Press Freedom And Fundamental Human Right In Nigeria (a Case Study Of The Olusegun Obasanso Administration)

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ABSTRACT

IN THIS STUDY, PRESS FREEDOM AND FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN RIGHTS MEAN GENERALLY THAT EVERY INDIVIDUAL SHOULD HAVE THE RIGHTS TO FREEDOM, WHICH MAKE A SOCIETY. BUT WHERE THE RIGHTS OF THE PRESS FREEDOM AND FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN RIGHT ARE FAIL TO GIVEN, IT WILL MAR A SOCIETY 100 QUESTIONNAIRES WAS SHARED TO HUNDRED PEOPLE. THE RESPONDENTS WERE STUDENTS, POLITICIAN WORKING IN THE GOVERNMENT HOUSE AND GENERAL PUBLIC. THE QUESTIONNAIRE WAS ALSO DISTRIBUTED THUS STUDENTS 40, JOURNALIST 20 AND THE GENERAL PUBLIC 40, THESE WERE USED TO FIND OUT WHETHER OBASANJO CIVILIAN ADMINISTRATION GIVE SUPPORT TO PRESS FREEDOM AND FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN RIGHT. RAW SCORES OF STUDENT. JOURNALIST AND THE GENERAL PUBLIC WERE COLLECTED AND ANALYZED. RESULTS OF THE ANALYSIS SHOWED THAT, THERE IS PARTLY FREEDOM OF PRESS AND FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN RIGHT IN OLUSEGUN OBASANJO CIVILIAN ADMINISTRATION THAN TO THAT OF SANI ABACHA AND BADAMOSI BABANGIDA MILITARY REGIME. RECOMMENDATION WHERE MADE BASED ON THE FINDINGS WHICH INCLUDE AMONG OTHER THINGS THAT THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD TRY TO ADVANCED THE CAUSE OF THE PRESS FREEDOM FROM THE LEVEL IT IS TODAY BY GRANTING THE PRESS FREE HAND TO ITS DUTY. AGAIN THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD TAKE A SECOND LOOK AS ITS STAND ON SHARIA LAW IN SOME STATES LIKE ZAMFARA STATE. FINALLY THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD PROSECUTE THOSE WHO VIOLATE HUMAN RIGHTS FROM THE PAST TILL DOWN AND THE PRESS SHOULD DO ITS WORK ACCORDING TO THE ETHICS OF THEIR PROFESSION. AND PEOPLE SHOULD BE EDUCATED MORE TO KNOW THEIR FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN RIGHTS. IT IS HOPE THAT IF THESE RECOMMENDATION ARE IMPLEMENTED, THERE WILL BE NOTICEABLE IMPROVEMENT IN THE SOCIETY SINCE PRESS IS THE WATCH DOG OF THE SOCIETY.


LIST OF TABLES

4.1      How free is the press in Nigeria?

4.2      Do you feel that the press in Nigeria is performing its Job as the voice of the voiceless in our society?

4.3      Do you believe that Nigeria Journalists and citizen should be given freedom to exercise their right?

4.4      Do you think that press freedom and fundamental human rights both contributed to the recent democracy in Nigeria?

4.5      Will press freedom guarantee truthfulness and objectivity in the field of journalism?

4.6      How would you rate the Babangida and Abacha regime concerning pres freedom and fundamental human rights in Nigeria?

4.7      Who is to be blamed for the restricted situation of the press?

4.8      Do you feel that the Journalists are restricted because they do not adhere to the profession?


TABLE OF CONTENT

Title page                                                                        i

Approval page                                                         ii

Dedication                                                               iii

Acknowledgements                                                 iv

Abstract                                                                  vi

List of content                                                         ix

 

CHAPTER ONE:- INTRODUCTION                        1

1.0      Background of the study                                1

1.1      Statement of the problems                             11

1.2      Purpose of the study                                       13

1.3      Significance of the study                                14

1.4      Research Questions                                        15

1.5      Scope of the study                                          16

1.6      Definition of terms                                          17

 

CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW               23

2.1      Fundamental Human Rights in Nigeria        23

2.2      Press Freedom a way to Fundamental

Human Right                                                  27

2.3      The Nigerian Press Under the Olusegun Obasanjo Administration                             37

2.4      Summary of the Literature Review                        40

 

CHAPTER THREE: RESEACH METHODOLOGY  42

3.0   Methodology                                                    42

3.1      Brief Outline of the Study                              42

3.2      Design of the Study                                        43

3.3      Area of the Study                                            44

3.4      Population of the Study                                  44

3.5      Sample of the Study                                       45

3.6      Instrument for Data Collection                      45

3.7      Validation of the Instrument                          46

3.8      Distribution and Retrieval of the Instrument   46

3.9      Method of Data Analysis.                               47

 

CHAPTER FOUR:- PRESENTATION AND ANALYSIS OF DATA                                                                       48

4.1      Data presentation                                          48

4.2      Data Analysis                                                 48

4.3      Findings                                                          60

 

CHAPTER FIVE: SUMMARY AND FINDINGS, CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION

5.0      Summary of Findings

5.1      Conclusion

5.2      Recommendations

5.3      Limitations of the Study

5.4      Suggestion for Further Study

References

Appendices

Questionnaire

CHAPTER ONE - INTRODUCTION

1.0  BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

Press freedom and fundamental human rights are two terms that can make or mar a society.

Press freedom and fundamental human rights can make a society where they are given their right place and proper attention. In the same, vein, the two can mar society where they are not given their proper place and respect. Infact they are like two sides of the coin.

        A respect for fundamental human rights thus becomes a respect for human person. To understand how fundamental human rights work in a society is to understand the position of press freedom in that society. Because a society cannot have fundamental human rights in operation without first of all having press freedom in place, since the press is the voice of the voiceless society.

