Mass Communication Project Topics

The Media and the Challenges of Conducting Elections in Nigeria: A Perspective Analysis of 2015 General Elections

The Media and the Challenges of Conducting Elections in Nigeria A Perspective Analysis of 2015 General Elections

The Media and the Challenges of Conducting Elections in Nigeria: A Perspective Analysis of 2015 General Elections

Chapter One

Objectives of the Study

The broad objective of this study is to analyze the media and the challenges of conducting elections in nigeria: a perspective analysis of 2015 general elections. Other specific objectives include:

  1. To examine the roles of the media in the consolidation of democratic election in Nigeria.
  2. To explore the relationship between the media and democratic election in Nigeria.
  3. To also examine the challenges faced by the media in enthroning democratic election system.




Literature review is a well-integrated discussion and critical evaluation of different scholarly viewpoints on a given research problem as found in the previous relevant studies highlighting their strengths, weakness and indicating how a given study, for example this one will make contribution to the existing body of knowledge. A well-structured literature review is characterized by a logical flow of ideas, current and relevant references with consistent, appropriate referencing style, and proper use of terminology or terms and an unbiased and comprehensive view of the previous research or studies on the research topic.


The concept of democracy has become a popular concept in every contemporary discourse. Now a word resonates in people’s minds and springs from their lips as they struggle for freedom and better conditions of service. In its Greek understanding, the word “democracy” has a remote origin from the word demokratia (demos – the people, plus kratia (from kartos) – sway, authority) meaning the rule by the people. The impression this conveys is that it is a form of government where the people directly takes decisions by themselves without representation as we presently have today in most states of the world (Aguda: n.d :17 cited in Ezonbi & Jonah, 2013).

Democracy is adjudged as the most popular system of government in the world. It is popularly seen as the government of the people, by the people and for the people. As a concept, according to Obasanjo and Mabgunje (1992) cited in Ogah & Ogeyni (2014:55), democracy as an ideology is the philosophy of governance which sets a high premium on the basic freedom or fundamental human rights of the citizens, rule of law, the right to property, the free flow of information and the right of choice between alternative political positions. Simply put, democracy is that system of politics in which sovereignty is vested on the people rather than in a small clique or an oligarchy, where the rule of law, majority rule and constitutionalism are basic guiding principles of governance. It is in this context that Ramaswamy (2007:377) posited that democracy means the rule by the people as contrasted with the rule by one person or a group. He went further to say that, it is the people who are both rulers and rule unlike other systems like monarchy, dictatorship or oligarchy where a distinction between the ruler and the ruled exists. But a cursory examination of the scenario in Nigeria negates this basic ingredient of democracy. In the context of Nigeria, instead of majority having their way in the process of governance, a few cabals have hijacked the state of affairs in the state. And any attempt to challenge the powers that be would amount to the brutal maltreatment of the fundamental rights of the innocent and suffering masses.

Democratic Governance

The increasing priority accorded the concept of democratic Governance in international discourses, on politics and development across the globe has resulted in constant definitions and redefinitions as to what really constitutes democratic Governance (Doornbos, 2003; Suchitra, 2004; Gisselguist, 2012). Looking at various literature on democratic Governance, we could identify three strands of argument:

  1. Proponents of the democratic Governance agenda that sees it as a worthy goal and a means through which to impact economic growth and development. Their argument is aptly captured in this long quotation:

In poorly governed countries, it is argued, corrupt bureaucrats and politicians baldly hinder development efforts by stealing aid contributions or misdirecting them into unproductive activities. Less obvious but equally pernicious, governments that are not accountable to their citizens and with inefficient bureaucracies and weak institutions are unwilling or unable to formulate and implement pro-growth and pro-poor policies (Gisseltquirt, 2012, p.1).

On the other hand, the opponents who raise strong challenges argue the following points:

  1. a) Use of Good Governance criteria in the allocation of foreign aids effectively introduces political conditionalities and imposes Western liberal models of democracy (Nanda, 2006; NEPAD, 2007:3).
  2. b) Good Governance agenda is a poor guide for development policy. It is unrealistically long and not attuned to issues of sequencing and historical developments (Grindle, 2004; Booths, 2011)
  3. c) Good Governance ignores institutional variations across well governed states (Pitchett, 2004, Andrews, 2008).

The third stream of research raises questions about the causal effect of the quality of governance on various outcomes especially economic growth (Kurtz & Schrank, 2007a, 2007b; Khan, 2009). It is instructive to point out that current body of literature (Gerring 2001; Goertz,2005; Keefer,2009; Shirley,2010;Gisselquirt,201) have argued that democratic governance is a poorly defined concept and that future research should rather focus on the disaggregated components of democratic governance. This in part informs the structure of the discourse of this work. A critical consideration of the conceived differences surrounding the concept goes to point out the increased significance attached to the concept in recent times and also underscores the utility of the democratic governance components in development index across the nations and in the aggregate well being of democratic governance of a country.

