The Nigerian Media Code of Election Coverage (Revised Edition 2018) was launched in Abuja at the weekend with a charge on journalists to “contribute to credible, free and fair and peaceful elections in the country” Speaking at the public launch and presentation of the Code at the International Press Institute 67th Congress, the Director, International
The Nigerian Media Code of Election Coverage (Revised Edition 2018) was launched in Abuja at the weekend with a charge on journalists to “contribute to credible, free and fair and peaceful elections in the country” Speaking at the public launch and presentation of the Code at the International Press Institute 67th Congress, the Director, International Press Centre (IPC), Mr Lanre Arogundade said it “represents a strong statement that good election reporting matters to journalists and media institutions in Nigeria”.
“This statement of commitment is indeed also made stronger by the fact that this presentation is being done before a global media freedom and freedom of expression audience that has been brought together by the International Press Institute (IPI) to discuss why good journalism matters for the purpose of building stronger societies”, he said.
Arogundade disclosed that the Code has been endorsed by six umbrella media professional groups: Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN); Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON); Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE); Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ); Guild of Corporate Online Publishers (GOCOP); Radio, Television And Theatre Arts Workers Union (RATTAWU); 75 broadcast, print and online media; 15 media support groups and two journalism training institutions – Nigeria Institute of Journalism and International Institute of Journalism.
He expressed gratitude to the European Union for supporting the production and dissemination of this Code through Component 4b: Support to the media of the EU Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria (EU-SDGN) project which is being implemented by IPC with the objective of building a professional media as catalysts of democratic accountability, credible elections and good governance.
Through its preamble and statement of broad principles, the Code outlines the imperative of professional and ethical reporting of elections as well as the responsibilities of institutional stakeholders, particularly, The Government, Political Parties, The Election Management Bodies (Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and State Independent Electoral Commission (SIEC) and Civil Society Organisations and Media Support Groups in creating the enabling environment for such.
Sections one to five of the code outline guidelines for ensuring equitable access, professionalism and social responsibility, ethical conduct, avoidance of hate speech and incitement, and being conflict sensitive by journalists and media organisations in reporting elections.
Section 6 provides for monitoring, implementation and enforcement while detailing internal mechanisms for ensuring compliance with the Code through the institution of Ombudsman, Ethics and Disciplinary Committees, etc. This means that any journalists or media organisation that violates the Code could face sanctions if there is complaint from any quarters including the media itself, the government, the political parties, the civil society, women and youths and the general public.
“It is therefore necessary to call on all journalists and news mediums in Nigeria to strive to read, digest, understand and implement the provisions of this code. In order to facilitate this, we urge, all media organisations, especially those that have endorsed the Code, to make the fact known in their news mediums, make it available on their websites and social media platforms, prominently display it in their newsrooms and organise enlightenment or training programs on the Code for which IPC will be willing to assist. IPC on its part will also publish the Code on its websites (www.ipcng.org, www.ndr.org.ng) and social media platforms”, Arogundade said.
Also speaking at the event, Mr Dotun Oladipo, President, Guild of Corporate Online Publishers (GOCOP) expressed optimism that the newly launched Nigerian Media Code of Election Coverage (Revised Edition 2018) will to a large extent guide operators and separate trained journalists from those who suddenly find themselves reporting simply because they have access to a laptop or phone and data.
Oladipo said: “The Guild of Corporate Online Publishers is elated at this recent development in the Nigerian media space with the launch today of the Nigerian Media Code of Election Coverage”.“We have been a part of this as individual publications and as an association since the journey to review the Code began. We are proud to associate with this effort spearheaded by the International Press Centre, headed by our own Lanre Arogundade, and those who have supported the effort through funding and capacity building. For us, the Code represents what we believe in as an association, especially as it relates to election coverage”
“In coming together, the idea behind the formation of GOCOP was to serve as a peer review gathering of Online Publishers who have worked in the print for several years, with some of us rising to become managing directors/editors-in-chief, title editors and a minimum of line editors. Most of us also belong to the prestigious editors’ club in Nigeria, the Nigeria Guild of Editors.”
Oladipo further said that GOCOP is concerned with the upholding of journalism ethics, especially online, where, according to him, “ethics has been thrown away,” adding: “We pledge our support to this cause as we go on this journey to entrench the Code.”
The European Union Deputy Ambassador to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Mr Richard Young, assured that the EU would continue to support any process that is fair and transparent, saying it is important that the Media Code of Election Coverage has been put in place.
Young commended all the media organisations that partnered with the International Press Centre to come up with the revised edition of the Code, noting that it would contribute to free, fair and transparent elections in 2019.
In his presentation, the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said from their statistics, youths and women would play greater roles in the 2019 elections.
He however assured that a strategic plan has been put in place to ensure hitch free elections, noting that part of the plan was the release of election timetable in January 2018, a year ahead of the general elections billed for February 2019.
While ruling out electronic voting in 2019, Yakubu said “I want to assure you that the will of election voters will continue to prevail.” He said no fewer than 85 media organisations have so far been accredited by INEC, adding that the 2019 elections will be the most widely covered in the history of election in Nigeria.
Present at the occasion were many senior editors of the Nigerian media and their counterparts from across the world who were delegates to the IPI conference. They include the President, Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON) and Chief Executive Officer of Channels Television, Mr John Momoh; and the Chairman of Newspapers Publishers Association of Nigeria (NPAN) and Publisher of THISDAY Newspapers, Mr Nduka Obaigbena.1 comment