Political Reporting and Electoral Viokence in Nigeria, 1999- 2011
A Thesis Submitted to the School of Postgraduate Studies, University of Lagos
This study focused on political reporting and electoral violence in Nigeria from 1999-2011. It noted that violence has become a recurring problem in most of the post-independent elections in Nigeria. The study observed that hardly was there any election in the post- independent era in Nigeria that did not end in serious disputations, crisis, violence and bloodletting such that academics across disciplines declared that since independence on October 1, 1960, the electioneering process in Nigeria has been an experience of tears, blood and sorrow. In many of the electoral crises, the country’s mass media were fingered as contributory agents. This study was curious about this development especially as the mass media are globally referred to as the playing field of politics. The study’s curiosity was heightened by the fact that if the playing field of politics suddenly develops contour, then, the game of politics will be devoid of convivial and smooth playing. The study therefore evaluated media compliance to reportorial code which demands factual, accurate, balanced and fair reportage of electioneering stories. It sought to determine how compliance or non-compliance to the reportorial code affected the relationship between political reporting and electoral violence. The work highlighted the effects of media generated violence on political development of Nigeria. It addressed circumstances surrounding media owners in Nigeria squeezing and pushing their news organizations against the ethical and legal rules governing the operations of the mass media especially during elections in the country. This study adopted a historical research method which relied on primary and secondary data collected from 150 media professionals consisting of 44 political editors, 10 line editors and 96 political reporters and two Professors at the University of Lagos who were interviewed to authenticate some contentious issues which required expert opinion. The work adopted magic bullet theory of the press in a bid to explain the interlocking relationship between political reporting and electoral violence in Nigeria. The study amongst others identified non-compliance to ethical code of conduct for media professionals as well as legal rules governing the practice of journalism as one of the major factors responsible for publication or airing of provocative stories capable of engendering violence during elections. It demonstrated that the current plural media system in the country is susceptible to ownership manipulation which in turn erodes media professionalism during elections. It also established ownership manipulation and non-professionalism as encouraging hijack of the media for partisan political goals; partisan political goals in turn creates biased political reporting as a major cause of electoral violence in Nigeria.