PROJECT TOPIC- ASSESSMENT OF PRESS FREEDOM IN NIGERIA: A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF GOVERNMENDT AND PRESS PRELATIONS UNDER IBRAHM BABANGIDA AND OLUSEGUN OBASANJO ADMINISTRATION
The assessment of press freedom in Nigeria was made in order to know the relationship between the government and the press under the leaderships of Ibrahim Babangida and Olusegun Obasanjo. The work used survey research method and the purpose of the study was to find out if the press was free under IBB and Obasanjo regimes or not. It also aimed at knowing the extent by which press freedom was curtailed or favoured during these two regimes. The researcher equally tried to find out the degree of harshness on the press by the two regimes. To know how many journalists that were killed or jailed, detained and the news paper organizations closed, as well as to identify decrees that were unlawful. The theoretical framework upon which this study was based is the social responsibility theory. This theory recognizes the right of the press to criticize government and institutions but demands also that the press should recognize certain basic responsibilities to maintain the stability of society, especially national security, peace and order. The press is expected under this theory to conduct itself with a sense of responsibility and ensure that it does not pursue profits at the expense of public service, even while maintaining its commercial independence from government control. It must be free to criticize but must operate under certain ethical code of conduct and government regulation, that would not inhibit its constructive freedom.
1.1: Background of the Study
With the advent of capitalism and libertarian philosophy, man started gaining some freedom to express himself. A major test of a nations’ freedom is the amount of liberty its citizens have in speaking, writing and publishing.
It could be said that life of a nation depends on the extent of freedom of speech and press that the people enjoy. A society could not be said to be free when the press and the people are not. One can also say that the extent by which a nation enjoys this freedom depends on the relationship between the government and the press.
As a result of importance of this right, the countries of the world have come together through the United Nations Organization (UNO)in a bid to protect this right and many others. Also, the concept of press freedom is intertwined with the basic principles of human freedom and libertarianism. In fact, it is often seen as an opposition to authoritarian philosophy.
The fundamental problem which proponents of press freedom encounter is that it has not been easy to set the limits to the applications of the concepts. Article 18 of the Universal Human Right established that “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of the Human Rights, 1984, for instance, guarantees the right to freedom to express opinion
without interference and to speak, receive and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers. As noted in the brief submitted by the Canadian Standard Broadcasting Corporation Limited to Special Senate Committee on Mass Media “Freedom of the press guarantees to the public that influence on the part of government, business, labour or any individual will be allowed to
distort, alter or influence the free flow of information. Inspite of these laudable declarations and others like them, press in different parts of the world remains on a leash. The peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is that it is robbing the human race posterity as well as the existing generation those who dissent from the opinion, even more than those who hold it.
If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth. If wrong, they lose that is almost as great as a benefit. Meanwhile, authoritarian government do not pretend over press freedom. There simply cannot be any. When General Muhammed Buhari took over power in 1983, he truthfully told Nigerians, unlike Babangida’ later pretensions that he would tamper with press freedom.
And he did just that, even though not as much as many thought. The one that came with promises of press freedom and human rights was actually the one that did more harm. What motivated this study was the fact that there are many claims by the individuals of the country that the press freedom was on it lowest ebb during military administrations and some of the civilian regimes.
This argument over the press been free or not has become the order of the day. It is the issue that have thrown many people off balance. The researcher being aware of these decided to go into studies, comparing a military and a civilian regime which is of IBB and Obasanjo to know which of them that allowed free press.
If any of them or both curtailed or allowed press freedom, how did they go about it? With the help of this research where all the necessary enquires would be made, the research will be coming up with a very successful condition in which this situation could be taken care of.
PROJECT TOPIC- ASSESSMENT OF PRESS FREEDOM IN NIGERIA: A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF GOVERNMENDT AND PRESS PRELATIONS UNDER IBRAHM BABANGIDA AND OLUSEGUN OBASANJO ADMINISTRATIONS
1.2: Statement of the Problem
The situation of freedom of press have put the socio-economic, cultural and political live of Nigeria as a country in confusion. It should be noted that freedom of the press no longer signifies what it is called. Journalists do not have respect as many media houses are closed and some editors expelled for just not adding “her excellency to a governor wife’s name”.
Specifically, the Babangida and Obasanjo administrations have always come to mind whenever press freedom are being discussed. They have engaged in serious and terrible actions that left remarkable mark in our country Nigeria. Though the press do not have the real and total freedom of imparting and disseminating information, the truth remains that they must work effectively in order to bring
informations to common knowledge of the people. Based on these facts, the issue of serious concern is, since disrespect and maltreatment have not succeeded in bringing the needed freedom to the press, and allowing the press remain in a very bad condition is completely unacceptable. The question here is, what then is the way to stop the situations of killing, detention and all these maltreatment’s.
The researcher feels that effective assessment of the press freedom could help in solving most of the problems the press or journalists encountered. The relationship between the government and press could be linked to uneffective and unserious journalism. This underscores the imperative need for a lasting and reliable solution to the problem. Also how to bridge the gap between the government and press relations in Nigeria and the extent which the press freedom in Nigeria is curtailed, become the major issues of concern to the researcher.
1.3:Objectives of the Study
Everything under the sun has a purpose. Life without a purpose cannot survive, and so a research without purpose is not worth being. Thus the study in hand has the following objectives.
