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The War on Corruption in Nigeria: Framing Through the Eyes of Journalists

Abubakre, Fatima Iyabo (2022) The War on Corruption in Nigeria: Framing Through the Eyes of Journalists. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent, University of Kent, United Kingdom. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.93467) (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:93467)

Language: English

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Corruption has thrived for decades in Nigeria, from military to democratic rule. As a highly contested topic in society and among individuals and groups across party lines and states, the need for urgent and collective action to curb corruption has been recognised. This explains why the masses voted for Muhammadu Buhari, who has a reputation for disliking corruption. This generous approbation of what he can do and matters arising from it are often covered in mainstream newspapers in Nigeria, which this research is based on.

The landmark 2015 general elections in Nigeria were dominated by national issues related to corruption, particularly from the top. A former president, Goodluck Jonathan, was quoted as saying that stealing public funds did not amount to corruption. His successor, Buhari, was elected on the strength of an anticorruption campaign, which enabled him to defeat a sitting president for the first time in the nation's history. The objective of this thesis is to examine the role of the media under a government that champions anticorruption. It asks the following question: Is it the contemporary journalistic landscape in Nigeria is corrupt? The study attempts to address this question by examining some media outlets' ambivalent attitudes. Specifically, it investigates how journalism professionals in mainstream media organisations contextualise the fight against corruption in Nigeria. In addition, it unearths the challenges that they encounter when transforming corruption stories into news and examines the impact of ownership on their job.

This research was conducted along two lines. The first involved an analysis of the content of mainstream news outlets, specifically how they present specific corruption cases related to the three levels of government: the executive, judiciary, and legislative branches. Framing theory was used to guide the research. Following an inductive approach, seven frames emerged from the analysis of news content on corruption: justice, corruption, democracy/rule of law, witch-hunting, morality/hypocrisy, disaffirmation, and defence/excuse. Over time, these frames served as lenses through which members of the public thought about and evaluated the government's anticorruption efforts.

The second line of research consisted of interviews with journalism professionals. The empirical evidence generated in this study reveals that the anticorruption crusade is skewed. This is the most notorious feature of the Buhari government's efforts to combat corruption against the backdrop of ethnoreligious nationalism. To forestall intolerance and curb hatred among citizens of the world's most populous Black nation, this research proposes ways for journalism professionals to look beyond the smokescreen of ethnoreligious and centralised fiscal conditions created by elite actors, which detract from the key issue of making the Nigerian political system work for the majority of citizens. Beyond this, journalists should focus on the menace of corruption, which has impeded the country's progress. Among other difficulties, access to information constitutes a major challenge for journalists who cover corruption. Contrary to popular belief, journalists who are in a managerial position affirm that the media has cooperated with the government's anticorruption campaign.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Cocking, Ben
Thesis advisor: Calnan, Michael
Thesis advisor: Luckhurst, Tim
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.93467
Uncontrolled keywords: Nigeria, Anti-Corruption War, Journalists, Media
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN4699 Journalism
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > Centre for Journalism
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 04 Mar 2022 16:10 UTC
Last Modified: 07 Mar 2022 13:59 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Abubakre, Fatima Iyabo.

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