The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has said that the media is a “very crucial stakeholder” in the effort towards preventing election-related conflicts.
“The media is a very critical stakeholder in our collective efforts to check electoral violence. The media can stop it from occurring or escalating through a careful and balanced reportage of events around the elections,” the UNDP Resident Representative in Nigeria, Mrs. Betty Wabunoha, said on Monday.
Wabunoha, who was represented by Mr Matthew Alawo, spoke in Jos, during a three-day workshop on “Conflict Sensitive Reportage”, organised by the world body for journalists and media practitioners.
According to her, the media has a unique role to play as both the conveyor and recipient of information.
“If that role is effectively and transparently carried out, it will strengthen the democratic process and contribute to a more credible and inclusive election,” she said.
She observed that the voters and candidates usually rely heavily on the media to both impart and receive information, hence the need for media practitioners to ensure balanced and impartial coverage during the elections.
“The media plays a crucial role in enabling citizens make informed choices; it also plays a critical role towards fostering peace, especially where there are election-related disputes.
“The aim of the workshop is to build the capacity of journalists to identify potential sources of election-related violence and promptly report same to the appropriate authorities for action.
“We are optimistic that the workshop will promote a conflict-sensitive reporting culture among media practitioners and sensitise them on key elements to lookout for, when covering elections, especially in conflict-sensitive settings,” she said.
The Plateau State Governor Simon Lalong, who declared the workshop open, described it as “timely and apt”.
Lalong, who was represented by the Director-General of Research in the Plateau Government House, Prof. John Wade, enjoined the participants to take advantage of the workshop to gain more knowledge on ways to forestall conflicts during elections.
One of the participants, Miss Martha Agas, a senior correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), described the workshop as “apt, timely and rewarding”.
“We have not gone far, but from what I have heard so far, the workshop will give us more insights on conflict- sensitive reporting and help us to be more proactive,” she told NAN.
The workshop, which commenced on January 28, will end on January 30.
The participants are drawn from the North-central states of the country. (NAN)