By; PATRICK TITUS, Uyo
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has been urged to ensure strict audit of activities of her personnel who will be involved in the electoral processes to nip in the bud all forms of electoral malpractices, and ensure free, fair and credible elections in 2023.
This was contained in a communique issued at a-one day capacity building workshop organised by INEC in conjunction with Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) for journalists in Akwa Ibom State on the theme, “Conflict-Sensitive Reporting And 2023 General Election” in Uyo on Tuesday.
Signed by the communique drafting committee chairman, Comrade Abasifreke Effiong, Mary Ekere as Secretary, Edidiong Idemokon as member and Okpaka Dokubo – Vice President, NUJ, Zone F.
The participants reasoned that a sure way to keep Nigeria together is to have a free, fair and credible elections in the country in 2023 and beyond.
The communique therefore, lauded INEC for the introduction of technology such as the Bi-modal Voters Authentication System (BIVAS), INEC Result Viewing Portal (IREV), and online biodata registration of adhoc personnel recruited for 2023 election.
It urged INEC to ensure full inclusion of the media in all stages of the electoral processes to ensure that they have full information and understanding of election activities to be able to properly inform and educate the voters.
INEC was urged to ensure close collaboration with security agencies to ensure protection of journalists, stakeholders and actors who will be working on election matters as well as voters particularly in riverine areas which may be vulnerable to attacks.
The participants noted series of misinterpretation of provisions of the Electoral Act 2022 by media houses and guests appearing on media programmes, and advised that media houses should always seek clarifications about any provision in the Act whenever in doubt so as not to mislead the public.
They also noted the non-adherence to electoral guidelines and timelines by political parties, and called for strict adherence to ensure a seamless electoral process.
Electoral stakeholders and actors were encouraged to avoid inciteful statements capable of causing a breach of public peace, order and harmony during the 2023 elections, appealed for support to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to conduct free, fair and credible elections.
INEC assured persons who transferred their registration to the State, applied for change of polling units, and those who applied for renewal of defaced PVCs, that their cards will be ready for collection at the respective INEC offices in their LGAs from Monday 12th December 2022.
INEC announced that colection of Permanent Voter Cards will end on January 22, 2023 and media houses should continue sensitising the public on matters relating to the elections.
Earlier in his welcome address, the National President of NUJ, Comrade Chris Isiguzo had noted the salient roles of the media in enthronement and sustenance of democracy in the country, thus stressed need for the safety of media professionals and places of work.
According to Isiguzo, who was represented by Vice President NUJ Zone F, Comrade
Comrade Okpaka Dokubo,
“It is an incontrovertible fact that the indispensable functions of the media cannot performed without the guarantee of safety of journalists and media workers. Without doubt, the safety of journalists is absolutely essential to the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of all citizens as well as the right to development.”
The NUJ President, who commended INEC for organising the training, observed that for the Nigeria’s populace to actively participate in the democratic process, the media itself must be strengthened to ensure that some of the mechanism through which community empowerment can be achieved are put in place, and these include, the unhindered access to information and proactive initiatives among others so as to strengthen the way and manner journalists perform their duties.
Goodwill message was received by representative of the Akwa Ibom State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mr. Cyril Omoregbe. Papers presented at the seminar were, “The Electoral Act 2022 and the General Election”, “INEC’s New Technologies for 2023 General Election” and “The Media and the 2023 General Election”.