By Chinwe Imo-Eze Onwosi
As part of its strategic plan of action for the 2023 general elections the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC), has revealed plans to conduct mock accreditation in all states of the federation and senatorial zones to test the effectiveness of the BIVAS.
The National Commissioner in-charge of Voter Education, Festus Okoye told journalists during a one-day capacity building workshop organized by the Nigerian Union of Journalists, NUJ, in collaboration with INEC in Abakaliki, the Ebonyi State capital
Okoye said the commission decided to use BIVAS in replacement of the incident form because of the irregularities experienced with the form during previous elections
He enjoined the Media to sensitize electorates to participate actively in the 2023 General elections and exhibit professionalism in the discharge of their duties.
“The media must hold a balance between all the contending parties and Candidates.
According to him : “As the Country moves closer to the 2023 general elections, there are obvious landmines that the media must avoid. The Media must avoid the breaking news syndrome, some of the mainstream media are gradually gravitating towards online journalism with the attendant quest for breaking news, which are sometimes not properly verified and processed.”
Okoye allayed the fears that vote buying would hold sway through voter suppression in the 2023 general elections
In her goodwill message, the Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, Ebonyi State, Mrs. Pauline Ugochichi thanked the NUJ for organizing the event which he said was apt and pledged to partner the Union for seamless conduct of the general elections in the State.
In his remark, The National President of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, Chief Chris Isiguzo has called on relevant Agencies to put mechanisms in place to checkmate attacks on Journalists especially during elections in Nigeria.
Chief Isiguzo who was represented by the National Secretary, Shuaibu Usman Leman, argued that for Citizens to be adequately informed of developments during and after elections, the Press require adequate freedom to discharge their statutory responsibilities.
“It should be noted however, that in the course of their work over the years many journalists have either lost their lives or had sustained various degrees of injuries or had their equipment damaged especially during election times.
Chief Isiguzo urged the Press not to be daunted by the prevailing antipress disposition of the operating environment but soldier on to ensure credible elections in 2023.
Also, the Chairman of the NUJ, Ebonyi State Council, Comrade Tony Nwizi underscored the need for INEC to make adequate arrangements for the security of Journalists on election duty.
In a paper presentation on the topic” the Electoral Act 2022 and the 2023 General Elections” a representative of the Head of Legal Department, INEC, Ebonyi State Barrister Ibrahim Obiahu, appealled to political actors to play by the rules to avoid overheating the polity going into 2023.
He charged Journalists to step up voter education of Citizens to ensure mass participation of electorates in the election.
“There is dearth of political ideology and a large number of people go into politics for wrong reasons. Political office is perceived as a means of creating affluence instead of an avenue and opportunity to serve.
“There is rising spate of hate speech is a major cause for concern. Politicians and party leaders make unguarded utterances capable of over-heating the polity and igniting violence. Issue-based campaigns should be encouraged.”
Journalists from across reputable media outfits in Ebonyi State attended the workshop held at Monabliss hotels Abakaliki.