APPRAISAL OF PRESS FREEDOM IN NIGERIA CIVILIAN RULE
(A STUDY OF GOODLUCK JONATHAN ADMINISTRATION, 2011)
This abstract of the research “Press freedom in Nigeria” is a top flight through provoking and interesting even challenging especially in our contemporary Nigeria which has entrance Nigerian civilian rules. Throughout the time to military regime, the press experienced hard time with edges of the law as seen in decree 4 of 1987 constitution which took many journalists to prison in pursuit of their profession. The aim of this research work is to know it actually the press has freedom in Goodluck Jonathan regime. This project is written in (5) chapters, one is on the sight of the introductory part of these whole projects. Chapter two handless the glance and review of the detailed topic of the project, chapter three takes care of the research method, design, population and data collection. This research will make use of simple random sampling as a sampling technique. The total number of the population is 200 and it will comprise the print and electronic media staff, student of mass communication and communication experts. The media staff total of 100 questionnaires, because they form the major source of information, the student of Osisatech 30, UNTC and ESUT will be given 40 questionnaires each (20) while the communication expert and others will share the remaining questionnaire. Chapter four analyses the data collected from the questionnaire, chapter five treat the summary, conclusion and recommendation on the improvement of making press freedom totally absolute.
BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Siebert, Peterson and schramm in describing the operation of the press in their book entitled four theories of the press said that, “the press is not an instrument of government but rather a device for presenting evidence and argument on the basis of which the people can check on the government and make up their minds as to policy. It is imperative that the press be free from control and influence so that truth can emerge, all ideas can get fair hearing that there must be a free market place of ideas and information”.
For the press to play their basic roles it must exercise it’s freedom full. in other words, for the freedom of the press to be fully appreciated, we must understand the implication of a citizen having a fundamental right to free access to facts in all matters that directly and indirectly concern them and also the right to express and publish it’s opinion there on.
It is in realization of these fact that the general assembly of the united nations organization on December 14,1946 declared that freedom of information is a fundamental human right and is a touch stone of all freedom to which united state is consecrated. In the save view a sub-committee of the common wealth press union headed by Lord sharecross, defines freedom of the press as “The freedom that is not a special privilege of news paper but derives from fundamental right of every person to have full and free access to the facts in all matters that concern him. In protection of these fundamental human right, it is essential that the press should be free to gather news without obstruction to publish the news and comment there on.”
From the foregoing, it can be argued that any obstruction on the pree freedom is not mercy an attack on the press. It is an indirect encroachment on the fundamental right of the civilian to have knowledge and information. In fact, section 38 sub-sections I of the 1989 constitution concedes the right to freedom of expression and press by explicitly stating that, “every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression including, impact ideas and information without interference.”
Prior to may 29th 1999, the administration of Nigeria was predominated by the military regime. In successive coups beginning from july 1966, the military ruled the country. In line with their coercive tendencies which of course set them up every stratum of the society by those who rule by instrument of coercion. This led to the use of for in carrying most of the policies that were, however not spared as in certain cases, headship of most parastatals under civilians were changed frequently, especially those who could not implement such policies.
The media as the first estate of the realm was not spared from the military obnoxious policies their controls which were determine by decrees led to outright closure, permanent, death, intimidation etc.
At a point in time, stiffer penalties were imposed on the function and operation of the press, making the atmosphere very difficult for them to operate. For instance, decrees one and two were introduced by Buhari idiagbon administration which subverted individual freedom and created social panic decree enacted in 1984 which was the “public officers’ protection against false accusation”, also limited press freedom. These reduced magazines, newspapers periodicals, radio and television to mere “paper tigers”.
The increscent closure of newspaper organization like the news watch April 6, 1987, the punch April 1990, the Guardian May 1991, concord April 1992, tell magazine in August 1993, the vauguard and champion respectively were the order of the day the hounding of journalists in to jail over reports the Government felt unfriendly with including, Jude under decree in 1987-others include, Chris Okolie, Innocent Okparadike editor of the observer and Ben Tony Ikeakonam August 1991 was denoted for using an inappropriate picture of the first lady, Nosa Igiebor, Ononie whiskey May 1987, Mohammed Haruna 1987, Nduka Obiegbena 1988 etc.
