Nigeria: General Elections 2019

Time until Saturday, 16 February 2019, 08:00:00 (Lagos time)


INEC Chairman Urges Media To Focus More On Issues, Less On Personalities

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has called on the media to provide a level playing field for all political parties in their reportage and programming. He also implored the fourth estate to focus more on issues and less on personalities in order to assist Nigerians make informed choices during elections.

Chairman of INEC, Professor Mahmood Yakubu made the call on 21st March when he paid a courtesy visit to the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) headquarters in Abuja.

Prof. Yakubu said: “As a body saddled with the responsibility of registering and regulating political parties, we would like equal access for all political parties in Nigeria. As far as the Commission is concerned, all political parties are of equal standing. We will continue to encourage the NTA to continue to provide that level playing field for all of them.”

He observed that as opinion moulders, the media should focus on salient issues in their engagements with political parties and candidates, rather than dwell on personalities and platforms, in order to enable citizens make informed decisions.

The INEC Chairman hinted that the Commission would soon upload the manifestoes of political parties on its website, to further assist the media in constructively engaging them on what they plan to offer Nigerians.

He said: “the Commission will very soon put up the manifestos of all political parties on our website, so you can have access to them as you engage with the political parties and candidates and ask them questions around what they want to offer the country, rather than about mundane issues.

“This, we believe, will convey the message of what distinguishes one political party from another and will also help Nigerians to focus more on issues rather than personalities.”

Prof. Yakubu hinted that as the 2019 general election approaches, the Commission would establish the National Inter-agency Committee on Voter Education and Publicity (NICVEP). He noted that the Commission’s collaboration with the media in the past on voter education had greatly impacted on the success of elections.

His words: “As we approach the 2019 General Elections, we also need to engage big time with the media, so that we will all continue to be partners in the business of Voter Education and Publicity. The Commission is determined to activate what we call the NICVEP, which the NTA, other media organizations and professional media bodies will be part of.”

Prof. Yakubu reiterated the Commission’s commitment to ensuring that only the votes cast by Nigerians would determine who wins in the 2019 General Elections. He however pointed out that the media also have a role in entrenching the culture of free and fair election. He commended the NTA for its fair and balanced coverage of the electoral process.

In his response, Director General of the NTA, Mallam Yakubu Ibn-Muhammed assured the INEC Chairman of his organization’s readiness to collaborate with the Commission in deepening democracy.

He said: “We are ready to partner with INEC all the way, because for us in NTA, we have a responsibility to ensure that every political party is given a level playing ground to participate and the voters are given the opportunity to make the right choices. The only way we can make this happen is for the NTA to focus on issues rather than the personalities involved”.

He continued: “INEC’s intention to make manifestoes of political parties available is a very positive step. Once we have these manifestos, we will know what each political party stands for and we will be able to question and take them to task on the issues contained in their manifestos rather than the personalities around which the parties are made”.