2015 Polls: Group tasks media, CSOs on impartiality

WEST African Network for Peace-building Nigeria (WANEP-Nigeria), has urged CSOs and media houses to maintain non-partisanship in order to ensure violence-free elections in the country.

Mr Ifeanyi Okechukwu, the National Co-ordinator of WANEP-Nigeria, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Lagos that “the media and CSOs should be the platform to reduce tension in the polity’’.

He said the postponement of the general elections was a blessing in disguise for the nation to re-strategise for violence-free polls on March 28 and April 11.

“Unlike many other stakeholders, we see the postponement of the elections as a blessing in disguise for Nigeria as a nation.

“It offers us a unique opportunity to clearly examine all our choices and take the right steps to prevent the threat of possible violence in the rescheduled elections.

“CSOs and the media must maintain non-partisanship and be that platform to help in reducing tension in the polity.

“Both should use their platform to educate Nigerians about the election processes and civil responsibilities.

“It will help to reduce misinterpretation and false information which tend to escalate violence,’’ Okechukwu said.

He said beyond the drive for profit, the media should use its platform to disseminate tolerance and non-violence in the forthcoming election.

“Elections in Nigeria is an emotive issue. How well, objective and neutral the CSOs and the media perform their duties go a long way in preventing possible violence.

“WANEP, as a civil society organisation, has an obligation to the country to commit itself to mechanisms of peace to ensure a positive and reliable outcome of the elections,’’ Okechukwu said.

Mrs Olubukola Adelehin, the Programme Manager of WANEP, in her remarks said the postponement provided a platform for stakeholders to re-strategise to curb the emerging threat of violence.

“Traditionally, Nigeria’s elections are fiercely contested. But, in 2015, the risks of violence are particularly high.

“Various predictions have emerged that suggest that Nigeria’s survival as a nation is dependent on how political actors and stakeholders conduct themselves before, during and after the elections.

“WANEP, through its National Early Warning System (NEWS), observed that disruption of political rallies, negative and inciting statements by political actors, negative messages through the media helped in heating up the polity,’’ Adelehin said.

She urged the National Orientation Agency (NOA) to increase its enlightenment of the public on the culture of dialogue and peaceful participation.

“It should also ensure public sensitisation on the negative impact of violence,’’ Adelehin said.



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