The Press and 2023 Elections

Nigerians have started counting down days for the next general elections slated for February


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Topic: Opinion


The Press and 2023 Elections


 

 

Nigerians have started counting down days for the next general elections slated for February angeneralg 2023.

All those who should be involved have begun  making preparations. 

For one, the election umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC has been on its toes since the conclusion of the last General elections in 2019. 

Between then and now, INEC has gradually transited from manual accreditation, manual voting and manual transmission of results to electronic processes all designed to give assurances to the electorate. 

With the new electoral law under its hat, the stage it appears  is ready for the mother of all elections in Nigeria. 

The Police obviously are also set to support a smooth election and all security arms have been primed to know their roles and play according to the rules. 

The Inspector General of Police for instance has since fired the salvo that trouble makers during the election will face stiff opposition and sever sanctions. He even sent a strongly worded message accusing State Governors of intolerance and obstructing other political parties from campaigning within their State. 

In all of this, one aspect that matters is the role of the Press towards a free, fair and credible elections in Nigeria. 

To be fair, the Nigerian Media has been upbeat with reporting unfolding events as it concerns the various political parties jostling for the votes of more than Ninety Million Nigerians who make up the electorate. 

What is however needed is how the messages can reach the people in true fidelity. 

As things stand today, not many people have access to newspapers anymore, not because they are not there but largely as a result of the economy, ownership structure and manipulation. 

The electronic media are also in dire straits, dwindling economic fortunes and ownership are taking a toll on control and freedom of the Press. 

State run media except for occasional brilliance, have long engaged in self censorship leaving the public who they serve in the cold. 

To this end, citizens are at the mercy of the social media which most times are heavily manipulated, sponsored to publish offensive reports about opponents, duel on character assassination and breed hatred through hate speech.

The electorate in search of vital information to aid their knowledge, understanding and appreciation of candidates is left out in the power play to gain attention. 

The training of the journalist as members of the fourth estate of the realm prepares them to be patriotic, focused and to serve as gate keepers and agenda setters. 

Today, Nigerian journalists walk a tight rope between providing for their family and exposing the landmines ahead considering the political gladiators in the arena. 

That said, the 2023 elections remain a watershed in the annals of Nigeria's history since the return to democratic rule in 1999.

Various News Magazines that adorned the News stand years ago would have used the opportunity to direct the flow, educate and inform the public, but they have all gone under or have had their ink dried up. 

Nigerians therefore, will be heading to the 2023 elections with half baked information about the contestants on the starting blocks. 

It therefore behooves on the Nigerian Press not to ignore the lacuna created by its absence by creating a forum where journalists can contribute credible information that will aide the people in making decisions before election day. 

The Nigerian Media indeed must recognize its role as the conscience of the people remembering at all times as Uttman Dan Fodio said, conscience is an open wound, that can be nurtured only by truth. 

 

By: Linus Chima


Copyright: Fresh Angle International (www.freshangleng.com)
ISSN 2354 - 4104


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