THE PRESS WAR AGAINST POLITICAL INDISCIPLINE IN NIGERIA
(A CASE STUDY OF THE PUNCH NEWSPAPERS 1999-2007)
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1.0 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
“Without information there is no accountability, Information is power and the more people who posses it, the more power is distributed”1 Journalism is more about dissemination of information which the press in Nigeria does daily, weekly and monthly through newspapers and magazines. There is an aspect of journalism that deals with investigation (investigative journalism). This goes beyond just news, it brings out surprising revelations about our society. Journalists having sensed irregularity or inappropriate acts in our politicsinvestigate the issueand bring out the facts.In spite of the consequences of this action on individual journalist and the output, the practice continues.It is against this background that the researcher intends to study the press war against political indiscipline in Nigeria between 1999 and 2007 using the punch newspapers as a case study.
1.1 AIMS ANDOBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The objective of this research is to examine the press war against political Indiscipline in Nigeria with particular reference to the punch newspaper between 1999 which is the return of democracy to 2007 the last election held in Nigeria.
To examine the processes of investigative journalism, which is hidden to non-professionals, but cherished within the profession for its worth.
1.2 SCOPE AND LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
The researcher intends to investigate the issue of press war against political Indiscipline in Nigeria. A case study of the Punch newspaper between 1999 and 2007 (that is the return of democracy to the last election). It is therefore important to note that this research focuses only on the punch war against political Indiscipline in Nigeria. Though references would be made to some of the roles of other newspapers against political Indiscipline in Nigeria between 1999 and 2007.
1.3 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
A synthesis of primary and secondary sources was adopted which include: series of textbooks, research project works, magazines, newspapers as well as oral interview Materials were consulted on the internet relating to the press war against political indiscipline in Nigeria. Oral interview was conducted with journalists from the punch newspaper Lagos and member of the management. Politicians were also interviewed.
1.4 LITERATURE REVIEW
This project topic “The Press War Against Political Indiscipline in Nigeria” is a sensitive and as well a very important issue. Therefore, various literatures and paper presentations has been combined. Although this literatures and presentations have not particularly pointed out the press war against political indiscipline in Nigeria but they have related points that have proved useful to this work.
One of the important books on the Press in Nigeria isPress and Politics in Nigeria 1880- 1937by professor Fred Omu, which carefully outlined the role of the press during the early and later stages of colonialism as an opposition organ to the imperialist government. The educated Africans were so concerned with the education of the Natives to be politically aware of their environment, not just any form of education but a knowledge that will make them a base for strong public opinion that the colonial government would find it difficult to ignore, the press formed itself as a strong opposition against the government with the hope of raising the political awareness of the people against the government of the day. Nonetheless; Omu X-rayed the press in Nigeria as leader pace setter in the sense that it was the first organ to begin the call for the dismantling of colonialism, he saw the press as the father of all Nigerian nationalists9 because all the early nationalists were at one time or the other newspaper men.
Throughout the breath and length of the book, Omu identified and discussed two types of the press, the missionary and the African press, the African press he portrayed as being very antagonistic towards the Europeans and their activities in Africa while the missionary press engaged in missionary propaganda. But it was the former that inspired most Nigerians to enter the newspaper business hence the growth of the press. Omu identified and discussed on the nature of the different newspapers that has appeared on the Nigerian news stand and also the pattern of the newspaper trade.2
Another important work to this study is The Nigerian newspaper press; 1859-1937: A study inorigin, Growth and Influence(an unpublished Ph. D thesis 1965) by professor Fred I. Omu. This work outlined the origin of the press in Nigeria which was dated to 1859 with the first newspaper, IWE IROYIN a Yoruba vernacular newspaper published by Rev. Henry Townsend in Abeokuta which was meant to serve the Yoruba community. To Omu this was very remarkable because it opened a new chapter in the history of what is today called Nigeria, Omu traced the development of the indigenous newspaper in Nigeria which grew from a very small venture controlled by organizations to a very large scale concern now controlled mostly by individuals; and this change the structure of the industry. He also mentioned the low technical quality of the manpower, fund and facilities. He also treated the nature of the facilities at the disposal of this early press.