- The study Chiefly aims at knowing/verifying whether the problem of the press in Nigeria could be managed through the adoption of government acceptance of the press freedom as provided in the constitution.
- It equally aims at determining whether conditions for press freedom has any relationship with gap between the government and press relations and how best the gap can be bridged so as to pave way for good rapport among the government and the press.
- The readiness of the government to embrace relationship and reconciliatory measures in managing the problem.
- The most effective means to bring a good understanding between the government and the press in the Nigerian society.
- How either of the parties perceives each other, and finally
- the research seeks the elimination of problem in press freedom within the Nigeria federation so as to pave way for national integration and development.
1.4: Significance of the Study
Assessment of press freedom in Nigeria will continually help to enrich and build professionalism of journalists in Nigeria. This study is intended to help in that direction. Also, the study will serve as a good source of material and guide for literature review by future researchers especially students undertaking studies similar to this study.
The study mainly lies on the assumption that there has been frequent claims that press freedom was on its lowest ebb during, the Babangida and Obasanjo administrations. The study will examine press freedom under these two regimes to ascertain the one in which the press enjoys greater.
1.5: Research Questions
The study will be answering the following research questions.
- What degree of freedom did the media have under the Babangida, as well as Obasanjo administration?
- How did Babangida or Obasanjor administration guarantee or curtailed freedom of the press?
- Did Nigeria experience greater press freedom under IBB’s regime or in Olusegum Obasanjo administration?
- What were the performances of the Babangida and Obasanjo regimes in guaranteeing press freedom in relation to the 1979 constitution?
1.6: Formulation of Hypothesis
- Ho: There is no effective press freedom under Ibrahim Babangida
and Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration.
Hi: There is an effective press freedom under Ibrahim Babangida and Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration.
- Ho: Both the IBB and Obasanjo’s administration did not guarantee
freedom of the press as both curtailed it.
Hi: Both the IBB and Obasanjo’s administration guaranteed freedom of the press as none of them curtailed it.
- Ho: Nigeria did not experience greater press freedom under IBB
administration more than Obasanjo’s.
Hi: Nigeria experienced greater press freedom under the IBB administration more than obasanjo’s
4, Ho: The performances of the Babangida and Obasanjo regimes in
guaranteeing press freedom in relation to the 1979 constitution are not poor.
Hi: The performances of the Babangida and Obasanjo regimes in guaranteeing press freedom in relation to the 1979 constitution are very poor.
1.7: Theoretical Framework
In every research work, there is need for a theory upon which it is based. So the nature of this study in hand demands basing on the socail responsibility theory. This theory is chosen because of its significance and relevance to the study. Under this theory, mass communication is considered the right of the press to criticize government and institutions but demands also that the press should recogansie certain basic
responsibilities to maintain the stability of society, especially national security, peace and order. The press is expected under this theory to conduct itself with a sense of responsibility and ensure that it does not pursue profit at the expense of public service, even while maintaining its commercial independence from government control.
It must be free to criticize but must operate under certain ethical code of conduct and government regulation that would not inhibit its constructive freedom. The libertarian era afforded the press so much unrestrained freedom that it became careless and irresponsible thereby taking its freedom for granted. The result of that free market was yellow journalism typified by character assassination and sensationalism.
Press irresponsibility became the order of the day. It needed to be called back to order, because the expected access to the media by individuals was not there, informational needs were not served, and new problems were being created by radio and television. This was the reason of social responsibility theory coming into existence.
1.8: Scope of the Study
The major concern of this study is to find out the best and reliable solution to the problem that militate against press freedom in Nigeria, particularly as motivated by the Babangida and Obasanjo administrations.
The study will examine press freedom under these two regimes, the Babangida from 1985 to 1993 and the Obasanjo from 1999 till date. The study will also consider the major actions taken by the administrations. It will also find out whether the Babangida or Obasanjo’s administration acted in line with the 1979 Nigerian constitution in their dealing with the press or not.
1.9: Conceptual Definitions
Research has shown that, researchers run the risk of having the operational terms in the work interpreted differently by readers. This problem of non-uniformity affects the opinion of the reader concerning the reliability of the study. To avoid this problem, this section of the project is meant to contain conceptual definitions/clarifications of the terms used in the study.
- Assessment: In this context, assessment is a carefully considered opinion or judgement to bring solution for relationship the press and the government in Nigeria practically and sensibly rather than by having fixed ideas or theories.
- Press Freedom: There are lots of definitions of press freedom. But in this context, press freedom according to Ogunsiji (1989), “means allowing the press to perform its traditional role of keeping the masses informed about events taking place within and outside their community without any hindrance, harassment or legal or social constraints”.
- Comparative Study: this term could mean many things to different persons. But in this case, it is involving comparison or comparing the regimes of IBB and Obasanjo in either favoring the press or curtailing it.
- Relation: This is the links, contacts or dealings between people, groups or countries. But in this context, it is the link, contact or dealings between the government and the press to help in bringing information’s to the masses at the right time.
- Curtail: This is to make something shorter or less; to reduce something. So in this case it is the reduction of the freedom of the press by the government.
- Government: A group of people governing a country or state, the action or manner of governing or the method or system of governing.
Press: Newspapers, Magazines, the news sections of radio and television, and the journalists who work for them.