NUJ set to train over 2000 journalists for 2023 general election

The National Leadership of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) says it will build the human capacity of over 2000 journalists across the country for the 2023 general elections.

The union said it is partnering with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) and other international agencies for the programme.

Chris Isiguzo, the National President of the union made the disclosure at the weekend while briefing the press on the resolutions of the union’s National Executive Council (NEC) meeting/Tax Conference held in Benin City, Edo state.

The meeting had as its theme, ‘Tax: Towards an Inclusive Collection and Administration.’

“As we speak, on our part, we are already partnering with INEC and Centre for Democracy and Development and other International agencies. We are working closely with them in organizing training programmes, capacity-building programmes, and workshops for journalists across the country in preparation for the 2023 general elections.

“By the time we are done with it, over 2000 journalists would have participated in our training programmes. It is a continuous thing but this one is specifically designed for the 2023 general elections”, he said.

Isiguzo, while speaking further on the 2023 general elections lamented how some state governments denied opposition parties’ candidates access to public facilities to carry out their campaigns and other political activities.

He noted that if the trends are not urgently addressed it will undermine the nation’s democracy.

He also noted that the development will deprive candidates of opposition parties the opportunity to sell their manifestoes to the eligible electorate.

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According to him, we have also noted that in recent times state governments are stopping opposition political parties from campaigning freely across the state

“There are states where opposition political parties candidates are not allowed to use public spaces such as stadiums, school compound among others. The government of those state will announce certain conditions and those conditions tends to undermine free political activities.

“So, we have noted that and accordingly, we have frowned at it, and we are calling on governments both state, federal and local governments to allow free political activities because the INEC has lifted the ban on campaigns.

“What that means is that people should freely campaign. Sell yourself to the people, tell them what you have in stock for them. What you are going to do to better their lives.

“And such activities should not be restrained by our state governments. It is not good for our democracy. When you don’t allow people to use political spaces to talk to people, to sell themselves and discuss their programmes, their visions, missions and what they have in stock how are we going to really assess these people?

“It is not a good one. And, we think something must be done urgently to stop such trends because if it continues it is certainly going to undermine the nation’s democracy”, he added.

The NUJ President also called on security agencies to provide protection to all INEC facilities and personnel before, during and after the general elections.

He described as worrisome and undemocratic the invasion and burning of INEC offices and facilities in some states.

“We also noted issues around INEC facilities. Recently we noted that some states’ INEC offices have been invaded and set ablaze, and now that we are preparing for the 2023 general elections, we are asking security agencies to beef up security around these INEC facilities so that we don’t unwittingly undermine the 2023 general elections,” he stated.

While also frowning at the intimidation, harassment, and arbitrary arrest of journalists by security operatives in the country, he opined that the media workers are constitutionally empowered by the Nigerian constitution to inform, educate, entertain as well as hold the government accountable.

He, however, commended the Edo State Council of the union for the successful hosting of the NEC meeting as well as the Edo state government for providing a conducive environment devoid of insecurity for the meeting and the people of the state.