The Role of Media in National Development- A Case Study of Nigeria

The media has three key roles in every context; to inform, educating, and entertaining. National development cannot be alienated from the media as the media has greatly influenced many of Nigeria’s developments today. Nigeria is a developing country; the media has shaped its progress in different development sectors such as education, economy-wise, industrialization, and the fight against racism. The most common forms of media that have propelled national development in the country are radio, television, and print media. In recent years, social media has also been a powerful medium in developments. Both the fourth and fifth media estates have enabled Nigeria to make a huge step forward in national development in various sectors, as this paper will examine. The media has played a role in Nigeria’s development through; educating, agenda-setting, curbing corruption, reducing insecurity and crime, sensitizing and mobilizing development projects, and promoting social justice and equality. This paper will examine how the media has aided in these sectors to achieve national development.


The first way in which media has aided in national development in Nigeria is by educating Nigerians.  National development cannot be achieved if people are not learning new things every day. For any development, learning must be involved, and national development in Nigeria is no exception. In this case, learning refers to educational learning, and majorly refers to learning what to do, how, when, and generally improving lives. Studies have shown that learning new things each day is likely to improve learners’ quality of life (Chaffin and Harlow 2005, p.301-329). Even though there are many sources a person or a country can learn from, the media is one of the major sources.

Through information dissemination, the media has the capacity to educate people on different matters regarding developments. For instance, journalists do not merely disseminate news to pass information; they also disseminate to teach the audiences. In journalism, information is considered of human interest if it has some educational aspect that will prompt the audience to take action (Papa et al. 2000, p.31-55). Besides news, the media also offer educational programs to the audiences. For instance, the talk shows on televisions and radio enlighten people more on development. One of the most popular reality show is “Big Brother Naija,” which offers entertainment and education on matters to do with finances. Through this show, Nigerians have been enlightened on how to manage their finances. If citizens of a country know how to manage their finances like investments, they are likely to progress economically.

Additionally, social media through the internet has emerged to be the most influential medium of education. Goggle is one of the social platforms that has enabled Nigerians to gather knowledgeable information that can be used in national development. This is attributed to the fact that Google reported that Nigeria is ranked the first in Africa and the eighth country globally in internet growth (Ubabukoh n.d., p.1).


Agenda Setting

Scholars argue that the media, through the agenda-setting theory, has the capacity to influence what the audiences think and act (Wu and Coleman 2009, p.775-789). It can influence what topics will be discussed in society and in which direction they will take. In regards to this, it is evident that the media can also influence a country’s development. In Nigeria, the media has manipulated what society thinks of racism, and as a result, racism has greatly reduced. It has done this by providing information through news and entertainment that talks more about racism’s negative effects. For instance, through the movies where many of them condemn racism. When people watch such movies or shows, they tend to think that way and what follows is that they also act in that manner.

The major role of media in manipulating national development is through setting development agendas. For example, suppose the mainstream media decide to focus on exposing and managing talents as a way of developing a country in terms of employment and creation of industries. In that case, people will likely start exploring their talents. This will, in turn, lead to more developments. Also, social media is a powerful tool for propelling national development. Social media is considered a tool for comparison, which can either make a user progress or fail. If people take the comparisons as a challenge to better their lives, the country as a whole is also likely to progress. Nigerians, for instance, are heavy users of social media.  Also, through developmental advertising projects, the media sets a plan of what the public needs to do to develop, and in the long run, it leads to national development.

Sensitizing and Mobilizing Development Projects

No matter how the government or public plans for developmental projects, the public might not embrace the developments if the media is not involved. Usually, developments involve making changes, and for the changes to be successful, ways must be devised to sensitize the importance of the changes. There are many ways to sensitize and mobilize development changes, but the main question is what the public believes in the most. The channel to use in order to make the public take the changes more seriously and embrace them. Studies have indicated that in Nigeria, the media is among the most trusted channel of sensitizing and mobilizing government development project (Dunu, Elizabeth, Vivian and Uzochukwu 2015, p.10-21) s. This describes why the government invites the press to cover up as news or features in many of its operations.

The main reason why the media is a major tool for sensitizing and mobilizing projects is that the public’s trust in what the media reports is high. Thus, the projects are likely to be successful. For instance, the Nigerian government is prone to inviting the press during state speeches regarding development. The journalists, in turn, make news and disseminates them to the public. As noted earlier, the media has the capacity to set an agenda, and through the agenda, it is sensitizing the projects. In many Nigerian televisions, if there is a development project that the government is planning to do, the TVs invite experts in different areas to sensitize what importance the projects have on Nigerians. Also, through repeated advertisements aired on various media forms, the main aim is usually to sensitize. Sensitization of changes is vital in national development because it leads to the country’s people understanding and accepting the changes, which is also crucial in enhancing the developments’ success.

Protection of Social Justice and Equality

For a country to be considered developing nationally, social justice is crucial in maintaining the developments. Promoting social justice has not been easy in many countries, even in the most developed countries like America. Cases of racism are still evident, and the media has been at the forefront of fighting it. National development and social justice cannot be separated because equality and social justice must first prevail for development. A country where social injustices are likely to be in constant fights, leading to no national developments. On the contrary, a nation where everybody is given equal opportunities results in many national developments because each citizen has the chance to showcase their full potentials.

