1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
This research work studies the mass media’s contributions to the political values of openness and democratic accountability that go by the name of ‘transparency’. In fact, the metaphor of transparency encompasses three separate political virtues, which often work together but are analytically distinct. The first kind of transparency is informational transparency, knowledge about government actors and decisions and access to government information. Informational transparency can be furthered by requiring public statements of the reasons for government action, or requiring disclosure of information the government has collected. A second type of transparency is participatory transparency, the ability to participate in political decisions either through fair representation or direct participation. A third kind of transparency is accountability transparency: the ability to hold government officials accountable either to the legal system or to public opinion where they violate the law or when they act in ways that adversely affect people’s interest.
In theory, at least, mass media can make the political system more transparent in all three respects: mass media can help people understand the operations of government, participate in political decisions, and hold government officials accountable. In practice, however, its effect are often quite different. In the age of mass media, democratic governments and politicians may find it useful to stimulate the political virtues of transparency does not serve the underlying political values that motivate the metaphor of transparency. Instead, it is a transparency that observes and obfuscates, that frustrates accountability and hides important information in a mass of manufacturing political realities. It is a form of transparency that is not transparent at all.
This paper analyses the watchdog role played by the media in the coverage of human rights issues in Nigeria. It discusses the role of the media in the transition period between 1988 and 1999, as well as their championing of a cleaner and healthier polity in expressing highly placed state officials who got into office through fake credentials or by making bogus claims. Case studies of the media in this respect include the disgrace from office of Alhaji Salisu Buhari, former speaker of the house of representative as well as the fall of Senator Chuba Okadigbo, former senate president, who was impeached in the wake of allegations of corruption and misappropriation of funds. To get to grips with the role of the media in the national controversies, the editorial content of the publications, which championed these struggles were identified and collated. These were complimented where possible, by interviews with some of the editorial personnel involved in these episodes.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE RESEARCH PROBLEMS
In democracy, the mass media are the watchdog of the people. The citizens are usually mobilized and informed to create awareness on the political culture. Political culture refers to a system of politics in which sovereignty is vested on the people rather than a small clique, or an oligarchy, a political arrangement that places emphasis on the accountability of polity where the rule of law, majority rule and constitutionalism is the basic guiding principle. Perhaps, it could be argued that the political crisis that pervaded our recent past points to the fact that most of our people are ignorant of an apathetic towards the country’s observe that in Nigeria electioneering and voting pattern cannot be validated, in the voting pattern of Nigerians and the possible estimation of the voter’s attitude towards politics.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The level of political participation in Nigeria and Enugu state in particular seems to be very low. Also, the political crisis occurring in this country has equally been attributed to several factors. The purpose of this study is to identify the reason or reasons that have contributed to this low political participation in Nigeria politics. In doing so, what usually comes to mind is to ask the question what is the reason for the low political participation in Nigeria politics and equally the causes of the constant political crisis? As usually, it may be traced to several factors like low level of awareness and tribalism, how can this awareness be obtained? This will lead us to this research topic. Therefore, this study is intended to inquire into how political participation in Nigeria politics and equally trace the genesis of the political crisis that identifies the factors responsible and solution sought.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
(I) To what extent do journalists select and cover human rights stories?
(II) To what extent do journalists avoid bias or distortion of human rights information?
(III) To what extent does government influence the role of the mass media in reporting human rights issues in the country?
(IV) What are the people’s attitudes to the role of mass media in gate keeping and reporting of human rights issues?
Addressing these questions, this report examines the news and reporting process and its relations with human rights organizations. It assesses the difficulties of communicating complex human right issues accurately and suggests ways in which coverage of human rights could be improved.
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
It is expected that this study would be immense benefit to the government, the mass media and the people of this country. This study will highlight the importance of the mass media as a vehicle for political mobilization in a transition era. Through the mass media, especially the radio and television in Nigeria might have a chance of having a viable political culture and help to choose a leadership that will inculcate a viable and sustaining democracy. This will also give us a society blessed with. As right put by GORAN HEDEBRO-“communication media can create a climate change by including a new valves.