Election not war, stakeholders tell politicians at NUJ public lecture
Eggheads in the media sector have appealed to the political class to eschew violence, imbibe peace and exhibit the spirit of sportsmanship whenever they lose any election.
They made appeal at the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) lecture held with theme, ‘Post-election Nigeria: Paths To National Restoration And Peace’, at the Combo Hall of the Lagos State Television, Alausa, Lagos, as part of the events planned for the NUJ Press Week.
In his welcome address, NUJ, Lagos State Chairman, Mr. Adeleye Ajayi, said: “The 2023 general election has brought different issues in its aftermath. These include a number of court cases, some already decided and some still pending and awaiting judicial decisions. Nigeria has a long history of violence during elections, which sadly manifested in the 2023 election.”
He observed that closely related to violence was the suppression of voters, adding the use of technology in conduct of the elections reduced the kind of rigging that was traditional in the country, such as ballot box snatching and stuffing, multiple voting, over voting and alteration of results.
Ajayi disclosed that insufficient voter education and logistical challenges were some of the grey areas in the 2023 general election, noting that at a post-election review of the polls with media stakeholders recently in Lagos, the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said, “there were many positive things that came out of the elections in spite of its many challenges.”
Ajayi called on the electoral body to address the lapses, saying this would contribute to a better outcome in subsequent elections and also chart a path for the restoration of peace in the country.
The Chairman of the occasion and Managing Director/Editor-in-Chief, Guardian Newspapers Limited, Mr. Martins Oloja, enjoined Nigerians to be hopeful for a better country.
He said: “National orientation is key for us to believe in ourselves and Nigeria. Although the journey to total restoration may be far, we need to have faith in our country and profession.”
Oloja noted that journalism remains the best profession in the world because the media is capable of calling the three arms of government to order whenever the need arises and also make them accountable to the people.
He disclosed that the major responsibility of the media is to build content for restoration and peace; and not to be carried away with politics.
Oloja urged scholars to research into the “political economy of press freedom” because the importation of newsprint (paper) at exorbitant costs has made publishing a herculean task.
The guest speaker, Prof. Sunday Alawode, who is the Dean, Faculty of Communication and Media Studies, Lagos State University (LASU), charged journalists to be patriotic in discharging their duties, warning that an inciting story could tear the country apart.
“Elections should not be seen as war in Nigeria. Losers should be able to imbibe the spirit of sportsmanship because they can win some other time. As journalists, we should build a Nigeria of our own dreams that we can bequeath to our children. Government should be about meeting the needs of Nigerians and not for furthering personal gains,” he noted.
The varsity don stated that Rome was not built in a day, adding that it would require the collective responsibility of the citizenry to restore Nigeria to a peaceful and progressive nation.
The scholar urged government to speedily tackle the problems of corruption, poverty and insecurity in the country.
He urged media owners to get insurance cover for journalists, saying many journalists had lost their lives on the job and left their families hopeless.
The General Manager, Lagos Traffic Radio, Mr. Tayo Akanle, reiterated the need for peaceful coexistence among Nigerians, saying without peace, unity and tolerance, it will be hard for Nigeria to progress as a nation.
A panel of discussants comprising the President, Guild of Online Publishers, Ms Maureen Chigbo; former Deputy Editor-in-Chief, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Mr. Peter Dada and Director, Public Affairs, Lagos State Government, Mr. Shina Odunuga, took time to respond to some of the questions by participants at the event.
Mass Communication students of Crawford University (CRU), Igbesa, Ogun State; Yaba College of Technology (Yabatech) and Lagos State University (LASU) were among the attendees.
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