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This paper examines the illusion and reality of press freedom in attaining a true democratic system of government in Nigeria. Area of the study was Enugu metropolis which comprises of Enugu North and Enugu South, as area considered one of the nerve centres of intense political activities in Nigeria. Data were collected through questionnaire. Survey method was used for this work. Findings show that the illusion and reality of press freedom in attaining a true democratic system of government in Nigeria is rapid and therefore, the government, media organisations and public must work hand-in-hand so that press freedom will be achieved. The study concludes that if a nation must experience development, it must not adhere to material advancement, threats, restrictions and corruption, instead, it should conform to growth, progress and freedom. Press must therefore be free of all sorts of constraints so that press freedom will be made an absolute reality in Nigeria. Also, the government must make sure that the economy of Nigeria is stable so as to meet up with other developed countries across the world. The government should not dictate for the media what to do and or where to cover events.
Title Page – – – – – – – – – – – -i
Approval Page – – – – – – – – – – -ii
Dedication – – – – – – – – – – -iii
Acknowledgements – – – – – – – – – -iv
Table of contents – – – – – – – – – -vi
Abstract – – – – – – – – – – – -x
Introduction – – – – – – – – – –
1.1 Background Of The Study – – – – – – -1
1.2 Statement Of The Problem – – – – – – – -11
1.3 Objectives Of The Study- – – – – – – -12
1.4. Research Questions – – – – – – – – -13
1.5Research Hypotheses- – – – – – – -13
1.6 Significance Of The Study- – – – – – – -14
1.7 Scope Of The Study – – – – – – – – -15
1.8 Definition Of Terms – – – – – – – – -16
2.0 Literature Review – – – – – – – – -17
2.1 Sources Of Literature – – – – – – – — – – -17
2.1 Review Of Related Literature – – – – – – -17
2.2.1 Concept Of Press Freedom – – – – – – -20
2.2.2 History Of The Press In Nigeria – – – – – -22
2.2.3 The Era Of Missionary Journalism- – – – – -23
2.2.4 The Era Of The Alien Dominated Press – – – – -24
2.2.5 The Indigenous Press. – – – – – – -27
2.2.6 Modern Nigerian Press – – – – – – -28
2.2.7 Press: The Voice Of The Voiceless – – – – -31
2.2.8 Problems Encountered By The Press And The Press Men In
Nigeria, Including Press Law/Censorship – – -33
2.2.9 The Roles Of The Press In Nation-Building – – – -35
2.2.10Benefits Of Media Freedom – – – – – -38
2.2.11Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) – – – – -39
2.2.12Exemptions Of Freedom Of Information Act – – – -41
2.3 Theoretical Framework – – – – – – – -42
2.4 Summary Of Literature Review – – – – – – -43
Research Methodology – – – – – – – – -44
3.1 Research Design – – – – – – – – -44
3.2Area Of Study – – – – – – – – – -44
3.3 Population Of The Study- – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – 45
3.4Research Sampling Technique/Sampling Size – – – -45
3.5 Instrument For Data Collection – – – – – – -45
3.6 Validity Of The Instrument – – – – – – -46
3.7 Method Of Data Collection – – – – – – – -46
3.8 Method Of Data Analysis – – – – – – -47
Data Presentation And Analysis – – – – – – – -48
4.1 Data Presentation And Analysis – – – – – – -48
4.2 Hypothesis Testing – – – – – – – – -58
4.3 Discussions Of Findings – – – – – – – -61
Summary, Conclusion And Recommendations For Further Studies
5.1 Summary – – – – – – – – – -64
5.2 Conclusion – – – – – – – – – -65
5.3Recommendations For Further Studies – – – – – -65
References – – – – – – – – – – -67
Appendix – – – – – – – – – – – -71
1.1 Background Of The Study
The term “press freedom” has been over used and there is nothing to be
freshly about it that has been mentioned before. One of the internationally
acclaimed barometers for measuring the degree of democratic or national
development of a policy is the extent which press freedom – one of the
inalienable rights of man- is safeguarded. The mass media which is greatly
regarded as the fourth estate of a realm, the three others are the
executive, legislature and the judiciary. It needs to be emphasized that the
mass media have both constitutional and traditional responsibilities to
serve as the watchdog of the three arms of government, in all attempt to
establish a better polity.
