10 which was owned and run by the Federal Government, had already developed. The ENTV and WNBS – TV were owned and run by regional governments.
When the country was divided into 12 states in 1967, there was a proliferation of television which took a new dimension, when in 1976, the number of states increased to 19. This resulted in the emergence of a new regulation making allowance for state government to own television stations.
In 1977, a Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) was established to function separately as spelt out in the Military Decree No. 24 of 1979 as follows:
• To erect, maintain and operate television transmitting and receiving stations.

• To plan and co-ordinate the activities of the entire television network.

• To ensure an independent and impartial service which will operate in the national interest.

• To give adequate expression to culture, characteristics and affairs of the different parts of Nigeria.
However, Decree 8 of 1979 made definite moves to restructure the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation and this led to the establishment of the Federal Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN). The article establishing the FRCN focused more on the need for efficient broadcasting that would be based on national objectives and aspirations.
The FRCN was among others established to promote orderly meaningful development of broadcasting in Nigeria through technical improvements, the training of appropriate professional staff and programming and staff exchanges. That is why today, all states of the federation enjoy broadcast services of the federation, but the FRCN has resisted the clamouring to establish individual stations in the states. The Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) was almost drawn into the demand for extension television channels in the various states but was obviously limited by funds.
Ownership / Regulation of the broadcast media.
The broadcast media was strictly a government affair, either federal or state due to the fact that government recognized the broadcast media as being strategic and too important to be left in the hands of private individuals or organisations, coupled with the fact that it was too expensive for individuals to establish the broadcast media. But today, Nigeria can boast of a good number of wealthy individuals who own the broadcast media. Prominent among them are: Chief Raymond Dokpesi owner of African Independent Television (AIT) and Ray power as well as Ben Murray Bruce owner of Silver bird television.
The establishment of more stations, the government believe would ensure adequate formation of dissemination for the growth and sustenance of democracy. The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) regulates the broadcast media in Nigeria.
Over the years, the broadcast media is seen and has been used as a gateway, channel, outlet or purveyor to collect information from the electorate, analyse the situations and conditions for voting in a democratic dispensation, and in turn pass the information so gotten to the public. The mass media is responsible for telling the masses the dos and don’ts of electioneering. In this light, is obvious that the broadcast media and democracy work hand – in – hand.
Democracy cannot be taken for granted, it is a work in progress that depends on collective will and commitment of society if it is to establish firm roots and grow. The transition process beginning with the election of president Obasanjo is considered to be a basis for transition to real democracy.

Statement of the problem
The broadcast media (radio and television) is a dependable ally in conveying political messages to the public in order to create awareness in their minds and help them to form opinions on certain issues raised but the problem is that the media is not raising relevant issues that the public would like to know and they are being used to manipulate the news they present to the public which tend to be deceptive and confusing to the public.

Research questions
1. Do the broadcast media educate the public on important issues on democracy?
2. How has the broadcast media fared in giving political news to the public?
3. What kind of messages do they give to the public?

Definition of terms.
Democracy: Idowu, (2000: 23) views democracy as all about rule of law, respect for the views of others and the majority having its way while the minority is allowed to have its say.
Purveyor: the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English defines the term as a formal business that supplies goods, services, or information.
The media here is used as a source or an outlet for reception and dissemination of information and political news for the purpose of this paper.

Theoretical Framework.
The trust of this study is hinged on the Agenda Setting Theory.
The Agenda Setting theory was propounded by Maxwell McCombs and Donald L. Shaw in 1972/1973. The assumptions / principles of the theory are:
1. The mass media such as the press do not reflect social reality because news is filtered, chosen and shaped by newsroom staff or broadcasters.

2. People get their news from limited sources because people do not pay attention to all outlets; thus they rest on the mass media.

3. Few media agenda, which were chosen by professional gatekeepers, lead people to perceive given issues as important.
Agenda setting is the process of reflecting or mirroring issues in our society. (Asemah, 2009: 41). The media often set agenda for the public to follow by monitoring trends and events in the society and raise agenda based on what they have monitored. It is like the beating of the drum by the media and when the public listens to the beating, they begin to dance to the tune of the drum. This is so because whatever issue the media raises, becomes a matter of concern to the public.
The theory proposes that the facts which people know about public issues tend to be those which the mass media present to them. Also, the significance which they ascribe to the same issues tend to be proportionate to the amount of attention given to the same issues in the media.
It is assumed that the media sets agenda for our general discussion. The media may not always determine what we think, but what we want to think. But surprisingly, we tend to think most of those things the media highlights as important.
The agenda setting theory comes from a specific perspective, because it predicts that if people are exposed to the media, they will place importance on the same issues. (Anaeto, Onabajo, and Osifeso, 2008).
The following could be responsible for media agenda setting:
1. Using headline and picture display strategies to play up a report in the media.

2. The number of times an issue is reported.

3. Reports that give room for “points and counter points”
The broadcast media (radio and television) are important actors in agenda setting. For example, in the present democratic dispensation, radio Benue discusses issues on ‘Platform’ every morning on the forth coming election and the parties involved. This has become the issue of discourse among members of the public now.
Therefore, what the broadcast media present before the public, define what the people think about.
Through the broadcast media, we get to know certain issues that unfold in the society. The media, by laying emphasis on such issues make us to form certain opinion about such issues.

Title: Political scepticism as an impediment to the sustenance of Nigerian Democracy: the view of a sociologist in Politics.
Author: Dr. George Akume.
Year: 2004; an annual Alumni lecture at Ibadan.
He explained that:
there are of course some politicians who for reasons of self – interest or an inherent tendency towards negativism or both, exhibit political behaviour that bothers on the what I consider an extreme form of scepticism. To these politicians, once they fail to attain any political goal, they would rather bring down Armageddon than allow any other person to attain their goal. Such politicians resort to violence, subvert established procedures, trample upon the common good and are prone to resort to consulting shrines in order to achieve their selfish goals”.
He gave an example of a situation in which he was personally involved saying:
In the recent past, some dailies have carried sensational reports about political violence in Benue state. If one were not familiar with the true situation on the ground, one would indeed believe that the entire state was on fire. Yet the truth of the matter was that a few politicians who were defeated during the last general elections and had lost their cases in courts of law now resorted to violence to seek relevance. With the collaboration of hired hands in the media and elsewhere, they fomented violence in a section of one local government out of twenty three, which was then blown out of proportion in the vain hope that the federal government would be prevailed upon to declare a state of emergency in Benue state. The same group had earlier gone to the press to announce my obituary so are prepared to sacrifice the wellbeing of an entire state and with it the fate of our democracy.

Review of related literature.
In the view of Idowu (2000): “Democracy is a forum or an outlet to discuss issues and ideas affecting all and sundry. The press, in essence, is a market place of ideas”. He contends that,
the press, we all agree is supposed to monitor governance. It is supposed to uphold the responsibility of the government to the people. The people are superior to the government. The government is elected as a trustee of the traditional values of the people”.
Following this position, the people have the right to be properly informed about government activities holding the government accountable to the people.
Tony Momoh writing on “The press and democratic transformation”, opines that:

…it is to be expected that in the era we are in now, we should have an environment of open exercise of rights open performance of duties, of open debate and discussions of government plans and their implementation of all facets of governmental actions…
In this view, Momoh agrees that issues concerning government plans and performances should be discussed freely in a democratic dispensation such as now.
As for Oluyinka Esan writing on “Democracy: What paradigm for the Media?”, states that:
democracy is regarded as the government of the people, for the people, by the people. There is an assumption that there is a wide base of participation in a democratic society. The ultimate goal here is to promote equity, justice and fairness. For this to happen, it is necessary to have cooperation of all concerned. This means that they will have an understanding of the rules, and a healthy regard for others. For democracy to thrive, each participant must assume that all participants are rational and equal.
Democracy is a business that concerns other facets of the society and so all hands are to be on deck if democracy must strive in Nigeria.
According to Jinadu in his contribution on the net,
the problem with and about democratic politics in Nigeria is that we have replaced morality of politics with the politics of immorality. In order words, the country’s political class and Nigerians typically have failed to create and nurture in their approach to public affairs, the appropriate moral environment, and imbibe and demonstrate the facilitating moral precepts in the country.
Jinadu thinks that in order for democracy to work well, morality must be the watch word. This is so because the broadcast media workers operate under the auspices of ethics of journalism which is to guide them in the discharge of their duties.
As for Akhaine, he says: “my assessment is that we have not fared well at all. We are yet to attain transition to the rule of law. Since 1999 we have not had any free and fair elections. It is all about poll rigging and of course, the several election cases that are going on are evidence of any point being made”.
If the writer believes that poll rigging is the in – thing in Nigeria’s democracy, then the broadcast media has a lot of work to do to fish out such irregularities in electioneering.
He further added that:
“The media are responsible for connecting the different parts of society. They responsible for helping us understand each other better. The media are responsible for what we know of the others who may be far removed from us. When the media are silent on a section of society, we may imagine that they are not there, or that all is well”.
In the words of Sambe (2008:224) “Politicians through the media, initiate actions and expose them by way of agenda setting for public discourses. The public opinion warfare is regularly waged on various issues and personalities daily in the media”.
The broadcast media set the agenda for what the public discuss and help them to form public opinion.
According to Pate (2003:129) “one of the assumptions that ‘politics is a dirty game where rules and conscience do not matter as long as one can capture, retain or extend power’. Although much may have been achieved in this fourth republic, there is however, a huge amount of democratic deficiencies”.

Atim, (2010) supports this saying that: “in spite of the wide spread violation of the law, no state broadcast station was brought to justice to account for its discrimination against opposition parties”.

Following the trend of events in Nigeria during this democratic era, one would find out that the broadcast media has been greatly manipulated by politicians to deceive the public in so many ways with lots of manipulated information. The mind that is always undaunted with lots of manipulated information may eventually become a manipulated mind. The politicians of this democratic era are so much endowed with some political cleverness which they successfully utilise in the distortion of news.
The broadcast media have given room for politicians to use them to portray their selfish political desires to the public. The media is supposed to be a channel of dissemination of useful and truthful information to the public but unfortunately they have given room for politicians to use them for their selfish ambition giving false information to the public.
1. The broadcast media is commonly used by politicians to convince the masses to support them and vote for them. Hence, the media should uphold morality in discharging this function.

2. The broadcast media should not be partakers or participants in disseminating falsehood to the masses.

3. Broadcast media workers should do proper investigation before disseminating any political message.

4. The broadcast media should not consent to politicians to use them to confuse and deceive the public by giving them false information.

Akume, G. (2004) “Political Scepticism as an Impediment to the
Sustenance of Nigerian Democracy: The view of a Sociologist in Politics”. Annual Alumni academic lecture at University of Ibadan.

Anaeto, S. G.; Onabajo, O. S.; and Osifeso, J. B. (2008). Models
and Theories of Communication. United States of America: African Renaissance Books Incorporated.

Asemah, E. S. (2009). Principles and Practice of Mass
Communication. Jos: Great Future.
Atim, T. (2010) The Media and Electoral Politics in Nigeria.
Makurdi: At – Mishads Publishers.

Ciboh, R. (2007) Mass Media in Nigeria. Perspectives on Growth
and Development. Makurdi: Aboki Publishers.

Folarin, B. (1998) Theories of Mass Communication. Ibadan:
Stirling – Horden Publishers (Nig.) Ltd.

Idowu, L. (2000) “The Challenges of The Press in a Democratic
Dispensation”, in Arogunde, L. And Eitokpah, B. (Ed)
Media in a Democracy. Thoughts and Perspectives. Lagos: International Press Centre (IPC) and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES)

Momoh, T. (ibid) “The Press and Democratic Transformation”. In Arogundade, L.
and Eitokpah, B. (ed) Media in A Democracy. Thoughts and Perspectives. Lagos: International Press centre and Friedrich Ebert Foundation.

Pate, U. (2003) “Media Ethics in Political Reporting in the
Broadcast Media in Nigeria”. In Nwosu, I. (ed) Polimedia: Media and Politics in Nigeria. Enugu: ACCE (Nigerian Chapter) and Prime Target Ltd.

Sambe, J. A. (2008) Introduction to Mass Communication in
Nigeria. Ibadan: Spectrum Books Limited.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English. England: Pearson Education Limited.