Inundating media houses with threats of closure and assassination of their editors one of which was the death of Dele Giwa, on 19th October 1986 and the killing of a news reporter at kano and other cases. Although those regimes May not entirely be written offer as enemies of the media, they lishered in an atmosphere that led to competition among the various media organizations. Because research has it that excessive dictatorid tendencies causes the press to become daring and dedicated to publishing the truth and committed to seeking for it’s freedom and expounding the people’s right to know.
more so, they acquire fame and because heroes if they are jailed, harassed or harmed. This they achieve using these obnoxious policies which never favored the media, but in which the strived to survive by uncovering the misdeeds of the military to be delight of the society.
It therefore, becomes the survival of the fittest through articles, news stories, features and commentaries that will always sell the product of such media organizations. It reduces some media houses into government megaphone for fear of being intimidated or closed down such media who owe their existence, control and substance on the government of the day depended on it for sub- venation as a means of survival.
Mostly affected were the electronic media and some print media owned and controlled by those in power. Apparently pursuance of the democratic doctrine of freedom of speech and of the press, whether we regard it as a natural or inalienable right or not rest upon certain assumptions. One of these state that men desire to know the truth and will be disposed to be guided by it. Another is that the sole method of arriving at the truth in the long run is by the free competition or opinion in the open market. Another is that since man must be permitted to urge free and even strenuously his own opinion provided he accords to others the same right. And the final assumptions are that from neutral toleration and companion of diverse opinions, the one that seems the most rational will emerge and be generally accepted. The above statement could be said to have informed Babargida’s decision to open or give access to move private participation in information generation and dissemination.
It therefore gave the nod for deregulation in 1989 to the media by assuming operating licenses especially on those who want to own and operate the electronic media. This development led to the establishment of private radio and television houses in the country, thus breaking the electronic media industry. Coming up on the heels of these regulation were stations like African independence television (AU) the minas, the DBN, Rhythm 72 etc, but in spite of these development the fortune on the media continues as today newspaper like the concord is no longer in existence owing to long period of closure by the military. Likewise some other media houses that were closed down and open some months before the exit of the civilian rules in the country.
Thompson Jefferson was a Philosopher and a statement who attempted to put his bleas into practices by fusing the liberalizing legalism and traditionalism of England with the more radical rationalism of trance . Although as a political figure he suffered greatly from the calumnies of the press of his time, he held to his conviction that despite his errors and virtue operations, “The press, should be subjected to a minimum of interference by the federal government, but he was quick to add that a government which could not stand up under criticism deserved to fall, and that the real strength of the federal government was his willingness to permit and his ability to withstand public criticisms”.
He held that press freedom was implicitly in the recognition of the insistent demods for the protection of the individuals from arbitrary power. To facilitate this, he maintained that “the individual in the society should be educated and informed. He contended that the press was an essential source of information and guidance and in order to properly perform its function, it should be free from state control.”
Jefferson, therefore, recommended that the first approach towards press freedom was for the enthronement of democracy for the smooth passage of information, ideas, opinions and increasing the greatest happiness for the greatest number of persons for the good of the society. It would also aim at giving them the liberty of expression, of thinkers and top act for themselves.
Consequently upon this, the Nigeria media decide to made into the struggle fully by promoting those ideas which could be enjoyed by the society under a democratic era and denouncing those of the military. It therefore turned out to be a struggle between an “oppressed media” and government shrouded in promoting of polices that were not of public interest the impression created then was a polarized media, impoverished citizens and a few hawks in the country and dominance of the affair of the society. It therefore heightened the need for the enthronement of democracy at least for the advancement of the media and other sectors of the economy.
In 1999 therefore the military quit politics and the leadership of the country was handed to a democratically elected government led by Oluseghu Obasaujo under this administration the press may have being said to have an air of freedom in the exercise of it’s constitutional role as the eye and ear of the society. Although there have been some innovation in the operation of the media.
That may have resulted of the increase of technology. Enough may not have been achieved in terms of ownership of the media in the past years of administration.
Presently, in the print media industry not much have been achieved while the electronic media may not have achieved any at all. The situation may be attributed to the soaring economic situation that is currently prevailing in the country and the cerotic political nature which does not seem to find or to led a solid foot path for the political stabilization of the society, there is also the feeling of insecurity that has mediated against the excellence of economic activities.
Although the administration has done its best in initiating policies that can led to the protection of industry and manufacturers, especially the local manufacturers, that has not done much in the area of information technology or highway that today is the order of the society in making the world global village.
There are still feelings that the news contents of the media are being doctored to fit or rather to suit the aspiration of the power. There is also a feeling that the cerotic political nature of the society may have polarized the media in such a way that each pursues an agenda favorably to it’s ethnic origin or it’s ethnic consideration.
