… INEC decries stakeholders’ poor understanding of Electoral Act

Correspondent: Njideka Ozoalor

The International Press Centre in Lagos, Nigeria (IPC), with support from the European Union on Saturday held an interface on Electoral Misinformation and Disinformation with the National Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), and Media/ CSOs to brainstorm on how to curb the menace ahead of the 2023 general election.

The Independent National Electoral Commission through the Director, Voter Education and Publicity, Mr Festus Okoye decried the poor understanding of the Electoral Act by key political actors and stakeholders in the country.

Barr Okoye made this known this at the weekend during a media/civil society organisations’ parley with INEC on identifying and mitigating flashpoints of electoral misinformation and disinformation.

In the event which brought together eminent personalities including the Chairman, Senior Fellow, Centre for Democracy and Development, Professor Jibrin Ibrahim, Okoye noted in his key note address that, “Issues, Perspectives and Flashpoints of Electoral Misinformation and Disinformation,” Okoye said stakeholders were yet to transition from the Electoral Act 2010 to the new Electoral Act, 2022.

He also identified poor understanding of the commission’s processes and procedures by those who ought to know some of the issues the public should be aware of and be guided accordingly.

Speaking earlier, the Executive Director of International Press Centre, (IPC), Mr Lanre Arungundade said the interface held within the context of the need to make appropriate strategic response to the twin-menace so that the worst of information disorder do not envelope the electoral landscape.

“That the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has agreed to the idea of this interface shows that we share mutual concern about the damaging effect of disinformation and misinformation”, he stated.

He added that “for us in the media, it is also a straight forward case that we cannot effectively perform the function of providing citizens with the information they need to make informed choices at elections, if the same citizens are confused about what to believe and what not to believe.
The media task in the above regard, is further complicated by the penchant of the politicians to tell blatant lies to score cheap political points.

Group photo of some participants..

“Against the above background, the Expected Result 5 of Component 4: Support to Media of the European Union Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria (EU-SDGNII) is that ‘Media professional capacity to deal with electoral misinformation and disinformation is strengthened’. The specific objective of the component is to ensure that, “The Media, including New and Social Media, provides fair, accurate, ethical and inclusive coverage of the Electoral Process”.

Lanre added that the interface, therefore, is one of the important steps being taken by the International Press Centre (IPC), as the lead partner of component 4 towards the attainment of the result, adding that matters arising from this interface will also contribute to the design of appropriate fact-checking tools and messages through short videos, hackathons and other ICE materials on combatting fake news in the electoral process.

“The fact-checking of claims by politicians under the on-going monitoring of media coverage of 2023 elections, the establishment of a fact-checking unit in IPC’s news portal and media resource – the Nigeria Democratic Report – (www.ndr.org.ng), the empowerment of citizens with the knowledge to detect fake news, etc, are the other activities by IPC geared towards sanitising the electoral information space.

“Our co-partner, the Institute for Media and Society (IMS) also have similar activities including the establishment of a fact-checking tracker hub.

“It is our expectation that today’s interface will lead to the development of collaborative strategies by the media, the CSOs and INEC on curbing electoral disinformation and misinformation”, he concluded.



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