The focus of the workshop was to improve relationships of INEC and other stakeholders, particularly, the Media, in the preparation of 2015 general elections in Nigeria. This is more so, as the 2015 General Elections are fast approaching. In this regard, the main objectives of the workshop were to: help in building a professional and productive relationship between the Electoral Management Bodies (EMBs) and the Media throughout the Electoral Process; help in building a better understanding of the role of the Media throughout the electoral process; help build a better understanding of the regulatory frameworks that can be applied when working with the Media; and explore strategies for improving EMB communication with electoral stakeholders by working with the media.
The Modular BRIDGE Workshop on Media and Elections was held at Asaa Pyramid Hotel, Kaduna, Kaduna state, on 30 June to 4 July, 2014, for election correspondents, based in the federal capital territory (Abuja).
Words cannot adequately explain, immense benefits and reportorial enhancement, that the above workshop has afforded Nigerian Journalists covering Electoral beat at the National Headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja. The training workshop on Media and Elections, anchored by the Building Resources in Democracy Governance and Elections (BRIDGE) was sponsored by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Democratic Governance for Development project.
In his message at the opening ceremony of the workshop, the Project Manager of the Democratic Governance for Development (DGD) Dr. Mourtada Deme enjoined the Media to always endeavor to give priority to national interest in their reporting of elections. Speaking through Alhaji Isa Modibbo, a consultant to the DGD, the Project Manager asserted that the Media has a great role in reporting the INEC and in the process of stabilizing the country’s democracy.
To this end, Dr Deme urged the Media to be factual and ensure balance in reporting elections, to enhance the democratisation process in Nigeria.
Speaking on: “Categories of Media Coverage, chairman of INEC, Prof. Attahiru Jega, was of the opinion that, in view of unforeseen crises in election time, it was necessary, that the Media approach the Commission for possible logistic and security assistance, to enable them do adequate coverage of the elections on time.
Prof. Jega, also enjoined media practitioners to utilize the Commission’s handbook on election coverage. He however assured Nigerians of continuously improved performance in subsequent elections and enjoined politicians to play according to rules of the game.
Speaking through Mr. Nick Dazang, Deputy Director (Media), the INEC chairman, stressed the need for training and retraining in journalism and urged the correspondents to take advantage of the workshop to be further equipped for the task ahead. He however, commended the cordial relationship that currently exists between the Media and the INEC and urged its continuation.
The workshop was participant focused and the modules were designed such that Participants were encouraged to develop creative and appropriate solutions to challenges. On several occasions, we were made to play active roles in the course, thereby sharpening our respective skills and experiences. Such exercises included writing Press Releases on topics that varied from group to group; EMBs and Media Relations, Expectations of Media to the Electoral Management Body (EMB).
Also, the workshop has equipped us with the ability to define the Media and analyse its broader roles across the electoral cycle. We were further passed through international human rights conventions and legal frameworks and Code of conducts.
Furthermore, we noted that the development of an effective, professional relationship between the EMBs and the Media is critical to the success of any electoral process.
The five-day workshop was anchored by Rindai Chipfunde Vava (BRIDGE Lead Facilitator), while Mr. Agoha Ifeanyichukwu and Magdalene Aku, Assistant Director and Senior Administrative Officer of INEC were the other facilitators. These facilitators prudently managed time to ensure we covered all the training modules.
We sincerely appreciate the UNDP, IFES, IDEA, The UN, AEC and DGD for this workshop and like ‘Oliver Twist’ respectfully ask for more of such workshops in future.