Lagos – The United States Consulate in Nigeria is to train 100 political reporters and editors ahead of the 2019 General Elections.
Mr John Bray, the US Consular General, made the announcement at the 2018 World Press Freedom Day programme organised by the US Mission in Nigeria on Thursday in Lagos. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the programme had the theme :”Keeping Power in Check : Media, Justice and the Rule of Law. ”
According to Bray, the training will take place in four cities across Southern Nigeria and will be co-facilitated by Voice of America’s Director of International Media Training and a renowned Nigerian journalism professor. He said this support was designed to help the media further appreciate their huge responsibility of reporting accurately on elections and electoral processes. Bray said that the US valued freedom of the press as a key democratic component, adding that Nigeria had a vibrant democracy. He said the recent visit of President Muhammadu Buhari to President Donald Trump of the US highlighted the crucial role of Nigeria in the socio-economic and political stability of Sub-Saharan Africa. “Peaceful and credible elections are essential to Nigeria’s continued economic, political, and social development so I am interested in your discussion today on media and the transparence of the 2019 election. “Nigeria plays a vital role on the world stage and as the largest economy in sub-Saharan Africa, Nigeria’s stability is crucial to the security and economic prosperity of the rest of the continent. Nigeria’s future is full of promise and opportunity. “The US government is dedicated to supporting Nigerians in ensuring that the 2019 elections will be transparent, credible, and peaceful, “Bray said. Also speaking, Dr Chidi Odinkalu, ex-Chairman, National Human Rights Commission, said elections in Nigeria were devoid of transparency and accountability. He said that the 2019 elections was very crucial and it was imperative for the country to get it right, stressing that the media had a pivotal role to play in this regard. Odinkalu recommended compulsory insurance scheme for all journalists covering elections and urged journalists to focus on data-based reporting in election coverage. He also urged the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) and the Nigeria Guild of Editors (NGE) to work with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to have better access to collation centres. On his part, Dr Qazim Akinreti, Chairman, NUJ, Lagos Council, decried the lack of welfare packages for journalists in the country. He said :”Nobody cares about the welfare of journalists; not the state or employers. ” Imagine a situation where a journalist has not been paid for 20 months and you want that journalist to go and cover an election in a free and fair manner.” Earlier, Mrs Darcy Zotter, Public Affairs Officer, US Mission Nigeria, said World Press Freedom Day is commemorated annually on May 3 to celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom. It is also to evaluate press freedom around the world, to defend the media from attacks on their independence and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession. (NAN)