The Transition and the Media

  • Ayo Olukotun

Abstract

This essay examines the role which the Nigerian media played in the transition from military rule to elected civilian government. It observes that the immediate political context of the transition was a post-Abacha liberalizing military administration as well as a resurgent civil society. This context meant that the media was able to play a relatively robust role in reporting and in?uencing the transition although the fact that the Abdulsalami Abubakar regime refused to repeal several "death decrees" targeted at the media remained a key constraining factor on the boldness and imaginativeness of the press in its reporting and monitoring of the transition. Furthermore, while the media, in all its plurality, offered coverage to all of the political parties, it was equally clear that the better ?nancially-endowed People's Democratic Party (PDP) which also emerged as the dominant party was able to win greater advantage over the two other political parties, namely, the All People's Party and the Alliance for Democracy, through the purchase of advertisement space in the print and electronic media. On the whole, the Nigerian media played its role in the transition with credit and whatever weaknesses are observed in its performance and in the skewing of the outcomes of the transition owe more to the shallowness of the transition itself and less to the shortcomings of the media.

(A. J. of Political Science: 2001 5(2): 31-44)
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