Mass Communication

The Role of the Media in Promoting Good Governance in Nigeria

The Role of the Media in Promoting Good Governance in Nigeria



1.1 Background to the Study

In modern day governance globally, the issue of Good Governance has assumed the front burner as an indispensable requirement for social, economic and political developments (World Bank, 1989, UNESCO, 2005; Nanda, 2006; Hout, 2007; Gisserlquit, 2012), yet better governance continues to be a source of worry and a big challenge to most countries including Nigeria. Interestingly, Nigerian government in a bid to ensure good governance in the country had in, the 1999 Nigerian constitution in Section 16 (1) a, b, c, and d, and Section 16 (2) entrenched some of the principles of Good Governance as a possible criteria for governance in the country.

Despite these constitutional provisions, as well as the enormous financial resources, and huge potentials of the country, including the social and economic policies that have been implemented by successive administrations, good governance continues to be elusive to Nigeria. In another attempt to enthrone Good Governance in the country, recent democratic administrations, organized Good Governance tours, where officials of the Federal Ministry of Information alongside Journalists from various media houses, inspect the progress of work on the projects executed by the different agencies of the federal and the state governments. The objective of the tour is for the media to assess the performance of elected public office holders at both the federal and state levels. The Nigerian constitution in section 22 made provision for such an exercise where it stated inter alia; “The press, radio, television and other agencies of the mass media shall at all times be free to uphold the fundamental objectives contained in this chapter and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the government to the people”. This links the media to the establishment of good governance.

The relationship between media and governance has been viewed as being influential in unstable developmental tide in the African continent (Okoro, 2013). Media scholars have made concerted effort aimed at examining the role of the media in the development process which is coordinated by government and its structures. These efforts have led to widely accepted view that good governance is crucial to sustainable development but linkage of good governance to sustainability of such development through media is yet to be fully appreciated (Langmia, 2010; Okoro, 2010).

The role of the media in promoting good governance is clear. All aspects of good governance are facilitated by a strong and independent media scape within a society. Only when journalists are free to monitor, investigate and criticize the public administration’s policies and actions can good governance take hold. Independent media are like a beacon that should be welcomed when there is nothing to hide and much to improve. Indeed, this is the concrete link between the functioning of the media and good governance – the media allow for ongoing checks and assessments by the population of the activities of government and assist in bringing public concerns and voices into the open by providing a platform for discussion.

Instead, all too often governments devise laws and informal means of keeping their activities hidden from public view or only available to media favorable to their viewpoint. In recent years, many governments have tried to co-opt journalists by paying part of their salaries or by giving them certain kinds of access on condition that they will not report from other perspectives. If the media are to function in the public interest, governments have to protect the independent functioning of the media and allow various viewpoints to flourish in society.

The role of independent and pluralistic media in fostering participation is critical as the media report on aspects of the decision-making process and give stakeholders a voice in that process. Freedom of the media allows for the formation of a public sphere in which a wide range of debates can take place and a variety of viewpoints be represented. The citizenry can thereby use the media to express their assent or dissent or explore aspects of issues not considered through official channels. Government has a responsibility to allow the media to contribute to the participation process, especially in arenas where face-to-face participation is not possible. This will only be allowed to foster Good Governance and by a good government.

Good governance is an essential framework which serves as a means of achieving wider goals such as social and political development, alleviation of poverty and protection of the environment. It is about security of life and property, peace and prosperity. Without good governance, social, economic and political progress is difficult to attain and impossible to guarantee. In fact, it is the bedrock of any modern democracy. Promoting good governance is not an easy task as it is much more involving than organizing elections and appointing people into public offices. A free and critical media is essential to the growth and development of any democracy. As a watchdog of the society, the media owe it as a duty to monitor governance closely and hold public office holders accountable to the people who elected them as required by the constitution. Given the appropriate situation, the media are key factors in the overall strategy to promote good governance, rule of law, ensure probity and accountability, wipe out illiteracy and eradicate poverty. It is against this backdrop that this research examines the role of the media in promoting good governance and some of the challenges facing the media in meeting up with this task. This study will explore the nexus between media and governance and how this translates into Good Governance.

1.2 Statement of Problem

The role of the media in promoting good governance cannot be over emphasized. The media acts as check and balances to any government in terms of its reportage of the activities of governance to the people. Sometimes, the government makes certain efforts to conceal their activities from the media and may even go as far as removing the enabling environments for the media to flourish. Due to such wrong media censorships, the freedom of the media is jeopardized and the society invariably suffers its consequences. But the media in Nigeria, particularly, has been going through a lot of challenges especially in terms of checkmating the activities of the government. Just recently, AIT and DAAR Communications were shut down by the Federal Government due to some of their media reportage on the actions of government. Given some of the challenges of the media, one cannot deny their role in promoting good governance. This study examines the role of the media in good governance of Nigeria and some of the challenges facing the Nigerian media.

1.3 Objectives of the Study

The aim of this study is to examine the media and good governance in Nigeria. The following objectives will strengthen the study:

i. To establish the nexus between the media and good governance.

ii. To examine the role of the media in promoting good governance in Nigeria.

iii. To examine some of the challenges facing the Nigerian media.

iv. To assess the public opinion(s) concerning the Nigerian media and good governance.

1.4 Research Questions

The research will be guided by the following research questions:

i. Is there a nexus between the media and good governance?

ii. What is the role of the media in promoting good governance in Nigeria?

iii. What are some of the challenges facing the Nigerian media?

iv. What is the public opinion(s) concerning the Nigerian media and good governance?

1.5 Significance of the Study

This study is significant for the following reasons:

It will give insights to readers on the role of the media in promoting good governance in Nigeria. Members of the media and government officials will also find the findings of this study useful and informative in terms of the perception of Nigerians on the roles the media play in good governance of the country. This research will thus serve as opinion polls for both media practitioners and the government.

Also, students and researchers who may want to carry out future research on similar topics will find this study as useful source materials for their work. Lastly, this research is useful for its contribution to knowledge as it will increase the literatures in media practices.

1.6 Scope of the Study

The study adopts the social responsibility and agenda setting theories of the mass media to access the objectives of the research which are an examination of the role of the media in promoting good governance in Nigeria and some of the challenges facing the Nigerian media. Only The Sun newspaper will be examined for data collection. The study will not go beyond the objectives stated above.

1.7 Limitation of the Study

The inability of the researcher to sample opinions from all the media practitioners in Nigeria limits the findings of this research. As a matter of fact, only a small population of data from the Sun Newspaper was sampled.

Time constraints also pose a limitation for this study as the researcher is not able to cover more grounds that would have been insightful for this research. Also, finding media practitioners and convincing them to collect, fill and submit the questionnaires was a difficult task that poses a limitation to this study, not to mention the financial constraints in moving from one place to another within Abuja to sample opinions.

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