…As IPC Tasks Journalists, Stakeholders on Safety The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has admonished Nigerians to put the interest of the nation first while commending the citizenry for mustering the will to vote after the last minute postponement of the Presidential and National Assembly elections last Saturday. In a statement signed by its President, Mr
…As IPC Tasks Journalists, Stakeholders on Safety
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has admonished Nigerians to put the interest of the nation first while commending the citizenry for mustering the will to vote after the last minute postponement of the Presidential and National Assembly elections last Saturday.
In a statement signed by its President, Mr Ayuba Wabba, titled, Let’s Put National Interest First, the NLC says, as “Nigerians go to poll, we appeal to the finest traditions, highest values, utmost sense of responsibility and unflagging patriotism in them.”
“Our survival as a nation, the pride of place which we seek to occupy in the community of nations, the respectability we crave in other lands depend not on how many barrels of crude oil we export in a day or how populous we are or how many billions of dollars we illegally siphon outside the country, but on the choice we make, and how we make that choice: cast our vote wisely or sell it for pittance; cause violence or exhibit decorum; levy war or wage peace; eschew egotism or elevate it. All candidates have potential to win or to lose. However, that decision rests not with the candidates but the electorate. It is therefore infantile or naive for some candidates to assume they cannot lose.”
“The moment of truth has come, and we must of necessity perform our civic duty in fulfilment of our beliefs or in betrayal of them. Our conduct will reveal our true identity, betray our intentions and test our claim to nationhood. We therefore challenge you the candidates, politicians, supporters, security personnel and INEC to be of utmost good behaviour and ethical standard as well as conduct yourselves with civility, humility, truth and abide by the rule of law.”
“We urge you to remember the oft-rehashed phrase, that the victory or loss of any candidate is not worth the blood of any Nigerian, not even the blood of a chicken! We want to remind all of us that nobody’s ambition is worth a square millimeter of the Nigerian territory. We similarly want to inform all and sundry that we cannot hold political offices without peace or country. We appeal to all to note that when we sponsor or stoke violence we cannot predict its course or end. We should therefore do all that is necessary to prevent it,” the NLC says.
“We urge all Nigerians to note that we are going to the poll and not war, and they should accordingly tone down their rhetoric or blood pressure. In this contest, there must be losers and winners, and we do not need to rig to win or snatch ballot boxes or cause mayhem to be reckoned with. Those things do not project our strength or power but primitivism, primordiality and our weakness.”
“We urge INEC to be fair, impartial and just to all parties or contestants. The onus rests on them to conduct free, fair and credible elections and earn the confidence of the electorate. If INEC conduct themselves transparently, there will be very little need to contest their results. It similarly behoves on us to respect and accept their results or verdict. We therefore urge politicians or candidates while criticizing INEC to be careful so as not to destroy completely their image or credibility.”
“We appeal to politicians to refrain from frivolous allegations, inflammatory statements or unsubstantiated comments. Similarly, security personnel should be civil but firm and be guided by the rules of engagement, especially the well-worn ground rules of military-civilian relations in tense or anxious moments.”
“Their professionalism, patience and impartial conduct will substantially reflect on the outcome. Mr President’s comment to deal summarily with ballot snatchers or arsonists is not a license to kill. It is intended to deter trouble makers. We insist on strong institutions for the sustenance of our democracy.”
“The electorate who have defied all odds to perform their civic duty are reminded to vote according to their conscience and beliefs and not according to primordial or sectarian sentiments or emergency seductions. We at the Nigerian Labour Congress believe that the citizens cannot complain afterward if they do not vote or vote wrongly. In light of this, we urge you NOT to sell your vote or allow yourself to be used to foment trouble. We similarly urge agents not to buy votes, for it shows your candidate is neither deserving of the votes nor worthy of leadership that he or she seeks. We insist, cause no trouble. Take evidence and use established channels of communication.”
“We commend observers for their patience or tenacity of purpose. However, we urge them to continue to be vigilant and remain faithful to their role as observers.”
“In order to inspire enduring confidence and sustainable peace during elections, clear channels of incident-reporting should be strengthened and our justice system made more straight and swift, less costly and pedantic.”
“We at the Nigeria Labour Congress, one of the few pan-Nigerian organizations still standing, in spite of the imperfections in the polity, impetuosity of the intemperate few, the imperviousness of politicians for whom tomorrow never comes, the wanton lasciviousness of some public office holders and the short fuse of the young and unemployed, believe in this country, and hold it dear.”
“When we are made to choose between convenience and truth, we shall choose truth; if we are made to choose between any individual and the nation, we shall choose the nation. Our loyalty to the Nigerian nation and readiness to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity remain unimpeachable and inalienable. We do hope that choice is never made inevitable.”
While wishing all Nigerians very peaceful elections, the NLC appeals “to all to ensure we have free, fair, peaceful, transparent and credible elections”.
“It does not bode well of us to be garrisoned each time we want to hold elections simply because we do not trust ourselves to play by the rules,” it says, noting that, “Time has come for the giant of Africa to show the way forward and exhibit maturity in matters like this.”
The International Press Centre (IPC), Lagos has also tasked journalists and other relevant stakeholders on safety consciousness in the performance of key institutional roles as the re-scheduled Presidential and National Assembly elections holds on Saturday.
IPC Director, Mr. Lanre Arogundade sounded this caution in the light of the emerging accusations and counter accusations by political actors and other players in the electoral process.
“It is very important for journalists covering the general elections to be safety conscious in the discharge of their duties, and to avoid situations that will put them in harm’s way. Journalists are expected to be non-partisan. Being partisan is not only about being a member of a political party, but also includes the use of expressions and/or impressions with statements, tags, symbols and colours that portray or identify with a particular political party or personality”, Arogundade said.
He also admonished other stakeholders, especially the security agencies to undertake their tasks in a very professional manner.
“The security agencies in recent times are the perpetrators of violence against journalists. Recent incidents as witnessed in the Osun re-run elections had shown vagrant abuse and violations of the rights of journalists. The security forces should note that the media is a critical part of the electoral process and so the media should be accorded due rights and privileges to enable them carry out their social obligations as partners in enshrining the credibility of the electoral process.”
“Other stakeholders, including elections observers should also proactively provide journalists covering the elections with information to ensure that all work together for the credibility of the electoral process”, Arogundade added.
As part of initiatives to keep tab on the safety consciousness of journalists, IPC said that there are safety alert officers across the zones who journalists under threat can report to. Arogundade said that in cases of attacks or insecurity issues, concerned journalists on the field can contact any of the following persons:
Lanre Arogundade (Director, IPC) – 08023186845
Melody Akinjiyan (Safety Alert Officer, IPC) – 08132776441
Nwaebuni Rosemary (South South) – 08035146978
Bello Mujtaba Ramalan (North West) – 08037004618
Moses Ojo (South West) – 08034399077
Abdulkareem Haruna (North East) – 08057244878
Elizabeth Achuagu (South East) – 08033538251
Naomi Okoh (North Central) – 07031265156
Mr. Arogundade also enjoined journalists to report any threats to the National Secretariat of the NUJ or the NUJ State Chapters.