Nigerian editors have risen, with one voice, to condemn allegations of vote-buying which rocked recent party primaries to pick candidates of political parties; ahead of the 2019 general election.
Editors described vote-buying as a subtle but worrisome way of entrenching corruption in the nation’s polity.
Rising from a five-day All Nigerian Editors Conference in Asaba, Delta State, the editors, under the aegis of the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), commended the 91 political parties for the maturity they displayed during party primaries.
In an 11-point communiqué issued at the end of the conference, yesterday, they observed that elections in Nigeria are not built on truth and, therefore, urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to remain independent in its practice, by allowing citizens’ votes to count in 2019, so as to sustain democracy.
The communiqué, which was jointly signed by the NGE President, Funke Egbemode, and the Secretary General, Victoria Ibanga, called on politicians and security agencies not to intimidate the electorate during the elections but allow them to freely make their choices for democracy to thrive in Nigeria.
Besides, the communiqué specifically advised politicians “to do away with the culture of winning at all cost, and by all means,” in next year’s elections, to avert electoral violence.
But, decrying the level of insecurity in the country, the editors stressed that, “the nation deserves more than rhetorics, and political slogans on issues of citizens’ welfare.”
The NGE appreciated Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, for declaring the conference open, just as it thanked the host governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, for the support to have a successful conference.
The editors also lauded the state government “for the rapid growth in infrastructure across the state, as well as human capacity development.”
The nation’s editorial gatekeepers equally expressed the need for the Nigerian journalists to intensify efforts that will deepen democracy through sustained investigative, balanced and analytical reportage.
The communiqué “challenged media practitioners to join in the mobilisation of Nigerians through unbiased reports to take collective responsibility in choosing leaders for the nation in the next general elections.”
The Guild observed that the role of traditional media is being threatened with the emergence of the social media, where balanced reporting, truth and accuracy, are gradually and consistently being relegated. Editors, at the end of deliberations, agreed to defend the truth through professional practice.
Editors urged publishers and chief executives of media establishments to play down on the commoditisation of information to enhance objectivity.