This study, “The role of the broadcast media in Nigeria politics and democracy, seek to find answers to the questions of how the broadcast media enhance the prospect of democracy, by influencing people and what the role of broadcast media is in politics and democracy..
Using the “Social System”, and “development media theory”, the study say, the role of the broadcast media in politics and democracy is to provide the public with sufficient information about current political issues.

The power of the broadcast media is an asset to the government in some instances, and a stumbling block in others.
Mass media possesses a great ideal of influence in any society and Nigeria is not an exception. The broadcast media are able to use their own judgment when reporting current events. (Davis Richard 2009).
Universally, politics and democracy is one of the few most important subjects known to humanity in that it affects every thing and everybody. For close examination of the broadcast media according to Iwokwagh (2005) could reveal whether or not, politics and democracy has done more harm than good or not.
Umechukwu (2003) aptly captures the political character of Nigerian in this democratic dispensation by stating that “the word politics in Nigerian context conjures up images of power in domination and struggle to grab state apparatus”.
At the moment, a deep source of worry is on the mind of every rational thinking Nigerian, about the current practice of politics, for even with the coming of democracy since 1999, much has not really changed. (Iwokkagh 2005).

The mass media especially the broadcast media (radio and television) is the means by which the citizens of Nigeria are informed of current events in politics.
According to Justice Lewis F.(1974) “An informed public depends upon accurate and effective sporting by the news media. No individual can obtain for him self the information needed for the intelligent discharge of his political responsibilities”
It is no storying that television and radio reporting affects politics in Nigeria. This is largely because owners of broadcasting companies can choose which side of a view they want.
Hence, the media has a transforming effect on all aspect of Nigeria politics. The most important effects the broadcast media had on our political system today is within our foreign affairs and policy making.

The media has increased access to information, created more influence and opinion and finally has transformed the relationship between foreign policy and the press.
Furthermore, broadcast media has increased the awareness of foreign events to the Nigerians and of Nigeria of the world.
According to Davis R.(2009) satellite programming has had the biggest impact on increased awareness. For instance CNN is available in nations all over the world and regardless of where or who you are, you can keep up date on the current events of countries every where. This is helping to keep people updated and to create public opinion on matters of foreign affairs.
Umechukwu (2003) points that the positive role of the broadcast media in the development of democracy in Nigeria includes the right to freedom of speech and expression, as well as the freedom of the press, as a corollary of this right, represents fundamental values of the modern pluralist democracy. Without them many of the progresses achieved in the contemporary world could not be imaged. That is why all these rights must be defeated.
However, this right that were hard to acquired in the difficult process of democracy’s birth, are nowadays abusively exercised in subtle form by one of their major beneficiary which should have been one of their main defenders, the mass media.
Social democracy states that the freedoms of the press, as well as the freedom of expression are essential for the defense and development of democracy. The experience for the past ten years in Nigeria shows that, mass media (broadcast media) serve decisively in the construction of the civil society and in censuring, the authoritarian trends of some politicians or parties.
The broadcast media also correct and continue to correct the excesses, negligence’s and management errors in this country that has a consolidated democracy. (Udoakah.1996)
Without freedom of expression, and thus without the freedom of broadcast media, a democracy can not be conceived.
A free press sometimes makes difficult a democratic government’s life or the life of public personalities; it always makes a dictatorship impossible.
It must though be noticed that democracy is passing at present, through a crisis of growth and of adaptation to the new contemporary world realities. The causes of this crisis are;
(1) The inadequacy of the mechanism of the democracy developed in the national environment to the conditions of globalization.
(2) The occurrence, in the context of emergent globalization of social communities who, fearing they will not be able to adapt to the new conditions, are sensitive to the populist and national populist message.
(3) The weakening of the credibility and even of the efficiency of democracy’s classic mechanism because of the lack of transparency, electrification and commercialization of the political actions.

In democratic countries, a special relationship exists between the broadcast media and government. Although the freedom of the media may be constitutionally enshrine and have precise legal definition and enforcement, the exercises of that freedom by individual journalists is a matter of personal choice and ethics.
According to Christian et al (2004) modern democratic government subsist in representation of million by hundreds. For the representatives to be accountable and for the process of government to be transparent effective communication paths must exist to their constituents.
Today, these paths consists primarily of the broadcast media to the extent that, if press freedom disappeared, so would most political accountability.

It has been noted that democracy flourishes when the government can take legitimate steps to keep its secrets.
That being the case, what can be saying to be the role of media in contemporary democratic society?

This study seeks to provide answers to the following questions.
(1) How does the broadcast media enhance the prospect of democracy, by influencing people to take advantage of government?
(2) What is the role of broadcast media in politics and democracy?
(3) What strategy and approaches can be use by broadcast media to sustain or provide the public with sufficient information about political issues?

(1) Politics
Public affairs of a country or a given society.
(2) Democracy
A system of government in which all the eligible people of a country can vote elect their representatives.

(3) Broadcast Media
Communication to large group of people through radio and television.
(4) Enhance.
To increase the qualities and values of the society.
(5) Influence
The ability to affect somebody’s belief or actions.
(6) Government
The governing body of a country.
(7) Role
The function of a broadcast media
(8) Information
Provision of facts or knowledge about something.
(9) Authoritarian.
Execercising dominion or demanding strict obedience to authority or higher powers.

A search of literature shows that studies have dealt with politics and democracy, and the role of the broadcast media.
Iwokwagh S. N (2005) conducted a study of the politics of Nigeria’s fourth Republic and government owned broadcast media. Using the survey method, find that the broadcast media serves a lot of purpose, especially to provide the public with sufficient information, about current political issues. He concludes that broadcast media demonstrates that the influence that media have on government and public opinion is great.

The theoretical framework of this study has both the sociological angle and an angle of communication. The “social system theory”. Holds that a society is like a system which is made up of many parts with each of these parts contributing to the overall maintenance of the whole. (Light and Weller, 1982 in I wokwagh 2005).
This theory particularly establishes the interplay between the broadcast media and the political machinery within the society.
Further more, apart from the sociological angle, this study also derives a measure of its theoretical strength from the “Development media theory” the theory according to Mcquall (1987) is of the notion that the media among other things must accept and carry out development task in line with nationally established policy.
Also, that media should give priority in news and information to link with other developing countries which are close geographically, culturally or politically. (Folarin 1998).

On the issue of the role of the broadcast media on politics and democracy, there are many unanswered questions. This study haonly provided answers to some of this numerous questions.
In order to sustain development in politics and maintain a democratic society through the help of the broadcast media, with a view to ascertain a good relationship between the press, politics and democracy.
On the whole, the role of the broadcast media in politics and democracy is to provide the public with sufficient information about current political issues.
The broadcast media also, not only enhances the prospect of democracy and politics by influencing people to take full advantage of the government, but gives the public the opportunity to be heard. (Lippman, Chomsky, Lewis 2010). In view of this, the following are recommended;
– The broadcast media in trying to sustain and develop democracy to stand on her two feet’s, should always ensure objective reporting.
– Furthermore, the broadcast media is one of the mouthpiece of the public through which the down trodden can be heard, so the broadcast media should always ensure that they carry the public along.

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Iwokwagh. N. (2005) The Politics of Nigeria’s Fourth Republic and Government – Owned Broadcast Media. The Issue of News Manipulation. Makurdi: Aboki Publishers.

Christain, Clifford. G. Wilkins (2004) Media Ethics: Issues and Cases, 5th ed. Mc Graw-Hill. Retrieved from,

Davis R. (2009) The Press and American Politics. Retrieved from,

Lippman, Chomsky, Lewis (2010) The Broadcast Media Responsibilities During Election. Retrieved from,

Mcchesney R. (2009) Media and Democracy: The Emergence of Commercial Broadcast. Retrieved from; media-en.html.

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Udoakah, N. (1996) Government and the Media in Nigeria (2nd ed). Calabar: Centaur Publishers’ ltd







The study “The Role of the Broadcast Media in a Democratic Dispensation” is aimed at examining the roles played by the broadcast media and the extent to which those roles are performed in the face of government reprisal and harassment. The paper recommends an urgent need for media practitioners to understand the people, issues, events, and trends in their communities for proper enlightenment of the citizenry.

The concept of democracy has been associated with a system of government usually involving freedom in various aspects of political life, equality among citizen, justice in the relations between the people and the government in the participation of the people in choosing their leaders. It is a collective endeavour which requires interpreters from different viewpoints, where no individual interpreter assumes the competence to grasp the whole truth or meaning.
The activities of the government in power and the political parties need to be communicated to members of the public for them to be aware, enlightened as well as be able to make rational decisions. This is where the mass media especially the broadcast media comes to play.
The broadcast media plays a vital role in any given society, be it in a military or in a democratic dispensation; developed or developing. This is because the mass media are expected to protect the interest of the citizens by monitoring and reporting on the inadequacies of government policies as well as protecting their rights. They offer a platform for the exchange of ideas and also function as channels through which popular will, support and active participation is achieved.
It is the intention of this paper to examine the role of the broadcast media in a democratic setting like Nigeria.

Statement of the Problem
The broadcast media in Nigeria have faced serious government reprisal over the years due to their role as a watchdog of the society. The broadcast media have been so muzzled up that the owners of these outfits and other persons who work there are often faced with the fear of arrest, harassment, termination of appointment for government owned stations, revoking of license or even death.
The broadcast media with a lively tradition of independence and outspokenness take their professional responsibilities seriously and insist on them even in the face of government reprisal and harassments. They see it as a duty to carry out their sacred obligation of providing a free market place of ideas for their audience.
This paper therefore, seeks to examine the roles played by the broadcast media under a democracy even in the face of the above situation.

Research Questions
The study sought to find out:
1. What are the roles of the broadcast media in a democracy?
2. To what extent are these roles achieved in view of government reprisal?

Definition of Terms
Broadcast Media
The term broadcast media refers to the various electronic systems of modern communication that make the dissemination of information possible. These include: television, radio, film or cinema, internet.

This concept is defined as the government of the people, by the people and for the people.

Review of Related Literature
The broadcast media have had a distinguished record of contributing to the struggle for democracy and human rights in Nigeria dating as far back as the era of the fight for independence, in the immediate post-independence and the military eras.
The main role of the broadcast media in a democracy is to keep the public informed about government activities. This major pre-occupation of the broadcast media is referred to as the watchdog or surveillance role. The media serves as the eyes and ears of the public. It exposes political corruption at all levels of government. This function Egbon (2001) notes is easier conceived than delivered. He stressed that there is hardly any government that will concede to reveal all its secrets to the glaring light of press investigation.
He further asserts that this is evident in the fact that a probing press in the true spirit of its professional calling wishing to pry into all the activities of government in order to ensure proper functioning, is sure to collide with such government. Sambe (2005:175) concurred with the above fact when he wrote that this role, more often than not, leads to a conflict situation between the government and the media as the government always have some information they want to conceal whereas the media by virtue of their social responsibility to the society insist on publishing, especially to ensure that the interest of the nation supercedes any other interest.
The watchdog role can be seen to have been bestowed upon the media by the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (Chapter II, section 22) to monitor governance, hold government accountable to the people and to ensure that the citizenry are governed according to the provision of the constitution. However, to enjoy the freedom and adequately carry out its function of checking the excess of government, the broadcast media need to be free from all forms of government control. Only then will it be able to check on government and the society as expected.
Sambe (2005:38) in agreement with this fact noted that:
In performing its watchdog or surveillance function, therefore, the mass media in Nigeria keeps watch over the government, its three arms and the entire society, so as to keep their performances up to the expected standard that would encourage the development of the country.

In essence, it is important that all channels of the mass media enjoy the free will to publish or express opinions without interference by the government which it is supposed to check.
Egbon (2001) observes that the watchdog role of the media results in an adversarial relationship between it and the government. According to him, the genesis of the so-called adversarial relationship between government and the media arises from the question of who checks on the press that is not really elected like the government, which the people elected to represent them. To avert this so-called adversarial relationship between the two institutions, the broadcast media should exercise caution in their reporting of news events.
Iwokwagh (2009:99) notes that the mass media act as a mirror that reflect society to society, and as a result, serve as a gauge for measuring the level of social, political and economic development in the society. He further noted that the rationale for such reflection is to enable society evaluate where it is going and to make adjustments where necessary.
Another role of the broadcast media especially in a nascent democracy like Nigeria is that of a national unifier. The media have been known to make or mar democracy, to promote a regime’s programmes or bring about its downfall (Bilkisu, 2009). As a national unifier, the press played fissiparous role in the struggle for political hegemony by the various ethnic groups shortly after independence. Egbon (2001:50) asserts that:
As a matter of fact, the Nigeria press started losing its zeal for the “collective freedom” fought against the British colonial administration and became fragmented along political, regional and ethnic lines. Consequently, the press was no more a weapon for safeguarding and protecting the democracy fought for instead, it became an instrument used by the powers that be to satisfy their sectional whims and caprices.

Suffice to say that the major preoccupation of the broadcast media under the Nigerian democracy as the national unifier should be to unite the people, bring them news and explanations of government activities and how they can join to participate in national development. It should stand unequivocally in defence of human rights and justice. Dare (2009) asserts that the political class may pontificate as much as it wishes about national unity or other forms of unity, but it is justice that unites.
The broadcast media also serve as agenda setters. As agenda setters, the broadcast media emphasize democratic themes thereby making the public to think and talk about democracy. They make the citizens to know that democracy matters; that contrary to the belief in some quarters that democracy is a luxury to be pursued only after personal or national interest has been achieved, the best authorities hold the view that there can be no real development without democracy.
Mile (2009:77) in support of this view notes that, public dependence on the media also gives them the power to set political or democratic agenda and determines which issues will be the subject of public debate. He further asserts that through the mass media, Nigeria may both be united and subjected to stress by the ways in which government policies and programmes are supported or called into question. He however warned that since the mass media are the only source of news for most individuals, the presence of democratic or special bias in the media may have profound effect.
Iwokwagh (2009:98) acknowledged the significance of the above in the capacity of the mass media to dictate, shape, direct and positively influence the course of public thinking by giving emphasis on specific issues they consider important.
In a democratic rule, the broadcast media also undertakes an important role of mobilization. The media mobilizes the masses through persuasive communication to join forces with government, by way of getting committed to, as well as being involved in the prosecution of development programmes for which their participation is imperative. This is mostly achieved through programmes broadcast on radio and television stations aimed at eliciting audience participation and support. For example Electoral Half Hour and Tuesday Live both on Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) network.
The broadcast media also plays the role of status conferral. It is the duty of the media to subject candidates for public office to close scrutiny, beaming the spotlight on those who performed very well or poor in difficult circumstances, thereby raising public consciousness that such officials have shown or failed to show a potential leadership in a broader context (Dare, 2009). Sambe (2005:60) observed that not only do the media grant recognition to individuals; they also legitimize the status of organizations and movements.
Dare however, warns that the press must not rush to confer leadership or status on persons who do not possess track records. According to him, when the media confer spurious prizes on the very officials and institutions they are supposed to keep in check, they become cheerleaders, boosters as well as enablers and they put their credibility on the line. He further advised the Nigerian media in this democratic dispensation to be “slow to canonize and even slower to demonize”. The broadcast media playing this role is seen as a chief intermediary between candidates and the public whose major responsibility is to help recruit and test the leadership.

Theoretical Framework
This study finds explanation in the social responsibility theory of the mass media. The theory was articulated in 1947 by the Hutchins Commission report on a free and responsible press. Sambe (2009:113) notes that the social responsibility theory accepts the role of the press in servicing the political system, in enlightening the public, in safeguarding the liberties of the individual, in servicing the economic system (provided democratic processes are not harmed) and in providing good entertainment.
Under this theory, people’s opportunity to get information should not be impaired. They should be exposed to all kinds of information and opinions and should be allowed to make decisions. According to the theory, the media should be free but responsible. The media have a sacred obligation to provide a free market place of ideas for its audience with a sense of responsibility and commitment to the stability of the society.
According to Siebert et al cited in Sambe (2009:113) the theory posit that the government must actively promote freedom; that it should intervene only when the need is greater and the stakes are high; and that it must specially protect freedom of expression because it is a moral libertarian concept.
The main duty of the media operating in such a theoretical atmosphere is to raise conflict to the plane of discussion and ensure that the public gets the right information that will enable them make informed decision.
McQuail cited in Baran and Davis (2008:114) summarized the basic principles of social responsibility theory as follows:
i. Media should accept and fulfill certain obligations to society.
ii. These obligations are mainly to be met by setting high or professional standards of informativeness, truth, accuracy, objectivity and balance.
iii. In accepting and applying these obligations, media should be self-regulating within the framework of law and established institutions.
iv. The media should avoid whatever might lead to crime, violence, or civil disorder or give offence to minority groups.
v. The media as a whole should be pluralist and reflect the diversity of their society, giving access to various points of view and to rights of reply.
vi. Society and the public have a right to expect high standards of performance, and intention can be justified to secure the, or a, public good.
vii. Journalists and media professionals should be accountable to society as well as to employers and the market.

This paper has shown that the broadcast media plays very prominent role in any democratic dispensation. The media in democracy deals with why and how societies generally are or what they should be for the conscious transformation of the present, so as to secure a better future.
It is evident from the foregoing that the broadcast media with a lively tradition of independence and outspokenness take their professional responsibilities seriously and insist on them even in the face of government reprisal and harassments.

It is recommended that to effectively play its role as the watchdogs and promoters of democracy, there is an urgent need for media practitioners to acquire a deep understanding of the people, issues, events and trends in their communities for a proper information, education and enlightenment of the people about democracy as well as hold government accountable to the people.
The media should be allowed to discharge their rights of enforcing accountability of government to the citizens as democracy depends upon a literate knowledgeable citizenry whose access to information enables them to participate as fully as possible in the public life of society and to criticize unwise or oppressive government officials or policies.

Baran, J.S. and Davis, K.D. (2008) Mass Communication Theory: Foundations, Ferment and Future, 5th Edition. USA: Wadsworth Cengage.
Bilikisu, H. (2009) “Journalism Ethics, Democracy and Human Rights in Nigeria”. A paper presented at a workshop in Abuja on Journalists and the Struggle for Democracy and Human Rights in Nigeria, 7-8 October. Retrieved 13/5/2010 from
Dare, O. (2009) “Narrating the Nigerian Story: The Challenge of Journalism”. A speech delivered at the Second Edition of the Wole Soyinka Lecture Series at Lagos, 13th July. Retrieved 13/5/2010 from
Egbon, M. (2001) Democratic Journalism in Two Worlds: A Comparative Study of Press Freedom in the American and the Nigerian Mass Media. Zaria: Tamaza Publishing Co. Ltd.
Iwokwagh, N.S. (2009) “The Mass Media and Mass Mobilization in a Democracy: The Nigerian Experience” in Keghku, I. and Melladu, B.E. (eds) Topics in the Mass Media and Public Relations Practice in Nigeria. Makurdi: Aboki Publishers.
Mile, T.J. (2009) “Mass Media, Democracy and National Reconciliation in Nigeria: Perception, Crisis and Options” in Keghku, I. and Melladu, B.E. (eds) Topics in the Mass Media and Public Relations Practice in Nigeria. Makurdi: Aboki Publishers.
Sambe, A.S. (2009) “Sycophancy and Journalism Practice in Nigeria” in Keghku, I. and Melladu, B.E. (eds) Topics in the Mass Media and Public Relations Practice in Nigeria. Makurdi: Aboki Publishers.
Sambe, J. (2005) Introduction to Mass Communication Practice in Nigeria. Ibadan: Spectrum Books Ltd.




The study sets to ascertain the exact nature and potency of the broadcast media in the area of mass mobilization for responsible participation in electoral processes via careful review of valid and qualitative documentations in form of related and empirical literature, it was exposed that a significant relationship exists between broadcast media contents and mass participation in electoral processes, and that if not handled carefully, information disseminated for mass consumption during the volatile periods of electioneering campaign is capable of stimulating interests, passion, and evoking emotions that could even resort to heated crisis or violence, thus marring the credibility of the country’s electoral processes. Consequently, the study recommends fair reportage and coverage of all political interests, factions and parties in an objective and constructive manner to reduce tension and promote peace and that equal access be availed candidates in the quality of broadcast contents to prevent imbalances in the information dissemination process by aspiring for completeness, accuracy and full information to help place the masses on a better pedestal for making informed, electoral/voting decisions.

One of the most volatile moments in the life of every nation or country is the period of transition from one government to the other.
It is termed volatile because there are often always several interests who constitute themselves into formidable structures for the ultimate goal of gaining access into distinguished positions of authority.
In a democratic society, this is done via heated electioneering campaigns.
The potency and relevance of the broadcast media during this era/season is tied to its ability to reach a large number of scattered audience members simultaneously with excerpts or concrete information about the activities of the candidates, interest groups, events and issues particularly during periods of election.
The media is thus arrogated the almighty responsibility of mobilizing the masses for responsible participation in electoral processes.
The quality of the information conveyed to the public members by broadcast media structures is capable of encouraging and stimulating massive participation in electoral processes and for stalling the credibility of such processes too. But the biased, inaccurate and one sided coverage of electioneering campaigns and the projection of certain candidates, political groups in the manner that exonerates them high above the others is capable of inflaming deep dated crisis that can escalate into bloody disputes in the quest to exert relevance, competence and achieve political objective or goals.
The immediate task of political mobilization Okafor (2000:105) submits must be anchored on the how to ensuring that the environment and activities of partisan politics contribute towards the realization of the major objectives of natural developments through establishing awareness and civil liberty.
Pate (2003:129) submitted that political reporting is very necessary for the sustenance of democracy, where the system of checks and balance is required for good governance. It affords the media the opportunity to scrutinize the actions, failures and misdeeds of office holders for the general good of the society.
And Nimmo and Combs (1992) aptly captured that the mass media “historically are the ultimate instruments of democracy destined to unite, educate and as a result improve the actions and discussions of the polity.
Though emphasis is largely laid on the media generally the broadcast media is the point of convergence.
The mass media whether print or broadcast and politics share a symbolic relationship. Politics insinuate the craze for power or positions of authority and as such depends on the media for effective and maximum publicity while the media in her watchdog and surveillance function owes the society the obligation of ensuring its objective reflection with politics as a substantial part of the composition of that which is to be mirrored hence public interest.
But apart from informing us about societal happenings, Mcnair (2000) in Pate (2003:129), go a step further to order and structure political reality allotting greater or lesser significance according to their presence or absence on the media agenda. This attitude most often than not has proven to be the sole reason responsible for the escalation of serious political issues/crisis in the country which in some extreme cases, resorted to monumental loss of lives and property at the expense of national development.
Research questions
1. To what extent should the broadcast media be involved in political reporting?
2. Is there any significant relationship between broadcast media contents and mass mobilization for participation in electoral processes?
3. Are peaceful elections a product of broadcast media contents?
Operational definition of terms
Ø Broadcast media contents: this phrase simply put, refers to the programme contents and or elements of a broadcast station (a radio outfit, television house) that make up the composition of a broadcast stations contents e.g. news, drama, films, documentaries, discussions, interview, talk shows and etc.
Ø Mobilization: it means to rally for a purpose or to gather together people for service via full information, persuasion and exposition of reason.
Ø Peaceful elections: the democratically inflamed selection of individuals by consensus demonstrated through voting in a free and fair manner devoid of rancour and undue manipulation.
Heated arguments do arise as to whether or not the media should be deeply involved in the business of politicking and if yes, what should be the limit of their level of involvement.
Justifying the essence for the involvement especially of the broadcast media in the process of politics, Kmyuiar (2005:72) said politics is the most crucial of all human activities that arouses several and or divergent interests and stimulates a chunk of public interest and inflames curiosity thus the flexibility of language only visible in the broadcast media especially radio makes it a more potent medium in the effective mobilization of Nigerians for participation in the electoral processes aside fully keeping them adequately informed about political events, issues, activities, parties, interest groups, candidates and many occurrences.
Collaborating the above line of argument Nkarthy (2000:75) said the broadcast media because of its advantage of portability, wide reach and accessibility it appeals chiefly to the elite who are purely the stake holders on the natural political discuss, once they are convinced via reason and intelligent application of apt appeals they take it upon themselves as opinion leaders to convince those who look up to them to allow full expression to political openings/opportunities availed via proper participation.
Keghku (2003:41-42) submitted 7 basic strategies as the roles of the broadcast media relevant and applicable even to the discuss focus.
1. Reporting the activities of government and public affairs should be natural and fundamental.
2. Understanding that journalism is a public service.
3. Understanding that journalism is anchored chiefly on the inherent natural right of the individuals to know the truth about what affects them and to access such truths via the media without hindrance.
4. Understanding that journalism also functions as a platform for public discourse thus all ideas, interests be accommodated
5. They (the media) function as gatekeepers over the public’s interests and should have public good as the ultimate goal.
6. That the onus is on the media practitioners to free their consciences from the clutches of the past. Re-educating the leadership and their managements about the need to operate within the legal ambience of the constitution.
7. For the effective implementation of the above, the media could play an advocacy role for itself.
Plate (2003:106) submitted that the mass media are regarded as the essential tool for social change, social mobilization and multi-directional public policy advocacy campaigners for winning or losing elections particularly at the grassroots where we have over seventy percent of the entire population.
The above elucidations are all pointing towards the efficacy of the broadcast media in mass mobilization and in this case for political participation via peaceful election.
Regardless of the potency of the media which is hardly contestable a crop of reasons could conspire frustrate or impact the quality of the broadcast media contents capable of the mobilization e.g. ownership, influence, operating conditions, individual interests, loyalty, corruption etc.
Theoretical framework
The study after very thorough scrutiny arrived at the choice of one very popular media theory upon which to anchor this discuss thus;
The agenda setting theory: here the mass media is believed to be capable of setting in motion issues of public discuss from the consistency of emphasis on such issues in the quality of its contents.
The relevance of the theory here is buried in the fact that, the quality of broadcast media contents reaching the public could help develop and or contribute to the whether or not of their involvement in electoral processes.
The theory therefore, justifies the focus of the discuss which is anchored on the premise that the broadcast media contents are capable of influencing the nature or quality of public participation in the elections via mobilization –prevailing on a people to embrace, accept, see the need and or essence for their involvement in an issue of public relevance- in this case elections.
1. That broadcast media coverage of political issues be guided by facts, accuracy and objectivity.
2. That only properly trained journalists schooled in the ethics of the profession be allowed to handle political beats.
3. That mass mobilization for any cause of action must be effected via persuasion, logical submissions but not by cohesion.
4. Broadcast journalists must ensure adherence to the principles of accuracy, coherence, consciousness, clarity and simplicity.
5. That equal access should be given to all political interest, factions, interest and candidate to help ensure a levelled playing ground for all.
6. Journalists should always endeavour to understand properly the environment began going about the promotion of some candidates, or political parties in such environments.
7. Only appropriate words should be selected to help convey political information. So that interests, and political groups would not be offended hence- multiplicity of political groups abound in the country.
The role of mobilizing the masses for political participation is a huge one that is very sensitive too. Thus the broadcast journalists must be careful, adroit, tactful, investigative and above all accommodating to ensure that all forms of bias, sycophancy and other practices inimical to effective political reporting are done away with to pave way for a more effective and impactful mobilization endeavours in the quality of broadcast contents.

