The president of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Mr. Chris Isiguzo has urged the media to be more committed to peace while reporting the forthcoming 2023 general elections, saying democracy would not develop without peace.
In a paper presented on Wednesday during a Training Workshop for North-West journalists, organised by the Center for Democracy and Development (CDD) in collaboration with INEC and the NUJ on Conflict Sensitive Reporting and the 2023 General Elections held at the Royal Park Hotel, Kano, Mr. Isiguzo said the training was to prepare media practitioners for the onerous task ahead.
The NUJ President was represented by the editor- in- chief, ForeFront Magazine, Mr Amos Dunia.
“The topic is very important at this time, given the fact that political actors in Nigeria consider elections as a do-or-die affair. It is therefore auspicious for us as media professionals to brainstorm ahead of the election year so as to prepare ourselves for the onerous task ahead”, he said.
According to him, it was very necessary to take the issue of peace as a cardinal point and take into consideration the need to be careful so that areas that are already fragile do not explode or implode.
“Peace is a basic requirement in a democracy. No democracy can develop in the absence of peace”, he emphasised.
The number one journalist in Nigeria noted that it is impracticable to completely eliminate crises and conflicts from our society but said it was important to make deliberate efforts toward conflict resolution and peace-building.
“As journalists, we are expected to develop a thorough understanding of the electoral process, an understanding of conflicts, and convey these to citizens in a way that reflects the truth in all their complexities”, he pointed out.
He maintained that a proper foundation established by journalists will provide citizens with the opportunities they require to make informed judgments about issues involved and perhaps also help the government in taking meaningful decisions.
“The 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”, he said, adding that journalists who had contributed to the process of democratic sustainability in Nigeria in the past 23 years or thereabout should also be interested in its future.
“The 2023 general election is important to all journalists especially as it will further stabilise our democracy and strengthen the democratic culture in Nigerian”, he maintained.
The NUJ President admonished the media to be more committed to improving the ethical standard of news reportage during elections.
“They must ensure that they undertake their professional duties within the ambit of the Electoral Law and other regulations. Professionally, they are required to improve their news judgment as it affects elections and election-related issues.
“Journalists, as a matter of priority, must always beam their searchlights on the election management body, INEC, to ensure that it is impartial and competent; that it embraces transparency and inclusivity in its composition and mandate in order to discharge its duties effectively”, he said.
Mr Isiguzo charged journalists to inform the public of how effectively the politicians had performed and help to hold them to account.
He explained that media plays a major role in keeping the citizenry abreast of current events and raising awareness of various issues in any society.
“Journalists in Nigeria should work towards the advancement of the right of freedom of expression, access to information, freedom of the press, media independence, conflict transformation and peace building”, he stressed.
By: Opaka Dokubo
2023: BVAS Won’t Fail, INEC Assures Following Mock Accreditation
The Chairman of the Independent National Elec-toral Commission (INEC), Prof Mahmood Yakubu, has said that the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System, BVAS, machines have never failed and will not fail Nigerians at the 2023 general elections.
Yakubu said this in Abuja on Saturday while assessing activities at polling units in the Federal Capital Territory where mock accreditation of voters was held using the BVAS machines.
“In the two polling units we have visited so far, there is no report of failure; the machines have performed optimally and this is the report we are getting so far nationwide.
“We have also made contingency arrangements like we will do on election day, that there is a spare machine in case, and in the unlikely event of a malfunction we will be able to respond and fix the machines’’, he said.
Yakubu explained that from the mock exercise witnessed, it took less than 30 seconds to accredit a voter, adding that this was the report INEC was getting from all the selected polling units nationwide.
“The speed is good and also the authentication is good.
“The BVAS has never failed anywhere,’’ he stressed.
Yakubu said also that no incident of failure had been recorded and INEC was hoping and praying, having worked very hard, that on February 25 and March 11, the machines would also perform optimally.
He assured that accreditation and electronic transmission of results would be done seamlessly during the elections.
“I would not like to comment on the Osun issue because it is a matter in court and is sub-judice.
“However, in every situation the Commission learns, carries the experience from what has happened to improve the processes for the next election.
“We have learned some lessons from what happened and one of the lessons is to be able to transmit the accreditation data,’’ he said.
Yakubu also assured on Saturday that in the forthcoming general election, INEC would transmit both the results on election day and the accreditation figures simultaneously so that the two would rhyme.
He said INEC created a new Uniform Resource Locator on its Results Viewing Portal where both the accreditation and results could be viewed.
“We are going to transmit both the accreditation figures and the results on election day”, he added.
“We are giving assurance to Nigerians that on Election Day, both the accredited data and the actual votes cast will be transmitted simultaneously and accurately,’’ the INEC boss stressed.
Yakubu said the mock exercise was organised to further test the integrity of the machines to be used on election days.
He said it needed to test the machines in the field ahead of the election bearing in mind that this was the first time of deploying the machines nationwide.
He explained that for the mock exercise, INEC identified 436 polling units nationwide on the equality of states and on the basis of two local governments per senatorial district.
Four polling units were used in each local government area where the exercise held, making a total of 16 polling units per state.
