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Editors, others demand electoral accountability

By Kehinde Olatunji, Eniola Daniel and Oluwatomiwa Oguniyi
26 November 2021   |   2:50 am
The Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) has stressed the need for a robust relationship/partnership between the media and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)

[FILES] An electoral official hold-up a ballot paper during vote counting at a polling station during the Anambra State governorship election at Uga, Aguata district in southeast Nigeria on November 6, 2021. PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP

Pledges to support INEC
• Perpetrators of election violence belong to youth groups, says commission

The Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) has stressed the need for a robust relationship/partnership between the media and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the sustenance of democracy.

The editors said that it was unfortunate the country was at a crossroads debating the mode of transmission of results when it should be discussing how to deploy technology in the conduct of elections.

President of the Guild, Mustapha Isah, who stated this at an interactive meeting with media executives in Lagos, organised by INEC, noted that the greatest tragedy of the current dispensation was that major players in Nigeria’s democracy were not democrats.

Isah bemoaned that those who are in charge of the political space never fought for democracy, while the people who did, stayed away from politics in 1999, leaving the space for the same individuals who organised one million and two million-man marches for late former Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha, to take charge.

He added that the Nigerian media had invested so much in the country’s democracy to abandon it halfway, noting that the NGE was ready to play its part in the partnership.

“When we criticise you and the commission, sometimes, it doesn’t mean we want you to fail. We only want you to improve on your performance.”

On his part, the Executive Director, Institute for Media and Society (IMS), Dr. Akin Akingbulu, noted that free, fair, inclusive and credible elections are central to the consolidation of democracy.

Also, Executive Director, International Press Centre (IPC), Mr. Lanre Arogundade, said that it was worrisome that the National Assembly had refused to heed the request to drop aspects of the amendments that seek to criminalise journalism during the election period.

The INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said: “While we may not always agree on all issues, which are understandable, both of us are definitely in agreement that our democracy and electoral process must be nurtured and consolidated. On our part, we regard the media as both a key stakeholder and a dependable ally in sustaining and deepening our democracy.”

MEANWHILE, the INEC has said that the majority of the violence witnessed during elections were perpetrated by youth groups in the country.

National Commissioner/Chair, Outreach and Partnership Committee (OPC), INEC, Dr. Adekunle Ogunmola, said this yesterday in Lagos during the capacity-building/implementation meeting for desk officers and INEC Youth Ambassadors (IYAs) on the INEC Youth Engagement Strategy (YES).

The event was organised by the commission in collaboration with YIAGA Africa and European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES).

Also, Project Co-ordinator, European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES) Nigeria, Hamza Fassi-Fihri said ECES stand ready to offer further support policy for youth, while hoping to fully utilize as a resource kit towards minimizing the challenges that negatively impact the participation of young women and girls within the electoral process.

“In November and December last year, ECES collaborated with YIAGA Africa to organize several validation sessions on YES, bringing together a staff of the commission. This has really been a compressive approach and certainly key. Staff in the Commission are already sensitized on its existence, giving room for its effective deployment.

On his part, former Big Brother Africa housemate Tayo Faniran who is also INEC youth ambassador said: “INEC has been proactive in carrying us along on everything that has to do with election in the country and we are happy to support the Commission. We must let the Commission know that the youths are asking questions about the 2023 elections, they want to get involved.

“As an ambassador, we have been calling on the youths to get their PVC and vote because that is the only way we can get into power, but the youths are warning up to take over the mantle of leadership in 2023 and they are asking for the conduct of a peaceful election, a level plain ground.

Speaking at the even, TV personality, Uti Nwachukwu, said: “As an INEC ambassador, I can say it before you that I feel the pains of the country right now. Nigeria youths are losing hope in the system so, this is a time to re-assure the people, especially the youths. A lot of young people are asking if the older ones will believe them and be taken seriously. They are asking if they would be given the chance in any of the political parties and, I am calling on INEC to encourage the young citizens of this country, they should be allowed to know how open the system is. It is time to let them know that their voices have been heard and that their hopes are valid.

“As an ambassador, I continue to encourage them to get their PVCs, but the majority of them are scared. They are afraid of being attacked if they come forward. We have a big task ahead but I believe that if we all join hands and ensuring transparency and fairness will go a long way.