The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has emphasized the relevance of the media sector in sustaining the nation’s democracy.
The commission said that the integrity of its elections depends on the quality of media reporting and broadcasts.
During the 2018 Nigeria Broadcasting Council (NBC) summit, on Monday, in Enugu, the chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu, reiterated the readiness of the commission to conduct the 2019 elections as it aims to build on the “successes” of the off-season elections.
Yakubu, who was represented by Enugu State Resident Electoral Commission (REC), Emeka Onanamadu, said: “from the cumulative impact of the out of season elections, like the Ekiti State governorship election, and the impending election in Osun, it is obvious that INEC is ready for the 2019 general elections.”
Stressing that a well prepared election can deepen the nation’s democracy, he said that “while reckless broadcasting can truncate our democracy, careful broadcasting can promote our democracy. Today, INEC will be glad to embrace ‘zero reckless’ broadcasting bearing in mind that the media can help the country and INEC to conduct a good election.
"When there is tension around an election, it leads to low turnout and we cannot afford low turnouts at elections because when the conduct of elections improve, it leads to an improvement of democracy.
The Governor of Enugu State, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, declared open the summit, themed, “Broadcast Content Development: Deepening Democratic Culture in Nigeria.”
Also speaking, the NBC Director General Is’haq Modibbo Kawu explained that the NBC annual summits are held with a realization of a sense of responsibility to the country, and the “themes are directly related to the socio-economic and political life of Nigeria. These include such themes as issues of peace and national security, health care, food security, the environment, conflicts over resources, and so on.”
The chairman of the board of NBC, Alhaji Ikra Bilbis Aliya, said the summit “is in tune with the political realities of the nation as political and democratic activities are the issues on the front burner. We just witnessed Ekiti Governorship Election and very soon it will be the turn of Osun State and of course we all know that February 2019 has been penciled down as the time for general elections in Nigeria.”
He urged “broadcasters, content producers and programmers to engage in production of broadcast content that will educate and inform the citizens of their expected role before, during and after any election.”
The chairman, Senate Committee on Information and National Orientation, Suleiman Adokwe said: “the media, being an important player in any democratic process should ensure that they perform their traditional roles of informing and educating the electorates. Also the media has the responsibility of holding the political leaders accountable. This role should be performed with all sense of responsibility and maturity.”
He charged the media not to ignore media ethics and principles but to keep their broadcasts in line with the provisions of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code, as they carry out the role of information dissemination and education.