The press in a democratic system of government should ensure that
citizens are kept well informed so as to remove the wide gap between the
government and the governed. It is only when people are kept adequately
informed that they can understand government actions, take active
participation in government activities and broaden their minds on certain
policies that affect them either directly or otherwise.
Sawanti, 2002: PS 9-11, it is the role of the media to set agenda. Through
this, they set the tone of discussion for important national issues, collate
the opinion of the people on the issues and convey the authorities the
people‟s approval or otherwise of such issues. Through the investigative
journalism, the mass media can expose scams and scandals, anti-social
activities, corruption, waste, inefficiency and negligence of the part of the
authorities. The mass media can act as an ombudsman on behalf of the
people every day.
(The Nigerian freedom of expression community‟s advertorial in tell,
September 20, 2004: P47) propounded that the media in the democratic
system of government plays three (3) important roles:-
Inform citizens on matters of public policy and politics by presenting
and debating alternatives.
Act as a watchdog by uncovering political economic and corporate as
well as other forms of abuse of power and inept policies.
Helps to empower citizens to be aware of civic and political right and
how to exercise these rights.
Through these roles, the media helps to build and sustain a participatory,
transparent and an accountable governance structure.
The word “Freedom” like democracy is a term with a single thread of
meaning lying beneath all the varied uses and interpretation which have
been made to the term; what exactly then is freedom of press?
In article 19 of 1948 universal declaration of human rights promulgated by
the united states actions” it clearly states that:
“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression, the
right to hold opinions with interference and seek, receive and impact
information and ideas through media regardless of frontiers”.
Oloyede: 1996, “the press in a democratic society operates largely under
the libertarian and social responsibility concepts”. It is free to report
whatever is not expressly forbidden by the law. This implies that the
people are free to comment, based on facts and make constructive
criticisms of government on a democratic society. It also implies that
journalists and other media practitioners are free to source and
disseminate information without fear of intimidation.
Ultimately, the press performs the duty of making the government
responsible and accountable to the people in all spheres of national
Peterson 1989: P571 “ Through the freedom accorded to the press and
speech differs from nations, generally free press imply freedom of
expression without fear of punitive reprisal and consequences”.
The promulgation and enactment of international statues of conventions by
the United Nations and different National constitution to protect the
freedom of speech and of the press is a demonstration of the priority
accorded to their roles. Despite the existence of laws, protecting the press
and speech, for some reasons, freedom of expression has been abridging
in several ways. One agent of media control is the government. Though
National government do prescribe laws and decree for free and responsible
press, government officials have often been accused of unwarranted
interference in operations of the press and of imposing restrictions on
Nwankwo et al (1993) illustrated that government abridgement of press
freedom. During the democratically elected government of Alhaji Shagari,
the sanction of the Nigerian television authority, National Assembly
correspondent, Vera Ifudu by Shagari‟s information minister for
broadcasting details of a scandal alleging the disappearance of N2.8 billion
from the account of the Nigerian National Petroleum corporation (NNPC) is
a graphic example, still under the Shagari‟s regime of 1979-1983, inspector
general of Police, Sunday Adewusi, issued order (unsuccessfully) to the
press to submit their publications to his office in advance of circulation.
Bernard Crick (in Oyediran, 1996) describes democracy as everybody‟s
mistress that is the fact that democracy has become a part and parcel of
thinking and vocabulary being used across borders.
Landsberg (1997), gives credence to the fact as he notes that “democracy”
in Africa is a sure recipe for tribalism and was thus, some individuals have
argued that what is needed is the type of democracy specially designed to
suit the peculiarities of each nation. Because of this belief, some Nigerians
have put forth the ideas of “home-grown” democracy as opposed to the
western style of democracy as most appropriate for the country.
