COMMUNIQUÉ OF THE TWO DAY WORKSHOP ON EFFECTIVE COVERAGE AND REPORTAGE OF 2015 GENERAL ELECTIONS, ORGANIZED BY THE NIGERIAN PRESS COUNCIL WITH THE SUPPORT OF THE DEMOCRATIC GOVERNANCE FOR DEVELOPMENT OF UNDP, HELD AT THE NUJ PRESS CENTRE, ENUGU, ENUGU STATE, FROM WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 13 TO 14, 2014.
A two day workshop on Effective Coverage and Reportage of 2015 General Elections was held at the NUJ Press Centre, Enugu, from August 13 to 14, 2014. The workshop which is the first of the series has the following objectives: to sensitize journalists on ethical principles guiding election reporting and coverage; strengthen the capacity of journalists to monitor elections and report them effectively; and ensure adherence to professionalism as a deliberate means of entrenching democracy and by extension good governance in Nigeria.
It was attended by 61 participants, with journalists drawn from the five South-East States of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo; the Academia, among others.
A keynote address was presented by Prof. Attahiru Jega, Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), represented by Mr. Kayode Idowu, Chief Press secretary to the INEC chairman. He stated that for democracy to thrive in any given society, the media must provide people with access to all the information they need to guide and safeguard their electoral choices.
Prof. Jega enjoined journalists to abide by the established ethical and legal provisions, so that the media would be positioned to effectively play their role in promoting free, fair and credible elections, he said that it should be understood that elections are processes, not events; and media coverage must be oriented to reflect this important factor.
The Honourable Commissioner for Information and Communications, Enugu State represented by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Mr. Samuel Onyiaji who declared the workshop open under scored the theme as apt considering the current political terrain and the democratic dispensation in the county. He urged the media to be guided by their professional codes in carrying out their enormous watchdog responsibilities.
Earlier in an address, the Ag, Executive Secretary, Nigerian Press Council, Mr Nnamdi Njemanze said that the seasons of electioneering are times to take full advantage to express and partake in two main universal principles of human rights: The right to freedom of opinion and expression and the adult right to vote and be voted for. He stated that at times like this, the media is not only challenged about its duties, or obligations in the Constitution, but also reminded about the guidelines in the Electoral Act and the Code of Ethics of Journalism as the compass for monitoring the electoral process.
Goodwill messages were presented by the President, NUJ, represented by the Vice- President, NUJ Zone C, Mr. Chris Isiguzo; the President of Radio, Television, Theatre and Arts Workers Union, Dr. Yemisi Bangbose and the Chairman, Eungu State chapter NUJ, Mr. Dilibe Louis N.
Presentations and discussions centred on such themes as the INEC’s Expectation before, during and after the 2015 General Elections; Reporting Elections’ Results and Resolution of Election Disputes; Ethical Consideration in the Coverage of 2015 Elections; and Expectation of the Media in Voters’ Education.
After insightful presentations, exhaustive discussions and observations, the workshop recommended as follows:
- That as professionals, journalists have the duty to educate media owners against influence and unnecessary control especially in line with the professional code of ethics.
- That media professionals, should accord adequate regard to ethics and professionalism in the coverage of political activities.
- That the job of the media is that of reporting accurate poll data and results. The journalist should avoid conflict of interests so as not to compromise truth, integrity and their safety.
- That media should provide coverage of all aspects of the electoral process, including deployment and retrieval of materials and staff, and not results collation alone.
- That INEC should look into the timeline for adjudication of all elections cases, to ensure quick and timely conclusion/completion of all court/tribunal matters.
- That there is need for proper accreditation of journalists covering election process to ensure the non-infiltration of imposters. Only reporters that have been properly trained should be saddled with the responsibility of covering elections, because election reporting is a specialised field.
- That adequate logistics should be provided by INEC for journalists covering elections to enhance their movements
- That journalists should familiarise themselves with the extant laws which guide the electoral process to ensure the sanctity of the ballot.
- That equal space and time should be given to all candidates in the media for presenting their programmes. The regulatory bodies should be alive in their supervisory/monitoring roles in this regard.
- That for meaningful election coverage, the issue of welfare and proper remuneration of journalists should be given urgent and serious attention.
- That no media challenge shall pre-empt the legally authorised INEC official in announcing election winners.
The journalists should avoid unauthorised announcement of election results which might mislead the public.
- That Security agencies should be reminded that journalists are critical stakeholders in the election process and therefore need to be protected.
Finally, participants commended the NPC and the DGD/UNDP for organising the workshop and urged them to sustain the initiatives so as to continue to enhance the media’s effectiveness and efficiency in the coverage and reportage of election processes in the country.
Mr. Chris Isiguzo Dr. Yemisi bangbose
Vice-President, NUJ Zone C President, RATTAWU
Mr. Nnamdi Njemanze
Ag. ES, NPC