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This study was designed to critically examine “the role of the press in Nigeria’s polarization and National Development”. The method of content analysis was adopted and also, three Nigerian daily newspaper were selected. This include, the New Nigeria Newspaper a federal Government owned newspaper published in Kaduna state. The National concord and the champion, each being privately owned by differently individual (s) but published in Lagos. Three publications were selected per week: Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays covering April, August and December between 1997–1993. Five years were analysed. These are 1981, 1984 1987, 1990 and 1993. The result were then carefully analysed and interpreted. The analysis revealed that the Nigerian Press jettisoned the much-admired doctrine of fairness and impartiality and tend towards biasness and sycophancy. At the end, it was recommended that in order to address the polarization of the press owners and operators of mass media, irrespective of their ethnic geographical and political difference must create an avenue where they could rub minds with one another so as to eradicate the misconception held against each other. And that the press and government relationship must improve hence seeing other as partners in progress.
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Nigeria is one of the countries, which is “undergoing transition”. This is because politically they are visibly undergoing rapid development or change, which may be positive or Negative. It is true in line with this that since independence Nigeria has been under transition politically. It has witnessed many tailed politically transition programmes that have continue to hold political power through brute force or sheer power of the gun. These include the General Abacha political transition programme and the likes. However, Nigeria has been described as being in a transitory situation which political culture is characterized by divergent and powerful interest groups with insatiable political and economic demands on the larger political entity. To this end, the role of the press which is been as the fourth estate of the ream cannot be overlooked. This was why Hohenberg (1978) submits that:
“When public trust in Government declines and deeply affects the Faith of millions of people is its principle and practice the press is the institution that is least likely to profit from the resultant disillusionment”. It is this veritable position of the press that explains the inextricable relationship between the institution (press) and politics. Consequently, a duty is imposed on the press to ensure that the political objective of Nigeria as a country is accordance to its motto this that all of the function performed in the political aggregation, rule making rule application and rule adjudication are performed through communication.
Upholding the through importance of communication. The press in a given polity is the life line as communication is the oxygen of all political relationship. The importance of communication may mass media has being further acknowledged while assessing the significance of the mass media in any political systems is that the mass media serves as a moderator of public opinion and watchdog of the people. The media equally helps to spread ideas, knowledge and views. Also the press in any country should be responsible in the performance of its functions. These functions includes;
a) Servicing the political system by providing information discussions and debate on public affairs.
b) Enlightening the public so as to make it capable of self-government.
c) Servicing the economic system, primarily by bringing together the buyers and sellers of good and services through the medium of advertising.
d) Safe – guarding the rights of the individuals by serving as a watchdog against government.
e) Providing entertainment
f) Maintaining its own self – sufficiency as to be press from pressure of special interests.
During the Nigeria second Republic in 1979 to 1983, the mass media was extensively used by the government in power, while the private owned newspaper were all the services of their proprietors who were mostly members of one political partly or the other. The Negative usage of the mass media by the contending forces has been examined by various scholars. Thus the crux of this research therefore is to examine the role of the press in the political setting of the Nigeria state and how the role has affected National Development.
1.2 RESEARCH PROBLEM
The problems now are: That the Nigerians press has been somehow accused by many of operating on the principle of the country’s political setting. That the press has not been able to effectively work towards the unification of the country. That the press further compounded the existing dichotomy among the various ethnic groups. Hence, the ethnic entities have always been suspicious of one another; since political tracheotomy is along regional lines. Therefore, the press, which ought to unite the people through promotion of cultural, values and symbols essential to the (sanctity and continuity in the society, appeared to be deficient in meeting the people’s expectations. As a student of mass communication, this then gave the researcher an impetus to investigate the issue in order to ascertain the ole of the press in the political polarization and its effects on National Development.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The primary aim of this project therefore is to examine if the role of the press reflects the political polarization of the Nigerian state.
The study will examine the role of the press between 1979 – 1983 – and 1985 – 1993.
The consequences of the role of the press in the political shall be examined.
1.4 SIGNIFICANCES OF THE STUDY
The relevance of this study will be to identify whether the Nigerian press is politically polarized and if yes, ascertain its effects on National Development. It shall also identify the role of the press in crises situation and how it has been able to positively or negatively manage the situation. The study may be useful for media critics and media evaluators in the country. It may be also useful for students of mass communication may be interested in conducting further research into the issue for an in-depth understanding. Furthermore, it may help any interested member in identifying the positive and negative effects of the press in the over all development of the Nigeria state.
1.5 SCOPE AND LIMITATION
The focus of this research shall be the role of the Nigerian press in the political polarization between 1979 – 1983 and 1985 – 1993. It must be stated that there are few literatures on the topic of research. Also, the data that may be readily available for this project will be those of newspaper magazines, journals etc. Factors such as finance and time may militate against this work, these are sine – qua – non-in contemporary issue as this and the researcher is not exempted.
1.6 THE RESEARCH QUESTIONS
In this study, the research shall try to proffer answers to the following propositions:
a) Does the Nigerian Press operate on political basis?
b) If so, to what extent has this proactive been displayed?
c) How has it affected National Development?
The Nigerian press has not been objective enough in reporting issues across the nooks and crannies of the country. The Nigeria press is in concert with the political division of the country in its reporting of events.
1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
POLARISATION: According to the Advance learners Dictionary of Current English, polarization means to divide into groups based on two or more opposite principle, political opinions. In the course of writing this project the term polarization will be taken to mean division within the body of the press in the country.
THE PRESS: The Advance Learners Dictionary defines it as an organisation for collecting News and supplying it to newspaper. The term PRESS will be used to mean various newspaper organizations in the country.
DEVELOPMENT: Radom House Dictionary of English Language defines it as an act or process of developing similarly, the oxford universal Dictionary / illustrated, Defines it as a growth from within. According to Advance learners Dictionary of current English Development means process of development or being developed or a new stage, which is the result of development. However in this project, development would betaken to mean all spheres of human development vis: political economic, social and physical economic, social and physical infrastructure that would enhance the well – being of the people or as one time secrfary General of united National Boutrous Ghali puts if “development is economic growth plus social changes”.
NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT: This according to Jere Turnstall (1971) “is development that is peculiar or common or affecting the whole fact of a country be it economic political social and physical infrastructure. Therefore the term “National Development” will be used to mean upliftment of the nations economic political and physical infrastructure conditions.
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