PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE AND THE CREDIBILITY OF THE NIGERIA ELECTION: THE ROLE OF THE MEDIA

(Political Science)

PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE AND THE CREDIBILITY OF THE NIGERIA ELECTION: THE ROLE OF THE MEDIA

ABSTRACT

This project work attempt to investigate the presidential debate and the credibility of the Nigeria Election: the role of the media. And it was divided into five chapters. Chapter one deals with the introduction, background to the study, statement of the problem, research questions, hypothesis, significance of the study and purpose of the study. Chapter two dealt with the review of relevant literatures, journals and newspapers. Chapter three dealt with the methodology of the study, research design, sample and sampling techniques, method of data analysis. Chapter four however deals with analysis and interpretation on data collection and the result of this data were discussed. Finally, chapter five comprises of the summary, conclusion and recommendation. Among the recommendations made by the researcher were;

  1. A government owned electronic medium either state or federal and privately owned medium shall give equal access on daily basis to all registered political parties or candidates of such political parties that are contesting elections.
  2. As the election draw closer, the media and broadcast media will be a focal point as political reporting and programming escalate. The public would be eager for useful information on which to base decision making about who gets their vote. Journalists are being charged with a duty to provide equal access to political parties.  
  3. The Nigeria media should realize the enormous challenge before them of making all Nigerian aware of the critical issues and programmes upon which the successes of election are based. Hence, the election campaign reporters should seek out relevant truths for the people who cannot witness or comprehend the events that affect them.

 

TABLE OF CONTENT

Chapter One     

1.1    Background of the Study

1.2    Statement of the Study

1.3    Research Questions

1.4    Research Hypothesis

1.5    Objective of the Study

1.6    Significance of the study

1.7    Scope of the study

1.8    Limitation of the study 

1.9    Organization of the Study 

Chapter Two     

2.1    Literature Review

Chapter Three

3.0    Research Methodology

3.1    Research design

3.2    Population of the study

3.3    Sample and sampling technique

3.4    Validity of Data Instrument

3.5    Reliability of Data Instrument

3.6    Method of Data Collection

3.7    Method of Data Analysis

Chapter Four    

Data Presentation and Analysis 

Chapter Five     

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1    BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY

The media are essential to democracy, and a democratic election is impossible without media. A free and fair election is not only about the freedom to vote and the knowledge of how to cast a vote, but also about a participatory process where voters engage in public debate and have adequate information about parties, policies, candidates and the election process itself in order to make informed choices. Furthermore, media acts as a crucial watchdog to democratic elections, safeguarding the transparency of the process. Indeed, a democratic election with no media freedom, or stifled media freedom, would be a contradiction in terms. (Adamun Ogunsanwo, 1982)

In 2005 the yearly World Press Freedom Day international conference produced a declaration that stressed “independent and pluralistic media are essential for ensuring transparency, accountability and participation as fundamental elements of good governance and human-rights based development”. Furthermore, the declaration urges member states to “respect the function of the news media as an essential factor in good governance, vital to increasing both transparency and accountability in decision-making processes and to communicating the principles of good governance to society”. (Agba, P.C, 2007)

In order to fulfill their roles, the media need to maintain a high level of professionalism, accuracy and impartiality in their coverage.  Regulatory frameworks can help ensure high standards. Laws and regulation should guarantee fundamental freedoms essential to democracy, including freedom of information and expression, as well as participation. Meanwhile, provisions such as requiring government media, funded out of public money, to give fair coverage and equitable access to opposition parties, help ensure appropriate media behaviour during elections.

The media have traditionally been understood to refer to the printed press as well as radio and television broadcasters. In recent years however, the definition has become broader, encompassing new media including online journalism, and social media. Citizen journalism is widely gaining traction, including in countries where traditional media is either controlled or strictly regulated. A prime concern of media coverage of elections is the right of voters to full and accurate information, and their rights to participate in debates and dialogue on policy matters and with politicians. Inherent to this task is the entitlement of parties and candidates to use the media as a platform for interaction with the public. Furthermore, the Electoral Management Body (EMB) has a need to communicate information to the electorate – and to a variety of other groups, including the political parties and candidates. The media themselves have a right to report freely and to scrutinize the whole electoral process. This scrutiny is in itself a vital safeguard against interference or corruption in the management or conduct of the electoral process.

