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The impact of mass media on Nigerian politics

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The genesis of modern mass media in Nigeria dates back to the mid-19th century with the establishment of a Yoruba newspaper in 1859 called Iwe Iroyin by Reverend Henry Townsend. Iwe Iroyin was the only news media to operate in the whole of Nigeria at the time.

Political players like Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, in the years leading to Nigerian independence, also established newspapers to promote their political convictions and that of their followers. After independence, the federal government established The Morning Post newspaper to counteract the negative reportage of the private press at the time.

As part of the World Bank’s Structural Adjustment Programme, the Gen. Babangida government loosened its grip on the airwaves and this led to the establishment of privately owned radio and television stations. Today, there are about one hundred newspapers, four hundred radio stations and over one hundred television stations in Nigeria. This is in addition to other mediums of mass media like news websites on the internet.

Contribution to the attainment of independence
One of the foremost impacts of the mass media in Nigeria is its contribution to the attainment of independence. The mass media helped in no small measure to galvanize the people to support the early nationalists who wanted the British to grant independence to the colony of Nigeria. Eventually, the British Empire had to relinquish their hold on Nigeria by granting independence on 1st October 1960.

Fight wrong government policies and programmes
Another contribution of the mass media in Nigeria has been their fight against the introduction of wrong policies by successive governments of the day. In the same vein, they helped to assess the performance of the governments and other public functionaries appointed by the ruling government.

Send the military back to the barracks
The Nigerian mass media was also in the forefront to steer the nation back to civilian rule after several years of the military dictatorship in which that of Gen. Abacha was notoriously ruthless. At the peril of their very lives, the Nigerian journalist was able to use the medium of the mass media to oppose the military establishment. In the end, under Gen. Babangida, the world had to force the soldiers to go back to their barracks.

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Sustenance of Nigeria’s fledgling democracy
The mass media in Nigeria has so far helped Nigeria to sustain its young democracy. This has been largely achieved because the Nigerian press has kept faith with the people and acted as the fourth realm of the estate. Any violation or potential violation of the constitution is quickly reported in the dailies and the government of the day is forced to concede. Without the presence of the Nigerian mass media, the current democracy could not have been as successful as it is today.

Helps citizens to make informed decisions
Through mass media, the people were given political enlightenment, for example, concerning the manifestos of the various political parties in the country. They highlighted the various policies of the parties and assessed their candidates to see if they were suitable for the position they were gunning for. This way, the citizens were able to make a good choice on the people available to them at the time of voting.

Mouth-piece of the people
The mass media has also served as the mouth-piece of the people of Nigeria. The press has been able to carry on its tiny shoulders the opinions of both the weak and the strong. With their help, the people are able to express their opinion on any government policy and criticize or support it. The parties in opposition are given the voice to express their views on government activities. This way the people are able to influence the decisions that are arrived at by their governments and the import of those decisions are known and owned by them.

Human rights advocate
The Nigerian mass media has contributed to Nigerian politics through their fight for the rights of the people. The ordinary man has the hope and belief that when his or her rights are trampled upon by an operative of the ruling government, the media houses can take the matter up and fight for the infringement to be redressed. In other words, any abuse of the rights of an individual is brought into the limelight for the right thing to be done.

The definition and characteristics of mass media
The advantages of mass media
The disadvantages of mass media

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