Okafor, O. (2003) Mobilizing Nigerian Masses For Peaceful
Elections: role of the mass media and communication practitioners, (Ed) Nwosu, I. (2003) Polimedia, Enugu; Prime target limited.
Keghku, I. (2003 The Role of the mass media in politics,(Ed) Nwosu, I. (203)
Polimedia Enugu; Prime Targets limited.
Pate, U. (2003) Media Ethics In Political Reporting On the Broadcast Media In
Nigeria; (Ed) Nwosu, I. (2003) Polimedia, Enugu; Prime Targets.
Kmyutar, C. (2005) Responsibility and Ethical Reasoning in the Press, Nairobi,
TopZest Publishers.
Nimo and Combs (1992) Quoted In Mcnair, B. (2000) Introduction To Political
Communication, London; Routlege.







The paper exhaustively discussed the broadcast media and the Nigerian politics. The paper was anchored on the Agenda- setting theory of the mass media. The theory holds that the mass media emphasizes the issue that would want to raise plane of discussion on. The paper also looked at the enlighten role of the mass media with specific reference to politics, the paper concludes that in spite of the stress encountered, the media should not violate, but report objectively.

In most advanced industrialized societies, the mass media are integral part of political life, though not as centrally as once prophesized by Lord Northcliffe, who believed that the independent media would be one of the future forms of government (Golding, 1974).

The politician relies solely on the mass media to get their manifestoes across to the electorates. They equally on the mass media to get information from the party and other aspirants to enable them reposition them selves.

The political system of a society as a matter of fact must necessary pass through the mass media to be able to reach out effectively to her members and supporters.

In most cases, information that are to be passed to members of political party from its national headquarters would need through the mass media, this information gets to the state and local chapters of the party’s structures.

Such messages are either those that are postponing earlier scheduled events or calling on members of the party to carry out a duty or activity within a short tome which is in for of emergency.

The media in its quest to serve the public, politicians alike research and make available information about aspirants, their educational qualification, their working experience, level of exposure and other aspect of their lives for the people to examine and take a decision. The politicians and aspirants are also given the opportunity to sale themselves through the mass media organized activities.

It could be on a television or radio discussion programme and even a news commentary for both radio and television. In Nigeria, the mass media cover a lot of political activities, whether invited or not.

This is because, majority of people have so much interest in politics. They want to know what is happening within the political cycle and power is been played.

Owing to this fact some media stations and media houses have political correspondences who take vivid account of political news both in the executive and in the parliament, some media organizations have equally created air time for political programmes, while some news papers and magazines have special columns for and columnist for political activities.

The NTA air a political programme called “inside the senate” it is a political programme which chronicles the activities at the upper chambers of the house of parliament. At the state level Radio Benue Makurdi also present platform, a radio programme that high lights the political activities in the state. The mass media as a mater of fact has done a lot for the political development within and even out side the state.

Radio and Television are probably the most powerful propaganda mediums yet discussed. As a potential for aiding or injuring civilization in the present democratic dispensation, in addition to supplying verbal messages through dialogues, the media like ‘television’ provides an instantaneous accompanying visual messages that supplies the viewer with a picture to bulwark what has been learnt through language.

Question at stake is “does these media (radio and television) provides useful information to the politicians as they expect? The problem here lies between media coverage of political activities and how these media relates with the politicians and the society in their reportage.

The write- up there fore seeks to provide answer to the following questions:
1. Can we attribute social change to the media messages?
2. Do the broadcast media (radio and television) enhance people’s participation in politics?

Broadcast media: These refer to the various systems of modern communication that make information consumption possible, they include radio, television and of course the internet (electronic media) Charles Nyiyongu Ngusha (2010).

Politics: The activities involved in getting and using power in public life and being able to influence decisions that affect a country or society.(party politics).

A search through political textbooks confounds the student with numerous definitions, stating that politics is the process of making and execution of governmental decisions and policies, the authoritative allocation of values or who gets what, when and how, the quest for power, order or justice, the act of influencing, manipulating and controlling others, a process of resolution of conflicts in society and a struggle among actors pursuing conflicting desires on public issues. Politics activity (negotiation, argument, and discussion, application of force, persuasion, and so on) by which an issue is agitated and settled.

The Greek concept of politics more accurately refers to a process by which men debates on maters concerning the ‘polis’ that is political community, and take actions in an attempt to realize the public interest or the common good.

Thus politics is seen as controversy, a process of resolution of conflicts through discussion, bargaining and compromise.

For Weber (1947:145) politics is the operation of the state and its institutions. Politics for him means to share power or striving to influence the distribution of power among individuals and group within a state.

Lass well thus define politics as the shaping and sharing of power.

This study is anchored on Agenda Setting theory: Agenda setting theory implies that the mass media pre- determines what issues are regarded as important in a given society. Agenda – setting theory does not ascend to the media the power to determine what they actually think, but it does ascribe to them the power to determine campaigns.

Folarin (1998:68) states the elements involved in Agenda setting theory to include:
The quality of frequency of reporting, prominence given to the reports through headlines display, pictures and layout in newspapers, magazines, film, graphics or timing on radio and television.

The degree of conflicts generated in the report and

Specific cumulative media efforts overtime.

Furthermore, Land and Lang (1960) in Folarin ibid drew attention to two important factors in agenda setting theory.

The reciprocal effect concerned with the very presence of media at the scene of an event and

The land slide effects, which refers to the (usually exaggerated) impression created by the kind of media handling or reporting, waving, crowd ovations, booing.

Severing and Tankard, (1992) in Soolan and Alamode (2007:3) comment that the mass media in its function to call attention to certain items and such items gain prominence among the audience as the prevalent issues to thrilled talked about.

It is assumed that the mass media possesses this power as a result of its surveillance (information provision) function, correlation function (selective criticism and interpretation) function, transmission of culture (socialization/education) function and entertainment (respite/relaxation) function.

Severing and Tankard (1992) in Soolan and Alamode (2007) asserted that as a result of criticism and continuous research, the agenda setting theory has been reviewed into agenda building to indicate that matters reported in the media do not instantly become prominent on the list of what the public think and talk about, but a process that takes and goes through several stages.

The process highlights some evnts activities and makes them standout.
Different kinds of issues require different kinds and amount of news coverage to gain attention.

The events and activities in the focus of attention must be framed and given a field of meanings within which they can be understood.

The language used by the media can affect perception of the importance of an issue.
The media link the activities or event that has become the focus of attention to secondary symbols where location on the political landscape is easily recognized.

Agenda setting is accelerated when well known and creditable individuals begin to speak out on an issue.

Finally, a prominent dimension in agenda setting theory is the suggestion that the press rather reflects societal realities as more like a search light, and where the search light is sinning ca be affected by the groups with special interest in an issue in the pseudo events created to get attention and by certain habits and rituals (practice) of journalism.

The relevance of the agenda setting theory to this topic is that the mass media most of the time initiate or ignite an issue for discussion which the society adopt and make it a subject of discussion and heated debate.

As it concern Nigeria plastics, the media not only propagate, promote and transmit or publish political events, activities and programmes but also keep politicians and their supporters abreast of what is happening around them including their political party activities and programmes. It further demonstrates that the mass media is the vehicle that conveys ideas, opinions and wishes of one segment of the society.

To show how relevant the broadcast media (radio, television and cinema) are in this present democratic dispensation; Ojete, (2008:58) assert that “there is therefore, an increasing global acceptance of media potency in effectively creating attitude on newly evolved issues, creating awareness for government plans and programmes as well as being a catalyst of change.

Unequivocally, Okpoo, (2003:76) avers that mass communication is highly effective in creating attitudes on newly evolved issues is indisputable. The political class, use the mass media effectively to reach out their political associates.

The politicians invite their supporters to a political campaign rally via the mass media. It could be through the electronic media or print media, bur basically they utilize the mass media of communication to advance their political course.

As explained above, through the various definitions of politics, mass media propagates the programmes, activities and policies of government. It is through the mass media that government activities and programmes are made known to the publics.

Assay and Adigu (2007:123) disclosed that ‘the mass media represent an institutionalized channel for distribution of social knowledge and hence a potentially powerful instrument of social control.

According to Gelding, (1974) “the media are central in the provision of ideas and images which people use to interpret and understand a great deal of their every day life”.

In the view of Cohen and Young (1973) the mass media provide a major source of knowledge in a segregated society of what the consensus actually is and what is the nature of the deviation from it. They conjure up for each group, with its limited stock of social knowledge of what every one else believes.

The media has become steadily more influential in defining reality in encouraging a common image of society. Communication media can be used to effectively inform large mass of people about a problem of public interest; they can inspire ideas and feelings, stimulate discussions and exchange of ideas and assist in forming or creating public awareness.

The media also inform the public about the impending political decision of political leaders. This exemplified in the aborted third term agenda of former president Olusegun Obasanjo. The mass media were consistently educating the generality of the mass audience of the society about the constitutional amendment which the issue of third term was major issue at stake.

According to Jason (1996:34) the mass media collaboration has not always translated to wholesale endorsement of government programmes. Rather, the mobilization efforts of the press have always included a thorough evaluation of such programmes and the presentation of alternative views.

Consequently, the government development projects programmes or planed actions are well evaluated and interpreted by the press to mean well for people, the effects, and most often would be positive response or reaction from people.

Whereas the effect of oppositional or alternative views, by the press could necessitate public agitations, rejections, complaints or passing a vote of no confidence by way of boycott of such government initiative by the people where their participation may be required.

In addition, the media are always critical of issues they consider are against the wishes of the people.

These worthy criticisms, it is believed, will enhance national development and growth of nation.

Apart from what happens in broadcast media; Sambe, (2005:174) disclosed that This Day news paper (Monday, April 17th 2000) in its editorial titled: The presidential jet Hoopla defended legislative arm of government that was pitched against the executive, over the trip of president Obasanjo to Cuba via a commercial aircraft. Apart from the editorial reads:

We agree with many that are embarrassing. But we refuse to follow the crowd. We are embarrassed for whole lot of other reasons outside the appeal to the national pride. We strongly believe that the president’s act smacks of blackmail.

