Old Wine in New Bottle: The Nigerian Press in the Era of Constitutional Democracy, 1999-2009
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AbstractThat a significant section of the Nigerian Press is vibrant is not in doubt. Obviously a major feature which colonialism nourished and which prolonged military rule sustained, the Nigerian Press has remained a significant part of the democratic process by virtue of its vibrancy. Its differentiation notwithstanding, the ability of the Nigerian Press to either project and promote constitutional democracy or write its epitaph derives from the performance of its roles as an important stakeholder in the democratic enterprise. But to what extent has the Nigerian press been able to play its part since the return of civil rule in 1999? Has the Nigerian press been a partner, supporting and projecting democratic rule or silently singing its nunc dumitis? What role has the differentiation of the Press or its proliferation played in sustaining or hindering the new democratic experimentation? To what extent has the orientation of the Press and its disposition to colonial rule and prolonged military role continued in the new democratic experimentation or informed its perception? This paper appraises the functionality, perception, disposition and role of the Nigerian Press in the new democratic experimentation in Nigeria between 1999 and 2009 to make a case for its being either a partner in or an undertaker of constitutional democracy in Nigeria.