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Osun Governorship Election: INEC Tasks Journalists on Factual Reporting

Participants at the workshop.

By Nathaniel Gana

Sunday 3rd July 2022

Ahead of the Osun State Governorship Election scheduled for 16th July 2022, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has tasked journalists to be factual in their reportage of the Commission’s activities and the electoral process.

National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee (IVEC), Festus Okoye, made the call during a Capacity Building Workshop for Journalists on new innovations in the conduct of elections, held in Osogbo, the Osun state capital on Saturday, 2nd July 2022. The Commission organised the programme in collaboration with the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES).

The IVEC Chairman, who spoke on a wide range of issues, including legal matters with regards to the new Electoral Act, said; “We plead with the media to be factual, objective and professional in reporting the election”. 

He added: “Journalists covering the election must on no account interfere with the processes and procedures of voting or in any way distract Presiding Officers in the performance of their duties. 

“The media must on no account, attempt to know or report on the way someone has voted. The secrecy of the ballot is at the heart of the democratic process. The media must also not make any declaration or return of any election as it is the exclusive preserve of the Commission”.

The National Commissioner also disclosed that as part of the Commission’s efforts to ensure that all loose ends were tied and Osun Governorship election is organised in a free, fair, credible, and inclusive manner, the Chairman of the Commission and some National Commissioners will be in the state from Sunday for a Readiness Assessment Visit. They will use the opportunity to engage stakeholders to solicit their support.

He said: “The Chairman of the Commission and some National Commissioners will be in Osun State from tomorrow on readiness assessment. The Chairman will observe mock accreditation processes. He will visit and interact with traditional rulers. 

“He will hold top-level meetings with traditional rulers. He will visit some of our Local Government Offices. He will hold meetings with Staff of the Commission and members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers”.

In his welcome remarks, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Osun state, Prof. Abdulganiyu Raji, spoke on the preparedness of the Commission to conduct the election come July 16. 

He said Voter Education and Sensitization through the Media, House to House campaigns with the support of the NYSC INEC Ambassadors, Jingles and social media enlightenment have been ongoing in the state. 

The REC noted that the state had witnessed a surge in the interest to get registered and collect Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs), a development which he attributed to massive enlightenment campaigns, especially in the Media. 

He assured that the ongoing collection of PVCs will continue until every registered citizen collects his/her PVC before the election. He announced that the state will take delivery of an additional 3,000 PVCs on 3rd July.

The REC also disclosed that the election will be held in all polling units in the state, as no polling unit had zero registered voters. He said the expansion of voter access to polling units earlier undertaken by the Commission had led to an increase from 3, 010 to 3,763 polling units in the state. 

Prof. Raji appealed to the Media to be objective in their reports on INEC, urging journalists to ignore faceless peddlers of fake news, and merchants of campaigns of calumny, especially on social media, while urging them to explore the open-door policy of the Commission to verify the information before publishing and airing their stories. 

His words: “Balanced news is what we want. Don’t destroy us while attempting to sell your medium”.

In his presentation on INEC Social Media Platforms, the Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Rotimi Oyekanmi, explained that the Commission was one of the most active public institutions on social media with huge followership. 

He said there was a lot of information being churned out on the INEC social media every minute and challenged participants to take advantage of the social media to enhance their work. 

In his remarks, the Chief Technical Adviser (CTA) to the Hon. Chairman, Prof. Bolade Eyinla, called on all journalists to ensure they get accredited for the election. He warned that their Identity cards may not give them free access to cover the elections.

The CTA also challenged the participants to create a profile on the INEC Result Viewing Portal and follow the real time update of election results from the Polling Units. 

He said “Make sure you keep your eyes on our processes and procedures. Ensure you create a profile on our result viewing portal as results from all 3,763 polling units in Osun will be uploaded in real time. You can even know the outcome of the election before it is officially announced”. 

In his goodwill message, the Deputy Country Director for IFES, Mr. Obaje Ukeh, observed that the way journalists do their job can make or mar elections. 

He said the workshop was important and a bridge builder between the Commission and the Media, as it provided an avenue for journalists to ask questions about the electoral process and acquire more knowledge on the workings of INEC. 

He expressed optimism that the Osun election will be better than the Ekiti, which according to him, has been rated as one of the best elections conducted in recent times. He said the success achieved in Ekiti could not have been possible without the contribution and support of members of the 4th estate of the realm.

The Chairman of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) Osun state, Ajadosu Wasiu, appreciated the Commission for putting together what he described as “a commendable workshop.”

He said it is the Union’s belief that its members will be better equipped while the knowledge acquired from the workshop will go a long way in enhancing their capacities in reporting the electoral process. 

Wasiu assured that whatever they learn from the engagement will be put to practice in the interest of the state and the country.