As the gubernatorial election in Edo and Ondo states move more closer, the need for Journalists to take precautionary measures and be well kitted while discharging their duties, formed the decision of the International Press Centre, in partnership with the Association of Communication Scholars and Professionals of Nigeria to engage Journalists in two hours intensive training.
The training, themed: “Edo/Ondo Elections: The imperative of Safety Consciousness and Conflict Sensitivity in Media Coverage and Reportage”, was held via Zoom through which scholars like Professor Umaru Pate, Dr. Akin Akingbulu, and Mr. Rotimi Oyekanmi, the Chief Press Secretary to INEC Chairman gave explicit educative remarks.
In his welcome remarks, the Executive Director of IPC, Mr. Lanre Arogundade noted that the organisation had taken it upon itself for the past three years to build the capacity of Journalists, adding that this was the second training on Ondo and Edo elections.
He noted that IPC deemed it fit to organise this particular training due to the prevailing atmosphere in the two states, saying, the organisation had a responsibility to prevent Journalists from being victims of violent outbreak.
He added that the training which was held under EU-SDGN Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria, Component 4b: Support to the Media, was also to awake the consciousness of the participants on COVID-19 Protocols during elections.
In his opening remarks, Prof. Umaru Pate, the President of ACSPN and Dean, School of Postgraduate Studies, BUK, charged Journalists to behave responsively and professionally by not engaging in acts capable of generating conflict.
He warned Journalists to remain neutral being the Fourth realm of the estate , while praying for peaceful elections in the two States.
The CPS to the INEC Chairman, Oyekanmi commended IPC for its commitment towards building the capacity of Journalists on thematic areas over the years. He affirmed that INEC was very ready to conduct the election despite all difficult situations confronting it, and aff
that all the needed logistics for the elections had been taken care of.
He hinted that all sensitive materials had been dispatched to the local government areas, and the Youth Corps members for the election were being trained. He noted that INEC looked forward to a good election as security agents selected had also been trained on the latest codes of conduct for security personnel on election duty.
According to him, as part of INEC’s efforts to ensure credible elections, its Chairman led delegates to Benin to have conversations with stakeholders, including Oba of Benin who promised to liase with all political actors to allow peaceful poll.
He assured that Journalists would have better experience this time around, saying the issue of their safety against harassment by the security agents had been taken care of.
He, however appealed to the participants to be fair and objective in their reportage, noting that their contents would definitely have one effect or the other on the conduct of the election, while appreciating them for the previous synergy and cooperation.
Dr. Akingbulu, the Executive Director of Institute of Media and Society, said that the outcome of the two elections would deepen democracy and enrich the profile of Nigeria in the International environment, hence the need for Journalists to demonstrate utmost sensitivity and navigate with their Professional tools.
He noted that the elections were coming amidst COVID-19 crisis, stating that Journalists as frontline officers must be sufficiently kitted for safety.
He said: ” There is violation of Journalists’ rights on election duty by a range of Actors , denial of access to electoral activities and locations, constantly confronted, we must be alert and navigate this terrains appropriately”.