Despite the contentions surrounding the concept, democratic governance has assumed an entrenched position as an indicator for measuring the development progress of any nation as well as a central factor for development. As Oburota (2003) argued “Politically, people may disagree about the best means of achieving good governance, but they quite agreed that democratic Governance is absolutely imperative for social and economic progress”.

According to the Bank’s definition, the key components of democratic Governance include effectiveness and efficiency in public sector management, accountability and responsiveness of public officials to citizenry, rule of law and public access to information and transparency (World Bank, 1989, 1992, viii). Other International Monetary Agents defined the concept in similar way as World Bank did (See the definitions of ADB, 2008; EBRD, 2010; IADB, 2010).These definitions from the monetary agencies adopted the economic and management focused approach, whereas Multilateral Donor Agencies such as the UNDP (OECD,UNN,UNESCO) and others adopted political issues approach in their definitions. The definitions of these Donor Agencies are expertly captured in this United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP, 2002) definition of Good Governance as striving for:

Rule of law, transparency, participation, equity, effectiveness and efficiency, accountability, and strategic vision in the exercise of political, economic, and administrative authority.(UNDP, 2002, p.2)

This definition more than the previous definitions captured what has become identified by scholars as the elements or components of democratic Governance .These components of democratic Governance are; participation, consensus oriented, rule of law, transparency, accountability, responsiveness, efficiency and effectiveness.

As the definitions presented above suggest, there are clear similarities across the working definitions from different international agents with minor differences. Irrespective of the arguments that find favour in current literature concerning the inaccuracies surrounding the definition of democratic governance concept and the unending addition to the components, a synthesis of these definitions more or less reveal that democratic governance constitutes two operative words, ‘Governance, and ‘Democratic’. As such, basic understanding of these operative words readily yields a simple incontestable fact that the act of governance can be good or also bad. Since our focus is on democratic Governance, we will now consider other definitions of the concept. According to Madhav (2007) as quoted in Ogundiya (2010), democratic governance has much to do with the ethical grounding of governance and must be evaluated with reference to specific norms and objectives as may be laid down. It looks at the functioning of the given segment of the society from the point of view of its acknowledged stakeholders, beneficiaries and customers. Therefore to describe governance as democratic Ogundiya (2010) explains, requires the understanding of the essence of the state which is not only embedded in the constitution but also a function of religious ideals and the nature of the current problems confronting the state.







The media in Nigeria, as in other parts of the world, serve as a major medium of communication in the country. The different types of the media (print, electronic and now social media) create awareness and understanding of happenings among the 167 million diverse people of the country (Pate, 2012). These diversities cut across ethnic segmentation, religious affiliations, political orientations, social groupings and economic opportunities, among others.

Nigerian media started as a forum for debate, education and discussion of public issues, which was aimed at public enlightenment and entertainment. Thus, the birth of Nigerian media as an institution that promotes public enlightenment through information dissemination can be traced back to 1859 (print media) and 1932 (electronic media) respectively (Nkwocha, 1999; Ojenike, 2005; Enemaku, 2005).

Rev. Henry Townsend established the first print media-newspaper, with a publication called Iwe-Iroyin. The objective of this publication was to get its audience (people) to acquire the habit of seeking information by reading. With the upsurge in daily newspapers, the media became a platform for the expression of nationalists’ consciousness. For instance, in 1880, a group of Nigerians established the Lagos Times, which immediately started as a series of confrontation with colonial forces.

On the other hand, the first electronic media-radio station started in 1932 when the British Colonial Government opened a Radio Distribution Service (RDS) in Lagos to transmit British Broadcasting Corporations (BBC) programmes in Nigeria (Sulaiman, 2002). The RDS was later transformed into Nigerian Broadcasting Service (NBS) in 1951 and by 1957; the NBS was changed to a corporation status called Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) in order to shield it from government interference and undue propagation of the views of the ruling political party. Also, the first television station-Western Nigerian Television Service (WNTS) was established in 1959 by an opposition leader, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, who was denied access to national radio (Ojenike, 2005). Thereafter, each regional governments followed suit and established their own television stations. In this respect, the Federal Government in January 1st 1962 launched an interim service/a global network service which later matured into a fully-fledged government parastatal now known as Voice of Nigeria (VON) through Decree 15 of 1991 (Nkwocha, 1999; Ojenike, 2005).


The Role of the Mass Media and its Challenges in Democratic Consolidation in Nigeria

 Mass Media Role in Consolidating Democracy in Nigeria

The media, throughout the history of Nigeria have always been in the forefront of the struggle to establish democracy in the country. Lending credence to this assertion, Obilade (1999:235), opined that the “press in Africa constitutes an active force in the realization of the goal of the evolution of sustainable democracy in the continent of Africa. He also observed That the press in Africa is playing a prominent role in the democratization process in African states which have non-democratic governments” Going back to the history of the country, during colonial period, it is an establish fact that the media is the main agent with which the Nigerian nationalists used to struggle for independence, and by extension the enthronement of democracy in Nigeria. Nigeria nationalist leaders like Chief Anthony Enahoro and Chief M.C.K Ajuluchuku used their newspapers as veritable weapons to fight against and dethrone colonialism and establish an independent democratic Nigeria.




