INEC Commission's Debriefing of the Media
In the ongoing review of the 2019 General Elections being conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC Nigeria met with media personnel at a Debriefing held for that purpose. ECES is supporting this process within the European Union Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria (EU-SDGN) component 1 project.
ECES President, Monica Frassoni who delivered a goodwill message on behalf of the organisation joins other guests and dignitaries to include, the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, National Commissioners, Chairman's senior technical aides, Directors, other management staff and media executives in this interactive session aimed at a comprehensive review of the recently concluded 2019 general elections.
In her goodwill message, ECES President Monica Frassoni said “the health and welfare of the media and its practitioners is something very close to our hearts” as such ECES will continue to support the media in trainings and capacity building programs. According to her without the proper qualifications and tools, it will continue to be difficult for the media to do their jobs and combat fake news. On the issue of fake news, she advised media personnel to acquaint themselves with and be versed in their knowledge of electoral processes and laws as this will be an effective way to fight misinformation. She made mention of the media monitoring center, among other initiatives, which ECES is working on to help support INEC in delivering credible elections.
While speaking at the opening ceremony, INEC Chairman Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, thanked the media for making the 2019 General Elections the most covered news item so far in 2019 as he emphasised the importance of media engagement to the commission hence the need for the debrief session. IFES Acting Country Director Seray Jah also thanked the media for the important work they do as regards elections and electoral education in Nigeria and says IFES will continue to give all necessary support.
National Commissioner Festus Okoye highlighted that media managers must realize that not every electoral challenge is solved by electoral act amendment. He mentioned the need for media support in reshaping the ideology of Nigerians about the commission and help build trust of the electorate in the EMB’s ability to carry out credible elections. Corroborating this thought, National Commissioner Lecky points out that the rise of social media has led to an erosion of trust and a rise of misinformation. He points out the importance of media in presenting fact based information especially as regards elections.
Commissioner Lecky laments the bashing received by INEC due to widespread misinformation. He points out that the debriefing is to receive feedback from the media while highlighting how INEC and the media can better work together. The Chief Press Secretary Mr. Rotimi Oyekan, also reiterated that even though the job of INEC is paramount as the nation's stability is tied to it, INEC still needs the media to play an efficient role.
Vice President of the Nigerian Guild of Editors Mustafa Isah, raised some concerns of media personnel about the electoral challenges in Nigeria. He said that beyond reforms in the electoral system, the conduct of political parties needs to be addressed if not electoral reforms may amount to very minimal change. While President of the Nigerian Union of Journalists Lagos chapter, Dr. Akinreti encouraged the use of a 3rd party agency to handle election logistics. He also pressed for the punishment of electoral offenders as a deterrent to others.
Overall, the commission’s interaction with media brought to bare areas needing attention as perceived by media practitioners during the elections.
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