The government and the press should strike a balance between social
responsibility, state security and freedom of the press. The long existing
friction where the both bodies (government and press) see each other as
arch-enemies should be revisited for the proper reorientation from both
sides. The rule of law should be made sacred in very practicable term as
well as proper respect for the fundamental human rights. The provision of
the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigera, section
15,16,17,18 and 20 which provide for political, economic, social,
educational, foreign policy and environmental objectives respectively
should be given a thorough consideration and implementation. Providing
for these objectives will drastically reduce the trends of the press bickering
with the government because the reasons for the media agitation to
protect the social interest are being taken care of.
Transparency and accountability on the side of the government will
considerably ensure if not entirely eliminate the case of the protected
place. The press on the other hand should uphold high ethical principles
and make social responsibilities its watchdog in a conducive environment of
informing. Entertaining, and educating the society along side with the other
functions of the media. This social responsibility concept should be one
that the journalist should rationally arrive at.
There are a number of theories that capture the essence of press freedom.
A. Authoritarian Theory
Siebert et al (1956:P42) “truth was conceived not to be the product of the
great mass of the people, but of a few wise men that were in a position to
guide and direct their fellow”. Thus truth was thought to be centred near
the centre of power. The press therefore, functioned from time past to
inform the people of what the rulers “thought”, they should know and the
policies the rulers thought they should support. With this theory, the
government of the monarch was vested with the power to control the
ownership and use of the media for mass communication.
Besides, no press dared criticize the monarch, government officials of the
political machinery, as the existed principally to support and advance the
policies of the monarch and by extension, the government. It is this
perception of press freedom that greatly, influenced military government in
B. Libertarian Theory
The argument of its proponents is that man is a thinking independent and
a rational animal that is capable of making a choice between what is good
and that which is bad. Man, according to Siebert et al (1956) is no longer
conceived as a dependent being (as in authoritarian theory) “to be led and
directed, rather as a rational being able to discern between a better and
worse alternative choices”. Truth is no longer conceived of as the property
of power, rather the right to search for truth is one of the alienable natural
rights of man…, the press is conceived as a partner in search for truth.
Oloyede (1996: Ps 3-4) identifies three major ingredients of press freedom
under libertarianism. One is the assumption of the presence of a
multiplicity of voices on public issues at al times. The second components
is the absence of state control in the operation of the news media, while
the third is the financial independence of the press.
The basic characteristic of press freedom under the libertarian theory is
however summed up by Mc Quail (1987: Ps115-116) cited in Sadeeq
(1993) they are that
Publication should be free from any prior censorship by any third
party; the act of publication and distribution should be open to a
person or group without permit or licence; attack on any government
officials or political party (as distinct from attacks on private
individuals or treason and breaches of security) should not be
punishable, even after the event, there should be no compulsion to
Publication of „errors‟ is protected equally with that of truth in matters
of opinion and belief; no restriction should be placed on the
collection, by legal means of information for publication; there should
be no restriction on export and import or sending or receiving
“messages” across national frontiers; journalists should be able to
claim a considerable degree of professional autonomy within their
C. Soviet / Communist Theory
The soviet press operated as a tool of the ruling power just as the old
authoritarian theory. But unlike the older pattern, it is state owned rather
than privately owned. However, in spite of the fact that the soviet press
was being tightly controlled, soviet spokesman thought of their press as
free because it is free to say the „truth‟ as the party sees it.
The basic characteristics of press freedom under the soviet/communist
theory of the press are that: the press is used instrumentally, that is as an
instrument of the state and the party; the media are closely integrated with
other instrument of state power and party influence; they are used as
instruments of unity within the state and the party; they are almost
exclusively as instruments of propaganda and agitation “Agit-props” and
they are characterised by district enforced responsibility (Ravitch, 1991).
