- Commission expresses worry over election reportage
Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja and John Shiklam in Kaduna
Chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, yesterday declined comments on the recent Edo governorship election.
Yakubu who spoke in an interview with journalists shortly after the Convocation lecture and Award ceremony of the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), Kaduna, said the occasion was for academics and not for elections, saying he could only talk on the issues.
In another development, INEC has expressed concern over the level of inaccuracy associated with the media coverage of elections in recent times.
Asked to comment on his experience outside the academia at the NDA event, especially in the light of the recent governorship election in Edo State and the allegations that INEC and not the All Progressives Congress (APC) contested the elections against the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Yakubu maintained that the occasion was not about the election and decline to respond to the question.
“This is not about elections, today’s occasion is about academia, it is about honour, so let’s talk about the NDA,” he said.
The INEC chairman who was among former staff of the NDA who were given award during the convocation lecture said he was elated to be honoured by the institution.
“I am so elated (to be honoured), it was never expected while serving in the academy and mark you I am still on leave of absence, I haven’t left the academy, I never expected that I would be so honoured, that is what makes it very special. It is even more special because other colleagues if mine were also honoured.
“So it is a special day for us and we are most grateful to the academy and we will continue to do our best as long as we continue to serve this great institution” he said.
He described the NDA as the only university of its kind, not only in Nigeria but the whole of West Africa with excellent facilities.
The INEC chairman who was among dignitaries that toured facilities at the institution and commissioned some of the buildings named after some former staff of the academy, commended the authorities of the academy for the excellent facilities, noting that the academy is one of the best institutions in the country.
He added that he would return to the NDA any time he is through with his assignment at the INEC.
Meanwhile, the commission which is still battling with negative reports accompanying the recently held governorship election in Edo State said it’s concerns stemmed from the fact that sensitive matters, if not accurately reported, may trigger negative or violent reaction from the citizens
Yakubu gave the advice at the 13 Public Lecture of The Electoral Institute (TEI) of INEC on Wednesday in Abuja.
He urged the media practitioners to have painstaking care for details and fact in the reportage on election matters.
Yakubu,who was represented by a National Commissioner, Baba Shetima, said that election matters were sensitive matters that if not accurately reported, may trigger negative or violent reaction from the citizens.
He said that the media has a strategic role to play in how electoral information was accessed, processed, distributed and consumed in Nigeria.
“While some media houses have tried to apply and conform with the rules of the game, the code of conduct, others have not.
“As we all known, election reportage in the era of social media has taken the centre-space in pattering voter behaviour.It, therefore, becomes imperative to examine the professional and ethical considerations that underpin electoral media coverage and reportage in producing the desired outcomes in our electoral processes,’’ Yakubu said.
The INEC Boss also urged social media practitioners to consider overall national interest, peace and stability of the country, and allow those principles to be the determining or overriding parameters in their reportage of electoral issues.
`Just like conventional media, social media should be professional, objective, factual and accurate in its electoral reportage. `It should not subject itself to the whims and caprices of politicians neither should it serve narrow interests of individuals or groups,’’ Yakubu added.
He however said that INEC was open to criticism and views that would help to improve its activities and electoral service delivery.
The chairman of the occasion, Mr Ishaq Modibo, also described the media as the life wire of the country.
A political scientist, Prof. Adigun Agbaje, on Wednesday in Abuja, has advised media practitioners to see contentious surrounding election reportage to opportunities to boost Nigeria’s democracy.