Ahead of kick-off of political campaigns for the 2023 general elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC; Nigeria Broadcasting Commission, NBC, among others, have reiterated the need for operators in Nigeria’s broadcast industry to stay off activities that could jeopardise the peace of the nation.
They spoke during a sensitisation forum on political broadcasting in Abuja, with the theme: ‘’Towards a fair and responsible broadcast coverage of the 2023 general elections,” in Abuja, yesterday.
The event was to remind operators of broadcast industry of their critical roles in ensuring a democratic process during the 2023 general elections.
In his remark, Chairman, INEC, Mahmood Yakubu, said the 2023 general election would take place against the background of the new Electoral Act, adding that political actors, the broadcast media and other critical stakeholders must familiarise themselves with the laws.
He said the media played an indisputable role in ensuring a more effective public enlightenment in the coming 2023 general elections, urging the media and other political actors to act within the confines of the law.
“Political party candidates and their supporters, as well as the media have a responsibility to operate within the confines of the law and the provisions of the commission’s regulations and guidelines.
‘’Issue based campaigns are essential for safe electioneering. In turn, this will create the atmosphere for the successful deployment and conduct of all electoral activities.
“Using the power of incumbency to deny opposition parties access to public facilities is outrightly illegal.”
Similarly, NBC’s Director-General, Mr Balarabe Ilelah, urged operators of the broadcast industry to ensure that reportage was made within the ambit of the law, warning that the commission would not hesitate to sanction any individual and organisation that breached the broadcasting codes.
‘’The stations will, therefore, assume and accept editorial responsibility. I will also use this opportunity to remind broadcasters not to allow any form of hate speech, fake news, use of derogatory or divisive remarks and any incendiary broadcast on their platforms.NBC is not going to take it lightly with any station. If you want to remain after the end of the election, you must make sure you operate within the law. And if you want to end your broadcast before the election, okay, you can go ahead and break the law. NBC will not fold its arms to see things are done in a wrong way.
“The broadcaster is not allowed to deny any group access to airtime, any form of denial of access is prohibited. However, if your political content is indecent and hateful, then a station is allowed to turn it down and give reasons it cannot be taken.”
On his part, the President, Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, Comrade Chris Isiguzo, advised the NBC and other regulatory bodies not to see the media as competitors but partners in delivering the Nigerian project.
Similarly, the Inspector General of Police, Usman Baba, who was represented by the Assistant Inspector General of Police, AIG, Bala Ciroma, warned the media against reportage that could jeopardise national security before or during the 2023 general elections.
At a similar forum in Lagos, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, assured of his firm commitment to delivering a free, fair and credible election, saying his ultimate goal was electoral justice, which would allow every Nigerian experience electoral fulfillment.
Yakubu, who was represented by INEC National Commissioner in charge of Information, Voter Education and Publicity Committee, Festus Okoye, made the pledge at the opening of a two-day capacity building workshop organised in conjunction with Development Alternatives Incorporated, DAI, and the European Union for the INEC Press Corp on ‘Critical issues in the Electoral Act, 2022 and the Commission’s Processes, Innovations, Preparations for the 2023 general election’ yesterday.
At the event, Yakubu said the commission was conscious of the critical role of the media in Nigeria’s political and electoral process and believed that democracy would only grow and flourish through adherence by the media to professional and ethical standards.