If you are abreast with the recent political activities in Nigeria, one can easily come to a conclusion that the media plays a very crucial role in shaping our political landscape. In this article, I would be as simple and as plain as possible so you can all understand my plight.
So let’s start with the media, we can start our discussion of media by defining and describing different kinds of media that really comes to play in the political scene. They include the broadcast media (television & Radio) Print media (Newspaper & Magazine) then social media (Twitter, Facebook & Instagram), why am I breaking down all these elements, you will get to understand before you finish reading this article
My emphasis here is on the mass media. Mass media are the vehicles that carry messages in enhancing the democratic system in Nigeria political development. We must be aware that politics is the game of power acquisition and the use of such power to enhance the governance of the state and influence the authoritative allocation of resources in the society. Well, in Nigeria the latter doesn’t really come to play as expected.
You might not be aware, or maybe you know but you are not consciously taking cognizant that the media plays an important role in influencing political discourse during elections, however, not just political discourse, but also political landscape.
Jakande Lateef, a veteran journalist and a former Lagos State governor has argued that the Press is more important than the other functions of government for none of them has so ramifying an influence and great a power on the daily lives of millions of people. The Nigerian political scene is clearly a unique one with a multi-party system. As of August 2018, it was reported that Nigeria has about 91 registered political parties, but in reality, we practice a two-party system no thanks to the media.
Do you know politicians use media to win elections by getting the exposure they need to reach voters, you are thinking how? during the just concluded Ekiti and Osun Elections respectively how many times did you hear about aspirants from other political parties as you heard about the candidates from the two prominent political parties the media consistently put in our faces, The All Progressive Congress (APC) and People’s Democratic Party (PDP)? The media has made the gullible believed there are only two vibrant political parties which easily is portrayed in their coverages and news. Recently, Ogun state Social Democratic Party (SDP) just concluded their gubernatorial primaries and you would hardly find any news about it online or in the mainstream media.
Without maximum exposure of other political aspirants in other political parties, how do we expect the electorates to know about them, not to now talk of voting for them? We have seen a lot of banters and exchange of words by candidates of political parties that are being reported in the news even when they are not newsworthy all these are just a way of manipulating the media and staying on the mind of voters.
The media is supposed to inform the general public by reporting news and information about the polity. This is the most significant role of the media in a democracy because citizens play a crucial role in the political process and must be informed in order to make educated political choices, but where the media becomes bias the electorates are misled. The media, therefore, must do a thorough and impartial job when informing the public on all government activities and political events, but this is not the case with the media terrain in Nigeria, where selected political events are reported. It’s no doubt that most of the media houses in Nigeria are either owned or controlled by politicians who are either a member of one political party or the other.
If we really want to move forward as a democratic nation, we need our media houses to be independent, transparent and reliable.
To be continued…