Appeal Court Receives 600 Pre-Election Cases – President
Monica Dongbam Mensem, President of the Court of Appeal, says the court has received over 600 pre-election cases.
Dongbam-Mensem spoke last Friday when Samuela Isopi, an ambassador with the European Union, led a delegation to her office in Abuja. She said the court started receiving the pre-election appeals in November 2022, noting that more were trickling in.
“The court received over 600 pre-election appeals in the 20 divisions of the court from November to date and more appeals are still being filed,” she said.
“Over 60 panels were set up in the various divisions to hear and determine all pre-election appeals filed. Mindful of the pressures under which the honourable justices are working, some experienced registrars of the court were empanelled to summarise the decisions so far made and distribute to the various divisions to avoid conflicting decisions”, she added.
While commending the delegation for the visit, Dongbam-Mensem said the work of election observers played a role in the nation’s electoral reforms.
“Pertinent to state that the role of these observer organisations has greatly impacted the resolve to review the 2010 Electoral Act. The 2022 Electoral Act has introduced laudable innovations to strengthen our democracy and ensure credible elections. The Court of Appeal has reviewed, developed and expanded the scope of working materials for judges,” she said.
She, however, said insufficient funding has affected the operations of the court. “In preparation for delivering its constitutional mandate, the court is faced with numerous challenges which include but are not limited to paucity of funds.
“To effectively manage the tribunals, deployment of ICT equipment and the need for continuous training of support staff with a view to enhancing their capacities and powers to effectively drive the electoral adjudication process.
“Permit me to state that the court is in a dilemma, we have just 21 days to the general election and the special intervention fund to conduct the election petition tribunal is yet to be released,” she said.
“It is expected that by now, provisions would have been made for the procurement of necessary materials and equipment needed for the smooth running of the various tribunals.
“Also, we ought to have organised further training for honourable justices, members of the tribunals and secretariat staff but we cannot due to paucity of funds. We are hopeful that these challenges will be soon addressed before the conduct of the general election.”
Units Mobilisation, Key To PDP’s Victory In Rivers – Wike
As part of measures to ensure total victory for all candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Rivers State in the forthcoming general elections, the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has emphasised the need for effective mobilisation at the various units to sensitise voters on where to cast their votes.
The Governor also stated that the conduct of the election through electronic accreditation and transmission of results will check the tendencies of ballot box snatching by election riggers and called for vigilance on the part of the electorate to ensure that their votes count.
The Governor who gave the charge during the Rivers State PDP campaign rally at Akinima Town in Ahoada West LGA last Tuesday, urged the people of Ahoada West to vote massively for candidates of the PDP in Rivers State to attract more developmental projects to the area.
Governor Wike also took a swipe at the national leadership of the PDP for showing no concern to the plight of the people when the LGA suffered a devastating flooding, stating that there was no moral justification for the national leadership of the PDP to seek the vote of the people.
Similarly, the Rivers State PDP campaign team led by the Rivers State Governor held it’s rally in Port Harcourt LGA last Wednesday. Speaking at the rally which held at the Elekahia Primary School field in Port Harcourt, Governor Wike expressed dismay over what he described as the compromising security situation in the state and accused the Rivers State Police Command of aiding instigators of electoral violence.
The Rivers State Governor urged the Police and other security agencies in the state to act statutorily, professionally and apolitically to safeguard the state from a break down of law and order, orchestrated by some political actors in the state, noting that the Rivers State Government would not hesitate to deploy the Neighborhood Security Watch to protect the state from sliding into lawlessness.
On Thursday, the Rivers PDP campaign train moved to Degema LGA to canvass for the votes of the people. Governor Wike disclosed that his administration has executed many developmental projects in the area in appreciation of the overwhelming support of the people to his administration.
He pointed out that Degema will experience more developmental transformation when they elect Siminialayi Fubara as the next Governor of the state, and urged the people to vote for all PDP candidates in the state in the forthcoming general elections.
Governor Wike also used the event to clarify why the Rivers State Government cancelled its earlier approval of the Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium for the use of the PDP Presidential Campaign rally, stating that the decision was to protect the facility from being vandalised.
Okrika LGA also, on Friday, hosted the Rivers PDP campaign rally. Addressing the mammoth crowd of party faithful at Comprehensive Secondary School, Ibaka Town, Governor Wike said Okrika would have proper recompense for their mandate in terms of developmental projects when they vote for Siminialayi Fubara as the next Governor of the state and also elect other PDP candidates in the state.
The Governor expressed concern over the pains associated with the new naira re-design policy on the masses, stating that some cabal was behind the anti-people policy, and urged President Muhammadu Buhari to reconsider the policy to save Nigerians from the stress and hardship inflicted on them.
The Rivers PDP capped its campaign rally for the week under review at Opobo/ Nkoro LGA on Saturday. Speaking at the event, Governor Wike who described Sir Siminialayi Fubara as a seasoned administrator and technocrat who will not fail Rivers people, urged the people of Opobo not to undermine the opportunity of having their son as the next Governor of Rivers State.
He therefore urged the people of Opobo to vote for Fubara and other candidates of the PDP in Rivers State.
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