INEC, EUSDGN, DAI Sensitize Journalists on Ethical, Safety Practices and Critical Issues Ahead of Off-Cycle Governorship Elections

The Independence National Electoral Commission, INEC in collaboration with European Union Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria and DAI organised a two-day capacity-building Workshop for Members of the INEC Press Corps on Ethical, Safety practices and critical issues relating to the Bayelsa, Kogi and Imo Governorship elections coming up on 11th November 2023 at Akwanga Nasarawa State. 

The day 1 of the workshop, Director Voter Education and publicity Mrs Mary Nkem speaking on the importance of collaboration between INEC and Media in ensuring free, fair and credible elections at the ongoing two-days capacity building Workshop organized by the INEC in collaboration with European Union Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria and DAI at Akwanga Nasarawa State. At this juncture, it is important to remind the participants of this great gathering of the ongoing Online Media Accreditation portal, that was opened on the 24th of August, 2023.

The platform was created to enable media organizations to apply for accreditation by uploading details of their personnel who will cover the 2023 off-cycle governorship elections in Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi states on the portal. Please note that this portal will close automatically on the 22nd of October, 2023, we implore organizations wishing to cover the elections and are yet to be accredited to do so before the closure

Also the Director ICT, INEC, lectures on the Role of BVAS, and IReV for Bayelsa, Kogi and Imo governorships said Technology deployment has proven to be an effective tool in achieving free, fair and credible elections; Challenges are eminent, but INEC has put in extra efforts to ensure that they are mitigated. 

He added that the role of BVAS is to ensure one-person-one-vote, and the role of the IReV Portal is to improve the openness and credibility of our elections, he also solicited the cooperation and trust from Stakeholders to enable the Commission to meet its set objectives. 

Still, on day 1 lecture, Also, the DG TEI INEC, Dr.Sa’ad Umar Idris taking participants through Imperatives of adequate Training for Poll officials towards Bayelsa, kogi and Imo Governorships Elections. 

“In preparation of Bayelsa, kogi and Imo Governorship Elections, the Commission through the Institute has fully upgraded the INEC E-School,the INEC-Chat Bot and INEC training reporting and Coordination tool for use of the three Elections.”

 Director General TEI lectured on the imperatives of adequate training for poll officials Mechanisms Adopted for Effective Training, reiterates that the training of Poll Officials towards the conduct of the November 2023 Governorship Elections in Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi States are critical pre-election activities that must be tackled with utmost tact and commitment.

 "The Institute. I can assure you, is poised to play its role to ensure that all Adhoc staff are effectively and qualitatively trained. The Commission's goal to deliver a free, fair, credible, and inclusive election in the three States is achievable by devotion, action, purposefulness, commitment, and patriotism on the part of the Commission and every stakeholder." 

Also, the team leader, the Development Alternatives Incorporated (DAI), Mr. Rudolf Elbling highlighted the significance of European Union Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria (EU-SDGN) Phase 1 and 2 to Nigeria's Democratic journey with INEC. He stressed that DAI provides support towards capacity building, technical support, and printing of non-sensitive reports and information flyers. He said some of the tools developed in collaboration are being handed over to the Commission. 

Among these are: the Collation and Returning Officers Management System (CROMS) intended to streamline, simplify and enhance the security, reliability and credibility of the recruitment process for collation and returning officers; the Election Results Management System (ERMS) which seeks to ensure a better results management process, enhancing accuracy and creating a repository of election results, something envisaged by Section 62 (1) and (2) of the Electoral Act, 2022”.

The day 2 lecture by Chief Press Secretary to the Hon.Chairman INEC, Mr Rotimi Oyekanmi, speaks on the impact of fake news, Misinformation and Disinformation on electoral information: INEC’s experience.

He said journalists have a responsibility to report facts without distorting them to fit a particular narrative. The public relies on the media for truthful accounts of events. If a Journalist is unsure about the accuracy of a piece of information, the prudent course of action is to exercise caution, rather than risk spreading potentially false information. When in doubt it is better to omit the uncertain Information from the report. 

Mr Lanre Arogundade and Director LD&C, Mrs Toyin Babalola Esq presentations on fundamentals of the Nigeria Media Code of Election reporting and the Effects of litigations on INEC’s Preparations for Bayelsa, Kogi, Imo Governorship Elections focused on good journalism which requires decent conduct that conforms to acceptable social norms values and ethical codes. It also requires that journalists are well-resourced and can act independently of the subjects of their reports.

On her part, the Director LD&C, Mrs.Toyin Babalola Esq spoke on the unique nature of pre-election matters that cannot be overlooked as judgments in this regard are capable of negatively impacting planning, logistics, funding and certainty of participants in the conduct of elections.

These judgments are sometimes delivered on the eve of the election thereby prohibiting the Commission from conducting elections into certain positions, replacing candidates after the printing of ballot papers, etc., which in turn affect logistics and cause an eventual colossal waste of resources.

Beyond the impact of pre-election matters on preparation for the election, the Commission is sometimes ordered to withdraw the certificate of return issued to a candidate who emerged as the winner and issue a fresh certificate of return to a judgment creditor.

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