The press as an agent of democratic governance: a study of Obasanjo’s administration between 2004-2007
- BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Nigeria therefore badly needed means of regaining the many years of their story. No wonder the sign of relief Nigerians as May 29, 1999 materialized. After the shortest political transition era witnessed in Nigeria and mid-united by Gen. Abdusalam Abubakar, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo was that day sworn-in as Nigeria’s twentieth leader and fourth civilian head of state. Nigerians eagerly looked forward some positive developments from government after years of wastes and disappointments.
The press has a lot of roles and play in this linkage activity hence; it is an instrument of democratic governance in Nigeria for effective and smooth contents and channels and establish that link.
Describing the press, Okonkwo (1996 P.11) “the press (both print and broadcast) is said to be the fourth echelon of) a nation’s body polity”. This is true and has shown in the role which the press plays under a conducive liberal democratic state. The press is an organ meant for informing, educating, entertaining and conveying feelings, aspirations and values cherished by the people to the government. “press contributes considerably power to shape opinion and belief, habits of life, mould behaviour and impose political system even against resistance” (Okonkwo 1996).
For instance, in the 2003 general election. The press observers had to say, Nigeria is playing voo-doo polities. There are high level of killings, thugger other political intimidation during the campaign period, (Chnniedu Nwajiuba, Vanguard Friday, July 11 2003. P. 21).
The masses need good governance as to fully practice democratic and all these cannot come through without the use of press effectively and efficiently. The press should be a mediator between the government and the people by always and constantly feeding the people with the current happening in the state and informing the government about good and bad feeding of the people.
The citizens of a democratic state like Nigeria need to be adequately informed, educated and mobilized to use their civil rights to achieve its objectives and goods. This the reason why the press should serve as an agent of democratic governance in Nigeria to by able to bring both the masses and the government together. The press should be used to provide information to the people to enable them make responsible inputs and abide by the laws and obligations of the government. This will enhance for human and material development in the country.
A terrible picture in other areas like poverty, unemployment, in equality and ethno-religious disputes in the country.
Democracy in Nigeria has been characterized by what Ojo (2002 P.46) described as “partisian politics”. The nature and practice of partisian politics alone points to the fact that Nigeria is far from civil culture and its therefore escapable that the cultural prerequisite for democratic state is not yet to attain such democratic height, press as an agent for democratic governance is an indispensable tool of bringing the masses and the government of the day to work together in other to achieve development.
Nwosu (2003 P.210) rhetorically queries, “What is our political life or culture? The Nigerian government agencies, as well the political parties, do not seen to have learnt anything from the country’s political history. Again, they still do business as usually with all the negative political manifestations like rigging, violence, assassination, poverty, unemployment and other ethno-religious disputes.
Democracy is indeed a set of ideas and principles about freedom, but it also consists of a set of practices and procedures that have been molded through a “long often tortuous history”. In short, democracy is the institutionalization of freedom. It is possible to identify the time tested fundamentals of constitutional government, human rights and equally before the low that any society must posses to be property called “Democracy”.
The nation is on the march again politically. For one in many years they have confidence in a political process. The honesty and sincerity of Gen. Abubakar about handing over power to a civilian government come. May 29, 1999 is transparent. Gen. Abubakar’s name has come to stingingly peace, reconciliation, freedom, fairness and justice”. (Aliede 2005 P.61).
Citing James Coleman, Aliede (2003 P.63 -64) notes:- “On manifestation, the British colonial Administration set up the will inks commission. Evident in the unhealthy rivalry between the various groupings in the country, the body eventually found the root in the fear and subsequent frequent out bursts of marginalization, neglected and dominance by the major ethnic and other interests in the country, mostly apparent from the majorities”. All these factors have led to what is commonly referred to as Nigeria’s years of lost opportunities.
Nigeria has a chequered history, right from the time of geographic expression in 1914 Repeated attempt at various constitutional experiments could not bequeath to the country the society of its dream. As an instrument of mutual co-existence in sovereign states, democracy has understandably replaced totalarianism as an acceptable plat form in civilized, modern and progressive society, perhaps its beauty stems from its uniqueness, flexibility, dynamism, accommodation, tolerance, liberalism, rejuvenation and durability.
1.2 STATEMENT OF RESEARCH PROBLEM
“One of the features that distinguishes democracy from other form of government is its openness to majority participation” Oji (1997 P.124) agrees with this view when he states that “positive political attitude can be in calculated through the process of political socialization, especially at the adolescent stage when the youngsters are encouraged to identify with government programmes and involves themselves in the act of governance.
Some of the problems encountered by the press during the time of former president Obasanjo’s regime was the issue of government owned stations it not allowing the press to operate freely. For instance, there are several meetings during Obasanjo’s regime that were not allowed the press to attend like the one of NWC at Excellent hotel Abuja on 23rd, February 2005. In a situation like this, the press will be left with nothing to tell the general public.
