…Stop Running Away From Debates, NUJ Tells Politicians
By Utitofon Idara
The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) alongside the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) has again tasked journalists on accurate and conflict sensitive reporting for the 2023 polls.
The frontline pro-democracy group and the journalists body gave the charge at the ongoing capacity building organised for the media and civil society taking place in Lagos. At the training, journalists and CSOs were charged to ensure accurate reporting, and rigorous fact-checking to prevent the spread of fake news, misinformation and disinformation.
Speaking on the role of the media in peaceful elections, NUJ President, Comrade Chris Isiguzo stressed the need for the media to prepare well for the onerous task of reporting the 2023 polls. The NUJ helmsman also urged journalists across the country to make peace an important outcome of their work, especially in the light of the fragile nature of security in Nigeria.
On how journalists can use the power of the mass media to resolve rather than inflame conflicts, he said:”Journalists, are expected to develop a thorough understanding of the elections and the electoral process, an understanding of conflicts and convey these to citizens in a way that reflect the truth in all their complexities. Since the role of the media in Nigeria’s emerging democracy is central, media professionals must maintain the highest possible standards in their practice.”
CDD Director, Idayat Hassan, who was represented by Senior Programme Officer, Austin Aigbe, harped on the need for journalists to acquire the cutting edge skills needed for fact-checking and verification of information, especially at a time when Nigerians are about to express their democratic preferences.
The CDD Director urged media professionals to be on their guard, due to the upsurge in election-related fake news, misinformation and disinformation. The CDD Director gave an example of the recent fake news, which claimed that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was investigating a Presidential candidate, which turned out to the untrue, resulting in a major media house issuing an apology.
Similarly, CDD Media Lead, Armsfree Ajanaku, also emphasised the importance of the capacity building, noting the training was happening at a time Nigeria is counting down to the historic 2023 general elections.
“This capacity building will help journalists and CSOs understand fake news ecosystem in Nigeria, and what they should do as journalists and CSOs to ensure that the 2023 elections are free of conflicts and fake news, because all of these things combined together undermine democracy and affect the electoral process in ways that are not so good for the system.”
On CDD expectations for the next election, he said, “the coming elections actually sign post Nigeria as a democracy that is of importance to the world. So the whole world is watching to see what Nigeria will do. Stakeholders across the globe are keenly watching to see how Nigeria will perform in this election, how Nigeria will conduct these elections to further cement its democracy and also advertise democratic governance across the continent as the way to go,” he said.