by Ajibola Emmanuel
The 2019 general election is in 33 days, and it will be a deciding moment for Nigeria, as weeks of preparation for the candidates culminate in hours of waiting and decision making. For there to be free and fair elections, a number of actors have roles to play; from media, security, to party agents and electoral officials. It is the perfect execution of these roles that ensure elections are free and fair.
The media, regarded as the fourth estate of the realm, has been mired in fake news controversies, which have come with severe consequences such as disconnect with the people, and distrust. With the coming elections, an opportunity presents itself for the Nigerian media to reshape itself and stay committed to the values of journalism.
In line with this, Office of the Citizen, an initiative that highlights societal issues from the perspective of the people, discussed the role of the media in the 2019 elections on Nigerian Info on 99.3FM. The program had in attendance Mr. Edwin Okolo, the head of content for RED.
Mr. Edwin noted the vital role of the media in the forthcoming election; one of fair reporting and balance. While being critical of the need to address fake news, he urged Nigerians to take ownership of the news they consume, and advocated for a subscription model for news consumption. This subscription model, he opined, would ensure Nigerians have access to trusted contents from reliable media organizations and help eliminate the threat of fake news.
Furthermore, Mr. Edwin commended the media’s role in the reporting of the Osun election, which was marred by thuggery and vote buying. The conversation tilted towards politics and the need to combat political thuggery, and in line with this, he called for the examination of Nigeria’s system which facilitated political thuggery, and truancy. According to him, for political thuggery to be a thing of the past; then poverty, unemployment and illiteracy must be addressed, as they are the foundation upon which political thuggery rests.
Office of the Citizen ended with Mr. Edwin advising Nigerians to vote in the forthcoming elections, and not wasting their votes.