2023: Avoid Sensational Reporting, Embrace New Electoral Law – DVC UNEC Urges Journalists

By Tony Adibe

Ahead of the 2023 general elections, the DVC, University of Nigeria Enugu Campus (UNEC), Prof Edith Nwosu has urged journalists to toe the line of good and ethical reporting under the New Electoral Act.

The DVC of UNEC, also advised newsmen to avoid sensational reporting, emphasising that journalists “are the conscience of society,” especially at this critical moment when Nigeria is preparing ahead of the 2023 general elections.

Prof Nwosu gave the advice during the 2022 Press Week/Annual Lecture and presentation of awards, organized by the Correspondents’ Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Enugu State Council, in Enugu State on Friday.

Commenting specifically on the theme, “The New Electoral Act and The Media”, Nwosu, who is also the Chairman of the occasion, said it is the role of a journalist to make sure that the citizens know what their responsibilities are under the Electoral Act.

Also, she stated that it is expected of the journalists to ensure that what members of the public see is what they report. She said: “See something, you say something. If you don’t see and you are not properly informed by somebody who witnessed, please don’t report.

“This is because the space is filled with all kinds of news and some of them are vice to us. Some are negative news, because instead of giving hope to the citizenry, it creates fear. May we desist from such sensational reporting, particularly, at this time.

“You have a role to ensure that the citizens know what their responsibilities are under the Electoral Act. I pray and believe that somehow, you will get sponsorship to do a voters’ education at this time, it is very important. From time to time, use the spaces available to you to enlighten the public on the relevant provisions of this Act. This is a major role that you have to play.”

Also speaking,  a former Chief Judge of Anambra State, and the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) Presidential candidate, Prof. Peter Umeadi tasked journalists on the need to always ask questions about certain happenings during the election.

Justice Umeadi said: “It is only when you report those happening that we can have better Nigeria but if we let people go without asking questions, we are not doing the country well. The media should not take 2023 elections for granted; they should report all electoral fraud.”

He regretted that most journalists announce election results even when election is ongoing, stressing that it was too bad for the profession and democracy. But the Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi lauded the Chapel on their utility of services in building and informing the society, through the collection, preparation and dissemination of News.

He said that his administration has enjoyed cordial and mutually beneficial relationship with the Chapel in many ways. He also expressed happiness on the award conferred on him as the “Most Peaceful Governor in Nigeria.”

Governor Ugwuanyi said: “I was humbled when you corresponded with me on your decision to confer on me the award of the most peaceful Governor in Nigeria.

“In recognition of the peace the state has known under our watch, from its inception, the administration entrusted Enugu state in the hands of God and we have continued to see his hands in all we do. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give, John 14:27, is a biblical verse that allows the fact that peace comes from God,” the Governor said.

In his welcome address, Chairman of the Correspondents’ Chapel, Mr. Lawrence Njoku of Guardian Newspaper, said the essence of the lecture was to deepen the knowledge and understanding of the New Electoral Act, as it would play a major role in the forthcoming elections, in determining the way forward for the democracy.

He also noted that as mass media practitioners, journalists have a role play to ensure that the society fully benefits from the act. Njoku said that Nigerians are in dire need of a change in election management, adding that the masses blame poor leadership, under development, violence associated with elections, on several gaps in the electoral act.

“They have mounted pressures on the National Assembly to amend the Electrical Act. It is as a result of this that a new Electoral Act, 2022 was borne and President Muhammadu Buhari on February 25, 2022, assented to it, thereby repealing for Electoral Act No. 6, 2010.”

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