And having followed this development with keen interest, we believe it is spilled with many unseemly details, the president deliberately chose the occasion and the timing with the motive of scoring political points.

The same edition of the news paper reported how Senator Arthur Nzeribe brought with him to the chambers of the upper House, different news papers, which accused senators of corrupt practices, especially in the award of contracts.

He moved a motion condemning the publications. The motion was seconded by Senator Victor Oyofo. Sequel to this development, some senators called for the proscription of the said news papers.

This however, did not go through, the media was so hated in the senate chambers were embraced before dusk, when the former senate committee chairman on public accounts, senator Mamman Ali, called a press conference disassociating himself from the finance and Appropriation committee in the year 2000 appropriation bill (Budget).
This indicates that the media is for the good of the society.

The mass media (especially the electronic media) report or provide information about the positive and negative government policies, programmes and activities.

The paper established that mass media is the megaphone through which government activities and programmes are communicated to the generality of the people. Owing to the definition of politics therefore, it is said to be the control and sharing of power which is invariably the formation and execution of government.

It should be noted however that politicians do rely solely on the mass media to get their manifestoes across to the electorates. They equally rely o the mass media to get information from the party and other aspirants to enable them reposition themselves.

As earlier noted, the political system of a society as a mater of fact must necessary pass through the mass media to be able to reach out effectively to her members and supporters.

It is through these mass media that the politicians and aspirants are given the opportunity to sale themselves.

In view of the above, the paper recommend that, the mass media should maintain a cordial working relationship with the government, but be firm in the execution of its surveillance to the society.

Anifowose, R. (1999), The Nature and scope of Political Science. In Anifowose, R. and
Enemuo, F. (Ed) Elements of politics.

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‘The Press in the Face of Good Governance’ as a paper looks at the Nigerian press in a democratic situation. Anchored on the relativity theory, the Nigerian press is discovered to reflect the Nigerian socio-political milieu of the middle-of-the-road kind of government, between the authoritarian and the democratic system of government. Some of the challenges of the media were identified and conclusions made.

Perharps we should start this work with a question. What relevance does the mass media have to the society? Relating this question to the functions of the mass media, Sambe, (2005, p. 37) states some of the functions of the mass media to include surveillance, correlation, entertainment, cultural transmission, status conferral and the narcotizing dysfunctional role of the press. Keghku, ( , p. 39) adds that,

‘…the mass media have the ability to promote national interest and certain behaviors…. The mass media is also expected to advance national interests in the in the sphere of politics, economy, sports, religion development, etc.’

Referring to development, the mass media have been a very active instrument used to achieve this feat. The press has been a potent tool for survival and sustainability of organizations and by extension, the society at large. (Udoakah, 1998, p. 3).the society is made up of many differing components which include the family, religion and religious organizations, educational institutions, corporate or individual organizations, government and the mass media. To achieve development, these components must be harmonized effectively. This responsibility has been put in the hands of the government who incidentally are also active components of a given society.
Government in a given society is charged with the responsibility of governance. By governance we, mean the act of governing and the exercise of political authority in directing people in the affairs of a state (Muazu 2005, p. 67). The dictionary meaning of the act of governing or to govern is to rule, guide, and control, decide or determine the affairs of a state. Some of the instruments used by the government to carry out their functions are the law, law makers and executors of law, law enforcements, and the mass media. Also referred to as the 4th arm of government, the press has been assigned specific duties in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Section 22 of this constitution provides that;

‘ The press radio, television, and other agencies of the mass media shall at all times be free to uphold the fundamental objectives contained in this chapter and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the government of the people.’

The basic responsibility of the press as stated above is to hold government accountable and responsible to members of the society. This highlights the importance of the press to governance of a given society.
Governance in a given society can take different forms. Monarchy, a government having a hereditary chief of state with life tenure and powers varying from nominal to absolute, is one. In Nigeria, the forms of government that have existed since independence are the civil rule and the military rule. The military rule is characterized by authoritarianism while the civil rule is characterized by democracy. A democratic regime followed independence in 1960 but was soon toppled by a coup de tat orchestrated by the military in 1963. This gave birth to the military era of the Nigerian government before 1999, when the 4th republic began. A republic is usually headed by a democratically elected President or Governor as the case may be. This brings us to the issue of democracy especially in Nigeria.
A democratic government is a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections. It entails popular representation and participation in governance. With its origin traced to Athens in Greece, over 2000 years ago its purpose focus and values is derived and positively directed at the service of the people that is members of the society, which includes the haves and the have-nots. For easier understanding we shall adopt the famous United States President, Abraham Lincoln for a definition, he stated that;

‘This land under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that the government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the face of the earth.’

In this dispensation, democracy is recognized as the government of the people, by the people, for the people through election of representatives through secret ballot in which citizens are allowed to freely vote for who ever they wish, and such representative becomes the voice of the people who voted for him (or did not vote for him) at his election until he is either not voted in again or is removed by a process legally set down by a country’s constitution, usually by a process of re-call.
In democracy and governance, the role of the press as mentioned earlier is that of responsibility and accountability. The mass media is responsible and accountable to the people, holding the government responsible to the people. A question now arises, which is, in Nigeria today, how much of these duties and responsibilities as defined above, have the mass media fulfilled?

The Nigerian press by virtue of section 22 of the Nigerian Constitution (1999) has been charged with the responsibility to hold the government responsible and accountable to the people especially in a democratically elected government.
This work seeks to unveil some of the challenges the press encounter in carrying out this duty. What hurdles must the Nigerian press cross to fulfill this duty to the society?

Some of the questions which this work seeks to answer include;
1. What challenges does the Nigerian press encounter as they carry out their social functions to the society?
2. Do these challenges affect their performance as a watch dog of the society?


The press: the press in this context is referring to all media for broadcasting which are the electronic media of radio, television, and the new media.

The mass media: this term has been used interchangeably with the press. For this work, both terms shall assume the same meaning.


This work is anchoring its discussion on the reflectivity theory. This theory says that the socio-political and social-economic ideology of a nation is reflective of the type of press system it operates. It follows logically that a nation that operates a democracy, its press, it is assumed, will be democratic and will operate based on the concepts of liberty, freedom, rationality, and the whole typology of the open market of ideas. While on the other hand, a nation that operates the authoritarian system of government, its press, it is assumed will be controlled and a restricted one. Under the authoritarian system of government, the press will be both conceptually and structurally “guarded” by the government. The press under this kind of government will be based on irrationality and strong ownership influence will be the absolute preserve of the government and the loyal party members.
The Nigerian situation is that of the “middle-of-the-road” category (Akinfeleye, R.1995, p. 14). It follows therefore that the Nigerian press takes some of its cues from the democratic principles and the rest from the authoritarian principles. The reason for this is that there is yet to be a clear cut political ideology for Nigeria. (Akinfeleye, R.1995, p. 14).

At this point, we shall examine briefly some literature as they are relevant to discussions on the topic. They include the concept of development communication, political communication, press responsibility in a democratic dispensation, the Nigerian position of a free press, and the challenges of the Nigerian press in the face of responsibility.

The term development communication, also referred to as ‘Dev Com’ basically entails communication aimed at positive change. It is a form of communication aimed at meeting the developmental needs of developing nations. By it nature, devcom seeks to anomalies, integrate necessary values and aims at bringing and sustaining development. These changes may or may not emanate form the mass media but the government in a given society is a very important factor for change. On the role of government in development communication, Udoakah (1998, pp.7-8) writes that;

‘Development communication consists of information about government plans and efforts to improve the standard of living of the populace; appeals to the citizens to adopt new ideas and ways of doing things; news of struggle for a better living and news of achievements to spur or inspire citizens for co-operation….’

A very viable tool discovered to be very potent for development communication is the broadcast media.

Communication on politics and political matters is a must in good governance and democracy. The government and members of society need information at every point in time. Quoting Lord Windlesham, Tracey 1977 in Udoakah (1998, p. 4) notes that political communication is;

‘…the deliberate passing of a political message by a sender to a receiver with the intention of making the receiver behave in a way that he might not otherwise have done. This definition contains … an intention to make the receiver respond in a particular way.’

The sender can be just any body, ranging from the governed to the government, politicians, political parties, and the mass media and so on. The aim is to spread a particular opinion with the sole aim of making such opinion popular and acceptable. All of these are geared towards development.
Just as in organizational communication, political communication channels include the family, interest groups, political parties, government agencies, opinion leaders and the mass media.

The mass media has fared relatively well in Nigerian democracy. Iwokwagh and Ijwo (2007, p. 6) notes that in Nigeria, the press have worked hard at discovering the “truth” and mobilizing the society towards worthy causes by presenting evidence and opinion as the basis for decision. These they note, have informed the position that the media play crucial roles in the political processes of democracy. Some examples include the ‘Buharigate’ saga in The News magazine, 10th July, 1999. In this report, the certificate and age falsification scandal surrounding the person of the erstwhile Speaker of House of Representatives, Alh. Salisu Buhari was reported and it consequently led to his removal as speaker and as member of the House.A more dramatic episode had to do with the former Minister of Education, Prof. Fabian Osuji, who was said to offer N55 Million to the former Senate President Chief Adolfus Wabara, and others to facilitate the passage of the budget proposal of his Ministry in the 2005 appropriation Bill. This led to their removal from office. (The Source, 2005, p. 17). Yet another account is the fraudulent behavior of the former Inspector General of the Nigeria Police Force, Chief Tafa Balogun who was removed, from office and prosecuted on the account of embezzling public funds. These are just to mention a few. It can thus be said of their social function that the Nigerian press has shown relative press freedom in “watchdogging” the government and its activities.
Although the press and government sometimes have different objectives, tension between them is inevitable; the right to criticize and expose excesses by the press in a democracy carries a corresponding on either sides, (Atim, 2010, p.16). For the press, their has been, among other things the challenges of loyalty. This is to say that the press has in some ways also, danced to the tune of the government of the day. As it has been typical of government owned media in Nigeria, “journalism of the government” that is the pro-government journalism is the norm. Atim (2010, p. 7) notes that;

‘Journalists are confined to praise singers, churning out shallow press statements that make headlines news while corruption, incompetence, economic mismanagement and human right abuse go unchecked.’

This goes to say, of the Nigerian press in democracy that ‘he that pays the piper dictates the tone.’


At this point we need to reiterate what the responsibility of the press is to the society. The most important of the journalists’ duty to the society is to present information that is truthful, factual, accurate, and balanced. This, the journalist owe the society. They are expected to put these journalistic values to use to bring about good governance, development and growth in democratic culture, among other things. Okoye (2003, p. 91) states that;

‘any polity where government does not allow the press enough freedom to perform its traditional role of watchdog will continue to pay the price in terms of having bad government, will lack development, stagnation and stunned growth of the democratic culture.’

This goes to say that in as much as the press has a responsibility to carry out to government and to the society, an enabling environment to work must be created. The press must be given relative freedom to carry out these duties. The question of the Nigerian situation of press freedom comes to focus.

Government in Nigeria has tried to control since independence. This is in a bid to prevent dissent and alternative opinion from gaining grounds in the society. Perhaps, the activities of the pre-independent press are a lesson to learn from. This goes to mean that the truth in situations not favorable to the government will be suppressed where it is possible to do so, or will be tilted to suit the government position. This is a challenge to the press in Nigeria in the face of democracy. Some more challenges the Nigerian press has to grapple with in a democratic government include;

The influence of proprietors of media outfits have been a major face up to the media in their bid to carry out their functions in the Nigerian society. It has been argued that “the mass media do not exist for a common good but as promotional fora for their proprietors and dossiers of short comings for their owners’ political and economic or social rivals. (Iwokwagh et al, 2007, p. 9). Udoakah (1992, p. 100) holds that;

‘What determines news… is the goals of the different mass media organizations. This is to say that the mass media select and publish only those things they hope would win their audience to a point of view beneficial to their proprietors.’

This notion is perhaps borne out of the historical precedence of the mass media in Nigeria. It can be recalled that most of the print and even the first and subsequent media of broadcasting was created out of the desire to fulfill individual or regional political interests of the founders.

