Ahead of the July 16th Governorship Election in Osun state, Yiaga Africa has called on journalists in Osun state to eschew sensationalism in their elections reportage in order not to put fear in the minds of the electorate and to avoid overheating the polity.
The call was made by Yiaga Africa’s Board member, Ezenwa Nwagwu, during a media roundtable on the Osun Governorship Election held in Osogbo on Thursday. He said “despite all the challenges Nigeria’s democratic system is facing, it is still the best form of government as it enables freedom of expression and association, thus our democracy must be protected”.
He also called on the media to maintain its neutrality and avoid heating the polity especially as the Osun Governorship elections beckon. He advocated for more training for journalists who cover elections, adding that Yiaga Africa is willing to support training and capacity building that will encourage a more professional reportage of the election. He also encouraged the media to leverage on Yiaga Africa’s observation reports to provide timely and accurate information to the general public.
Nwagu concluded by urging all the stakeholders that will be participating in the election to come together and ensure that the poll is peaceful, inclusive, transparent, credible and fair in order to deliver a credible poll that everyone would be proud of.
In his remark, Yiaga Africa’s Head of Elections Paul James said Yiaga Africa’s observation of the pre-election period environment will involve the deployment of 32 Long Term Observers across the 30 LGAs in the states to track and report on activities of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), National Orientation Agency (NOA), Political Parties, Security Agencies and the involvement of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in the electoral process as well as tracking and reporting early warning signs for electoral violence.
According to James, for the Election Day observation, Yiaga Africa’s Watching the Vote will be using an advanced election day observation methodology called the Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT). He said “the PVT is an election day observation methodology that leverages statistics and technology for the observation of the process of voting and counting and tallying of results”.
Also speaking during the roundtable, the Chairperson of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Osun State Council, Comrade Wasiu Ajadosu said the country’s democratic and electoral processes need to be given special attention by the media and civil society groups for desired development.
According to Ajadosu, both the media and the civil societies have relaxed since they won the battle for the return of democracy in 1999, urging them to gear up to the new cause of sustaining and developing the hard earned democracy.
He lauded Yiaga Africa’s efforts while calling on more Civil Society Organisations to show interest in the process of candidate selection. “We should look beyond election observation and challenge the outcome of flawed processes to guarantee a sustainable democratic system,” he said.
Similarly, the Chairperson of National Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Ayegbayo Motunrayo appreciated the efforts of Yiaga Africa for bringing together journalists to discuss issues around credible elections. She also encouraged journalists present to remain neutral and ensure they provide accurate and timely information on the elections.