The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in collaboration with the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) has trained Northwest Journalists on conflict-sensitive reporting ahead of the 2023 general election.
Speaking at the workshop on Wednesday in Kano, the National Commissioner and Chairman of Information and Voter Education INEC, Festus Okoye, said the media is a critical stakeholder in political processes.
Okoye, represented by Mr. Samuel Bassey, Deputy Director, Gender and Inclusive INEC, said the one-day capacity building on “Conflict- Sensitive reporting and 2023 General Election for Northwest Journalists” enhanced participants’ skills and professionalism.
According to him, the role of media in the electoral process includes publishing information, carrying out voter education, and availing critical stakeholders with timely and relevant information on the electoral process among others.
He pointed out that reporting election requires special skills and an understanding of the centrality of Nigeria’s survival as a Federal democracy as well as avoiding false reports that may trigger a breakdown of law and order.
Okoye called on the media to avoid deliberate falsehood aimed at drawing traffic to sites, especially online media.
“The media must have a basic understanding and a working knowledge of constitutional, legal, and regulating instruments as the Constitution has gone through several amendments on new Electoral act,” he said.
He explained that INEC would continue to partner with the media not only as key stakeholders in the electoral process but also as a viable tool for combating fake news, misinformation, and malicious falsehood.
Earlier, the NUJ National President, Mr. Chris Isiguzo, said the role of media was not only to monitor government but to make government accountable as well as help the populace to participate in the process of governance and development.
Isiguzo, who was represented by Deputy President NUJ North West Zone, Alhassan Nayaya, said the training was to avail journalists the opportunity to brainstorm ahead of the 2023 elections.
“Our role as journalists is to facilitate easy access to information that will enhance participation in governance,” he said.
He called on journalists to avoid relying on social media handles of personality as sources of their news reportage but subscribe to reputable media organizations.
The state commissioner for Information, Malam Muhammad Garba, said Journalists were partners in progress especially when it comes to the issue of democracy.
“Journalists need to be educated because INEC has initiated quite a number of programs and policies on changes in the electoral process.
“We need the media as much as possible to educate and sensitize Nigerians on the issue of the election,” he said.
Alhaji Abdullahi Yusuf, former Deputy Editor in Chief, News Agency of Nigeria, (NAN), who presented a paper titled: “The Role of Media and 2023 General Election” said that the media has been playing a significant role in shaping issues and influencing events in the polity.
He said that media professionals needed continuous training and retraining to boost their capacity for optimum performance, especially in their reportage of political activities and events.
Yusuf also urged reporters and producers covering the elections to write factual, accurate, objective reports in the good and appropriate language.