The Nigerian media could not be said to be a stranger to democracy and electoral process. There is always a relationship between the political system and the environment in which the media operate, since the media do not exist in a vacuum. Accidentally, the Nigerian media have been molded with an environment that is characterized by instability, repressive legislation and restriction of access to information. The transition of political power from full-blown military dictatorship to civil rule/governance following the election of 1999, only paved way for the democratization processes aimed at transforming the various institutions that were suffocated in long years of military rule. The Nigerian media emerged as a crucial part of the apparatus for vetting and legitimizing elections. They provide information to the voters about candidates, the electoral process, actual voting dates and the rule of the games.

Thus, the Nigerian media need to overcome some of the challenges that limit their performance as a credible institution entrusted with the role of serving as the watchdog of the society without flouting the media ethical standards and squander imperatives for objectivity. In this respect, the media personnel, stakeholders-politicians and Nigerians should take steps of reposition themselves for building enduring and stable democracy for sustainable development in Nigerian society.


In this study, it is argued that the relationship between the media and the democratic processes in Nigeria is neither wholesome nor holistic. This is, however, a matter neither of normative or ideological configuration – nor of conspiracy or scheming by any ethnic nationality.

Nevertheless, there is no doubt as to the critical role of the media in sustaining Nigerian democracy.

Arguably, from the findings of the study, the media has done much in consolidating the Nigeria’s nascent democracy, though the use of freebies, “co-opting”, death threats, assaults, insufferable legislations, intimidations and even assassinations of media professionals have greatly weakened their ranks. Moreover, most Nigerians hold the view that Nigeria is not democratic yet. They believe that Nigeria as a nation, at best, only has traces of the elements that are inherent in the process of democratization. In this connection, Tony Momoh, a former minister of information (in Nigeria) explains that there is no democracy without the press. He hinges the success of a democracy on the measure of freedom of the press in the country (Tell Magazine September 23, 2004). This position emphasizes once more, the function of the media in a political setting and the need for it to be free.

Nevertheless, the Nigeria government has from time past, viewed the press as a “dangerous neighbour” that should not only be kept at arm’s length but also fettered. It is in the realization of this somewhat warped view and the urgent need to revitalize all organs that could help Nigeria to become truly democratic in the eyes of Nigerians and non-Nigerians.

Today, we can safely boast that democracy is gradually taken root in Nigeria with the successful transition from one democratically elected government to another on May 29, 2015. However, we can’t say Nigeria democracy has developed, as the mass media must work assiduously hard to sustain the democratic successes we have achieved thus far. To further consolidate the success recorded by the mass media so far, the government must take some deliberate and concrete steps in overhauling the entire media industry in the country.


In light of the findings of the study, the following recommendations are apt:

  1. Credible feedback mechanisms and standard public-opinion monitoring systems should be institutionalized to properly inform, educate and guide media programming patterns and contents. Many of the broadcast stations may be reformed out of business. A media house is a change agent whose management dynamic in-flow of innovation, creativity, drive and energy to keep pace with contemporary democratic challenges in the society.
  2. Planning, organizing and managing of the media in consonance with the peculiar needs, aspirations and, cooperate existence of Nigeria as a country should be the beacon light of our media practice.
  3. Proper training will imbue the media practitioners with the moral courage that will enable them to persist without fear of danger or intimidation in pursuing that which they believe to be the best in the public interest. Thus, they can then be able to withstand assaults of manipulation from the authorities without compromising their principles.
  4. A continual assessment of both moral and ethical performance of media practitioner is also of vital importance, especially in Nigeria of today, which is still in search of her national identity.
  5. Media offerings should be so crafted to the extent that the society gives evidence of media sincerity, patriotism, wisdom, humanity and the right to claim that their efforts, through their professional practice indeed embrace the hopes and dreams of what most Nigerians can share.
  6. The media through investigative journalism should be able to expose frauds and they should not simply collect money and broadcast dubious claims that have been perfected as conducts for the siphoning of public resources/interests.


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  • Afamuefuna, C. A. (2007). Democracy and good governance in Nigeria: The place of the mass media. International journal of communication. PP 253- 264.
  • Agbaje, A. (1980) ‘Freedom of the Press and Party Politics in Nigeria: Precepts, Retrospect and Prospects’, African Affairs 89(355).
  • Akinfeleye R (2003). Issues in Nigeria Media History: 1900-2000 AD. Lagos: Malthouse Press Limited.
  • Alemoh, T.A. (2011). “Journalism Training, Workplace Influence and the quest for Professionalism”. In Wilson, D. (Ed.). Communication for Social Change and Development. Uyo: BSM Resources Nigeria Ltd.



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