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NGE tasks FG, INEC on security, vote-buying, credible polls

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Ahead of the 2019 general elections, the Nigeria Guild of Editors (NGE), the body of editors across print, electronic and online media platforms in Nigeria, has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to be truly independent and ensure fairness in the conduct of the polls. The editors said the hope of the Nigerian masses lies in making their votes count, and that such can only be guaranteed by the electoral umpire.

This was as the group condemned the incessant killings and general insecurity in Nigeria, urging the government to be proactive and stop what it described as ‘rhetoric.” These positions, among others, were contained in a communiqué issued at the end of the 14th Nigeria Editors Conference, which held in Asaba, Delta State capital. The conference, which was themed; “Credible Elections, Sustainable Democracy and the Nigerian Media,” was declared open by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and was graced by other eminent personalities, including the Governor of Delta State, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa. The communiqué, which was signed by the Guild’s President and the Secretary, Mrs. Funke Egbemode and Victoria Ibanga respectively, urges the Federal Government to rise to the occasion by arresting the violence enveloping the nation, and particularly the North-East and North-Central regions, where they noted many people have been rendered homeless with thousands of lives lost.

The NGE said: “The Guild commended the 91 political parties in the country for the maturity displayed during the party primaries of most of them, but frowned at the allegations of vote-buying which the editors observed was a subtle, but worrisome way of institutionalising corruption. “Editors decried the level of insecurity in the country, stressing that the nation deserves more than rhetoric and political slogans on issues of citizens’ welfare. Editors commended the government and good people of Delta State for the rapid growth in infrastructure across the state as well as human capacity development.

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“The conference observed that elections in Nigeria are not built on truth and, therefore, urged the umpire, the INEC, to remain independent in its practice by allowing citizens’ votes to count; as such is cardinal to sustaining democracy.” The conference also decried the negative impact of social media on professional journalism and urged journalists across all platforms to intensify efforts aimed at deepening democracy through sustained investigative, balanced and analytical reportage. “The conference challenged media practitioners to join in the mobilisation of Nigerians through unbiased reports to take collective responsibility in choosing leaders for the nation in the next general elections, and urged the publishers and chief executives of media establishments to play down on the commoditisation of information to enhance objectivity,” the communiqué added.

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