BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Scholars have been concerned for centuries with the possible influence of the media of communication on the formation of public opinion and attitudes, but there have been divergent and diametric opposing views on the subject. Many communication scholars, among them: Daramola (2013), McQuail (2010), Sambe & Nyitse (2007), Adesoji (2006), Akinfeleye (2003), Nwosu (2003) and Aliede (2003) argue that the mass media and politics in Nigeria are interwoven. The perception and claim is that the mass media are the driving force of politics and its processes, but nature of the relationship between the two institutions has been rarely properly and closely examined. Therefore, this vital area is still vague and needs further x-raying. Again, studies and discourses on media and politics in Nigeria tend to be skewed towards the effect of the mass media on politics and political processes, yet the studies hardly enquired deeply into the effect of politics on the mass media. What role have the media played or should play for there to be vibrant, people-centred and impactful political system is more often the subject of enquiry in communication studies. What politics should do for the media is less in contention, even though it is as important to carry out studies to find out what the political system should do to ensure the prevalence of vibrant press in Nigeria.
In the course of the Nigerian 2019 General Elections, such challenges like voter education and political apathy arose and critics tended to blame the media for not performing their roles of voters mobilisation. Nevertheless, the media did not shun this responsibility, just as they never did in other facets of the nation’s life. Yet, the government has, notwithstanding such partnership roles, very often acted in unfriendly posture towards the press. For instance, despite wide and popular opinion of Nigerians and civil societies, the Federal Government illegally and unilaterally amended (against the recommendation of the NBC Board) the National Broadcasting Code, stipulating N5m as the fine against ‘hate speech’. Its first casualty, according to Ikpoto (2020) is Nigeria Info, a Lagos based FM station. While slamming the fine on the station, NBC spokesman claimed any speech intended to ‘abuse, insult or denigrate our leaders and those in authority – president, governors, MPs’ would be guilty of the law as it is ‘not our culture’ to do so. This has attracted wide condemnation of all sections of the media, stakeholders, politicians and the entire society as it is clearly an instrument of gagging the press, (Blueprint, 2020; Daily Independent, 2020; Daily Sun, 2020; Leadership, 2020); New Telegraph, 2020; ThisDay, 2020 & Vanguard, 2020). While focusing on the interface between the mass media, on one hand, and government, governance and politics, on the other, in Nigeria, this paper sought to examine the kind of dominant affinity between the mass media and politics. To achieve this, the paper adopted qualitative research method of exploring available secondary data in the area.
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
This paper focuses generally on the role of the mass media in Nigerian electoral process as it pertains to overall development of Nigeria. The background is the recognition of the central role of the media in political and social affairs as a natural outcome of its unlimited communicative strength and outreach. The statement of problem is anchored on the wide spread negative image of the media in electioneering campaigns in Nigeria’s political history. The objective of this paper is to readdress media practice in Nigeria to its fundamental ethical journalistic foundation as basis for positive contribution to national integration. It is also aimed at the examination of both external (official) and internal obstacles that hinder the realization of the goal. This paper uses the method of comparative phenomenological analysis to examine the performances of the media in Nigerian electoral process with regard to its fundamental roles to inform, educate, entertain and monitor in the electoral process.
OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The paper, among other things, strived to achieve the following specific objectives:
1. To ascertain the nature of the relationship that exists between the mass media and the political class in Nigeria.
2. To identify the role of the mass media in building virile democratic culture capable of engendering an environment for good governance and development in Nigeria.
These were the research questions applied to the study:
1. What is the nature of the relationship between the mass media and the political class in Nigeria?
2. What is the role of the Nigerian mass media in building virile democratic culture capable of engendering an environment for good governance and development?
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