Ahead of Nigeria’s off-cycle elections slated for November 11, 2023, in Bayelsa, Imo, and Kogi states, Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) convened a two-day training session for journalists in Imo State from September 12 – 13, 2023. The learning session organized under the umbrella of the European Union Support for Democratic Governance in Nigeria (EU EDGN), enlightened media practitioners on strategies for promoting peaceful and non-violent elections in the country.
The first day comprised a roundtable discussion with selected media executives, aiming to familiarize them with the EU SDGN objectives and highlight the media’s crucial role in maintaining peace during elections.
Delivering an opening speech, Akinbode Oluwafemi, Executive Director of CAPPA, welcomed participants to the learning program and emphasized the media’s responsibility as society’s watchdog, urging them to promote peace through their platforms and report only facts to avoid stirring up tension in the polity.
During the roundtable, Abayomi Sarumi, Program Manager at CAPPA, offered insights into the concept of watchdog journalism and the media’s responsibility in promoting democracy, transparency, and good governance in Nigeria.
Zikora Ibeh, CAPPA’s Policy and Research Officer, led discussions on the importance of unbiased reporting and the media’s role in peacebuilding. During this session, participants brainstormed practical ideas for promoting peaceful and nonviolent elections through balanced news reporting.
The second day of the training featured intensive training sessions which aimed to address the challenges journalists face in election reporting, build capacities for non-biased reporting, and further educate journalists on the provisions of Nigeria’s Electoral Act, 2022.
Dr. Tunde Akanni, Associate Professor of Journalism at Lagos State University, led the first session on understanding conflicts and drivers of conflict. Using the Burton and Fisher human needs theory, he contextualized conflict as an inherent part of human societies, underlining the inevitability of differing viewpoints and interests. He painted a vivid picture of Nigeria’s historical struggles with conflicts, illustrating the necessity for intervention by both non-governmental and international organizations as well as the media in fostering peace and security.
Aderonke Ige, Associate Director at CAPPA, educated participants on the details of the Electoral Act 2022, outlining clear guidelines for journalists reporting on election results. The discussion included significant amendments made to the Act and their implications, with a focus on promoting transparent and peaceful elections.
Lanre Arongundade, Executive Director of the International Press Center, unpacked the historical context of media reporting in Nigeria and emphasized its pivotal role in a democratic society. He detailed the fundamental functions of media during elections and offered valuable safety tips for journalists, stressing the importance of personal and digital security. Media practitioners were advised to always maintain situational awareness and take extra precautions with their mobile phones, which can be hijacked by criminals to access personal and sensitive data.
The meeting concluded with an interactive segment which provided an opportunity for participants to pose questions to subject experts, enriching their practical understanding of the conversations in review.