The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Wednesday reemphasized the imperatives of stronger partnership between the Commission and the media in Nigeria. The INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu, at an interactive meeting on Wednesday with online publishers at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos, expressed that stronger partnership between INEC and the media will encourage transparent, free, and fair elections in the country.
At the consultative forum with the Guild of Corporate Online Publishers (GOCOP), which the INEC Chairman acknowledged was the first of its kind and coming about three weeks after the Anambra State Governorship Election held on 6th November 2021, Prof. Yakubu stated that the INEC cherishes the long-standing support from the media. He said that the commission does not take the relationship with the media for granted.
“While we may not always agree on all issues which is understandable, both of us are definitely in agreement that our democracy and electoral process must be nurtured and consolidated.
“On our part, we regard the media as both a key stakeholder and a dependable ally in sustaining and deepening our democracy.
“It is for this reason that the INEC Press Corps, comprising over 90 members from the print, broadcast, and online varieties, is given unfettered access to information and our activities. “Furthermore, based on the importance and unique role of the media, we now hold regular quarterly consultative meetings with media executives led by the President of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) to discuss policy and other critical electoral issues in the electoral process. This is in addition to the periodic engagements with various media outlets.
“This interaction is, therefore, designed to further strengthen our partnership in promoting free, fair credible and inclusive elections in Nigeria,” Prof. Yakubu highlighted.
Prof. Yakubu also noted that INEC and the media play vital roles in sustaining democracy and democratic governance.
“It is for this reason that they both derive their powers from the Constitution.
“While the functions of the Commission are enshrined in Part I of the Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution, the fundamental right to freedom of expression and of the press, from which the media derives its strength, are enshrined in Chapter Four (Section 39) of the same Constitution.
“Furthermore, while the sanctity of the vote and the credibility of electoral outcomes as expressed through the will of the electorate is supreme, the ethics of journalism is tailored towards upholding the truth and ensuring the integrity and fairness of the profession and its practitioners. “In journalism, the truism is that opinion is free, but facts are sacred.
“Therefore, democracy and free press cannot be sustained without free press. We must, therefore, continue to work together to promote free, fair, credible, and inclusive elections,” Prof. Yakubu declared.
The consultative meeting was convened at the instance of the INEC.