This factor has been an Achilles’ heel of media operations in Nigeria’s democracy. A look into the historical trajectory of Nigeria reveals that ethnicity has been the bane of Nigeria’s media since colonial days. Cited in Iwokwagh et al, 2007, p. 11, Uche (1998) observed that the use of the press to defend the interest of political parties has birthed and intensified ethnic and sectional politics in Nigeria. He anchored his claims on the kind of press control that existed between the political parties headed by both Azikiwe and Awolowo. He argues that the rivalry was mainly between the Eastern and the Western region because the press in the North had not yet gained grounds.
Jibo (2003, p. 52) observes that “when a national issue enters the public domain for debate, the Nigerian press often … take a North vs. South position on it.” This he notes has hampered on good governance since it has been an instrument to excuse the excesses government of the government. Jibo still, notes that legislations are no longer potent tools to divert media eyes from the government or soften their criticism of government, ethnicity and money are.
This attitude has been shown very glaringly in the media report Salisu Buhari, Evans Enwerem and Bola Tinunbus’ allegation of forgery. While the press ensured that the first two were removed as a result of that allegation, the latter, had his case treated by the pres with kid gloves. Lawan (2000, p. 18) offers an explanation to this scenario;

‘It has been the policy of the Ngbatis (Yorubas) to ensure the total and complete destruction of leaders from non-native areas. Such that in the end, they would not be able to produce nationally acceptable leaders ….’

The underlying argument here is that the media have become entangled in the pursuit of ethnic interests and agendas at the expense of national interest. This practice , however , is inimical to democracy in Nigeria, as it has the capacity to make group grievances more intense, and divisions deeper.

The Nigerian Constitution (1999) in sections 39 guarantees freedom of expression and the press. This goes to show that there are contradictions inherent in this provision. Sub sec. 1 of the section provides that “every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference.” It is clear from this provision that an essential component of this fundamental right “right to seek information” otherwise termed “freedom of information is missing.” What it has provided for is the “freedom to hold opinions, receive and impart ideas and information without interference.” The implication of this provision for individuals is the denial of access to information which could empower them to freely express themselves on the hand and to help them take rational decisions on the other hand. At the level of the media, this provision restricts free access to information, which otherwise could have fostered national interest. In practical terms, this provision has posted to the media the ferocious challenge of access to sensitive information which is often tagged “classified” or “top secret.” Usually, national security is traded as an excuse for doing so. The argument however, is that the absence of this all important freedom of information provision has been inimical to journalism practice in Nigeria. For instance, it makes it an offence, punishable by law, if a journalist so publishes any information that has been tagged “classified” even if the interest of the public is the motive. This has cost a lot of journalist their jobs.

Other challenges faced by journalists on the job, as enumerated by Iwokwagh et al, 2007, include,
a. Policy defects
b. Poverty
c. Illiteracy
d. Corruption

In the face of good governance, the Nigerian press has huge hurdles to jump. It is rather unfortunate that the press in Nigeria finds itself among an unstable political system laced with the duo of authoritarianism and democracy or a seeming democracy. This is because it is a democracy when the government is ‘of the people, by the people and for the people’ with out having to impose leadership on the populace through some undemocratic means. Since the press or the mass media as the case may be, is a tool change. The Nigerian society thus has a hope for true and pure democracy where the press will be truly free. At this point, this work will like to put out a question; can a press in any kind of society be truly free?

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Atim, T. (2010). The Media and Electoral Politics in Nigeria. Makurdi: AT-Mishad Publisher.
Iwokwagh, S. and Ijwo, A. (2007). Mass Media and the Challenges of Sustainable Democracy in Nigeria. A paper presented at the 4th National Conference of the National Association for Science, Humanities and Education Research (NASHER) Nasarawa State University, Keffi. July 18-21.

Jibo, M. (2003). The Nigerian Media and the 2003 Elections. Ibadan: JODAD Publications.

Muazu, A. (2005). ‘The Challenges of Good Governance in a Democratic Dispensation: My Experience’ in Nigeria Journal if Policy Strategy. Kuru: National Institute Press.

Okoye, I. (2003). ‘Evolution of Newspaper Editorial Writing in Nigerian Journalism’ in Nigerian Media History1900-2000 AD Lagos Moulthouse Press Ltd.
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Udoakah, N. (1992). The Anatomy of Mass Communicated Messages. Journal of Humanities, (3), 88_93.

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Lawan, B. (2000, October 12). Media Terrorism, The Post Express, p. 28.








This work “Nigerian Media and the Consolidation of Democracy tried to provide some background understanding of the relationship between the media and the political systems in the evolution of Nigeria. To this effect, it examined the role the media plays in the consolidation of democracy. The work is based on the development media theory and the agenda setting theory


The mass media play critical roles in the political processes of democracies, and indeed, other political systems. The nature and character of these roles, particularly in democracies is partly determined by the constitution, and partly by other structures upon which these democracies are built. Iwokwagh & Ijwo, (2007).
In Nigeria, for example, thirty five years out of the fifty years of our existence have been in the practice of militocracy and not democracy. At some stages of this period, the military involved some civilians to serve in their various governments and therefore misconstrued this as a form of democracy. To my mind, this is not in any way related to democracy. In fact, it is an adulterated form of Democracy.
However, in Nigeria, democracy is not merely desirable, it is necessary. It will not solve all the problems but none of the major problems can be solved without. Democracy will empower the ordinary people and create the political conditions for the much development project to take off. Therefore, for a virile political process and the growth and sustenance of democracy, the citizenry must be adequately informed, sensitized and adequately mobilized through mass media channels.
Atim (2010) explains that, “it was as a result of the central role of the media in political development that the media is referred to as the “fourth estate”. Jibo (2003:3) notes that
“the Nigerian media has been a major political actor long before the country was fashioned as a unified political system and has continued to play a central role in national politics since then”.

The media is perceived as social institutions with highly structured or organized social systems with well defined authority relationships, which are responsible for gathering, processing, packaging and dissemination of information for public consumption.
One thing that is very clear is that effective governance in any society is built on solid communication network, whether in a democracy or autocracy or militocracy. Therefore, effective mass media system is always the central control mechanism for meaningful, peaceful and sustainable democracy. Akinfeleye (1995)
This paper therefore, is an attempt to analyze the role of the media in the democratic process, as well as its involvement in the consolidation of democracy in Nigeria and also the challenges they face in carrying out this task.


In Nigeria, and many other countries, the transition to democracy was in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, thus the problems and challenges facing democracy are particularly acute. Obstacles in the path of a successful consolidation of democratic institutions include economic problems such as widespread poverty, unemployment, massive inequalities in income, and wealth, rapid inflation, and low or negative rates of economic growth. Thus, the quest for economic liberation and national actualization is hampered. Against this backdrop, how has the Nigerian media consolidated growth and democracy?

Some of the questions which this work seeks to answer include;
1. How effective is the Nigerian media in her role as the watchdog in the society?
2. What factors are responsible for effective and ineffectiveness of the media in the democratic process in Nigeria?
3. What are roles of the Nigerian media in consolidating democracy?


Media – the media in this context refers to broadcasting which is the electronic media of radio, and television.

Militocarcy- This refers to the government of the military, forced on the people by the military, and for the military and not for the society.


This work is anchored on the Development Media theory. This system has evolved under peculiar circumstances of the developing nations of the world. The theory rests on the assumptions about the developmental needs of the concerned states. McQuail (1983:94) in Udeajah (2004:26) observes that, for these states, economic and political developments are primary national responsibilities to which every other institution should submit. Furthermore, MacQuail (1989: 120) explains that, the theory to a certain extent favour democratic, grassroots involvement thus, participative communication models.
One thing which gives most unity to a development theory of the media is the acceptance of economic development itself (thus social change), and often the correlated ‘nation-building’, as an overriding objective. To this end certain freedoms of the media and of journalists are subordinated to their responsibility for helping in this purpose. Again, McQuail (1989) identified the principles of this theory as follows:
• Media should accept and carry out positive development tasks in line with nationally established policy.
• Freedom of the media should be open to restriction according to (1) economic priorities and (2) development needs of society.
• Media should give priority in news and information to inks with other developing countries which are close geographically, culturally or politically.
• Journalists and other media workers have responsibilities as well as freedom in their information-gathering and dissemination tasks.
• In the interest of development ends, the state has a right to intervene in, or restrict, media operations, and devices of censorship, subsidy and direct control can be justified.
It is evident that the media plays key roles in the substance and consolidation of democratic processes in any given society.
Also, the agenda setting theory is another one taken into perspective, the assumptions of this theory is that the media direct public attention to issues and thereby choose and emphasize selected items. The broadcast media, radio and television, do place some emphasis on news item by size, placement and frequency of broadcast.
Several researchers on the agenda setting are concerned with the impact of mass media on cognitive changes in individuals. In other words, they are curious about the extent to which the media fashion people’s social, political and economic realities. As McCombs and Shaw (1972) in Udeajah (2004) note, audiences not only learn about public issues and other matters through the media, they also learn how much importance to attach to an issue or topic from the emphasis placed on it by the mass media.
In Nigeria and indeed the world, the major events about which citizens have strong attitudes and beliefs, have been brought to their awareness, interpreted, and assigned valve through the agenda set by the media in collaboration with other agents in the socio-political milieu.


The concept of Democracy
There seems to be a great confusion of what the word Democracy means, in spite of the fact that one can hear it from the media everyday.
Democracy by definition means the government by people. That means that all the people should be able to have their say in one way or another in everything that affects their lives.
The essence of democracy – its origin, purpose, focus and valve- derives from is positively directed to the service of the people. For emphasis, the people incorporate the strong, rich, poor, educated and the illiterate etc. Democracy entails popular representation and participation in governance. It demands from the government honesty, accountability and service to the people as their representative, I provides a form of leveler for the king and the commoner. Keghku (2009).
From the people, democracy demands a critical followership, loyalty and patience; the former is that attributes and practices of the governed to assess the private and public conduct of the government in order to ascertain the fidelity or lack of it between government pronouncements and the action of the operators of government machinery. Critical followership includes a questioning of the lifestyles of such operators.
From the foregoing, one can say Democracy is a system of government with four key elements which are;
• A political system for choosing and replacing the government through free and fair elections.
• The active participation of the people, as citizens, in politics and civic life.
• Protection of the human rights of all citizens.
• A role of law in which the laws and procedures apply equally to all citizens.
In supporting these points, Anifowose & Enemuo (1999) quoting Heater said democracy is essentially a method of organizing society politically, he further adds that;
There are, it is suggested, five basic elements without which no community can cal itself truly democratic. These elements are equality, sovereignty of the people, respect for human life, the rule of law, and liberty of the individual.

This suggests that democratic equality implies one man one vote, irrespective of difference in wealth, religion, intelligence, etc. it also connotes the equal right and opportunity of all citizens to hold political office.
According to Keghku (2009), “perhaps the most memorable meaning of democracy is that which the late chief Bola Ige, gusted Abraham Lincoln, that great and very famous president of the united states, spoke of in his very short but memorable address at Gettysburg:

That this land under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that the government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the face of the earth.

Dr Olatunji Olagunju at the 1978 conference of the Nigerian Political Science Association describes democracy as “the mechanism of building, choosing and authorizing government.

Democracy in Nigeria
In 1950, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Belewa raised a clarion call for the democratization of the Indirect Rule System in Northern Nigeria. Keghku (2009) notes that when he became prime minister in 1957, he said the following about democracy in Nigeria;
Our association with the people of the United Kingdom has been a happy one and there has always been tremendous goodwill on both sides. Their system of democratic government has now become part of our own heritage and we should be wise t maintain our institution on the British model.

In the vein, the late premier of Northern Nigeria, Sir Ahmadu Bello, believed so much in the democratic system. In his autobiography, MY LIFE, published in 1962 in pages 196 to 198, he referred to the “operation of political parties and the right spirit of democracy,” he considered “intelligent and constructive opposition’ as a useful “institution o democracy” .Bello, (1962) in (Ige 1997:6) cited in Keghku (2009).
The first Nigerian Governor – General, the Rt. Hon. Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe spoke in 1959 about the government of Nigeria being established upon the
belief in democracy, government by discussion, based on the consent of the governed, whose will is collectively expressed by the majority of the duly accredited r epresentatives of an electorate based on universal adult Suffrage. The great Zik also said he believed in the existence of opposition as an essential ingredient of democracy, government according to the rule of law and respect for human dignity, government that is prepared to support and enforce fundamental human rights, to ensure freedom of speech.
Chief Obafemi Awolowo is acknowledged as one of the greatest exponent and the strongest advocate and defender of democracy in the history of Nigeria. He not only spoke about democracy, he practiced it as is done in civilized and democratic countries, not only when he was Premier of Western Nigeria (1954 – 59) but also when he was Leader of Opposition in the Federal House of Representatives (1959 – 63). During 1978 to 198 when we had yet another era of civilian rule in Nigeria, nobody was a greater advocate of democracy than Obafemi Awolowo. To him, democracy is the best form of government, and any form of government other than democracy is evil, because such undemocratic or antidemocratic government has nothing but utter disregard for the rights, welfare and happiness of the people.

