Ahead of the forthcoming 2023 general elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has empowered 30 northeast Journalists with election conflict-sensitive reporting skills.
Flagging off the training at the Secretariat of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) Bauchi, National Commissioner and Chairman Information and Voter Education of INEC, Festus Okoye said peaceful reporting at this time when Nigerian head to polls is critical to the general peace and security of the country.
He said while the media has a constitutional role to keep the citizens abreast of happenings within both corridors of government and private entities, journalists must be sensitive to their fundamental obligations to Nigerians and Nigeria.
Mr Okoye who was represented by Deputy Director Voter Education and Enlightenment Nasiru Zakari Mohammed of the National Headquarters of INEC said media professionals at this electioneering time, must see the need to do away with sensational reporting to attract undue attention.
He called on journalists to be mindful of misinformation to assist members of the public in making informed decisions.
He said to maintain peace during elections, journalists ought to give equal voice to political parties and persons for fairness to all parties involved in a matter.
Mr Okoye said considering the development needs of citizens of Nigeria, journalists through their reportage must make deliberate efforts to promote and sustain issue-based campaigns.
“The media must find the right balance in casting headlines. The media must avoid falsehoods aimed at drawing attention to the site is a huge challenge in strategic communication rumours and falsehoods are sometimes very difficult to manage.
“The media must avoid tilting of stones towards Zonal, ethnic and religious narratives.
“The Independent National Electoral Commission will continue to partner with the media not only as key stakeholders in the electoral process but also as a very viable tool for combating misinformation,” he said.
On his part, the National President of NUJ, Chris Isigueze represented by the National Secretary of the union, Shu’aibu Usman Leman, commended INEC for the training extended to journalists in the northeast ahead of the next year’s general elections.
He demanded more efforts from journalists to help strengthen the democratic and electoral process in the country.
Comrade Umar Sa’idu, Bauchi State NUJ Chairman assured the commitment of the council to ensure members in the state operate in accordance with ethics guiding journalism practice in Nigeria.