FIC Report (Edo State) – Nigerians and indeed the whole world look up to the media to get credible information on the 2023 general election . Without the media, how else will those in country and those in the diaspora know about the election ?
Members of the public have entrusted this responsibility of giving out information on the media, therefore it is pertinent for the media practitioners to chun out credible information to the public. Like the popular adage goes, to whom much is given, much is expected. Much is actually expected from the media practitioners in Nigeria.
What are expected from the media? One may ask. There should be accurate, verifiable and unbiased reportage of the election in 2023.
The media should publish nothing but the truth. The media should give equal opportunities to all the political parties and candidates.
Some sections of the media had in the past miss informed the public by releasing incomplete results to the unsuspecting members of the public. There have been situations when some Journalists failed to get the total numbers of vote cast in an area but relied on the results from a section of the area to release a result which turned out to be wrong. If a section of the media releases a result showing that a particular candidate has won when the collation of the total vote cast has not been completed, and INEC eventually declares a different candidate as the winner after the completion of the total vote cast, it can lead to anarchy.
Every well reasoning residents of Nigeria prays for a peaceful, credible, free and fair election. Poor handling of the electoral process by the officials saddled with the responsibilities and inaccurate reportage of the election by the media can derail the electoral process. This is why the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Edo State Council organized a media summit for Journalists, politicians and other stakeholders, with the theme, “Road map to Credible, Transparent and Peaceful Election in Edo state “. The event which is part of efforts in preparing for a successful and peaceful election in 2023 was well attended..
The media summit is quite apt. It provided opportunities for interaction amongst the stakeholders in the electoral process in the country. Relevant advice were given to Journalists and representative of the electoral umpire, INEC delivered a message.
The representative of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), who heads the Department of Voters’ Education and Publicity, Edo State office , Mr. Timidii Wariowei in his speech appealed to Journalists in the state to cooperate with INEC to ensure peaceful and credible elections in the state . He advised them against the temptation of being the ones to announce election results while on election monitoring exercise. Mr. Wariowei added that a journalist can quote a figure being displayed by INEC officials at the polling units but cannot declare any candidate as a winner and that it is the sole responsibility of his commission to do that.
Mr. Wariowei who noted that his commission was prepared to conduct a free, fair and credible poll in 2023 ,declared that his commission has created more polling units in the state, increasing it from 2,627 to 4,519. He revealed that a total of 52,013 person’s registered at the just concluded Continuous Voters Registration (CVR) exercise . According to him, while 32,465 were successful 19,548 were invalid due to double registrations, amounting to 37 % of the entire exercise. The INEC’s representative further explained that the number dropped after being subjected to Bimodal Voter Accreditation System ( BVAS) where it was discovered that some individuals registered twice and that the figure was one of the least compared to other states where a similar thing happened.
In his speech, President of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Comrade Chris Isiguzo represented by the General Manager of Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), Benin office, Mrs. Bimbo Oyetunde commended the Edo Council of NUJ for organizing the summit. He charged Journalists to operate within the frame work of the electoral law.
In his speech, the Chairman of NUJ, Edo state Council, Comrade Festus Alenkhe urged Journalists to be guided by the electoral act and avoid any act that will cause crisis in the country.
He also called on the law enforcement agencies to see Journalists as partners in progress and should not brutalize them while doing their jobs, as the union has an internal mechanism in handling any journalist that is found wanting.
That summit that was attended by politicians, security agents, religious leaders, civil society organizations, members of the Nigeria Bar Association, traditional rulers , Journalists and other stakeholders was a novel event attended by those that will make the 2023 general elections peaceful and successful. It was an event to tell the relevant stakeholders in the electoral process, especially the media practitioners what to avoid, what are expected of them, what can erode peace and what will bring peace in the 2023 general election in Nigeria.
By Amarachi Linda Egwaoje.
FIC, Benin City.