By Yemi Adeleye
Lagos – Journalists in Lagos State have expressed their determination to work closer with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) toward achieving credible elections in 2019.
At a courtesy visit to INEC Office in Lagos State, the Chairman of the state Council of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Dr Qasim Akinreti, said a stronger collaboration between the union and the commission was necessary as the 2019 general elections became closer.
“The elections are crucial to Nigeria and the whole world.
“All eyes are now on Nigeria to see how we will conduct credible, free and fair elections.
“INEC has assured us that there will be a level playing field.
“We, as journalists, have a role to play, and we need to work with INEC to ensure that we achieve that aim,” the chairman said.
Akinreti said one of such roles would on civic education on Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) and election coverage.
The chairman said that the council was concerned about eligible voters getting PVCs to be able to vote.
“NUJ is looking at appealing to newspapers proprietors to publish names of those who have yet to collect their PVCs, and even publishing same in social media.
“There should be synergy between us for effective, fair and balanced coverage of the 2019 elections,” he said.
According to him, such names should also be pasted at each local government headquarters.
The NUJ chairman said that local governments should be engaged in advocacy, awareness and public enlightenment on the elections.
He added that members of the union had commenced writing editorials and feature articles on the elections.
“This is essential, it is about our future and future of the country,” he said.
Akinreti said that the union would organise training for journalists on the coverage of elections, and urged INEC to support the training.
“We want to work with the PR unit of INEC to ensure that those that will cover the elections are credible, responsible and responsive.
He said that the union was working hard to expose fake journalists.
“It is our sincere hope that we will achieve the best for Lagos State and Nigeria because we all have a responsibility to ensure the Nigeria moves forward, ” he added.
Responding, the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner in the state, Mr Samuel Olumekun, thanked the NUJ for the visit.
He hailed media support for Continuous Voter Registration and PVCs distribution, saying that INEC had enjoyed tremendous support from the media in Lagos State.
The commissioner, who noted that INEC had introduced several measure to achieve credible elections, gave the assurance that the commission was ready to deliver on its mandate in 2019.
“For us in INEC, we have introduced new measures and deepened the use of technology. Since 2011 elections, INEC has been improving on the conduct of elections in Nigeria.
” The use of smart card readers has reduced the rate of impersonations in elections. We have been training of staff to get the best out of them.
“We have deepened collaboration with security agencies and tried to involve civil society organisations to propagate our activities as well as improved in voting procedure,” he said.
Olumekun called for more sensitisation on PVCs, saying that no fewer than 1.38 million PVCs had yet to be collected in the state
He frowned at voter apathy, saying it was not in the interest of the nation.