Inspite of these problems, he portrayed the Nigerian press then as very power force which checked the colonial government and hence they enacted some press Laws. The press to him then “fearlessly ventilated public grievances and sought to improve the local environment”. Omu in this scholarly work examined the different newspapers that have made their appearances on the news stand and gave general reason why some of them did not n last for long, some stayed for a short time while some lasted for a long timelike The Punch Newspapers. The author examined the pattern and techniques of the business, he gave reasons why the circulation was handicapped and the factor that determined the magnitude of the profits and sources of income for the industry which came mainly from government subscription, advertisement, tribal supports and the popularity of the personnel’s at the head of the affairs. Also limited finance hindered its acquisition of new machines for operation and finally he identified and classified different types of newspaper likely weekly papers, provincial paper, Lagos papers, Southern paper, Daily papers, and monthly papers, quarterly and missionary publication. Also the origins of the different press laws were traced and why such law came into being. While my work is to concentrate on the Daily Times newspaper, Omu’s work treated the newspaper industry as a whole, with more emphasis on the political influence of newspapers at the time they existed.3
One of the relevant works is that of Jerry Goldman in his book titled “The challenge of democratic government in America” he focuses on the role of mass media in promoting communication from a government to its citizens and from citizens to their government. He pointed out that in democratic government, information must flow freely in both directions: a democratic government can be responsive to public opinion only if its citizens can make their opinions known.
He also said that a story’s political significance, educational value or broad social importance does not determine whether it is covered by the media, as a lay man will think, rather the primary criteria of a story’s newsworthiness is usually its audiences appeal as judged by its high impact on readers, its sensationalist aspect, its close to home character and its timeliness. A major news media seek to cover political events through first hand reports from journalists on the scene. Because so many significant political events occur in the nation’s capitals virtually all citizens must rely on the mass media for their political news4
Ayo Olutokun and Dele Seteolu in The media and democratic rule in Nigeria said the media is not immune to corruption, ethnicity or factionalism, all of which afflict the Nigeria socio-polity. This has necessarily detracted from their moral profile and consequently weakened their role in democracy.
Self cleansing, internal regulation mechanisms such as the pres council as well as keen commercial competition, help to restrain, in a measure some of these abuses.
Ayo olutokun and Dele Seteolu in this work dwell much on the bad side of the press. They pointed out the areas of weakness of the press in Nigeria. They also made it known that these weaknesses are reducing the impact of the press in the democratic rule in Nigeria.They called on the authorities concern to do something about it. though no specific method or way out was prescribed or given to help the press out of the weaknesses discribed5
Governor Chimaraoke Nnamani of Enugu State in The press and the Nigeria project addressed the evolution of the press (media) in Nigeria and the developmental stages of the media. He also pointed out some of the problems facing the media. He said “someday, I hope the media, in the self study will seek to understand what now looks like a hunger for heroes and subsequent lowering of the standards in the new emerging culture of scaling it down to create celebrities anyhow.
In the first place, the failure to project the right social frame for Nigerians to consider their society and for the citizenry to relate their expectation frames work. Exposed the press as having failed to take up the challenge of positioning their beloved country for progressive not necessarily a leaping, changing and blotting, race to sustainable growth and development6
Professor Sam Oyoubaire in The media and the democratic process in Nigeria (1) said “the point is that the media has a constitutional mandate in the advancement of the political and democratic process. It is equally true that the nature and character of the democratic process greatly impacts upon the performance of the media. It is in this sense that the nature and character of the military regime can affect tremendously the performance of the media just as the nature and character of a democratic regime can do the same.Therefore until it is fully researched and analyzed. It is not enough to proclaim that democracy necessarily provided a much healthy environments for the media or that a military regime necessarily undermines or stifles the fundamental performance of the media.
He succeeded in comparing the impact of both military and civilians’ government on the media generally. He also examines how much the media is faring under each of the regimes (military and civilian regimes). He did not treat the press war against political indiscipline in Nigeria.7
Richard Joslyn in his Mass media and elections described the activities of journalists in covering, collating arranging and presenting information (reports) in a way that make it interesting and pleasant to the audience. He said “News coverage is typically tact-based and non opinionated but also interpretive thematic and dramatic. Journalists select the each and symbols to be transmitted to their audiences; organize and amputee them in a way that produces coherent, interesting and dramatic stories they present a simplified, engaging and understandable account of complex and ambiguous phenomena. In the process they render political judgments that might not be shared by all” He treated various activities of journalist which a lay man might not understand hence its professionalism. The activities of journalist and their work during election was the major point treated in his work8
1.5 NOTES AND REFERENCES
(1) Professor Sam Oyoubire “The media and the democratic process in Nigeria (1) 1999
(2) Prof Fred Omu ‘Press and politics in Nigeria’ 1880 – 1937 pp35-62
(3) The Nigerian Newspaper Press ‘A study in Origin growth and influence’ 1859 – 1937
(4) Development policy management the work bulletin No3 September 2001 pp30
(5) Jerry Gold “The challenge of democracy government in America” it euphony milting company Boston Toronto (1992) pp188
(6) Development policy management network bulletin “Media and accountability” No3 September 2001 pp30-34
(7) Chimaraoke Nnamani “ The press and the Nigeria project” october2003
(8) Richard Joslyn “Mass media and elections Newbery award records inc (1984) pp99 and pp109.