COMMUNIQUÉ ON THE TWO-DAY WORKSHOP ORGANISED BY THE NIGERIAN PRESS COUNCIL ON THE ROLE OF THE MEDIA IN VIOLENCE-FREE ELECTIONS HELD AT NIGERIA UNION OF JOURNALISTS PRESS CENTRE, YENAGOA, BAYELSA STATE FROM WEDNESDAY, 18 TO THURSDAY, 19 NOVEMBER 2015.
The Nigerian Press Council (NPC), in pursuance of its mandate to enhance professionalism in the media through capacity building programmes for journalists, organised a two-day workshop on The Role of the Media in Violence-Free Elections to promote the moral tone of the profession.
The workshop, held at the Nigeria Union of Journalists Press Centre at Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, from Wednesday, r 18 to Thursday, 19 November, was a prerogative of the NPC aimed at imparting positively on the forthcoming governorship election in the State by sensitizing journalists on their role in ensuring a violence free and credible election through ethical and responsible coverage.
It was declared open by the Hon. Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Bayelsa State, Barr. Esueme Dan-Kikile.
Issues germane to the thrust of the objective of the forum were aptly captured in its sub-themes on papers presented and discussed on Ethical Journalism: Panacea for Violence-Free and Credible Elections; Elections Without Violence: The Route to Sustainable Democracy, The Role of the Media in Enhancing free, fair and Credible Elections and Social Media and Elections.
The workshop was commended for its timely intervention, particularly as Bayelsa State election was perceived to be highly competitive. The Bayelsa State INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mr. Baritor Kpagih and 65 other participants from the academia, the print and electronic media in the State were in attendance
The workshop recommended as follow:
- There is need for the press to understand all the electoral guidelines and processes in order to promote professionalism and high standards in reportage as well as meet the expectations of the public and not engender or encourage violence.
- Media professionals should maintain a good and functional partnership with INEC and other stakeholders to ensure that the conduct of elections is given objective and unbiased coverage and reportage.
- There is need for INEC and the NUJ to organise a training workshop before the forthcoming election in the State to sensitize Journalists on the need to fully understand and adhere to all the provisions of the Electoral Act and Guidelines for electoral processes and procedures. Political parties should also be invited to be adequately represented and to participate at this training.
- There is need for the media to embark on constructive criticism while proffering solutions.
- Media Professionals should guard against unbridled partisanship in their reporting as this could elicit avoidable conflict.
- Media Professionals should accord ethical considerations the requisite place in their reports as a means of dousing tension and preventing violence during and after elections.
- The workshop acknowledged the importance of social media and advised that it should be used positively in election coverage and reportage.
- Media Houses should strive to fulfil their obligations to their employees by paying competitive remuneration as at when due.
- Media owners should avoid undue influence and unnecessary interference especially in line with the journalists’ professional code of ethics.
- The Election Management body and security agencies must eschew partisanship in any form and must be seen to be neutral and fair to all parties in a contest.
- There is need to ensure that the conduct of elections conform with international standards and an effective regime of sanctions that would rein in electoral offenders and correct the poor perception of the judiciary as an instrument for obtaining justice in election disputes.
- The National Orientation Agency (NOA) should collaborate with the NUJ to embark on sustained voters education and enlightenment to spur a positive political culture towards free electoral processes in Nigeria.
- The INEC, NUJ, NOA, Political Parties, Civil Society Organisations and other relevant bodies, should work in synergy to embark on sustainable campaigns using the Intensive Massive Awareness and Re-awakening Campaign ( IMARC) model.
Mr. Samuel Numonengi Mr. Patrick Izobo -Agbebaku
Vice-Chairman, NUJ Bayelsa State Council for: Ex. Sec., Nigerian Press Council