The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Thursday said the general election was the most extensively covered event in Nigeria in 2019 with 1,799 journalists from more than 150 domestic media organisations accredited to cover the polls.
Mahmood Yakubu, INEC Chairman, who stated this at a meeting with the media to review the 2019 General Elections in Abuja, noted that foreign media presence was also impressive during the elections.
Yakubu disclosed that there were 332 journalists from 52 foreign Media organisations from different parts of Africa, the Middle East, Europe, the Americas, Australia and Asia that covered the elections.
He said now that the election was over, it was time to re-examine the entire process with a view to consolidating the successes and establishing a template that would address the challenges faced by journalists, adding that the meeting was to discuss all the salient aspects of the process which require improvement.
“The Commission wants to hear from you how processes can be improved upon from pre-election activities such as the Registration of Voters, conduct of primaries and nomination of candidates by political parties, campaigns (including election debates by candidates), to Election Day activities such as accreditation of voters, voting process (including more effective measures to stem vote buying), collation and declaration of results.
“The Commission would like you to share your field experiences, observations, and recommendations on all aspects of the election from logistics, election technology, security, media accreditation, coverage of the elections, adequacy, and effectiveness of public enlightenment drive by the Commission, access to information by the Media, access to political parties and candidates as well as issues of misinformation, disinformation, fake news, hate speech and more,” the INEC chairman said.
“We look forward to your robust contributions and recommendations. The whole purpose of today’s meeting is how we can improve on processes and procedures for which you were not only reporters but observers and actively involved in several ways. Today, we will talk less and listen more to you”, Yakubu said.
The INEC Chairman extended the Commission’s appreciation to the media for their support during the daily briefings, following the painful but necessary rescheduling of the General Election from 16th to 23rd February 2019 and the live coverage on television, radio, online newspapers and other platforms.
While recommending the media that the Kogi and Bayelsa Governorship elections have been scheduled for Saturday 16th November 2019, Yakubu assured that “we will consider all the recommendations arising from this meeting that can be implemented administratively by the Commission before the conduct of the Governorship elections in the two States”.
Earlier, Festus Okoye, INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, said the Commission had revised its Communications Policy to improve both internal and external communication with the aim of serving the major stakeholders in the electoral process better.
Okoye promised that INEC would continue to avail the media and the Nigerian people with information relating to the electoral process within the limits and ambit of its constitutional and legal mandate.
“We implore media managers and practitioners to continue to study and analyse issues relating to the constitutional and legal framework in the electoral process. Elections and the electoral process are complex and complicated, and its rules and procedures are not necessarily subject to the ordinary rules of the Court.
“The Commission welcomes suggestions and recommendation on how to improve its strategic communication, accreditation processes, coverage of elections and perception management.
“We are not here to trade blames. We urge you to be constructive in identifying the issues and more importantly, to offer rational, workable and implementable suggestions and recommendations on how we can improve the electoral process”, he stated.