D. Social Responsibility Theory
This theory was developed out of the fact that the libertarian theory at a
point could not guarantee freedom of expression and that of the press.
This was because, after the collapse of authoritarian system, the media fell
into hands of a powerful few. No longer was it therefore easy for the press
to be the free market place of ideas. This theory holds that the press must
assume the role of serving the political system, enlightening the public,
safeguarding the libertarian of individuals, servicing the economic system,
providing good entertainment without necessarily harming the democratic
Nigerian constitution is not categorical about the freedom of the press; the
traditional functions are however derived from section 36 of the 1979
constitution which states that:
“Every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression including
freedom to hold opinion and to receive and impact ideas and information
without interference. (The constitution of the FRN, 1979).
1.2 Statement Of Problem
The study of this work will seek to know the illusion and reality of press
freedom in the Nigeria democratic system of government in Nigeria.
In stating the problems of this work, it is very important to note research
questions on the press and democratic system as a concept, in such a way
that it will be easy to collect data to answer the questions: Are the Nigerian
journalist deceiving themselves in actualizing press freedom in our
democratic system of government making it a reality for Nigerians to
operate in a free media ownership? Why should there be absolute press
freedom in our democratic system of government?
1.3 Objectives Of The Study
It is true that without the press, the nation has a cog in its wheel of
development, for they constitute immensely as agents through which a
nations development objectives can be achieved. Therefore this study shall
among others aim at:
i To ascertain the level of commitment of media owners and
employees ( Journalists ) towards ensuring effective gathering and
dissemination of information in the country.
ii. To identify the problem affecting press freedom in Nigerian
Democratic system of Government.
iii. To aim at actualizing absolute press freedom in Nigeria.
1.4. Research Questions
This work should be able to address the problems posed and achieve the
aims and objectives of the study, the following research questions should
be put into proper consideration in order to achieve the aims of this work.
The following questions are to be bore in mind:
1. How do you ascertain the level of commitment of media owners and
2. What are problems affecting press freedom in Nigerian Democratic
system of Government?
3. Why should there be absolute press freedom in Nigerian democratic
system of Government?
1.5 Research Hypotheses
Hypothesis is a tentative statement made by a researcher to verify his
terms and test his facts in the likes of the following:-
Ho: The level of commitment of media owners and Journalists is high.
H1: The level of commitment of media owners and Journalists is not high.
Ho: There are problems affecting press freedom in Nigerian democratic
system of Government.
H2: There are no problems affecting press freedom in Nigerian
democratic system of Government.
Ho: There is absolute press freedom in Nigerian democratic system of
H3: There is no absolute press freedom in Nigerian democratic system of
1.6 Significance Of The Study
Information which is the light of a nation has remained one panacea for
the achievement of a nation‟s growth and development. Therefore, the
study should significantly achieve the following:
i. The study should provide effective and objective information in
gathering its dissemination by the media organization.
ii. It will serve as a reference to managers, editors and students alike
especially in such an area of study that cut across all the facts of
our everyday life.
iii. It is the researcher‟s contribution to both the academic world and
practicing journalists in Nigeria as a whole.
1.7 Scope Of The Study
The scope of the study is limited to the illusion and reality of press freedom
in the Nigerian democratic system of government examining the media.
It goes further to call on practising journalists across the country on the
need to arise and work hard for the actualization and realization of total
press emancipation in the act of gathering information and disseminating
such information effectively.
1.8 Definitions Of Terms
Illusion: This means something that deceives and deludes or misleads
intellectually in such a way as to produce false impression or idea that
exaggerates or minimize reality or that attributes existence of what does
Reality: It is true situation and the problem that actually exist in life, in
contrast to how you would like life.
Press Freedom: According to Femi Sonayeke, it simply means allowing
the press to perform its traditional role of keeping the masses informed
about event taking place within and outside their communities without any
hindrance, harassment or legal and social constraints.
Democracy: It is a fair and equal treatment of everyone in any media
organization and right to take part in the decision making of any media
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