COMMUNIQUÉ OF A 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 PROJECT II OF UNDP AND OTHER DONOR AGENCIES – EUROPEAN UNION, UKaid, CANADIAN INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT AGENCY, KOREA INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION AGENCY, HELD AT THE IDRINANA HOTEL, LOKOJA, KOGI STATE, FROM WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 12 TO NOVEMBER 13, 2014.
The Nigerian Press Council, with the support of the Democratic Governance for Development Project II of the UNDP and other donor agencies such as the European Union, Ukaid, Canadian International Development Agency, and the Korea International Agency, organized the fourth in its series of workshops for journalists in the six geopolitical zones of the country with the broad objective of training journalists in the best practices for election reporting.
The two-day capacity building with the theme, Ethical Conduct and EffectiveCoverage of 2015 General Elections by the Media, was organised for journalists in the North Central zone states of Plateau, Nasarawa, FCT, Benue, Kogi, Niger and Kwara and was held at the Idrinana Hotel in Lokoja from November 12-13, 2014.
The workshop was declared open by the Hon. Commissioner for Information, Kogi State, Hajia Zainab Okino who, in her opening remarks, underscored the critical role of the media in mass education at this crucial time in our democratic process. She urged media workers to live above board by upholding the professional ethics and basic values of balanced, accurate and objective development. The Commissioner commended the initiative and foresight of the organizers in embarking on the nationwide sensitization of journalists which she said would enhance their role in charting a new direction for the entrenchment of developmental journalism in Nigeria.
In a keynote address, the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega, represented by the Kogi State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mr. Olusegun Agbaje, reiterated INEC’s preparedness to work in partnership with the media to achieve a more conducive environment for the coverage of 2015 elections. He urged the media to abide by the provisions in the Electoral Act 2010 as amended; the Nigeria Broadcast Code; the Code of Ethics for Journalists and INEC Guidelines on Media Coverage of Electoral Process.
The objectives of the workshop, among others, were to sensitize journalists on ethical principles guiding election reporting and coverage; further strengthen the capacity of journalists in their ability to effectively monitor and report elections and ensure adherence to professionalism as a deliberate means of entrenching democratic principles and good governance in the country.
The workshop resolved that:
- Journalists should exercise restraint in the choice of language so as not to overheat the polity and undermine the effort to achieve a peaceful and credible electoral process.
- The media should exercise utmost professionalism in the gathering of news in order not to compromise the tenets of truth, accuracy, balance, objectivity and fairness in reporting electoral processes.
- The importance of media professionals to be familiar with the Constitution, electoral laws and other election regulations to better enhance their ability to strengthen the democratic process in Nigeria.
- Media professionals should further educate themselves on investigative and interpretative reporting.
- The media should encourage and sustain research based voter education programmes for effective citizens’ participation in the electoral processes.
- INEC should partner the media to ensure dissemination of appropriate information and effective election coverage.
- The media should collaborate with relevant agencies and community networks for richer messages.
- Programmes and messages should be produced in English and local languages for better reach and participation.
- Journalists should exercise a high sense of patriotism in their reportage.
The workshop was attended by 76 participants drawn from the North Central zone states of Benue, FCT, Nasarawa, Niger, Kogi, Kwara, and Plateau, as well as experts and veterans in the media industry.
Mr. Donatus Okpe Mr. Nnamdi Njemanze
GM, Kogi State Printing and Publishing Corporation Ag. Executive Secretary
Chairman of the Workshop Nigerian Press Council
Alhaji Ali Atabor
Chairman, NUJ Kogi State Council