BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Over the years, the agitation for the emergence of a free press society, has been on the front burner of national discuss, especially among journalism practitioners in Nigeria. This is owes largely to the fact that the expediency of having a legislation that guarantees a high level of press freedom cannot be ignored. It cannot be ignored apparently against the backdrop of the attendant positive effect it could have on any society. The need for a Nigeria Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) had been emphasized by many media scholars. For instance, Ogbondah (2003) did note prior to its enactment that: “The National Assembly should enact or guarantee the press and members of the public the right of access to government-held information including computerized records.” Similarly, the Media Right Agenda (2004) at some point, wrote thus about the freedom of information act Bill when passed into law as an Act of Parliament, it will make public record and information in the custody of any government-Federal, State or Local available to every person in Nigeria. Accordingly, the right of access of official information, which the Bill grants will be legally enforceable; with the Freedom of press, it will be possible to find out from Governors, Council Chairmen, Ministers, the President or other public officers, details of any transaction conducted in those offices. It is believed that with press freedom protection will be given to public officers who discover the perpetration of a fraudulent act and reveal, thereby discouraging corruption among public office holders. Ogbondah (2003) also, stated that: “A democracy works best when the people have all the information that the security of the nation permits, no one should be able to pull curtains of secrecy around decisions which can be revealed without injury to the public interest.” Before now, the challenges posed by anti-press laws that inundate the Nigerian constitution, have made the process of news sourcing gathering and dissemination, seemingly impossible for journalism. This was well capture by the Nigeria Guild of Editors (2001) when it was observed that: “We are conscious of the responsibility of the press but we cannot perform our role creditably unless the shackles wrought by repressive laws are erased from our law books… the realization of this objective is contingent on the freedom of the press to function without any hindrance.” Unfortunately, the media being the fourth estate of the realm and the watch-dog of the leaders and the led cannot successfully carryout this sacrosanct function, without the ample freedom to seek, gather and disseminate information. Yalaju (2001:205) averred that: “The right of access to information is aimed at strengthening the media by securing and protecting freedom of expression and the press particularly.” It is against the above grounds that the recently enacted freedom of information act seeks to make information more available to journalists in the same way it would be available to every other person who might request any information. It is also expected that with the law in effect, the media would have access to more accurate information, which would improve the quality of media practice. There is no gain saying that the press freedom was proposed in the context of international affirmation of the rights of citizens to access information held by public bodies as fundamental human right. It is therefore instructive to note that the freedom of information act is one of the criteria for gauging a truly democratic state. It goes without saying that democracy is at its best, when the people have all the information that the constitution of the nation permits. Conversely, the stiff resistance by most world leaders towards having the freedom of information act enshrined in their nation’s law books has continued to ignite concerns. The notion that the press is an important factor in the democratic environment (Merrill 1974) has been reflected in the play between the different cultural and ideological forces affecting press freedom in Nigeria. Abati (1998) finds that the prevailing political system in Nigeria determines the scope of press freedom. Conversely, democracy has opened up spaces for the survival of press organisations across the world.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
This study is pertinent given the assessment of press freedom in attaining true democracy, and the long history of the repression of press freedom in Nigeria. Several attacks, acts of intimidation and arrests of journalists have been reported in Nigeria, a country with probably the most animated media environment in Africa. The historical role of the press in Nigeria has oscillated between one of staunch support for national unity and a democratic culture and one of being a vehicle for the propagation of ethnic, religious and sectional interests.
1.3 AIMS OF THE STUDY
The major purpose of this study is to examine the impact of information technology on banking operations in Nigeria. Other general objectives of the study are:
1. To examine the level of commitment of media owners and journalist.
2. To examine the problems affecting press freedom in Nigerian democratic system of government.
3. To examine the roles of press in nation building.
4. To aim at actualizing absolute press freedom in Nigeria.
5. To examine the benefits of press freedom in Nigerian democratic government.
6. To suggest ways in which press freedom can help in attaining true democracy in Nigeria.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1. How do you ascertain the level of commitment of media owners and journalist?
2. What are the problems affecting press freedom in Nigerian democratic system of government?
3. What are the roles of press in nation building?
4. Why should there be absolute press freedom in Nigeria?
5. What are the benefits of press freedom in Nigerian democratic government?
6. What are the ways in which press freedom can help in attaining true democracy in Nigeria?
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS
H0: Press freedom does not enable attainment of true democracy in Nigeria.
H1: Press freedom enables attainment of true democracy in Nigeria.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This study is significant in more ways than one therefore; the study will provide effective and objective information in gathering its dissemination by the media organization. Aside its immense potency to contribute to the body of knowledge, the study also, will serve as a reference to managers, journalists, editors, specialized groups, society, government etc. Moreso, the study can serve as one existing literature or as an additional literature on freedom of information in Nigeria libraries. It will also be instrumental to prospective researchers and students who may want to plunge into this similar area of study. In the same vein, the study is significant to the extent that it provides a platform for government press collaboration which if harnessed, can facilitate national development.
1.7 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study is based on the Assessment of Press freedom in attaining true democracy in Nigeria, case study of Rivers state Nigerian Union Of Journalists.
1.8 LIMITATION OF STUDY
Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Press:The media and agencies that print, broadcast, or gather andtransmit news, including newspapers, newsmagazines, radio andtelevision news bureaus, and wire services.
Freedom: It can be defined as a state of which somebody is able to act and live as he or she chooses, without being subject to any undue restrains or restrictions. It is the ability to exercise free will and make choices independently of any external determining forces.
TrueDemocracy:A state of society characterized by formal equality of rights and privileges.
Journalist: A person who practices the occupation or profession of journalism.
OTHER SIMILAR MASS COMMUNICATION PROJECTS AND MATERIALS