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Uzodimma: Editors are critical to the successful conduct of polls in 2023.

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Ibekimi Oriamaja Reports

Imo State Governor Hope Uzodimma has stated that editors will play critical roles in the successful conduct of elections in 2023.

The governor stated yesterday in Owerri, the state capital, at the opening of the 11th All Nigeria Editors’ Conference with the theme: Politics and Credible Elections and the Role of Editors, that editors are critical stakeholders in the conduct of transparent, credible, and acceptable elections.

He explained his reasoning to the editors during the conference, saying, “This is because the pen is mightier than the sword.” Yes, you have the power to make the 2023 elections a huge success or a colossal failure with your pen.

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“When we, as editors, choose to play up and propagate divisive and toxic utterances of our politicians, we are purposefully contributing to polarization.” The divisive reporting we frequently produce in the print and electronic media that we control can and does have an impact on the peace and credibility of elections. In other words, how we manage our reports is critical to the election’s success.”

Uzodimma observed that when divisive facts are splashed as screaming banner headlines, the populace is bound to erupt. “However, if the same facts are diluted in the order of reports, they may not have the same impact.”

“So, I submit that it is your patriotic duty as editors to manage these sacred facts for the ultimate good of our dear country.”

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The governor emphasized that election-related media management, whether positive or negative, could have a positive or negative impact on election outcomes.

“For example, the unethical practice of announcing or publishing unverified or unofficial versions of election results, particularly while the election is still ongoing, may influence the public to take a position even before the results are officially declared.”

“Following that, if the official results differ from those expected, it could be an invitation to anarchy.”

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Uzodimma advised media executives to refrain from speculating on election results, saying that editors must dispassionately distance themselves from proprietorial interests and be guided instead by national interests.

“When you allow your media outlet’s proprietorial interest to overshadow your editorial or professional interest, you will be doing a disservice not only to the nation but also to your professional integrity.” The danger here is that these proprietorial interests are frequently self-serving. Some are intended to serve ethnic or religious purposes.

“So, whether you subscribe to them knowingly or unknowingly, you are subscribing to the divisive tendencies that threaten the very fabric of our national unity,” he said.

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The governor stated that journalists are in a unique position not only to mold and shape opinions, but also to serve as a beacon in the nation’s developmental blueprint.

“When there is uncertainty, offer hope.” When there is disagreement, you should offer a solution. When selfishness and clannishness rear their ugly heads, you should raise the banner of unity. This is critical as we strive to build a more united, prosperous, and powerful republic,” Uzodimma said.

The governor expressed regret that some journalists had failed the nation by failing to serve as a source of unity.

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“I am horrified to admit that some sections of the media have been at the forefront of inciting passion in Nigeria through sensational and combative posturing in the name of information dissemination.”

“I understand that your primary responsibilities are to inform, educate, and entertain. However, in carrying out this enormous responsibility, some journalists have sacrificed objectivity and allowed themselves to be captured by emotional, tribal, and religious cleavages,” he said.

He urged the editors to be wary of what he called “jaundiced journalism,” recalling that Imo State had recently been the victim of “jaundiced journalism,” in which naked lies and half-truths were published against the government.

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Prof. Chineyere Okunna, the event’s chairman, urged the editors to always show courage and politely refuse to be intimidated.

She stated that working in the media is a dangerous and risky job all over the world, adding, “There will be intimidation; there will be harassment.” But do you have the guts to tell politicians, even governors, that you need to do your job as professionals?”

Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman/CEO of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), stated in a goodwill message that good journalism is critical to a sustainable democratic culture.

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“We should be concerned about editors’ roles in conducting free, fair, credible, and peaceful elections,” he said.

Danbatta, who was represented by the commission’s Director of Special Duties, Reuben Muoka, stated that political stability created by successful election administration creates an enabling environment for economic growth.

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