By Wole Balogun
(S.A Media to VC)
(A report of public lecture delivered by VC, Prof. A.S Fasina on the occasion of 2022 press week organized by the Nigerian Union of Journalists, (NUJ), Broadcasting service of Ekiti State chapel, BSES)
The Vice-Chancellor (VC) of the Federal University Oye-Ekiti (FUOYE), Prof. Abayomi Sunday Fasina, has listed attributes that would make the Nigerian media practitioners assist the electorates in making the right decisions in the forthcoming February 2023 general elections.
Prof. Fasina also analysed the socio-political challenges that confront the nation ahead of the general polls while advising strongly that all hands must be on deck to ensure that the coming polls are conducted free and fair and more importantly, in a safe and secured atmosphere.
The Chief Manager of FUOYE made the remarks on Wednesday while delivering a public lecture on the theme, “Broadcast Media and Expectations in the 2023 General Elections”, at the occasion of the press week organized by the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) chapel of the Broadcasting Services of Ekiti State (BSES) in Ilokun area of Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State capital.
Represented ably by his Deputy Vice-Chancellor (DVC) Administration, Prof. Jeremiah Shola Omotola, a Professor of Comparative Politics, Prof. Fasina said the theme of the event as chosen by the organizer was apt and addressed germane issue of the moment.
His words: “Let me first commend the organisers of this programme for the choice of the lecture’s topic. They deserve special commendation for choosing the very topical subject matter. It is so apt and speaks directly to the salient issues of the moment. Everywhere you go, it seems 2023 election is the only thing in town. When people gather, it is normal that the subject matter comes up. And that goes a long way to show us that next year is very important to the life of this country, we are
speaking here in terms of the lives of ourselves and our people. That is why I want to empazise that 2023 is very critical to the life of this country and the way we go about it will make or mar our nation. “
Speaking further, Prof. Fasina itemized issues surrounding the preparations for the February 2023 polls and cautioned that all stakeholders, particularly the electorates, must conduct themselves in proper ways in order to ensure the success of the polls.
Hear him: “So, why is 2023 so important?, it is very significant for so many reasons. It is an election that is different from 2015, the competition now is so fierce such that the ones in power want to do all they can to remain in power while those outside power want to do all they can to wrestle power from the incumbent.
“There is an emerging third force which is trying to made its mark and that is the Labour Party, there is the main opposition party, PDP and of course the ruling party, APC. The competition is not just among those three players, within the parties, the frontline of cleavages existing are enough to generate issues of immense proportion.
It is critical because the major players cannot be said to be ready to play the game according to the rules, “he argued.
The Don further x-trayed the socio- political issues confronting the nation which must be addressed for a free and fair poll to be achieved. He said: “We are mindful not to use certain adjectives to qualify the country, there are indices to suggest that we have so many spaces left ungovernned, when the conventional literatures speak of ungoverned spaces, they mean places where there is no existing former government structures, but our situation is even worse than that, because in places where we have formal institutions of government how much more governances do we see?
“There is limited levels of government and we find ourselves where we find government without governance. When you have ungoverned spaces extending beyond sectional spaces, we need to rethink our strategies so we can get it right.
“The dormant examples are that, one, now, insecurity is not only in the north as we had it before, but also in other parts of the country now. There is no place where issues of insecurity is not found. And when you have such situation before the general polls, then there is cause to worry because during the polls, the security men will be withdrawn to man the polls, when the security men are withdrawn to man polls , there will be more ungoverned spaces and those may turn out to be flashpoints for insecurity.
“The other example is poverty, food prices are now extremely high, you find a situation that people earn little bit pay so high for a living.
When people are in dire need, desperation will set in and when we have desperate people, there is trouble. People are hungry and angry. There are tendencies, when people are hungry, you can manipulate them and this is why there are issues of vote buying selling and others. When people are angry, they can forment trouble and allow violence to mar the polls. “
Continuing, Prof. Fasina revealed that public trust in the electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), is very germane to the success of the coming polls. He however lamented that such trust is in doubt, saying: “A fundamental issue with INEC as the nation’s electoral umpire is lack of public trust. People tend to resist or resort to self help with such lack of trust. Global bodies monitoring our polls have rated INEC low in public trust. This calls for concern. “
The University Don and administrator, thereafter, itemized ways the media, given its strategic and imperative role in the nation, could assist Nigerians to not only make the right decisons at the polls but also ensure that the elections are conducted free and fair and in a safe atmosphere. His words: “Some of the roles the media plays are, educate citizens, socialize the citizens about politics, economy and others, and also serve as watchdog of the society in which case the practitioners hold government accountable and responsible. The media also lead the process of agenda setting for the government. So, what kind of expectations are the public having from the media?
“The point I am trying to make is that, there should be certain conditions to be met for media to meet their mandate and expectations from the people.
First, the media must be open, the media platforms must be open and assessible to the various key players in the electoral process, if you don’t do this, you won’t be able to promote the ideals of electoral practices.
“Openness of the media is critical and germane to our development and growth. Press freedom is also important, it is a key element to the success of any media. As we go on into the polls coming , l want to appeal to all media men to report with fairness, sincerity and fair play. For example, saying to reporters that your identity card is your meal ticket is an invitation to corruption. Managers and employers of media practitioners are strongly advised to pay their reporters well.”