Worried by the state of apathy of youth participation in the electoral process, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is set to partner with campus radio stations in raising awareness among the youth and enhance voter education. Chief Press Secretary to the Chairman of INEC, Mr. Rotimi Oyekanmi stated this in reaction to a monitoring
Worried by the state of apathy of youth participation in the electoral process, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is set to partner with campus radio stations in raising awareness among the youth and enhance voter education.
Chief Press Secretary to the Chairman of INEC, Mr. Rotimi Oyekanmi stated this in reaction to a monitoring report which shows “a gap in terms of INEC’s followership in respect of engagement by the citizens on social media. Whereas, INEC had a total of 1,400,000 followers, its total tweets for the period generated only 3,045 retweets; 11,189 ‘likes’ and 1,687 comments, despite the large followership as at the end of September 2019”.
Speaking as a panelist at the public presentation/roundtable of the report on trends in print & online newspapers’ reportage of post 2019 elections issues (scorecard for July – September 2019) organised by the International Press Centre, Lagos yesterday, Mr. Oyekanmi said the issue of youth apathy towards electoral matters and elections is worrisome knowing that they show more interest in other less important social matters, including music and reality shows.
The monitoring report had recommended a need for INEC to conduct an administrative appraisal on its information dissemination strategies, both in the mainstream and on social media platforms. “To the extent that the monitoring report also shows very minimal or almost passive utilization of the INEC website, particularly the Press Release and INEC news sub portal for information dissemination, there is the need for INEC to rejig its information dissemination approach, especially in utilizing its website as priority information dissemination channels for its Press Release and News Update information”.
The report is the continuation of a 24-month media monitoring activity covering the pre-election, election and post-elections cycles under component 4b: support to media of the EUSDGN project. This is the scorecard for July-September 2019.
The newspapers and online media being monitored are The Punch, The Guardian, Daily Sun, Vanguard, ThisDay, Nigerian Tribune, The Nation, Leadership, Daily Trust, Blue Print (online version), The Cable (published online only) and the Premium Times (published online only). Also monitored was the INEC’s twitter handle (https://twitter.com/inecnigeria) and INEC website https://www.inecnigeria.org/, as it was considered necessary to examine INEC’s post-election engagement with the media and the public via these Online channels.
Presenting the report to the media stakeholders roundtable, Mr. Lanre Arogundade, Executive Director of IPC noted that the report and subsequent ones, will show that this phase is very important not only because we are beaming torchlight on the trends of reportage but because there are emerging critical post-election issues such as conflicts, outbreaks of violence and killings (as seen in the recent Kogi and Bayelsa Governorship elections), tribunal/court cases and campaign finance, which the media must contend with.
“In dealing with these issues, it is our contention that the media must continue to be ethical and conflict sensitive in their reportage. Thus, the report serves as a reminder to the media on their role in preventing insecurity and violence during and after elections through fact-based, independent, transparent, accountable and impartial reporting
“The purpose of this report is to provide evidence-backed information on state of media performance in the coverage of the electoral processes and the 2019 elections, highlighting observed gaps and shortcomings, and using the outcome as a tool for continuous engagement with journalists, media managers and media gate keepers on the need to ensure media professionalism.
“In furthering the cause of actions, quarterly media roundtables are normally convened by IPC to enable media and other electoral stakeholders draw relevant lessons relating to the need to adhere to professional and ethical standards in the coverage of the electoral process and governance issues with a view to avoiding hate speech, being conflict sensitive and giving prominence to the issues of citizens, women, youths, persons living with disabilities (PLWDs) and so on” said Arogundade
In his review of the report, Dr. Tunde Akanni, Senior Lecturer at the School of Communication, Lagos State University, concluded that he personally found the report as invaluable for research and consider it as indispensably didactic for the media, INEC and the rest of us.
Among other items, the review observed that out of 4,217 total reports identified as relevant and monitored, 3,710 reports were published as News (at 88%) while 204 of the relevant reports were published as Features at (4.8%). There were 23 Editorials at (0.55%); 98 reports were Opinion articles at (2.32%); 7 reports were Letters to the Editor (0.17%) and 26 were photographs (0.62%). Others include 9 reports published as Cartoons (0.2%); 1 as Vox Pops (0.02%) and 138 Interviews making 3.3%. He was, however, pleased that the report recorded zero for hate speech in the media monitored.
He observed that future reports should be improved upon by ensuring that illustrative tables, charts and histograms in their reasonably colourful forms most robustly endear the report to readers, are properly tagged as figure 1 or so while captions are kept short.
Dr. Akanni further noted that “It is important to note that all the media analysed could be rightly labeled mainstream media that may not have reported the grassroots to our satisfaction. But you will agree with this reviewer that the grassroots are not any less important than city dwellers whose affairs are readily reported by mainstream media.
“In the light of IPC’s confessed passion for inclusivity and the diametrically opposed ever recurring factor of limited resources therefore, monitors could take better advantage of online resources like Google Alert to track additional relevant information. This will, in no small measure help to further democratize IPC’s search for information that may otherwise not be captured by the mainstream media it. This will as well fulfill the aspirations of the Public Communication Charter, PCC, which remains unmatched in uniting the grassroots in the search for and use of information globally. IPC will do well to enable monitors familiarize with this document.” Dr. Akanni counseled in his review.
One of the panelists, Mr Femi Owolabi representing the Editor of The Cable Online urged INEC to ensure that journalists have access to its collation centre suggesting that it could develop qualitative criteria to streamline the media if the problem is inadequate space at the collation centre.
The moderator of the round-table discussion, Dr. Akin Akingbulu, Executive Director, Institute for Media and Society noted that contrary to the outcome of zero mention on hate speech in the print media the broadcast media recorded the use of hate speech especially during live rallies and other activities on radio and television.
Some of the other issues raised by other panelists and participants include the need for the media to now monitor politicians on the promises made during the campaigns as well as their compliance to campaign finance.
It was also recommended that the media should report more on women and people living with disabilities. Media organisations should make it a duty to look for them and report on their activities, while INEC should intensify its enlightenment campaign down to grassroots level.
Another panelist Mr. Wale Akinola, the Editor, Vanguard on Sunday said his organization was already doing this by dedicating special pages to report on such activities. Participants canvassed a situation where it becomes mandatory for political parties to reserve a certain percentage of its elective positions for women.
In his closing statement, Mr. Arogundade urged the media to pay more attention to the issue of constitutional amendments and also monitor campaign finances especially on the limits on candidate’s expenditure as prescribed by the law on such expenses.