Nigerian Press Council (NPC) on Thursday urged media professionals to ensure holistic monitoring of the electoral process to enable citizens to make informed decisions in the 2019 general elections.
The council’s Executive Secretary, Mr Nnamdi Njemanze, gave the advice at the second series of a two-day NPC workshop on “Responsible Media Coverage of Elections” in Owerri.
The workshop was organised by the NPC and facilitated by Hammersmith Training Consult Ltd.
Njemanze said media coverage of elections ought to be focused holistically on the electoral process, which included: delimitation of constituencies, registration of voters, display of voters’ register for claims and objections.
He enjoined the media to cover political parties’ primaries with a view to ensuring internal democracy, monitor campaigns, accreditation of voters, voting, counting of votes, announcement of results and declaration of winners.
According to him, when there is an attachment of people’s rights to knowledge of public business, the right and access to be informed about all that affects their livelihood, then they can be empowered to make informed choices.
The NPC scribe said that the media were free vehicles conveying to the public, knowledge and information that affected their livelihood.
“The season of electioneering is the time to take full advantage to express and partake in two main universal principles of human rights: the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and the adult right to vote and be voted for.
“The first revolves around freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media, while the second entails the right to take part in the government of one’s country.
“The second right could be either directly or by freely choosing one’s representative,’’ he said.
Njemanze said the media must have the right to print and publish information lawfully without prior restraint, especially regarding the political contest for governance.
He added that this was to provide the people a basis for informed choice.
The NPC scribe stressed the need for media professionals to operate within the confines of the Journalism Code of Ethics and the guidelines in the Electoral Act.
These, he noted, should be the compass for monitoring the electoral process.
He pointed out that the aim of the workshop was to sensitise journalists on how best to cover the electoral process to make the 2019 general elections a success.
The Chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Imo, Mr Innocent Igwe, said the theme of the workshop was topical and timely.
Igwe commended the NPC for providing journalists the opportunity to enhance their capacity on coverage and reporting of electoral process.
He enjoined media professionals to ensure accuracy, balance and fairness in their reportage in line with the Code of Ethics of Journalism.
The NUJ chairman added that the role of media in ensuring credible elections could not be over-emphasised.
A participating journalist, Mr Emmanuel Ugwu, said the workshop would equip journalists to perform well in the coverage of the 2019 elections.
He added that “every journalist is expected to have good knowledge of the electoral process to make the public better informed to make valued judgment.”
No fewer than 70 persons are presently attending the workshop; 30 of them from the print, broadcast and online platforms. (NAN)