IMS canvass media involvement in Electoral Act amendment
The Executive Director, Institute for Media and Society (IMS), Dr. Akin Akingbulu, has insisted that it is expedient for the media to be carried along in the ongoing Electoral Act review.
Speaking at an NBC-BON Post Election Retreat organised by IMS in Lagos recently, he noted that this event is taking place at a time of electoral reforms. We have seen that the electoral management body, INEC; the National Assembly and other stakeholders are already in conversations on reviewing/ amending the electoral act.
The media is a major stakeholder in this process and we must move swiftly and make our inputs. There is a danger that if the media does not move fast enough, issues affecting the industry may be inadequately addressed or totally unaddressed.
Key among these issues, he explained, are: media observance of the silence period; formula for allocating of airtime to political parties; handling third party advertising; proportionality of sanctions to breaches; obligations of the media in achieving campaign finance transparency and accountability; protection/ safety of journalists; aligning electoral law and broadcasting law.
Furthermore, he added, “it is also interesting that this activity is holding at a time that government of Nigeria is embarking on reform in the broadcasting sector. From information received in the media, much of the reform effort is concentrated on the regulator, we have read about the governments plan to improve staff welfare, address funding and infrastructural challenges, and strengthen the regulators institutional structure through review of legislation.
“Broadcasting sector reform has been long overdue in our country. While commending the government for the decision to carry out the reforms, we urge that the exercise should be done speedily, with active participation of industry stakeholders and in line with international standards.”
In his opening remark, Acting Director General NBC, Prof Armstrong Idachaba, stated that he recently had a meeting with the board of the commission, adding, “I told them that NBC, as a matter of policy, must begin to look at 2023 elections. It is not for us to wait until when election is near that we start running around to sensitise stations.
“Listening to Dr Akingbulu’s paper, there are a lot of identifiable policy issues that need to be considered before the next election. There are lots of issues; why is it that abusive language will not cease, why is it that parties continue to deny other parties the opportunity to be heard. Some of these problems are old, but they keep recycling. Is it because of money? Is that why there are no social responsibilities, attitude or culture among the broadcast stations. these are things that we need to intervene.”