INEC Pledges Loyalty to Nigeria, 100 Days to 2023 Election and will start holding media briefings regularly to update Nigerians about preparations towards the election even as it has counseled journalists to be mindful of conflict-sensitive reporting and eschew sensationalism. Exactly 100 days to the first of the general elections in 2023, the Independent National
INEC Pledges Loyalty to Nigeria, 100 Days to 2023 Election and will start holding media briefings regularly to update Nigerians about preparations towards the election even as it has counseled journalists to be mindful of conflict-sensitive reporting and eschew sensationalism.
Exactly 100 days to the first of the general elections in 2023, the Independent National Electoral Commission has restated its pledge to conduct a credible, free, and fair election by restating that its loyalty is to Nigeria.
It has also counselled journalists as stakeholders in the electoral process to be mindful of conflict-sensitive reporting by eschewing sensationalism in their reportage and promote peace in the country.
In a message to Nigerians titled “A message from the INEC Chairman” and personally signed by the INEC boss, Professor Yakubu said, “It is exactly 100 days today before polling units open at 8.30am on Saturday 25th February 2023 for national elections (Presidential and National Assembly) and two weeks later on Saturday 11th March 2023 for State elections (Governorship and State Houses of Assembly).
“Once again, another General Election is upon us, the 7th since the restoration of democracy in Nigeria in 1999. Over the last 23 years, we have made steady progress in the twin areas of electoral reform and election administration. Although a lot of work still lies ahead, it is generally acknowledged that our elections are getting better and citizens’ confidence in the process is increasing.
“As I have said repeatedly, the Commission’s allegiance is to Nigeria. Our loyalty is to Nigerians who want free, fair, credible, and verifiable elections supported by technology, which guarantees transparent accreditation and upload of polling unit results for citizens to view in real-time on Election Day. It is for these reasons that the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) and the INEC Result Viewing Portal (IReV) were introduced. There is no going back on the deployment of BVAS and IReV for the 2023 General Election.
“Similarly, we will continue with our regular engagement with political parties, civil society organisations, the media and other critical stakeholders. Above all, Nigerians deserve the right to know about the progress we are making and the challenges (if any) we confront in our preparations for the General Election. Accordingly, in a couple of weeks, the Commission will start bi-weekly media briefings followed by weekly briefings as we get closer to the election. In the week leading to the election, there will be daily briefings.
“I seize this opportunity to call on all citizens to participate fully in all electoral activities, particularly the ongoing display of the Register of Voters for claims and objections, as well as the collection of Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs). I also call on political parties and political leaders to conduct their campaigns peacefully, eschewing divisiveness, rancour and violence,”
“As Nigerians are aware, election is a multi-stakeholder activity. We will continue to play our part diligently and conscientiously. We appeal to all stakeholders and, above all, citizens to play their own part so that working together, we can have the elections that Nigerians yearn for, and which the world expects from us,” Mr Yakubu concluded.
Meanwhile, at another event, the election umpire also tasked journalists and media professionals to promote a peaceful ambience and eschew sensationalism in their reportage ahead of, during and after the electioneering exercise.
INEC National Commissioner and chairman of information and voter education, Mr. Festus Okoye made this call to the media in Ebonyi while delivering a speech at the capacity-building workshop for journalists in the South-East organised by INEC in collaboration with the Nigeria Union of Journalists with the theme: “Conflict- Sensitive Reporting and the 2023 General Elections”, which held in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State.
Mr Okoye, who described journalists and media practitioners as important stakeholders in the success of any electioneering process maintained that the media, as stated in the Constitution, has to play its part by avoiding reportage that can escalate violence before and during the elections.
He also explained that the media has been given the centrality of a healthy democracy in the country, and because of that, the media must imbibe professionalism and ethical conduct for balanced and unbiased activities while doing their jobs.
“The role of the media in the political and electoral process is fundamental given the centrality of the media in the electoral and democratic health of the country.
“Sections 38 and 39 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended) guarantee the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion as well as the right to freedom of expression and the press.
“In the same vein, Section 22 provides that the press, radio, television and other agencies of mass media shall at all times be free to uphold the fundamental objectives and principles contained in Chapter II of the Constitution.
“The press must hold the government responsible and accountable to the people. These are weighty responsibilities that demand the media and its practitioners’ professionalism, ethical conduct and attention to the overall interest of the nation.
“Democracy thrives with effective information flow and it is axiomatic that true democracy cannot exist without effective information flow”, Mr Okoye said.