From observation, the accessibility of the media to the populace in terms of usage, affordability, awareness and the resultant effect avail them (populace) to be aware of their environment on one hand and the ability to control it. This gives justification to why it is fundamentally incumbent on every government to ensure the creation of the needed conducive atmosphere in which the press can effectively and efficiently maximize its operational capacity to the benefits of the masses and symbiotic advantage of the government. Such leverage enables the masses to exercise their political participation, evolve durable political values and culture and contribute to national development.
The press as an agent for the provision of information, education, enlightenment, entertainment, opinion leadership setting and status conferral, members of the public rely on them for details of goings on in government circles.
These are the some of the problems, the press witnessed or passed through in Obasanjo’s Administration, the potentialities of the media through the available resources; manpower, expertise, experience, technology etc freedom of the press, the economy, political environment, professionalism and pressure groups. All these factors really hindered the press from performing its fundamental role as the watch dogs of the society.
This study will investigate the nature of Nigerian democratic governance and also examine the agent of press in democratic governance in Nigeria.
1.3 OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
There are clear indexes for objectively measuring the way and manner the government handles the people’s business.
This study wishes to determine if the press really served as an agent of democratic governance during Obasanjo’s leadership in Nigeria 2004-2007.
- To find out how the government has been doing, especially in view of the fact that Nigerians have every requirement with which to make this country proud.
- To also determine whether the image of the government of this country are managed under these conditions.
- The study would find out the effect of democratic variables in people’s appreciation of governance reasons for their preference of any form of government.
- To know the factors responsible for government’s excellent or poor performance of Obasanjo’s administration.
- To also know how to improve on leadership of the country (Nigeria).
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The practice of press as a philosophy of maintaining good governance and a branch of social sciences has always been the application of evaluative measures of public opinion, in other to assess the attitude of the general public towards an organization effectively doing this involves the utilization of social sciences research methods of data collection. This in turn guided by research questions. For this research, the followings are the research questions:
- Did the press really served as agent of democratic governance during the Obasanjo’s leadership in Nigeria 2004-2007?
- What factors are likely to inform people’s choice of any given form of democratic government?
- From the Nigerian’s knowledge of the performance of chief Obasanjo since may 2004-2007, are their expectations fully met or not?
- Did the level of poverty, unemployment, corruption etc allowed the government of Nigeria to practice democracy between 2004-2007?
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
- Ho:- The press did not really served as an agent of democratic governance during the Obasanjo’s leadership in Nigeria (2004-2007).
H1:- The press really served as an agent of democratic governance during the Obasanjo’s leadership in Nigeria (2004-2007).
- HO:- There are no factors that likely inform people’s choice of any given form of democratic government.
H2:- There are factors that likely inform people’s choice of any given form of democratic government.
- Ho :- Nigerian’s knowledge of performance of chief Obasanjo since may, 2004-2007, their expectations are not fully met.
H2:- Nigeria’s knowledge of performance of chief Obasanjo since may, 2004-2007, their expectations are fully met.
- Ho:- The level of poverty, unemployment, corruption etc did not allow the government of Nigeria and practice democracy between 2004-2007.
H4:- The level of poverty, unemployment, corruption etc did allow the government of Nigeria to practice democracy between 2004-2007.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY
The study will be useful to both the masses and the government of the day as a mirror to seeing development.
- The study will deligently compliment the studies that have been carried out by similar area.
- The study is said to be significant because its going to widen the literature in mass communication fields particularly in the area of the press.
- It is significant because it will expose the truth about chief Obasanjo’s administration between 2004-2007, whether it is good or bad.
- Finally, both the government, the general public and individuals in Nigeria will learn lessons from the former administration, and even some other African countries will gain a lot of it, if they are a ware of the imperativeness of the use of press as an agent for good democratic governance in Nigeria.
1.7 SCOPE OF STUDY
The scope of any study is extent of coverage by the study, in terms of and space (boundary) people, events and other variables.
The study will focus on the use of the press as an agent of democratic governance in Nigeria; A study of Obasanjo’s Administration between 2004-2007. the term of press will be limited and newspaper only and the population of the research work will be selected from Abakaliki town which includes Ebonyi, Abakaliki, Izzi and Ezza North Local Government Areas both in Ebonyi state.
1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Terms are operational defined. The terms are key words and phrase that make up the research topic: “press” “agent”, “Democracy” and Governance”. These terms form this study the achor on which the study was based.
Press covers all mass media practitioners in Nigeria whose legal and professional role is together, process and disseminate information on current, relevant and developmental issues and events for pace, progress and betterment of the Nigeria society.
Agent is a person whose job is to act for, or manage the affairs of other people in business, polities etc.
Democracy has to do with how the citizenry participate and commonly and willingly deciding issues about themselves in the democratic setting like Nigeria.
Governance has to do with the activities of how citizens and country or controlling an institution, or organization, the way in which a country is governed or citizens or an organizations are controlled.