Election coverage: NUJ assures INEC of ethical standard

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…As INEC, CDD, NUJ train Journalists, NGOs


By Olatidoye Akeem

The National President of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) Mr Chris Isiguzo has assured Nigerians of the union’s readiness to ensure strict compliance with the ethical standards of journalism profession in the coverage of the forthcoming February General Elections.

 Mr Isiguzo gave the assurance while speaking at the opening ceremony of the 2-day capacity workshop organised by the Center for Democracy and Development (CDD) in collaboration with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and NUJ for media practioners and Civil Society Organisations held in Abuja. 

The workshop which was themed “Conflict Sensitive Reporting, 2023  General Elections and Countering Fake News” was organised  for Journalists and Civil Society Organizations operating within the North Central Zone of the country.

“We are keen in ensuring that Nigerian Journalists undertake their professional duties within the ambit of the Electoral Law and other regulations” NUJ President assured. 

The NUJ President urged  media practitioners to always beam their searchlights on the INEC to ensure that it is impartial and competent, as well as embraces  transparency and inclusiveness in its  composition and mandate in order to discharge its  duties effectively. 


“The role of Journalists in the proper functioning of a democracy cannot be ignored. Their “watchdog” role should center on unfettered scrutiny and discussion of the successes and failures of politicians , governments, and the electoral management body. Journalists should inform the public of how effectively they have performed and help to hold them to account”. 


“Other roles of media professionals should include educating voters on how to exercise their democratic rights by reporting on election campaigns through providing equal platforms for the political parties and candidates to communicate their messages  to the electorate” he added. 


He observed that Journalists  are expected to develop a thorough understanding of the elections and the electoral process, an understanding of conflicts and convey these to citizens in a way that reflect the truth in all their complexities.


The proper foundation established by Journalists will provide citizens with the opportunities they require to make informed judgments about issues involved and perhaps help the government in taking meaningful decisions.


He however advised  Media professionals to brace up for the challenges ahead, especially since they are expected to participate in the process of social reconstruction and democratisation  by providing a positive and participatory forum for the exchange of ideas, democracy and nation building.


 While discharging their duties, Isiguzo said Journalists should never attempt to deviate from the ethics of the profession because it will not auger well for the nation.


“Since the role of the media in Nigeria’s emerging democracy is central, media professionals must maintain the highest possible standards in their practice” he said.


The number one journalist in the country explained that role of the media in peace promotion or conflict escalation has been heightened by a number of factors which include ownership and funding, editorial policy and the regulatory agencies, therefore it is proper to suggest peace journalism as an instrument in promoting peace and reducing dysfunctional conflict to the barest minimum. The media have a vital role to play in nation building, by being active partners in the implementation of the development processes.

“They are veritable instruments and are therefore central to any input-output functions of any political system. However, there may be constraints of the media in this regard which among others include lack of conducive working environment, mass poverty, poor remuneration and lack of adequate training” he observed. 

Spraking at the event, the Deputy Director, Information Communication Technology (ICT) Department of the Commission , Dr. Lawrence Bayode, hinted that the Commission would deploy 190,000  BVAS across Nigeria for proper conduct of the General Elections.


Dr. Bayode also disclosed that the over 2 million delisted voters for multiple registration can use their old and first voter cards to participate in the election as the Commission deregistered only the double registration.


He further stated that the Commission would conduct pre-voting exercise across the country to ascertain voter eligibility with the use of BVAS before the General Elections.

 Also in his address, the Grand and Partnership Manager of CDD, Damian Ihekonye appealed to media practitioners to ensure that they carry out their jobs in accordance with the code and ethics of the profession.


 Ihekonye also appealed to the men of the pen profession to put first the interest of Nigeria and the people whenever they are circulating information particularly on the elections.


Mr Biodun Banjoko of CDD charged journalists to always be objective in their reports.


 He informed that ‘Photo shops’ have created lots of problems in the society, calling on media practitioners to always ensure that they don’t promote fake news through their various organizations. 


Another representative of INEC, Agnes Sam in his remark revealed that the training was organised to further equip Media practitioners and CSOs information and knowledge that will give birth to a peaceful election in 2023.

End

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