INTRODUCTION The One-day national stakeholders’ roundtable was organized by the International Press Centre (IPC), Lagos-Nigeria with the support of the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Democratic Governance for Development project (DGD II). The purpose of the roundtable was to critically examine the interconnections between the public, the media and elections towards developing an agenda that seeks to
The One-day national stakeholders’ roundtable was organized by the International Press Centre (IPC), Lagos-Nigeria with the support of the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Democratic Governance for Development project (DGD II).
The purpose of the roundtable was to critically examine the interconnections between the public, the media and elections towards developing an agenda that seeks to strengthen the role of the media in facilitating a credible electoral process.
The roundtable which aimed to set a media agenda that fully reckons with the public interest in reporting the 2015 elections was also to bring to the front burner the collation of opinions of Nigerians on priority issues that the media should focus on and with which politicians should be engaged ahead the 2015 elections.
The roundtable was attended by about fifty (50) stakeholders consisting of top media practitioners and representatives of national media professional bodies, associations and support groups; media regulatory agencies, the Electoral Management Body and the Civil Society including the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Broadcasting Organization of Nigeria (BON), Radio and Theater Arts Workers Union (RATTAWU), Nigerian Press Council (NPC), Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Media Rights Agenda (MRA) and the Institute for Media & Society (IMS).
Remarks were made at the opening ceremony by the Chairman, Alhaji Abubakar Jijiwa, the DG of Voice of Nigeria, represented by the Director News, Mr. Ahaziah Suleaeman; the Project Director of DGD11, Dr. Mourtada Deme, represented by the Media & Communications Expert. Mrs. Toyin Gabriel; the President of the NUJ, Mr. Mohammed Garba, represented by the Chairman of the Abuja Council, Mr. Chuks Ehirim; the President of RATTAWU, Dr. Yemisi Bamgbose and the Special Assistant to the President on Media, Mr. Bolaji Adebiyi.
The opening ceremony was followed by the presentation of the outcome of IPC’s opinion poll on the top five priority issues that the public want the media to report ahead 2015 elections. The 2012 Nigerians who participated in the poll voted as follows:
The roundtable also had two front presentations: ‘The Media, INEC and the Public’s expectation for credible elections in 2015’ by Mr. Femi Adesina, President, Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) and ‘INEC, the Media and Civil Society: Seeking common grounds for credible elections’ by Mr. Nick Dazang, Head of Publicity, INEC.
The presentations was followed by reactions and contributions by a panel of discussants consisting of: Mr. Edetaen Ojo, Executive Director, MRA; Mr. Abdulkadir Ibrahim, Director News, Radio Kano; Mr. Akin Akingbulu, Executive Director, IMS and Mr. Tope Shaba of Electoral Reform Network (ERN).
Sequel to the presentation of the result of the opinion poll and the front presentations, participants broke into group sessions to discuss the road map on way forward for the media and the 2015 Elections with focus on the following:
- Responsibilities of & Charter for Journalists/Reporters
- Responsibilities of & Charter for Media gatekeepers
- Responsibilities of & Charter for Media professional bodies, support groups etc
Participants observed that:
- The Nigerian media does not yet seem to recognize how important the roles it can play in ensuring credible free and fair elections are.
- The media can play a critical role in setting electoral agenda by engaging politicians to know how their manifestoes address the priority development needs of the citizenry.
- The Nigerian media, its practitioners and related professional bodies should have a blue print on public interests concerns that it should use to engage politicians ahead of the 2015 elections.
The workshop recommended as follows:
Responsibilities of & Charter for media practitioners
- Media practitioners should make public interest reportage paramount at all times.
- They should maintain the doctrine of acuracy, truthfulness, impartiality and fair play in election reportage.
- Media practitioner should have a sense of balanced reporting and decency and not become tools in the hands of politicians in order not to aggravate election related conflicts.
- Media practitioners should embark on self development and use various channels to update their knowledge on issue-focussed election reporting.
- Media practitioners should have understanding of and be guided by electoral laws including the Nigerian Constitution and the Electoral Act.
- Media practitioners should abide by professional code of conduct/ethics in the course of election coverage.
- Media practitioners should ensure that their reportage contrbutes to the conduct of credible elections.
Responsibilities of & Charter for Media gatekeepers
- Media gate keepers should be abreast of the provisions of electoral regulatory frameworks such as the Electoral Act and the National Broadcasting Code as well as other extant laws relating to elections.
- Media gate keepers should strictly adhere to the Code of Ethics for journalists; they should ensure balanced and non-partiality and resist actions that compromise professional integrity.
- Media gate keepers should ensure adequate welfare package and take other necessary measures to protect the interest of professionals working under them at all times, especially during elections.
- Media gate keepers should provide necessary gadgets or equipments, funds and other resources for effective election coverage
Responsibilities of & Charter for Media professional bodies, support groups etc
Recommendations and responsibilities for media professional bodies:
- The NUJ should create awareness about and enforce the code of conduct for journalists.
- The NUJ should ensure adequate protection for practitioners on election duty.
- The NUJ should always protect the interest of media practitioners.
- The NUJ should fight for the welfare rights of its members at all times and especially during elections.
- The NUJ should defend the rights of journalists to freely cover the elections without any form of molestation or harassment
Recommendations and responsibilities for media regulatory bodies:
- The media regulatory agencies should effectively monitor media conduct during elections.
- The media regulatory agencies should ensure compliance with regulatory codes on media coverage of elections
- The media regulatory agencies should up the ante on public enlightenment especially voter education
Recommendations and responsibilities for support groups:
- Media support groups should aid media professionalism by building the capacity of media practitioners on advanced knowledge of election reporiting
- Media support groups should up the ante on public enlightenment especially voter education
- Media support groups should monitor media coverage of elecrtions in relation to equity of access for parties and candidates, women, youths and disadvantaged groups etc
At the end of the stakeholders‘ rountable, participants expressed gratitude to the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Democratic Governance for Development (DGD II) Project which is funded with contributions from the European Union (EU), UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and the UNDP for supporting the workshop.
Additional Papers Presented
Communiqué of National Stakeholders’ Roundtable on Setting Media and Public Agenda for 2015 | Nigerian Democratic Report [wpdm_file id=6]
Communiqué of National Stakeholders’ Roundtable on Setting Media and Public Agenda for 2015 | Nigerian Democratic Report [wpdm_file id=7]
Opinion Poll Result [wpdm_file id=8]