Nigerian Media and Politics
To achieve societal stability and sustainable democracy, the society must have a very clear –cut socio-political ideology. The mass media are the tools for the creation of linkages between the society and the types of socio-political ideology.
Akinfeleye (1995) states that, communication networks required for making linkages possible is therefore to my mind a powerful tool for sustenance of democracy. It is also an accelerator of democracy- a catalyst for effective democracy, a tranquillizer for democracy and a stabilizer of peaceful democracy. Lack of or adulterated mass media can cause a lot of damage to democracy.
Also, Okonkwo (1976) cited in Udeajah (2004) in his revealing work on “The Press in Nigeria’s Nationalism: 1859 – 1960” traces the part of the press played in Nigeria nationalism during the period of the study. The study aptly demonstrates that the press was a significant participant of the country’s social mobilization called nationalism.
In some descriptive and explanatory contributions to litereature on Nigeria Press, Ekwelie (1986”101) provides some background to understanding media-politics relations in Nigeria history. In “The Nigerian Press under Civilian Rule” he outlines and describes the structure, expectations and various factors that facilitated the manipulations and triumphs witnessed by media personnel and the nation during the second republic.
Another study worth noting in this respect is “The Nigerian Press and Politics since Independence,” wherein Grant (1994:33) in Udeajah (2004:33) examined the relationship between the press and the political system in Nigeria during the first republic. In this study she observes, among other things, that the character of political reporting and commentary in the print media depends entirely on media ownership structures and the owners’ relationship with the political system.
Following the promulgation of the 1999 constitution, the 4th republic came into being on May 29, 1999. The section 39 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria assures the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. Also section 22 of the same constitution relates to the obligations of the mass media.
The media as a institution has fully embraced the tenets of democracy through the constitution under which media practitioners can work without fear of molestation, incarceration or torture. Atim (2010).

Media Responsibilities in a Democracy
The media serve very many functions for society as well as for individuals from providing information, escapism, entertainment to giving us self worth and linking us with our nations. Collectively, the functions of mass media includes information (surveillance), correlation, critical transmission, entertainment, mobilization, personal identity, integration and social interaction
From the above we should note following key roles of the media in politics there are
1. The duty of the journalists to report the activities of government and affairs should be natural and fundamental. Under the constitution, the journalist through the press, radio, television, and other agencies of the mass media is charged “at all times to be free to uphold the fundamental objectives” and directive principles of the state policy, “and to uphold the responsibility and accountability of the government to the people.
2. Journalism serves to facilitate public discourse as a critical element of democracy. It is only by keeping people adequately informed about the activities of government and of events that occur and of issues arising there from, government action and inaction, and to public opinion on both the events and issues that citizens can make meaning decisions as required in democracy.
3. It is the journalists or media who virtually exercise the right of the people on their behalf and facilitate debate and discussions, which is necessary in a democracy.
4. The right of the Nigerian citizen to know what the government does and to comment on and criticize its activities as extended to the journalists places journalism in a key position of consolidating democracy.

Communication is one of the most efficient means of meeting many of the burning issues of the society including democracy. Akinfeleye (1995) quoting Harold Lasswell said that man has always needed something to watch over his environment and report on dangers, discoveries, opportunities, decisions, social change –something to entertain people on a broad scale –something to broaden trade and commerce – and something to provide conflict resolution.
He also quoted Lucian Pye as saying that “the mass media re-amplifying factors in the society which informs the people about political acts, mistakes, mis-governance, behaviours and/or misbehaviours”. Communication therefore is the bridge that brings together the society and democracy.
A look at the uniqueness of communication as perceived by Thomas Jefferson, one of America’s most respected democrats, a philosopher and former US president when he said that;

“… since the basis of democracy was opinion of the people, the very first objective was to keep that right. If it were left for me to decide whether we should have a government without the mass media or the mass media without the government, I should not hesitate a moment to choose the later. “

Daniel Lerner added that “Mass Media Networks are distinct index of mass mobilization – of the participant society (democracy). Also, John C. Merrill postulates that the mass media can contribute to people’s awareness of potentialities, dissatisfaction and desire to change (positively or negatively) Akinfeleye (1995).
Commenting on the relationship between the mass media and political reportage, Atim (2010) citing Lang and Lang (1958:103 -112) states:
The media force attention to certain issues. They build up images of political figures; they are constantly presenting objects, suggesting what individuals should think about, know about, having feeling about.

He further explains by quoting (Burns 1977:45) that the success or failure of any electoral process is largely dependent on the role of the mass media. This explains why societies attach much importance to the coverage of elections by the media. While an unbiased and responsible media system can contribute to the success of the electoral process, a bias and irresponsible media contributes to the failure of elections (Innis 2003:298) in Atim (2010).
In the same light, Bagehot (1867) opines that, “a popular government without popular information or the means of acquiring it is but a prologue to a farce or tragedy, or perhaps both”. Okoye (2003:91) has simply said; any polity where government does not allow the press enough freedom to perform its traditional role of watchdog will continue to pay the price in terms of having bad government, will lack development, stagnation and stunned growth of the democratic culture”.

Nigeria Media and Democratic System
The media have been given impetus to fight corruption, and the drive towards transparency and accountability in Nigeria’s democracy. In pursuing this role, as earlier mentioned they derived legitimacy from the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Section 22 states that
The press, radio, television and other agencies of the mass media shall at all times, be free to uphold the fundamental objectives and directive principles of state policy, and highlight the responsibility and accountability of the government to the people.

In line with this provision, the media in Nigeria held the leadership of the country accountable for their actions as a way of consolidating the democratic process. For example, former Deputy president of the senate, Alhaji Ibrahim Mantu and the then Chairman of Senate Information Committee, Senator Zwingina were indicted by the media for demanding a whooping sum of N54 million bribe from Mallam Nasir El-Rufai before he could be cleared for a ministerial post. In a related development, the media indicted the then police Chief, Tafa Balogun for embezzling and stashing away in foreign accounts the scandalous sum of N13 billion which was unfit for his status as the police Inspector General. As a result he lost his job was arrested and prosecuted. All these go to say that the Nigerian media have exhibited a high level of social responsibility, patriotism and commitment to the development of the country.
The Nigerian media have also created an enabling environment for dialogue and have ensured that different shades of opinion are brought to fore. In other words, they have served as the market place of ideas for political thought. An outstanding instance of this role was the “Anti-third term campaign they orchestrated against the administration of former president, Olusegun Obasanjo. Expectedly, the public consensus, built through agenda setting compelled him to conduct general elections and to handover power to another democratic government. Iwokwagh & Ijwo (2007).
Also, through their contents (news, features, editorials, opinions, columns) and programmes (documentaries, talk shows , discussion, etc) the media have suggested corpus of strategies that policy makers and implementers could engage to improve development efforts in Nigeria.

The review of previous researchers related to this study has touched on the roles of the media in consolidating democracy. The theoretical discourse has examined the development media theory and agenda setting, thus the following assumptions were made;
• The Nigerian media is an inevitable political necessity.
• The Nigerian media have made some significant impact on the democratic system of the country and particularly the broadcast media have contributed considerably to the political destiny of Nigeria.
• There is therefore, a significant relationship between the political climate in Nigeria during every given period of its national history and the role of the media at that time.

Communication network can serve an agenda for the promotion of democracy. It can also provide useful information to curtail or fuel human conflict in democratic process. Therefore, the media should bridge the communication gap between the society and democracy by providing useful, relevant and proper information about democracy and by prescribing possible options for peaceful resolution of conflicts always. The mass media should not be used as destroyers of democracy but as builders of democratic structures. As a tool for democracy, the mass media should engender freedom and liberty within society. The communicator should not be manipulator; he should serve as quality controller of peaceful resolution of dictatorship.

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Sustainable Democracy in Nigeria. A paper presented at the 4th National
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Jibo, M. (2003). The Nigerian Media and the 2003 Elections. Ibadan: JODAD

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Post Graduate School, Department of Mass Communication, Benue State University, Makurdi.

Mass Media in a Democratic Society: An Evaluation.


Leke, Doo

Com 702: Broadcast Journalism Seminar

Kombol, M. A. (Ph.D)

November, 2010.

This paper seeks to analyze the watchdog role played by the media in a democratic society we will find out how well the Nigerian mass media has been reporting, also the paper take a look at the theoretical frame work, review of literature, empirical studies, the study also poss some research questions which will help in this study .Thus this paper therefore is an attempt at analyzing the nature of this role, its impact on Nigeria’s contemporary democracy and the challenges they have grappled with in their quest for sustainable democracy and the paper lastly concludes and useful recommendations.

