REMARKS BY THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, INSTITUTE FOR MEDIA AND SOCIETY (IMS), DR. AKIN AKINGBULU, AT THE STRATEGIC INTERACTIVE MEETING WITH MEDIA EXECUTIVES AND ONLINE PUBLISHERS, RADISSON BLU HOTEL, GRA IKEJA, LAGOS, NIGERIA 24 & 25 NOVEMBER 2021
The Honourable Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)
Honourable National Commissioners
Resident Electoral Commissioners
Senior Officials of the Commission
Executive Director, International Press Centre
Distinguished Media Executives and Publishers
Distinguished Gentlemen of the Media
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen
- On behalf of the Institute for Media and Society (IMS), I am delighted to welcome you to this important and historic event, taking place here in Lagos. I am glad to note that the activity is taking place in a season of two significant events in our country: the successful conduct of the Anambra State governorship elections and the passage of the electoral bill by the National Assembly.
- We can see that each of these successes is a positive forward step in the building of democracy in our country. We can see that every successful step is an impetus for further steps in the consolidation of our democracy.
- Free fair and credible elections are central to the building of democracy. To achieve them, modern democracies put in place Election Management Bodies (EMBs). The assumption is that the EMB will do all that it is statutorily asked to do and that other institutions will play roles which will produce the desired overall result which citizens refer to as free, fair and credible elections.
- Honourable Chairman, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, as we are all aware, the media is one of the crucial institutions with important roles to play in the electoral process. Indeed, the roles of the media are so important that they are indispensable in the proper conduct of an electoral processand in the broader functioning of a democracy.We often talk of the “watchdog” role of the media, which refers to the unfettered scrutiny of activities/performances of governance or public institutions and helping to bring them to account.
There are other roles for the media, which include:
- Educating voters on how to exercise their democratic rights such as making informed decisions in the voting process
- Conducting advocacy such as in the process of electoral reforms e.g. the making of electoral legislations.
- Providing reportage on election campaigns
- Providing platforms for political parties and candidates to communicate with the electorate.
- Providing a platform for citizens to communicate their opinions and concerns to other election actors such as the EMB, parties, government and other voters.
The media in Nigeria have been performing these roles very creditably and it is my wish that it continues to do so and to deepen its commitment.
- Interestingly, the desire to have a deepened media commitment and the provision of fair, accurate and professional coverage of the electoral process propels our work. For many years, we have been working on media and democracy issues. Then, about four years ago, we expanded the work under the project, European Union Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria (EU-SDGN), which focus is the reinforcement of democracy in Nigeria.
- Our work in the project is within its Support to the Media Component which has a very important objective: that the media provide fair, accurate and ethical coverage of the electoral process.
The work seeks to deliver through four result areas, which are:
- Strengthening media professionalism
- Enhancing and deepening the delivery and diversification of civic and voter education
- Strengthening the capacity of the (broadcast industry) regulator
- Promoting media engagement to improve the participation of marginalised groups in politics.
- The work on strengthening media professionalism has focused on monitoring media content (specifically content of broadcast media), training of various categories of journalists and other media professionals, publication and dissemination of resource materials, among others.
- To enhance the delivery and diversification of civic and voter education, our work has included training activities, production and dissemination of voter education materials.
- Engagement of the reform of legislation (National Broadcasting Commission Act), capacity-building for staff of the regulatory body and strengthening regulator-industry dialogue have been the thrust of the work with the regulatory body.
- A wide range of activities has also been implemented on promoting media engagement of political participation of marginalised groups- women, youths and people with disability (PWDs).
Among these activities are training, public sensitization programmes on radio and television, development/production and dissemination of resource materials, among others.
- We have also been active in the engagement of constitutional and legislative reform processes which affect our sector. For example, we submitted memoranda to the National Assembly on the review of media-related provisions in the Constitution and the Electoral Bill and amendment process of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) Act.
- In the specific context of our work, we see that this event (taking place today and tomorrow) has strong potential to contribute to the achievement of several results in our project.
We are glad to be partnering with INEC and IPC in putting the together and actualising it over these two days.
- I wish to thank INEC and IPC for collaborating with us to make this historic event happen.
- I implore all of us to seriously engage this strategic engagement. Let us devote attention to all the sessions. As we acquire deeper understanding of the issues in the electoral process, let us not forget to input into the conversation, the challenges of the media in the electoral process, and pathways to surmounting them.
Let us enjoy the interaction and ensure that we reap the objectives for which it is organized
Thank you for your attention.
By Farouk Mohammed