CAPPA – Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa

Empowering Journalists for Peaceful Elections

Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) organized learning sessions on February 20 and 21, 2023, for journalists in Kaduna State, Nigeria, with the aim of promoting peaceful and non-violent elections. During the two-day event, 18 media professionals, comprising editors, station heads, content leads, reporters, and photojournalists drawn from various media institutions gained a deeper understanding of the provisions contained in Nigeria’s Electoral Act, 2022, and honed their skills in conflict-sensitive reporting on election-related stories.

The learning event commenced with an inception meeting on the first day, featuring interactive discussions and presentations. Topics covered included The Role of the Media as Society’s Watchdog, facilitated by Phillip Jakpor, CAPPA’s Director of Programmes, and Engaging the Media in Peace Building, presented by Zikora Ibeh, Policy and Research Officer at CAPPA. These initial conversations set the stage for a more comprehensive training on promoting peaceful and non-violent elections in Nigeria, scheduled for the next day.

The second day’s presentations commenced with a session titled Understanding Conflicts and Drivers of Conflicts in Elections facilitated by Adie Vanessa Offiong, a seasoned journalist. Vanessa provided diverse definitions of conflict and emphasized the 2002 definition by Wolff et al as relevant to the Nigerian election context: “Conflict is disagreement and enmity in the form of physical confrontation amongst actors in struggling for value and power, scarce resources, and in achieving mutual goals or needs.” The interactive session enabled participants to define conflict in their own words and explore the underlying causes. Participants also shared their experiences in election coverage, with a focus on violence-related issues.

In his presentation titled Election and Conflict Sensitive Reporting, Executive Director of the International Press Centre, Lanre Arogundade, highlighted the importance of journalists adhering to the principles of journalism to ensure peaceful and non-violent elections. He acknowledged the significant role of the media in Nigeria’s democracy and provided examples of ethical practices for journalists from the Media Code of Ethics. Arogundade concluded his presentation with a practical session on election-day safety and other measures that journalists should implement to protect themselves.

CAPPA’s Associate Director, and Legal Practitioner, Aderonke Ige, followed next with a presentation tagged The Electoral Law and Guide for Media Coverage of Elections Results. She emphasized the importance of the media’s comprehension of the electoral act as an instrument to engage and enhance Nigeria’s political system. The discussion also highlighted the support that the media should receive from various groups in society and the media’s duties to promote peaceful elections. The presentation provided participants with information on updated provisions in the Electoral Act, 2022, including the electronic accreditation of voters/transmission of results, the campaign timeframe, and the creation of a Central Electronic Voters Database. The session concluded with participants sharing their observations on the Electoral Act, 2022, and Nigeria’s election processes.

Dr. Olayinka Oyegbile, a veteran journalist with Development Strategies, delivered a fourth presentation on Newsroom Culture and Peacebuilding in Election Reporting. During the session, he emphasized the significance of accuracy, non-partisanship, and responsible language in promoting peace through journalism.

A final presentation, facilitated by Abayomi Sarumi, CAPPA’s Programme and Digital Manager, focused on news fact-checking and verification of digital media trends. Participants learned about methodologies for fact-checking and the latest digital media practices to enhance their work.

The training event in Kaduna provided an invaluable learning opportunity for journalists, equipping them with the necessary skills and knowledge to report on elections responsibly and contribute to the promotion of peaceful, non-violent electoral processes in Nigeria.

In his closing remarks, Akinbode Oluwafemi, Executive Director of CAPPA, expressed gratitude to the European Union for its Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria (EU-SDGN). He urged journalists to apply their newly acquired knowledge responsibly.

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