By Collins Yakubu-Hammer

Mrs Sandra Udeike, Chairperson, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) Headquarters Chapel, has called on stakeholders to play their roles well in the forthcoming general elections to ensure credibility.

Udeike made the call in her address of welcome at a public lecture to celebrate the 2022 Press Week of the NUJ, FRCN Headquarters Chapel, Abuja, on Wednesday.

The lecture with the theme,

“2023 Elections: The Role of Stakeholders in Ensuring Credible and Hitch-Free Exercise”, was organised by the leadership of the chapel.

The event was supported by the director-general of FRCN, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Department of State Service and Nigeria Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (NIALS).

Other supporters include Lafia Emirate Council, Peace Corps of Nigeria, OCI Foundation and National Youth Service Corps.

According to Udeike, 2023 elections are crucial to Nigeria’s development, which is why many people have described the year as decisive.

“To have a successful elections, stakeholders must perform their various roles, and the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) remained the key due to its constitutional powers.

“Apart from timely distribution of sensitive and non-sensitive materials to polling units across the nooks and crannies of the country, distribution of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) is of utmost importance.

“Indications are that Nigerians are eager to vote, but many are yet to collect their PVCs.

INEC must devise another strategic means of ensuring that every registered voter collects his or her PVC.

“Other stakeholders such as security agencies and civil society organisations must play their roles efficiently to ensure we get it right,” she said.

The guest speaker, Prof. Muhammed Tawfiq Ladan,  Director-General of NIALS, said that the lack of prosecution of electoral offenders was a challenge in addressing electoral crimes.

“That is why when election comes, everyone feels he or she can do whatever they like and get away with it.

“There is the urgent need to start prosecuting perpetrators of electoral violence and other crime to the very last. This is the only way we can reduce electoral crimes.

“When active participants in the electoral process feel that their rights are violated or blocked, such persons must have a non-violent electoral dispute mechanism in terms of access to justice.

“Election justice is very important. You cannot deny people access to the electoral process, right from party convention, and prevent them from  going to court of law or using any non-violent mechanism to seek justice.

“That is double jeopardy for such persons. You are, therefore, pushing them to take the laws into their own hands, and such is not good,” Ladan said.

Mrs Husseina Akila Baugshika, Director of News, FRCN, said that from the conception of policies to their translation into action plans and strategies for implementation, the media was important.

“This is because they are the ones to  simplify the information to the understanding of ordinary citizens.

“In all that INEC can do, in all activities of security agencies, political parties, voters, etc, the critical stakeholder is the media.

“Through the media, people are educated and empowered to do the right thing.

“The media is the fourth estate of the realm which the constitution gave the powers to make government accountable.

“The media is critical and will continue to be critical in playing the role of educating citizens,” Baugshika said.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the events attracted participants  from security agencies, FRCN, Lafia Emirate Council, the media, NYSC,  legal community and others.

The high point of the event was  presentation of awards to deserving members of staff of FRCN and others. (NAN)

By Editor

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