The other school of thought has it that the media have lost bite and is not longer that which fought for the enthronement of democracy in the country this allowing a lot of mal-practices to have their way into the nation fabric. While most people attribute this to their resolve in supporting the democratic dispensation, some others felt that the media for fear of being intimidated, they have succumbed to the feelings and aspirations of the government.
These issues therefore make this study very important as I will in the following chapters discuss the operations of the media in the current administration of Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, the attempt will hinge on providing stations to some of the starting issues posed in this background.
Contrary to the insinuation that president Goodluck Jonathan’s administration is frustrating and suppressing the media, the presidency has dismissed the rumor, saying that Journalists in Nigeria are free to practice their profession unperturbed.
The special adviser to Jonathan on media and publicity, Reuben Abati, said this Friday while speaking to the survey of the committee to project journalists, CPS, which rated Nigeria as the most dangerous place in Africa, after somelia, for journalists. According to him, Jonathan has demonstrated determination, capacity and sincerity in protecting lives and property of Nigerians, describing as cordial, the relationship between the incumbent administration and the media. He stated that, there is no media repression in Nigeria as the federal government was committed to promoting the right to freedom of expression and of the press.
His words, “I read the report C about CJP rating, the report is not dealing with government and media relations, it is refer to journalists caught in the crossfire of the book haram activities in the north, and it is in potests to the security challenges in the northern part of the country. This cannot be a true reflection of the circumstances of journalist in the country.”
“Even in places where there is violence, journalists are practicing with freedom. In reality, journalists in Nigeria are free to practice their profession. The relationship between government and the media is cordial. It was this administration that signed the freedom of information bill into law and this has also further expanded the scope of human freedom on all fronts.” Country where there are security challenges, this government has shown determination, capacity and sincerity in ensuring and protection of lives and property to all categories of Nigerians.
“Nigerians must beware of report of this nature which promotes sensationalism, rather than the truth. Press freedom is certainly not an issue in Nigeria under this administration. There is no media expression in Nigeria. This government is committed to the promotion of the right of freedom of expression and other press” he added.
STATEMENT OF THE RESEARCH PROBLEM
The study under review has the operations of the press as it’s epic –centre in the current democratic dispensation of Goodluck Jonathan. The researcher looks at some of the policies that undermined social responsibility of the press as well as polices that have favoured the activities of the press in Nigeria civilian rules.
Is the word press freedom in existence in the true sphere of like and if so how does it function or are they determined by the kind of civilians in operation from society to society.
PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
· To understudy the problem militating against press freedom in Nigeria.
· To understanding how the press has been operating in Nigeria since 1999.
· To understudy what the future holds for the press in the event of discontinued governance of president Goodluck Jonathan.
The result achieved here will enable me to say in concrete terms whether the press should be left free or should not be left free in the discharge of their statutory functions.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This study is significance in view of the negative feelings the present administration has received from it’s citizens and the belief that the press have played into the hands of Nigerian civilians. But it no longer carries her activities in line with constitution that set them up. It’s also the fact that the present administration tends to intimidate the press on their activites thus, lending credence to the allegation that the press have been bought over.
SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study will look at the various laws that guarantee press freedom from both national and international level.
Moreover, how press freedom is managing it’s balance, mostly in developing countries unlike how it flourishes more in the developed country where there are constitutional and legal provision for it’s existence will be studies.
The obnoxious law of senate committee to override and create some exceptional clauses to freedom of information haw cfoils that guarantees press freedom in Nigeria cannot be emphasized.
The basic assumption is that the press in any society is the ear and eyes of such society. It means that the society reposes it’s confidence in the ability of the media. For this, bringing the activities of the people to the government and that of the government of the people is a sacred duty which must be carried out with all amount of responsibility. But the argument lies to whether these responsibilities are carried out to the satisfaction of the masses on one hand government on the other hand. Again is the issue of who controls the media, for this the research questions will aim at exposing, assessing the performance of the media, the atmosphere in which they operate, even in the current dispensation and the freedom exists in Nigeria.
(1) Whether press freedom exist in Nigeria to what extent is the freedom applicable to the Nigeria civilians.
(2) Having the media compromised in the discharge of their statutory obligations.
(3) What is the extent of influence of the government in the activities of the media?
(4) Under civilian rule, have the media live up to expectation?
(5) The media are said to be agenda setters, now far have they gone in this responsibility?