According to a study conducted by Swedish economists, before Nigeria began developing, it was among the countries with the highest rates of racism in the world (Staff- Borgen Magazine 2013, p.1). However, a study conducted by Oden (2020, n.p) concluded that the media had been the major player in promoting gender equality in Nigeria. Regarding gender equality, both men and women are crucial when it comes to national development. From the studies conducted to measure men and women’s leadership capacity, most of the studies have concluded that the capacity to drive developments in a country is not based on gender, rather on other factors such as the ability to make sound decisions (Hopkins, O’Neil, Passarelli and Bilimoria 2008, p.348-365). Also, others believe that women can make the best leaders. Therefore, when equality is achieved, each person is allowed to perform to their best, and the overall effect is development. In Nigeria, the media promotes social justice and equality through news, talk shows, and movies. For instance, a news story talking about how a certain person from America has created employment for Nigerian youths. Such kind of news prompts Nigerians to treat the whites equally and thereby promoting more developments nationally.

Curbing Corruption

Corruption is an enemy of national development and as seen from the already developed countries, fighting corruption through the media is one of the strategies to welcome progress. A research project conducted by (Sowunmi, Oketokun, and Raufu 2010, p.7-23) indicates how journalism has been used in Nigeria as an impediment to corruption. To start with, the country uses media to investigate corruption cases. Journalists have been mandated to dig deep into the national government and investigate corrupt leaders. Later, they expose the leaders, and the results are usually impeachment of those leaders. A country full of corruption cannot develop because the funds that ought to be used in development projects are usually used to benefit an individual. For this, the media being the public’s eye is usually very vigilant on corruption matters.

Besides investigating and exposing corrupt leaders, the media also curb corruption by forming anti-corruption movements on social media. In Nigeria, for instance, the “Buhari’s anti-corruption war” on social media has greatly decreased the level of corruption in the country. A search conducted by Tina (2016, p. 2226-8235) concluded that popular Nigerian newspapers cover between five to ten corruption-related news stories per edition. It also adds that magazines such as the guardian, the nation, punch, Tribune, and Vanguard have been at the forefront in curbing corruption in Nigeria. In the current era, however, social media has the greatest influence in curbing corruption because it has gained more followers than any other form of media. For this, the public has also joined in condemning corruption. In response, organizations and political leaders are dwelling more on developing projects without stealing from the public, which finally leads to national development. Therefore, all forms of media have aided in curbing corruption by promoting transparency and providing platforms for the public to form anti-corruption movements.

Improving Security

A secure nation is likely to promote more developments as compared to an insecure nation. Nigeria’s insecurity is majorly presented in the form of the Boko Haram, kidnapping, Niger Delta Crisis, and ethnoreligious crisis. The media has also been at the forefront in helping decrease insecurity cases to better the country. The first way it has done this is by reporting those who engage in criminal cases such as theft and kidnapping once they are discovered. This role has also been named the surveillance role where the media provides information related to insecurity, as Nwabueze and Ebeze (2013, p.861-870) say in their study. Through reporting them, they get exposed, and through being exposed, their actions are unearthed, and they are disciplined; hence, reducing cases of insecurity.

Additionally, the media takes part in fighting insecurity by creating awareness through programs on crime to discourage it—for instance, Police Diary on radio Nigeria and the Eagle program. The programs create awareness and educate the public on safety measures to take to decrease crime and insecurity. Social media has also made it easy to identify con people and terrorists through tracking their social media profiles. The resulting security of Nigeria has made it explore more on development projects and create a secure environment for performing things that improve the country. For instance, investors can comfortably set up businesses in Nigeria because there is peace and security, and the repercussions will be national development. Also, with proper and enough security, Nigerians can work at all times, which leads to great success in the economy and, hence, achieving national development. Therefore, the media has played a vital role in shaping Nigeria’s national development through having programs, news, and shows related to security and how it can be enhanced.

To sum up, the media, through education, agenda-setting, sensitizing and mobilizing development projects, promoting social justice and equality, curbing corruption and insecurity, has greatly contributed to Nigeria’s national development. The paper has discussed that the media offers life education that is essential in developing the nation. Secondly, it has explained that the media manipulates what the society or the country should dwell on through the agenda-setting theory. Through this theory, the media sets an agenda of promoting development projects where the public responds, thus enhancing national development. Thirdly, the media is also the most channel through which the government sensitizes and mobilizes development projects because the public trusts what the media says. Also, through reality programs, news, and movies, the media has promoted social justice and equality in Nigeria, which has given everyone a chance to perform to their best, hence boosting the country nationally. In terms of curbing corruption, the media has been used to expose corrupt leaders and form anti-corruption movements. Lastly, programs such as Police Diary on radio Nigeria have significantly reduced insecurity and, consequently, promoting security, which attracts more investors, thus enhancing national development. For the final remarks, the media has been at the forefront in ensuring Nigeria’s national development in the different ways discussed in the paper.

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