        Moreover to understand press freedom and fundamental human rights in Nigeria, one must at the social systems where they operate. To put this in perspectives, that is pertinent to review the Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida and the Sani Abacha military regimes and the supposed democratic government of Olusegun Obasanjo, during the period under military review in Nigeria, press freedom and fundamental human right were conceived not for the great mans of people for men who were in position to guide and direct their fellows. This freedom was thought to be created near the hub of power. This is to say that once one is in power or in uniform, the person is above the law in some aspects of life.

        The press therefore functioned from the top to down. The rulers of the time used the press to inform the masses of what they want to hear. Know and support.

        For instance the government used the media to project only its programme and policies. But after all these, the fate of press freedom still hangs the balance.

However as stated earlier, no person can talk freedom of the press without first of all thinking of fundamental human right. When human rights are held in bondage, the press cannot find a fertile ground to practice, hence the clamp on the press article one (1) of the universal declaration of human rights say ‘all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. Human rights and equal in dignity and rights. Human rights thus become birth right that flows from parents to children. This becomes possible as human beings are endowed with reason and consciences. There were severe retroactive laws as well as numerous absolutist decrees which inter-alia legalized illegalities and also drastically eroded fundamental human rights.

        Nevertheless, these constitute were mere interludes in the long tragedies of violation unleashed on innocent citizens by the military regimes, more especially the Babangida and Abacha regimes, the case is not all that different in this Obasanjo administration but the treatment that time was sugar coated which may prove more dangerous. It is a form of good will but it was actually deceitful. A situation where a political party claims that it has chosen a consensus candidates to represent it in a political post or to use its platform to contest a political post while it is not so, this is denial of human rights of citizens in a democratic setting, it is fitting for the citizen in a political party to generally select the person who will use its name to contest for political post.

Most of the atrocities committed against the citizens were never reported during the regimes of Babangida and Abacha, as decrees were promulgated to trap those pressmen who cleared to publish government’s violation of human rights. As for Obasanjo administration such pressmen will be sacked without benefits. As a result of this ugly development against Nigeria pressmen, freedom of press becomes and remains a mirage.

Today the government frowns at who invites or comments on the regressing standard of education in Nigeria and its attendants problems. It is even more shameful that citizens do not know what is happening in their country, simply because there is no press freedom, at the same time government is claiming to be running a democratic state. The situation has so determine, that many events in Nigeria are first reported by foreign press before the local one. Sometimes, the Nigerian press never reports such occurrences. As a result of intimidation to Journalists and media operators, many Nigerians are ignorant of events in Nigeria or in the country. For example, the day Abacha died. It was the foreign media that reported it first and those Nigerians who do not have access to foreign reports got the news later when it was announced in Nigeria.

Consequently, the civil liberties organization (CLO) annual report about Nigeria and becomes a useful guide in appreciating the dept of ruthlessness and lawlessness of Babangida and Abacha regimes, including the Obasanjo administration. The executive thus arrogates to itself the power to accuse, arrest, make out punishment without recourse to the law courts. In the cast of the past military regimes, law courts were rendered important, new decrees were rolled out to deal with critics of government without the due process of law. Though the bill of human rights, the universal declaration of Federal Republic of Nigeria, have fundamental human rights, embedded in them, but implementation of such provisions is the case.

The press and government have observed the relationship existing between them as that of “friendly enemies, the press will be doing everything it knows now for government in power and the masses, but the only reward the press gets is Gail sentences, confiscation of their newspapers and magazines, writing of threat letters. Sometime send death through letter bombs as was the case of Dele Giwa during the Babangida regime and so on.

Nevertheless, the importance and functions of the press cannot be over emphasized in a secular society like ours. These functions of the press are:-

CORRELATION: (1997) and Wright (1975) wrote that, “Correlation includes the interrelationship about the environment and prescription for conduct in reaction to these events. This is the editorial or opinion function which is otherwise pejoratively referred to as propaganda agenda setting.

SOCIALIZATION OR EDUCATION: Wright further said that occur on communicating knowledge’s, values and social norms from one generation to another from members of a group of newcomers. This is done through informal education.

SURVEILLANCE: According to Wright, surveillance “refers to the collection and distribution of information, concerning events in the environment, both outside and within any particular society” this function of the press helps in guiding the live of the individual in society.

ENTERTAINMENT: Wright sees entertainment as “communicative it’s primarily intended for amusement, irrespective of any instrumental effect they might have. This is geared towards providing some amusement relaxation and relief from tension. It is basically meant to offer escape from hard, stressful times.

These functions of the press are very vital for the country and the press in society cannot be over emphasized.

 

1.1     STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

Press freedom cannot be discussed while isolating fundamental human rights. That is why article (1) of the universal declaration of human rights says that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. A nation may be in place, but without psychological welfare going on in it by this, the nation might be a multi ethics state, where some citizens will be depraved of some of their rights. This such a nation is lacking in its fundamental human rights, Martin Luther King Jr. statement “peace is not absence of conflict but the presence of justice. The unfortunate thing is that the poor masses of a country like Nigeria do not know what their rights are, they find it very difficult to fight for their rights. This is where the work of the pressmen becomes important, to fight the social ills in the country. But the question is, are the pressmen free to operate in Nigeria, thus the press profession is like the biblical contest between Moses and pharaoh, where Moses was demanding for the release of his people to go to the land of promise, so that they would be free to express themselves, without fear of obnoxious decrees. But so long as the persecution of the journalists persists, practicing journalists cannot rest on their bars this study will look at:

        The extent fundamental human rights are observed since the administration of Olusegun Obasango from 1999-2003 till date. Some national dailies and magazines will be studied to establish friends in human rights violations.

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