The 2015 general election has attested to the proper functioning of the democratic system in Nigeria but also confirmed the important role that media can play in regularity, transparency and reliability in the polls. Journalists went to the polls to report live, interviewing observers, members of the polling stations and the public, to check whether everything was going normally. They also reported irregularities, fraud and threats of violence to get authorities to respond. Groups of thugs who were plotting to disrupt the vote during the first round were arrested after the media reported on it. And all day long, you had people and political leaders calling the radio and TV stations to tell them about any cases of wrongdoing, so that journalists could fact-check and report. The greatest role the media played in the election process was after the voting was over. In the evening, radio and television stations and online press provided live results that were posted at polling stations. This helped to prevent fraud and to quickly confirm the need for a second round.

As early as the 1940s the renowned social science researcher and media scholar, Lazarsfeld, noted the power of the mass media to confer status on people and public issues merely by reporting them. This role is further buttressed in the ability of the press to mould public opinion by defining the boundaries within which people think about and discuss political issues. (McCombs & Shaw, 1972, pp. 176-187) and (Okunna, 1999, pp. 211-212) Okunna (1999, p. 212) further observed that even when the mass media do not tell the electorate how to think, the media inevitably tell them what and what to think about.

        This assumption of media power was further emphasized by a presidential Observer, White (1973, p. 327) when he stated “the power of the press is a primordial one. It sets the agenda of public discussion, and this sweeping political power is unrestrained by any law. It determines what people will talk and think about, an authority that in other nations is reserved for tyrants, priest, parties and mandarins”.  

        Since such power and influence can be wielded by the press in the political landscape of a nation. It goes without saying that during election campaigns, the political agenda setting roles of the print media can be effective in casting legitimacy and prominence on candidates and political parties who may eventually utilize the media during these periods. (Blumler & McQuail, 1968, p.  426).

        Hence, everything about campaign reporting and coverage should serve to guide the electorates on what to do with their votes. Writing on this, Lou (1971, p. 151) instructed that “the campaign reporter should project the candidates by giving them ample press coverage both by the frequency and depth of the reports. He should also endeavour to highlight the candidate’s potential and shortcomings but with absolute detachment. In other words, he should do critical and objective analysis of the candidates with the aim of educating the electorate, in this capacity, the campaign reporter acts as a catalyst between the candidates and the electorates”.

        The study therefore examine how the Nigerian press discharge their expected duties during the 2015 presidential election campaign in the country.

1.2    STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

The media are essential to democracy, and a democratic election is impossible without media. A free and fair election is not only about the freedom to vote and the knowledge of how to cast a vote, but also about a participatory process where voters engage in public debate and have adequate information about parties, policies, candidates and the election process itself in order to make informed choices. Furthermore, media acts as a crucial watchdog to democratic elections, safeguarding the transparency of the process. Indeed, a democratic election with no media freedom, or stifled media freedom, would be a contradiction in terms.

Today, the freedom of the media in the discharge of their duties during elections process have been impeded on several occasion. This study intends to find out the role of the media in the 2015 presidential election in Nigeria.  

1.3    RESEARCH QUESTIONS

  1. What is the total number of news contents that were carried by the Nigerian newspapers on the 2015 presidential election campaigns?
  2. Which of the political parties received the most coverage of their campaigns in the press during the 2015 presidential election campaigns?
  3. What was the nature of news stories carried on the political parties by the press during the 2015 presidential election campaign?
  4. What is the level of prominence given to news stories on the presidential candidates and their political parties by the press during the election campaigns?

1.4    RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS

To guide this study the following hypotheses were formulated and tested at 0.05 level of significance:

Ho1:  There is no significant difference in the number of news content carried by the Nigeria News papers and the presidential election campaign.

Ho2: There is no significant difference in the news stories carried on the political parties by the press and the 2015 presidential election.

Ho3: There is no significant difference in the level of prominence given to news stories on the presidential candidates and their political parties by the press.

1.5    OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY

        The major purpose of the study was to analytically assess the performance of the Nigerian press in the coverage of the 2015 presidential election campaigns. In addition, the study equally aimed at:

  1. Discovering which among the Nigerian political parties received the most coverage of their election campaigns in the Nigerian press during the 2015 presidential election campaigns.
  2. Findings out the nature of news stories that were carried on the political parties by the press during the 2015 presidential election campaign. 
  3. Determining the among of prominence that was accorded news stories on the presidential candidates and their parties by the press during the election campaigns.
  4. Identifying the total number of news items that were carried by the Nigerian newspapers on the 2015 presidential election campaigns.

1.6   SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY

       The researcher embarked on this study because the outcome was expected to help make the government aware of the relevance of the print media as agent of wider publicity to the electorate and major stakeholders during election campaigns.

       The findings from the study will help to further sensitize the press towards their expected roles during elections. The researcher will gain in the expansion of his academic horizon, knowledge bank and research capabilities.

       Furthermore, the study will give cognitive value to readers and join in the pool of studies already existing on the roles of the press during presidential election campaigns, a factor that will be useful to researchers in need of further study on this area.

1.7   SCOPE OF THE STUDY

       This study deals on the role of the media in the debate and credibility of the Nigerian polls. The study only covers the Nigeria presidential election of 2015 and all the political parties in involved in the election processes were used as the population for the study.

1.9    ORGANIZATION OF THE STUDY:

Campaign Issues: These comprised the press coverage of such events and issues such as the political parties and their presidential candidate’s manifestoes, campaign promises, developmental agenda on such country’s needs as Road, Infrastructural development, Agriculture, Education, Health, Power/Energy, Transportation, Employment, security, Niger Delta, Sport, and Religion showcased by the Parties during the 2007 presidential election campaigns for the suitability of their candidate and their genuineness.

Election Campaign: Is seen as political events such as rallies, party conventions, press conferences, political manifestoes and debates that the Nigeria political parties showed during the 2007 Presidential election campaigns for the suitability of their candidates and the genuineness of their party.

Miscellaneous Issues: These entail any other issues that were not reported or covered in the other three content categories of Campaign, Political and Policy related issues already defined.

Newspaper: Is a large sheet of unbound printed publication, which presents information in words, often supplemented with pictures, issued daily and nationally by the Daily Independent, the Guardian and the Vanguard.

Newspaper content: Means the news, features, editorials and Photo news as carried by the Daily Independent, the Guardian and the Vanguard newspapers.

News story: Is a timely report of the 2015 presidential election campaigns which are reported and printed in the Guardian, the Daily Independent and the Vanguard newspapers.

Political Issues: These relate to the press coverage of the political activities carried out by the political parties in their bid to achieve power during the 2007 presidential elections. Such activities covered include the registration of the party’s candidates, the Parties’ internal democratic activities and primary elections, the Opposition parties activities targeted at toppling the ruling party during the election and some political parties collaboration aimed at achieving power in the 2015 presidential elections.

Policy Related Issues: These involve the press coverage of the presidential candidates’ policy information and blue prints for the economy, business, politics, budgets and administrative proposals.

Press: (used synonymously as the print media in the study) refers to the newspaper as defined above. It equally means the journalist who report news events as they happen and write other news related articles for the Daily Independent, the Guardian and the Vanguard newspapers. To determine the nature of prominence attached to the campaign news stories by the newspapers, the following divisions were also made:

Front page stories: Mean very important stories

Back page stories: Are next in prominence.

Inside page stories: Are least in the order of importance placed on the reports.

Favourable News stories: Are news that say pleasant, healthy or supportive things about a candidate or political parties.

Unfavourable News stories: Are news that say unpleasant, unhealthy or critical things about a candidate or a party.

Neutral News stories: Are news that do not either favour or ‘harm’ a candidate or a party.

 

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