THE ROLE OF THE NIGERIAN MEDIA IN PROMOTING RESPONSIBILITY AND ACCOUNTABILITY IN GOVERNMENT
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
For mass media to effectively and efficiently promote responsibility and accountability in government, it must first tackle and curb the rate at which corruption is moving in Nigeria.
Therefore, this project work examines different ways at which mass media serve as an impediment to corruption. It also considers how the media can be strengthened to enhance their role in curbing corruption for responsibility and accountability in power. Corruption remains a symptom of a poorly functioning state as witnessed in most developing countries such as Nigeria. Indeed, those who give and receive bribes can expropriate a nation’s wealth, leaving little or nothing for the poorest citizens. Highly corrupt countries often face particular challenges even when controlled by reform-minded rulers. Reforming public institutions and government policies is essential but poverty limits available options. Policymakers, however, can arrive at plausible solution only after understanding corruption’s effect on the efficiency and equity of an economic system (Nwaobi, 2004).
The history of corruption in Nigeria is strongly rooted in the over 29years of military rule, out of 52years of her statehood since 1960. Successive military regime subdued the rule of law, facilitated the wanton looting of the public treasury, decapitated public institutions and free speech and instituted a secret and opaque culture in the running of government business. Corruption became the dominant guiding principle for running affairs of state. The period witnessed a total reversal and destruction of every good thing in the country (Ribadu, 2006). The military took corruption to its highest level ever. Ironically, as previously stated, when military seized power from democratically elected government, pervasive corruption was cited as the justification. It is clear the military regime were worse than civilian regime as far as corruption was concerned. This explains the reasons for the multiplicity of corruption and the further decimation of available resources for national development. (Akinseye George, 200). Decrees were formulated and promulgated by the military government to frustrate and censor the media and surpass the masses.
Political activities assumed a dangerous dimension as contestant see their victory as the ticket to loot and amass wealth. Specifically, corruption became legitimized, especially during the regime of Babagida and Abacha (1985-1998), with huge revenue but wasteful spending, and nothing to show in term of physical development. The culture of corruption through what Nigerians has come to know, as settlement syndrome became part of the country’s political culture. All the positive value for development were jettisoned. Government agencies that were the pilot of social-economic development were decimated. The decline in the education sector today has its roots in the period (Nwaka).
The past and present civilian governments have their own share of corruption in Nigeria. Fagbadebo (2007) opined that Nigeria presents a veritable case for understanding the connection between corruption and political malaise. Ribadu (2006a) give a graphic summary of the situation. He termed the period between 1979 and 1998 “The darkest period” in Nigeria’s history of corrupt regime. The civilians administration of 1979-1983 was bedeviled with profligacy, wanton waste. Political thuggery and coercion, disrespect for the rule of law, bare faced and free for all looting of public funds through white elephant projects. Corrupt public servants and others in the private sector bestrode the nation, masquerading as captains of business and power brokers with tainted and stolen wealth and demanded the rest of us to kowtow before them.
A critical element of a country’s anticorruption program is an effective media. The media have a dual role to play; it not only raises public awareness about corruption, it causes, consequences and possible the remedies, but also investigate and report incidences of corruption aiding oversight for responsibility and accountability in offices. The persistence of Transparency International (2000) in setting Nigeria among bottom five nations in its annual Corruption Perception Index (CPI) since 1995 is an indication that media has not performed this role effectively. This study is relevance not only because it brings to the fore the role of media in curbing corruption but to promote transparency and accountability among the government agencies, and identifies the obstacle being faced by the media in fighting against corruption.
1.2. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF NIGERIA TRIBUNE
The national newspaper “Tribune” was founded in 1949 by the late chief Obafemi Awolowo. It initially maintained the status of a medium solely founded, owned and controlled by Awolowo but later incorporated under the Allied Newspapers. At present, the newspaper operates from the stable of African Newspaper of Nigeria Ltd, a private company which also publishes Sunday Tribune, with headquarter at Ibadan. African Newspaper assumed control of “The Tribune” in 1967.
With the founder’s son Oluwole Awolowo as publisher of the Tribune tittles and Chief (Mrs) HID Awolowo as chairperson of the publishing origination. One can easily argue that Chief Obafemi Awolowo founding ideals are still strong in the Nigeria Tribune.
Being a pre-independence newspaper, the Nigeria Tribune primarily inclination was nationalist. But such inclination was formed by its founder’s Socialist conviction. Awolowo’s ideological position was professed by anti-totalitarian. He expresses his view as thus:
“It’s the press wants to maintain its freedom which it inextricably interwoven with that of the citizens. It must stand unequivocally and irrevocable on the side of democracy. If this proposition is accepted, it is the bounden duty of the press to ensure that the legislative and executive organ of the state derive their authority from the masses and that the later are in the position to renew and if need be, re-assign their mandate periodically.
1.3. STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM