By: Joy Odor/Kaduna
Nigerian journalists have been warned to avoid any form of misrepresentation, mistake or mischief in reporting elections and electoral matters in the countdown to 2019.
The Chairman, Information and Voter Committee (IVC), Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Barrister Festus Okoye (Esq) said anything to the contrary may lead to uncertainty, constitutional crisis and de-marketing of the INEC and Violence.
Mr. Okoye was speaking at a one-day Seminar on Media and Gender Sensitive Reporting of Elections in Abuja, 20th of December, 2018 for Journalists across the Northern zones, stressing that journalists without the knowledge of electoral process reporting may be danger to the society.
According to him, the media practitioners should strive to increase their knowledge of the electoral process and make deliberate efforts to acquire the sources materials for elections and seek for clarification on complex issues.
The Chairman of the Voter Committee was of the opinion that this is because media is a crucial component of the electoral process and its actions and inactions have important bearing on the electoral process before, during and after elections.
He noted that for the media to cover, disseminate and report election activities in an objective and professional manner to deepen the democracy it is imperative that INEC to constantly interact with, explain and be upfront in providing information to the media to avoid speculations suspicion and rumor mongering at this critical period.
Barrister Okoye assured that INEC will continue to train member of the mass media in various aspects of the electoral process as they are critical to the growth of democracy and the Nigerian people.
“It is imperative and germane that the members of the mass media must be knowledgeable and have good knowledge of the nuances and dynamics of the electoral process.
“For 2019 election, the INEC will recruit and deploy over one million ad-hoc staff made up of lectures in Federal Tertiary Institutions, members of the National Youth Services Corps (NYSC) and students of Federal Tertiary intuitions.
“These categories of ad-hoc staff will serve as returning officer, collation officers, supervisory presiding officers presiding officer and assistant presiding officers.
“It is next to impossibility for the members of the NYSC to provide all the ad-hoc staff needs and requirements of the commission and over 70% of the ad-hoc staff requirement in some states of the Federation are drawn from strike by ASUU will no doubt have serious impact on the preparations for the conduct of the 2019 elections.
“We therefore call on the Academic Staff Union of Universities and the Federal Government in Nigeria to quickly and genuinely resolve the lingering impasse that has led to uncertainty in the education sector.
“The national interest, the interest of our democracy and the reputation of Nigeria demands the immediate resolution of the issues that led to the strike and we so urge.
“It is our hope and expectation that at the end of this seminar, this august gathering will come up with recommendations on how best to encourage gender sensitive reporting of electoral issues and ensure that the media support women and other marginalized groups to participate in elections” He ended.