The press has been defined as the fourth estate of the realm. It has undergone a sustained or a continuous system or repression by those who control the state machinery. But fortunately, one of the most intriguing phenomenon of this century intellectualism, is the widespread interest in the press, expressed without a critical analysis of its intrinsic significance to state and foremost members of the society. Thus the structure of this project is as follows: Chapter one, the introduction, its objective, theoretical framework, scope and limitations of the study, basic assumption, hypothesis and end notes. Chapter two, there is a literature review on the historical background of the work, growth of the Nigerian press and end notes. Chapter three, this deals with basic issues of the press freedom, press freedom and democracy in Nigeria. Chapter four, finally, this chapter summarizes the whole work and recommendation were also given
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The mass media in the modern world has become so important that hardly can we think of a nation that can exist without the press. The notion of the pres is fundamentally strewn with the idea of modern governance itself.
Since, mankind proved to be in love of gregarious living, experience has revealed to him, the wisdom that no individual or body of individuals should be allowed, the power to direct the affairs of the state without recourse to the wishes and will of other members.
Man has traveled through various evolutionary and experimental stages of governance absolute monarchs, capitalism, welfarism etc.
But one fundamental principle that stands valid through history has been that the essential safeguard of the society in protection, is that government should have the obligation to consult, inform and be sensitive to the wish to the governed.
This wish was given a complete expression in the small city of Greek, where every member of the state was part of the policy machinery because all the people need to make policies that will regulate the affairs of the state. From the above, one can from the onset, see the relevance of the press giving meaning to the responsibility of government to consult with, and evaluate the wishes of the people in the course of government.
The press has been described as the fourth estate of the realm, the watchdog, the conscience of the nation. In the modern state, where policy formulation executive and law making are done by a few members of the society on behalf of the rest. The press has been and still the most effective medium through which the rulers makes themselves accountable to the ruler into critical analysis to raise the consciousness of the ruled, and to give them the opportunity of keeping vigil on their rights and alive to their obligations.
In the enduring scenario contrived by the historical development of modern state, the people look at the press with high expectations as the watchdog, the conscience of the nation, the defender of liberty, freedom of the masses, an indispensable sub-system of the state organization.
Of all the roles the press is expected to perform, the most daring and formidable task that breeds executive antagonism is the watchdog. In this roe, the press will expose and analyze the action of government whether the government is keeping faith with the constitution. Without such role, the public cannot evaluate the working of the system, the wisdom, probity, altruism, patriotism, responsibility and other virtues of leadership is believe to have.
The role of press, prove in a number of cross, very useful and led to greater understanding of the public affairs as people in government were made to explain policies and measures were there is question mark.
The civilian rulers have a direct mandate that makes them beholder into the people, the imposition of the restriction itself is represented by a conglomerate of political, economic and social interests which makes it quite uneasy for the executive to push legislative propositions that will do much harm to press freedom. Yet politicians all over the world still look for ways and means of chaining the press or clip the wings of mass media.
In Nigeria the conflicts between the press and government is real. Also there is the assumption that restrictive laws against the press exist more in military regimes than in civilian administration. The relevance of comparison like this came from the fact that the phenomena of military intervention in third world politics has become a fashionable design “being in a state of emergency or wars, hence the press should cooperate with the regime accepted by the society by deliberately restraining its freedom of action in two areas of defence and security”.
According to Dr. Patrick Dele Cole, he said that the military and the press are two institutions in our national life that are apparently in irreconcilable conflict both in terms of the way they perceive their role in their mode of operations.
An enlightened military government in Nigeria, once said that by training soldiers were not used to having their orders questioned, much less disobeyed, thus, when soldiers in government found their actions being questioned or quarrel on the pages of newspapers or on radio and television. Their reaction is to order the critic toe brought to book.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
The democratic approach to the resolution of some problems led to serious infringements on the fundamental human rights and principles of the individual and groups.
The military regime promulgated several obnoxious decree for instance decree No 2 which allows the military to detain an individual for so long as it wishes in decree No 4 which was meant to curtail the right of the press. Decree No 16-17 was aimed at legalizing the military onslaught on the economic and political rights of workers. These decrees pre-military tribunal were also setup to try cases that were even civil in nature.
Everyone spoken in solemn voice about press freedom and the right of freedom of expression, but what do we mean by a free press? All it takes to enjoy freedom of expression is simply presses? All it takes to enjoy free the individual ability to have an ability and to express it. In terms of the right guaranteed in article 19, why then should the government of developing countries like Nigeria prefer to commit scarce resources to an expensive right.
The basis of this research study is therefore to find out why freedom of expression of press is desirable? What is press freedom actually about.
Whether press actually existed and still in Nigeria and has press freedom really enhanced democratic process in Nigeria in both military and civilian dispensation.
The research study will focus on those factors that are mot likely to engineer free press and also to know if such factors are present in Nigeria politics. The main of the study is to examine in Nigeria politics. The main of the study is to examine the various ways by which the Nigerian press has influenced the politics in both civil and the military era.
1.3 THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
In the process of research, two theories were used to explain the concept of press freedom. The first theory is the authoritarian which going back to at least the invention of printing, insist on the right of a small and presumably wise ruling class to decide what the society should know and believe and hence hedges society with licensing, sedition, blasphemy and similar statutes.
The other theory could be called liberalization whose roots go back to the 17th century, according to this spokesman for ruling elites, but a critique and mirror of the society.
1.4 BASIC ASSUMPTION
The opinion of most Nigerians on the issue of press is that the continuous restrictions on the press freedom will not argue well for democratic process in Nigeria. This has necessitated the passage of freedom of information bill by the national assembly into laws.
The following hypothesis were formed or created for the basic of this research.
- Democracy cannot thrive where there is restrictions of press freedom and dissemination of information.
- The continuous restrictions on press freedom in Nigeria will hinder the growth of democracy.
1.6 CONCEPTUAL CLARIFICATION
In the course of carrying out this research on press freedom in Nigeria, some concepts were enumerated. These concepts will be clarified at these points.
Press Freedom: Press freedom means the absence of governmental restraints on the media.
Democracy: Democracy as a concept implies a system, which gives periodic opportunities for the masses to choose their leaders.
Government: Government is a body of persons and institutions or agencies that makes and enforce laws in a given state.
Administration: Administration simply means the management of public affairs i.e. the management of governmental activities in a state.
Regime: Regime is a system of government/administration i.e. a military regime that has come to power.