In normal times when much of life’s processes can be substantially observed in their regularized routines, this power and importance of the press continue to exist unhindered. The global crave for democratic governance is best appreciated against the background of its enormous potentials and by logical implication, the dire consequences of bad governance, or what Joseph (2004:4) characterize as “catastrophic governance”. Democratic governance, in spite of its pit falls, is widely preferred to its authoritarian alternative.
The hall mark of good democratic governance, to varying extent, is its guarantee of citizen participation through politics of inclusiveness freedom of association, freedom of expression this is achieved through the role of law, periodic, free and fair election, transparency and accountability. Good democratic governance seeks to create an environment, socio political and economic that enables the citizenry to harvest their full potentials through free functional education. The media play a role of the mirror in the society the conciliator, the shaper of issues and events in the society mass media are important institution in every society and whichever of these or other roles it finds itself performing at anytime matters a great deal in the life of people.
Mass media play critical roles in the political processes of democracies, and indeed, other political systems. The nature and character of these roles, particularly in democracies is partly determined by the constitution, and partly by other structures upon which these democracies are built. These structures include institutions and organizations such as the government, made up of the executive the legislature and the judiciary, the military, the police, the family, the church and the bureaucracy among others. Also these roles are influenced by the inter-dependant sub-systems which include political, economic, cultural and social sub-systems and which work together to ensure the continuous growth and survival of the democratic societies.
In the Nigerian democracy for example Jibo (2003:3) assert that “the Nigerian media has been a major political action long before the country was fashioned as a united political system and has continued to play a central role in national politics since then”..
Moreso, the mass media emerged in Nigeria as an instrument for fund raising propagation of ideology and safeguarding of the status quo. Antithetically, the nationalists used it as an instrument for political education, mobilization and confrontation in their struggle for democracy. Then, it had a strong positive correlation with democratic behavior.
The media in a civilized society occupy a very important and powerful position with capacity that can easily influence the opinion of the mass. Burns (1977:45). It is expected to be the conscience of the people where divergent views are expressed in order to serve as a check against autocratic and totalitarian rule (Rivers, 1971). It is therefore, not unexpected that the media are turned into one of the avenues where contenders for power in society wage their struggle for the control of government and politics.
Journalism practice is seen to have become hazardous in the country. Information has emerged as the most vital means for development in this age presently Nigeria is suffering from lack of information from the media which is base on truth, accuracy, fairness, and balance among others due to the level of democratic influence in the media.
Journalism: Is a report of things as they appear at the moment of writing not a definitive study of a situation. It is also the event of the day detailed into pictures, a few words or sound, processed by the mechanic of communication to satisfy the human curiosity of a world that is eager to know what is new.
Democracy: Is a system of government in which political power is vested in the people.
Mass Media: Are the means of passing information to a very large number of people inhabiting different localities or places at the same time.
It is no longer news that Nigeria is facing serious and persisting development problems whether in the area of education, politics, economics or agriculture. There is need to advocate for a medium that will facilitate sustainable development. The need is especially more urgent in the democratic society.
The need for normative theories from which this paper derives its theoretical underpinning is the concern of the “niceties of accuracy, objectivity and public sensitivities”
Baran & Davis (2003:93) as well, indeed, as the search for professionalism in the conduct of media affairs. These groups of theories seek to address the following questions, among other concern
i. Should media do something more than merely distribute whatever content will earn them the greatest profits in the shortest time?
ii. Are there some essential public services that media should provide even if no immediate profits can be earned?
iii. Should media become involved in identifying and solving social problems?
For the purpose of this paper we stall adopt the libertarian theory of the media for this study.
The libertarian philosophy, which had its root from American’s democratic governance conceive of the world as a vast perpetual motion machine. Rivers (1971:70) attests that the passion or narrow self-interest. By utilizing his season, his could discover the laws or nature that govern the universe, bring his institution into harmony with them and so build a good and just society. Men according to the libertarians are born with eating natural rights, which limits the hand of government and demand protection for the individual liberty and property Appodorai, (1974:68) According to the libertarians, before men voluntarily came together to form governments, they had existed perfectly free and equal. The libertarian saw truth as deriving not from authority but from the intellect of men.
This framework formed the basis for which the libertarian theory of the press was founded. In the libertarian theory, the press must have wide latitude of freedom to aid men in their quest for truth. In order to find truth through reasons, man must have free access to information and ideas. According to libertarian theory, free expression carries built in correctives.
River (1971) since the majority of men are moral culture that will use their freedom responsible in a honest desire to find truth, one need not wrong about the tiny minority who may abuse their freedom by lying and distorting facts.
Several studies reported in the literature show that the mass media is not performing as expected in the democratic society. In Nigerian democracy for example,
Jibo (2003:3) points out that “the Nigerian media has been a major political actor long before the country was fashioned as a unified political system and ahs continued to play a central role in national politics since then”.
Otile & Ogionwu (2001:22) assert that the media in discharging their duties to society network with other institutions to achieve homeostasis. Among these institutions are the government, which is organized along the lines or the executive, legislature, and the judiciary. Others are the priesthood, the police, the military and the bureaucracy.
The responsibility of a journalist is to report evenly, accurately to tell the truth. Agbese (1985:10) views that democracy is a hollow word unless those who exercise their right to vote have the facts on which to base their choice at the ballot box. Bagehot (1967) opines “a popular government without popular information or the means of acquiring it is but a prologue to a force or tragedy, or perhaps both”
Okoye (2003”91) simply said any polity where government does not allow the press enough freedom to perform its traditional role of watch dog will continue to pay the price in terms of having bad governance, will lack development stagnation and stunned growth of the democratic culture. An influential American columnist, Walter Lippmann (1992:36) once wrote “the theory of a free press is that the truth will emerge from reporting and discussion not that it will be presented perfectly and instantly in any one account”. As lippmann (1992:37) realized, the path to truth is an arduous one and many stumble on the way. It needs single-minded devotion on the part of the prospectors; he or she cannot serve another course at the same time, such as being a propagandist for the state, a party or a cause.
Most governments find it necessary to control broadcasting media operations in order to promote national unity, socio-economic development and stability (west Africa 1990:2858,2857) it is felt that if control is not exercised, there is the danger of the system falling into the hands of a group of wealthy people who could use it to promote commercial, sectional or political interests that may be at variance with national objectives.
Former Zambian President Kenneth Kauda who in 1968 set an admirable example of the democratic process at work said: the international press qualifies as one of the many invisible governments. The media is capable of making or destroying governments given appropriate conditions; it can cause war or create conditions for peace. It can promote development or create difficulties in the way of development (Enaharo 1990:20).
Wogu (2003:2-3) & Emery et al (1968:8) noted that the media plays a key role in the building of the political fabric of a democracy-political leaders employ in as an instrument of political education and mobilization while the masses use it as a channel for feedback mechanism. A wise decision on the part of the people depends on the level of objective and correct information disseminated. Thus, Arazu (1987:1) & Rivers (1967) aptly maintained that the media structure the world to the audience. It brings the existence of phenomena to the knowledge of the people and like wise to the government.
Nwosu (1990) & Siebert et al (1963) summarized the role of the media in a democratic society as follows.
i. Serving the political system through information, debate and discussion on public affairs.
ii. Enlightening the public so as to make it capable of self-governance.
iii. Safeguarding the rights of the individual by serving as the watchdog against the government.
iv. Advertisers goods and services, and therefore bring the buyers and sellers together.
v. Provide entertainment.
vi. Maintains its own financial self-sufficiency so as to be free from the pressures of special interest. In all, news must contain the good, the bad, the ugly.
It has been argued that despite the contentions between proponents of free press and those against it, a free press is essential to a healthy democracy. It should be noted that governments. And journalists have different objectives and that tension between then is evitable, the right to criticize and expose excesses by the press in a democracy carries a corresponding responsibility and that bad governments are far worse for their citizens than even the worst media.
Mc quail (1968) stated that for more than a century the power of the printed word has been clear for all to see. In a related vein schramm (1956) present a views of the imperative need to regulated the media in a more direct way. The theoretical and practitioner of the control of state power, Lenin, declare his highly qualified view of press freedom in 1920. Tusa (1991:4) publishing enterprises must not be permitted to abuse their autonomy by pursing a policy that is not entirely party policy churching out shallow press statements that make heading news while corruption, incompetence economic mismanagement and human right abuse go unchecked. Schrammn (1956:128) points out that information communication and comment are according to Lenin, too important to be left to the merely bourgeois so-called freedoms of the press and by natural extension, the electronic media.
In a democracy, power is diffused the Nigerian constitution of 1999 has formally separated powers of the various organs of government. The power of the media is one way of creating a necessary alter native counter to what would otherwise be an over-concentration of power, Okoye (2003:92&93). In the USA for instance, in the course of the controversy over the Tv network’s coverage of the Vietnam war, in July 1970, frank station president of CBS made a speech in utah warning that the delicate mechanism government the interaction between government and a reasonably well formed public might be thrown out of balance, if the words and views of the president become a monolithic force, if they constitute not just the powerful voice in the land but the only one specking for nationwide point of view. This bring in the question of the use of media power more over Mc quail (1990:33) has argued that it was not a question of whether the media had power and how it works but who has access to the use of this power.
In adding to this Tusa (1992) says that some journalists think the press has no responsibility whatsoever to the authorities that are in place. The press is answerable, says this school of thought, only to its teachers, or audience.
Grounded in empirical work by experienced scholars who are acknowledged experts in their fields, this contemporary and tropical topic in a paper fitted mass media and the challenges of sustainable democracy in Nigeria presented by Nicholas S. Iwokwagh & Andrew O. ijow of mass communication department Benue State University Makurdi at eh 4th national conference of the National Association for Science, Humanities and Education Research (NASHER) Nasarawa State University, Keffi July 8-21, 2009.
This paper critique the media and the democratic system in Nigeria. It is an in controvertible fact that the media have serve functional purposes in Nigeria’s democracy particularly as a pool or mass information. As the proverbial “watchdog” a metaphor which describes the real responsibility of the media to the Nigerian society the media have worked hard at discovering the truth and mobilizing the society towards worthy causes by presenting evidence and opinion as the basis for decision. This function may have informed the position that the media play crucial roles in the political processes of democracies.
One remarkable example with respect to this role is the “Buharigate” saga, which was made public by a popular news magazine the news. In its 10th July 1999 edition, captioned “face of a Liar” the news reported the certificate and age falsification scandal around the person of the Erst while Speaker of House of Representatives, Alhaji Salisu Buhari. It presented details of Buhari’s educational and business backgrounds and established prima-facie, the allegations of forgery, perjury and fraud against Alhaji Buhari. This development consciously set agenda for the Nigerian society by raising the spiral of public discourse, which culminated in his removal both as speaker, and as members of the house of representatives.
The media have also given impetus to the fight against corruption and the drive towards transparency and accountability in Nigeria’s democracy. In pursuing this role, they derived legitimacy from the Nigerian constitution , which serves as the hallmark of Nigeria’s democracy. Specifically, the 1999 constitution provides in sections 22 that:
The press, radio, television and other agencies of the mass media shall at all times, be free to uphold the fundamental objectives and direct principles of state policy, and highlight the responsibility and accountability of the government to the people.
In response to this provision, the media in Nigeria held the country accountable for their actions, for example, the media indicated the then Deputy President of the Senate, Alhaji Ibrahim Mantu and the then Chairman of Senate information committee, Senator Zwingina for democrading a whooping sum of N 54 million bribe from Mallam Nasir El-Rufai before he could be cleared for a ministered post.
A more dramatic episode involved the erst while minister of education, professor Fabian Osuji, who offered N55 million to the former Senate president Chief Adolphus.
Wabara, & some members of the education committee in both Houses of the National Assembly of facilitate the passage of the budget proposal of his ministry in the 2005 appropriation bill. Commenting on the issue, Newswatch of April 4, 2005, reported in its cover story that “the anti-corruption war of Obasanjo’s administration recorded two major casualties last week (March 29), Adolphus Wabara & Fabian Osuji for their ignoble roles ins the N55 million bribery scandal that rocked the National Assembly”. The magazine gave details of the proceedings of the case and a graphic profile of the perpetrators of this fraud. It particularly reported the thesis of the pre-scandal meeting between the two parties. According to this magazine (p. 17) “the senate president emphasized the need for ministry of education to come forward with necessary PR or risk cut in his budget”.
In its own account of the scandal, the source magazine gave details of the scam, noting that “the entire amount of N55 million delivered to the house of senator Chris Adighije was in the presence of senator A. Ibrahim, Hon Dr. Matazu & Senator Mbata (the source, 2005:17) sequel to this development was the removal of Chief Adolphus Wabara as senate president, & professor Fabian Osuji as minister of Education. In a related development, the media indicted the then police chief, Tafa Balogun for embezzling and stashing away in foreign accounts the scandalous sum of N13 billion which was unfit for his status as the police Chief. As a result, he lost his job, was arrested and prosecuted. All these go to say that the Nigerian media through investigative journalism, have exhibited a high level of social responsibility, patriotism and commitment to the policy and principle transparency and accountability.
In a related vein a paper titled Media, Democracy and mis-governance in Africa by Ebenezer Oludayo Soola the Department of communication and Language Arts university of Ibadan, Nigeria (2009) articulates the critical importance of contextualizing media and democracy in Africa’s political and cultural traditions, the early political history of Africa, its colonial past, the misplaced optimism that heralded its passing and the code of miss-governance that has blighted its political landscape ever since. He highlights Africa’s entrenched political and cultural traditions that promote human rights in general, and freedom of expression in particular. He also argues that the aberrant military interruptions and their attendant brute force, the continuant’s multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-linguistic configuration, serve to undermine both the trust network and the emergence of strong, capable and enduring polities. Though the media constituted a formidable ally in the struggle against colonialism and apartheid, and sacrificially fought the military to a stand still they have played the mute on certain issues of grave continental, and indeed, global concerns.
Conclusively, from the above presentation it is obvious that the media are known to be a strong efficacious and veritable instrument in shaping and ordering social dynamics, in this case the political process. It is expected to inform both the public and the government, create a particular political view in the minds of the people, educate, sensitize and mobilize the people for political actions. In a democratic society, it provides the ground for equal participation of all peoples and parties in political debates, discussions and evaluations.
• Professionals concerned with the news industry should standardize policy attention that will also help the industry to grow.
• The operations of the media should be fully liberalized and characteristically made to be democratic. Libels and laws should be used to control any perceived anarchy and false hood in the media industry and to reduce the ownership/control influence on media operation. In this shall the people’s trust be restored and the influence of the media on the lives felt.
• The Nigerian union of journalists (NUJ) or the Guide of Editors should establish retraining centers for older journalists who have not benefited from any professional/academic training.
• Adopt a more rigorous multi-media approach including advocacy, lobbying and public enlightenment from the grassroots to the top of the grass, for the quick passage of the freedom of information bill now before the National Assembly.
• Encourage and admit working journalists for refresher courses, particularly senior journalists who have had no relevant academic or professional certificate or diploma organize long-vocation journalism workshops for young secondary school leavers.
• Allow journalism/mass communication institutions to operate educational radio and television stations.
• Encourage more interactions between journalism lecturers and media houses, government to strengthen the function of the Nigerian press council so that it does not remain a dog that can only bark but not bite.
• Nigerian governments and their leaders share with their counterparts in other parts of the world, basic psychological characteristics, most of them are out to protect some basic interests, they are in love with absolute power and they either seek to attain, retain or perpetuate themselves in power. In this wise, they resort to control and manipulate the media to achieve favorable publicity for themselves, party and other interests.

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