THE ROLE OF MASS MEDIA ON THE SUCCESS OF ELECTIONS IN NIGERIA

(A CASE STUDY OF 2015 GENERAL ELECTIONS)

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ABSTRACT

The study basically focuses attention on “The Impact of Mass Media on the Success of Free and Fair 2015 General Elections” (A case study of NTA, Ibadan). Mass media has over the years performs a very crucial role in the socio- political and economic development of Nigeria. Mass media are often referred to as the fourth estate of realm because of the power they wield and the oversight function they exercise. The media as a major player in democratic governance has been recognized since the late 17th century, and remains a fundamental principle of modern-day democratic theory and practice especially in educating, enlightening, mobilizing the electorates before, during and after elections. Mass media promote democracy and ensure free and fairness conduct of election ion the country by educating voters, protecting human rights, promoting tolerance among various social groups, and ensuring that governments are transparent and accountable. Media have been used to support democracy and development.

 

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY

The political culture and structure of Nigeria elections have been embedded with violence. The mass media over the years have embarked on educating, informing, and enlightening both the electorate and political parties concerning the necessity of curbing any act of violence during elections, through its various political programmes broadcast on both print and electronic media across the country.

According to the report by the Human Rights Watch (April and May 2003-2004, p.1)  virtually all elections held in the past since independence till the attainment of democracy in the country, has been approached by politicians and political parties with  violence, fraud, assassination, ballot stuffing, and kidnapping, by political thugs.

Onwudiwe and Berwind-Dart (2010) identify various challenges facing Nigerians and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) concerning the conduct of a free and fair election. This was as a result of violence. In the political culture of the country.

As a result of the lapses here and there, both the media and other interested bodies have embarked on national campaigns to sensitize, educate, and mobilize the electorates to abstain from violence during and after elections period.

This is why INEC as a body has failed to get it right in organizing peaceful election, whereby 2007 elections under the chairmanship of Professor Maurice Iwu failed, and was heavily criticized by both local and foreign media including the international communities over the alleged high rate of fraud, bribery, elections tribunal cases, ballot box stuffing, insecurity, and rigging of elections.

With the attendant flaws, the call for Electoral Reform Act, was inaugurated in 2010, by late President Musa Yar’adua nominating committee which was chaired by Justice Owais and the National House of Assembly to look into the issue, in which the panel was unable to come out with any positive outcome.

As this lead to the coming-in of professor AttairuJega as the new INEC chairman, saddle with the responsibility in ensuring that 2015 general election was peaceful, free and fair, and without violence. Which President Goodluck Jonathan releases about #84 billion to INEC in order to conduct a successful election.

Basically in Nigeria, one cannot but say all is not well considering the nature of the country in term of population, ethnicity, religion, ideology, social, economy, political and international perspective.

According to Anaeto and Anaeto (2010:34)Africa countries are best with many challenges-social, political, cultural and economical development and transformation. Meanwhile, conflict is inevitable considering the nomenclature of Nigeria.

Without mincing words, Nigeria media have come a long way in discharging the basic ethical standards. They don’t just; inform, educate and entertained as their traditional functions required but also persuade entire citizens of the country to maintain peace and live together as one entity irrespective of differences.

Perhaps, in 2015 General Election in the country, the Nigeria media did perform their roles diligently before, during and after the election. They (media) gave wider coverage of 2015 election to every nooks and crannies of the nation. Even when the situation turned violent and the foundational structure of the country became threatened as a result of numbers of life that were lost and unestimated cost of property that went the drain.

Media, indeed, remained resolute and continued to advocate for peaceful co-existence among the politicians who have turned apart as a result of political ideology differences. This study, among other things, will vividly look at the level of coverage giving the political violence that engulfed the nation after 2015 general election.

1.2 PROBLEM STATEMENT

Nigeria media have come a long way in giving vivid account of an event and they are actually striving to give their best irrespective of the nature of the situation and condition of their job.

As serious and sensitive as the nature of their job, the Nigeria media due to their commitment discharge their duty diligently by giving current, accurate and balance account of any event most especially elections in the country, Nigeria.

Worthy of emphasis is the last presidential general election. The Nigeria media did their best and gave a wider coverage of the election. Apart from informing the public on the significant of exercising their franchise by casting their vote the moment they are 18 year of age.

The media equally educate them on the procedure and what is expected of them before, during and after the election. Besides these magnificent roles of the media, especially on how they (media) ensure success in achieving free and fair 2015 general elections.

1.3 OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY

The following are the objectives which this study intends to achieve:

  1. To know the role of mass media in achieving free and fair elections.
  2. To know how radio and television are used in orientating the masses about the electronic voting system (EVS) in 2015
  3. To examine the impact of radio and television on the electorate political habits
  4. To highlight how mass media contribute toward safeguarding citizen votes
  5. To analyse mass media strategy in crisis prevention and resolution
  6. To know the level of media coverage of 2015 general elections

1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS

These are agitating questions toward solving the research topic. In this   wise, the research questions for this study are:

  1. Do mass media have role to play in achieving free and fair elections.
  2. How often do radio and television is used in orientating the masses about the electronic voting system (EVS) in 2015?
  3. Do radio and television have impact on the electorate political habits?
  4. To what extent can the media contribute toward safeguarding citizen votes?
  5. Do media actually perform any specific role in crisis resolution?
  6. What is the level of media coverage of 2015 general elections?

1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY

As an academic work which intends to pass through scientific scrutiny in terms of empirical analysis, aims to be of help in so many ways:

Researchers: It will add to the academic knowledge for the benefit of researchers who might want to engage in the same topic or something similar Students: Students at all level will equally find it useful most importantly as reference point.

Media Practitioners: It will also set a focus for the media practitioners to determine their weak areas at the same time improve on salient parts.

1.6 SCOPE OF THE STUDY

The researcher will discuss issues on the impact of mass media on the success of free and fair 2015 general elections in Nigeria, especially, how it can help the country to plan future elections with little or no violence in the country.

The case study will be limited in scope to the coverage of Nigeria Television Authority (NTA), Ibadan. Since it is very difficult if not impossible to cover the entire mass media in Nigeria. Yet, the result of the finding will be

1.7 LIMITATIONS TO THE STUDY

Wide research of this nature cannot be carried out without some constrains, this constrains pose a lot of limitations to this work.

Time: Duration for the research work is relatively short.

Academic Activities: Stress emanated from other academic activities is also another constrain.

Limited Material: Little materials are also available because the work is relatively new.

Finance: Financial constrain poses another challenges to this work.

1.8 DEFINITION OF THE TERMS

Mass Media: These are means of communicating to large, scatter and heterogeneous audience used in the coverage of 2015 general election e.g newspaper.

Newspaper: This is a daily publication containing different accounts of election processes and post election violence activities.

Free and Fair Election: This is a peaceful conduct of election i.e election without any or reduced record of violence.

Resolution: This is media step in bringing peace into the country when violence erupted as a result of announcement of 2015 presidential election result.

Election: This is electoral process that took place in 2015 where every eligible citizen were allowed to cast their vote.

Post-election Violence: This is lawless activity that engulfed the nation after the announcement of election result.

 

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