Ahead of the commencement of political campaigns on Wednesday, the Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission, Mahmood Yakubu, has urged registered political parties to be mindful of languages used during their campaigns, especially against their oppositions.
This is as he advised the parties to critically study the provisions of the Constitution, the Electoral Act, the Police Act and the Public Order Act for the proper and peaceful conduct of political campaigns, rallies and processions.
Yakubu stated this on Monday in his remarks at a two-day Capacity Building Workshop for INEC Press Corps on Critical issues in the Electoral Act, 2022 and the Commission’s Processes, Innovations, and Preparations for the 2023 General Elections.
INEC in line with the guideline for the 2023 general elections is expected to lift the ban on political campaigns on Wednesday, September 28, 2022.
The Commission had released the final list of candidates standing nominated for National Elections (Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates, Senatorial and House of Representative Candidates).
Speaking at the workshop, the Chairman who was represented by the National Commissioner, INEC, Festus Okoye, noted that campaigns should be geared towards delivering what the politicians would do when voted in and not to spite the opposition parties.
He said, “We urge all the 18 registered political parties to critically study and pay attention to the provisions of the Constitution, the Electoral Act, the Police Act and the Public Order Act for the proper and peaceful conduct of political campaigns, rallies and processions. A political campaign or slogan shall not be tainted with abusive language directly or indirectly likely to injure religious, ethnic, tribal or sectional feelings.
“Abusive, intemperate, slanderous or base language or innuendoes designed or likely to provoke violent reaction or emotions shall not be employed or used in political campaigns. Let me also remind the media of their constitutional and legal obligations.”
Describing the workshop as timely, Yakubu advised the press to provide equal coverage and visibility to all political parties, noting that the media is an indispensable partner in the electoral process and they provide a veritable platform and pathway for the dissemination of electoral information to the Nigerian public.
He stated, “This workshop is timely as preparations for the conduct of the 2023 general election, which is just 152 days away, has reached an advanced and critical stage. It is therefore important for the media, especially the INEC Press Corp, to have a good knowledge and understanding of the workings and operations of the Commission.
“State apparatus including the media shall not be employed to the advantage or disadvantage of any political party or candidate at any election. In other words, equal coverage and visibility shall be allotted to all political parties by all public print and electronic media organisations. The same applies in equal measure to private-owned media organizations subject to payment of appropriate fees.
“The INEC Press Corps is an indispensable partner in the electoral process and they provide a veritable platform and pathway for the dissemination of electoral information to the Nigerian public.”
Speaking at the event, the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Lagos State, Olusegun Agbaje, advised the media to shun corruption and avoid any form of smudge in order to report free and fair elections.
Agbaje noted that the press must ensure that the three parties (voters, politicians and INEC) play their respective roles in providing violence-free elections.
He said, “Within the context of elections for the purpose of this workshop, three parties are to be identified: the electorates (voters), the contestants (politicians) and the umpire (INEC), situating the roles of media professionals to ensure that the three parties in an election play their respective roles in a manner that will guarantee credible, transparent, free, fair and violence-free elections.
“It, therefore, follows that for a watchdog to be effective in its duty; it must clean itself, shun corruption and avoid any form of smear and smudge. This probably the first role the media must play to guarantee Nigerians free and fair elections in 2023 general election.”