By Chinwe Ogbuka, Assistant Director, Publicity
22nd June, 2018.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has extended an invitation to international and national media organizations wishing to broadcast its activities live, in the build-up to the 2019 general elections.
To this end, the Commission is currently refurbishing its Media Centre, including two editorial suites for the convenience of the media organisations willing to take advantage of the offer.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, who disclosed this today at the 67th World Congress of the International Press Institute (IPI) holding at Nicon Hilton Hotel, Abuja, also said that one international broadcast organization recently approached the Commission to request for permission to set up facilities for live coverage of its activities.
He said, “I wish to extend our early invitation to especially the international media that require longer time and logistics to prepare, that you are welcome to cover our 2019 general elections. We believe the forthcoming elections will further underscore the maturity of our electoral democracy after the globally acknowledged success of the 2015 general elections.”
Prof. Yakubu said that a number of television stations in Nigeria have also approached the Commission, requesting for partnership in setting up facilities for live coverage of its activities from its Headquarters, in the run-up to the 2019 general elections.
The INEC boss stated that the next general elections would be the most widely covered event in Nigeria, adding that the Broadcasting Organizations of Nigeria (BON) had regularly conducted election debates, involving candidates at national level.
He noted that a number of media organisations have given similar opportunities to candidates at the state level, including off-season governorship elections on their own initiatives. “This is commendable”, he added.
Speaking on the relationship with the media and other stakeholders in the electoral process, the Chairman said the Commission has been working closely with the stakeholders to enhance transparency.
He disclosed that at present, INEC has accredited correspondents from 85 media organisations to cover the activities of the Commission all-year round. The number is growing and the doors remain open to all, he assured.
He added: “The rule of law cannot thrive without free speech. There cannot be free speech without free press. There cannot be free press without democracy. There cannot be genuine democracy without credible elections. The relationship between an Election Management Body such as INEC and the IPI is therefore organic.”
On the use of technology in elections, the Chairman said that the Commission shall continue to deepen its deployment until such a time when its processes are fully automated. “There will be no electronic balloting in 2019, but technology is already being used in many aspects of the processes,” he said.
The INEC Chairman said that electronic voting should be the ultimate step in a chain involving five processes namely, electronic voter register, accreditation, balloting, collation and transmission of result.
According to him, at present, the Commission has a more robust voter register than at any time in the history of Nigeria, stating that accreditation of voters (and storage of accreditation data) is also electronic, while piloting the electronic collation and transmission of results.
Hear him: “What remains is to bring these processes into a voting machine to complete the chain. I am confident that full automation of our electoral processes is only a matter of short period of time.
While assuring the Congress of INEC’s committment to credible elections, the Chairman said that the will of the Nigerian voter would continue to prevail. He declared: “Nothing but the votes cast by citizens will determine the outcome of elections.”