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2019 POLLS: most covered event in Nigeria – Yakubu

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This year’s general election was the media’s most extensively covered event in the country, the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has said.

He said over 1,799 journalists from 150 media houses were accredited for the polls.

Fifty-two foreign media houses were also on the ground to cover the elections.

Prof. Yakubu stated this on Thursday the opening of the parley with media executives in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

The media parley is part of the commission’s review of the polls.

Read Aia remained valuable partners at ensuring credible polls.

He said: “As one of our valuable partners, we have always worked closely with the media. It is for this reason that in addtion to our vibrant INEC Press Corps, the headquarters of the commission alone accredited 1,799 journalists from more than 150 domestic media organisations to cover the 2019 general election.

“Foreign media presence was also impressive. We had 332 journalists from 52 foreign media organisations – from different parts of Africa, the Middle East, Europe, the Americas, Australia and Asia – to cover the elections. It was, indeed, an engaging experience. The general election was the most extensively covered event in Nigeria in 2019.

“Now that the election is over, it is time to re-examine the entire process with a view to consolidating the successes and establishing a template that would address the challenges.

“The purpose of this meeting, therefore, is to discuss all the salient aspects of the process which require improvement. You were accredited to cover all aspects of the processes. The commission wants to hear from you how processes can be improved upon, from pre-election activities, such as the registration of voters, conduct of primaries and nomination of candidates by political parties, campaigns (including election debates by candidates) to Election Day activities, such as accreditation of voters, voting process (including more effective measures to stem vote buying), collation and declaration of results.”

Yakubu noted that the parley with the media was not a media briefing but an experience-sharing one.

“It follows logically, therefore, that this meeting is not a press conference or another media briefing by the commission. Rather, the commission would like you to share your field experiences, observations and recommendations on all aspects of the election – from logistics, election technology, security, media accreditation, coverage of the elections, adequacy and effectiveness of public enlightenment drive by the commission, access to information by the media, access to political parties and candidates as well as issues of misinformation, dis-information, fake news, hate speech and more.

“We look forward to your robust contributions and recommendations. The whole purpose of today’s meeting is how we can improve on processes and procedures for which you were not only reporters but observers and actively involved in several ways. Today, we will talk less and listen more to you,” he said.

Also, INEC’s National Commissioner and Chairman of Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, noted that the media are pivotal to the electoral process and are the major purveyors of electoral information from the commission to the Nigerian people.

He said: “The commission initiated this review for the purposes of self-evaluation, examination and stocktaking of what worked and what did not work during the general election.

“We intend to harvest the positives arising from the election, review the negatives for purposes of learning the vital lessons and making improvements on the electoral process. This is because the way we look at our yesterday has an important bearing on the way we look at our today and the way we see possibilities for tomorrow.

“Our consultation with the media on different issues and aspects of the electoral process will continue even after the present structured review meetings with critical stakeholders.”

The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) President Chris Isiguzo said the media had ensured that the country’s democracy flourished.

The NUJ president said the media had not disappointed the country, which underscored their effectiveness in democratic dispensation.

He added that for the country to have a credible election, all critical stakeholders must be involved
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