Ademola Babalola in Ibadan
The United States yesterday preached peaceful conduct of the 2019 general election in a way that Nigeria would remain an indivisible entity with stable economy and prosperity of all its component parts.
It stated that should the contrary happen to the most populous black nation on earth, the spillover effect to other African countries would be too much to bear, hence the need for all and sundry to play the game according to the rules for continuous peace and tranquilly of the country.
The above were the position of the United States Consulate General in Lagos as it commenced a two-day election reporting workshop for journalists drawn from the print, electronic and new media across Oyo, Ogun, Ekiti, Ondo and Osun States.
At the workshop taking place in Osogbo, the Osun State capital, the media professionals were sensitised to be abreast of the best globally acceptable coverage of election as the 2019 race gathers momentum.
The two-day workshop had as resource persons a former Dean of Communications, Lagos State University, Prof Lai Oso; the Director, International Media Training of the Voice of America, Ms Joan Mower, and the Public Affairs Officer, Ms Darcy Zotter, among others.
The US advised existing and prospective political office holders in Nigeria to steer clear of cheap blackmail, name calling and all sorts of personality defamation ahead of the 2019 and subsequent general election.
The US further harped on issue-based campaigns as main factor to shape the conduct and outcome of the 2019 race, saying socio-economic needs of the people should be the political yardsticks for all polls.
It declared that cheap black, name calling and character defamation were profusely used against President Donald Trump in the build-up to 2016 US electioneering but Americans were not swayed by negative campaigns and voted for Trump as US president.
Zotter, in her opening remarks, said once Nigeria is stable, other African countries would be prosperous, hence the need for all and sundry to â€œensure free, fair and credible election in Nigeria.â€
She added that she informed the US Consulate General in Lagos to engage in the continuous media advocacy which was earlier kicked off in Port Harcourt, Enugu, Osogbo and in few weeks, Lagos State.
Mower encouraged Nigerian politicians to focus on issues such as economy, infrastructure, health system and other key socio-economic issues as campaign of calumny are gradually phasing out all over the world.
Also speaking at the workshop, Professor Oso stated that polity is hitting up by various biases of different media houses and journalists who are considered as key gate keepers in news reporting going by the news they report and broadcast to the public.
Oso, who lamented negative the impacts of ethnic, religious and other biases to Nigeriaâ€™s unity and development, declared that it was high time Nigerian media played its role as fourth estate of the realm to uphold public trust and national interests especially as general elections are drawing nearer.