By SAM EGBALA
SEVERAL reasons have been adduced for different categories of conflict in line with the scenario painted above.
It is easy to discern and qualify the causes of conflicts between the party and member. This is most common when the party subvert the opportunity of a member by dumping him or her ticket fraudulently.
This could also be conflict between the candidate and the Electoral body, when the body is accused of rigging and fraudulent electoral process.
The reason for electoral conflicts are but not restricted to the following:
(a). RIGGING:- This is when the electoral process is skewed to the
advantage of an opponent.
(b). IMPOSITION OF CANDIDATES:- This is the situation whereby parties in deference to due Process picks a non popular candidate as against the popular one.
(c). CORRUPTION OF THE ELECTORAL PROCESS:- This could take place in the process of electing candidates by the various political parties or through the Independence Electoral Commission (INEC) or the state Electoral Commission which likely involves gratification or other malpractices.
(d AUTOMATIC TICKET:- This situation arise where democratic principle of allowing people to elect those they want to represent them are disregarded. The system first gives the ticket to anyone favoured to contest thus denying a more qualified person. This normally breeds conflict.
(e). FAVOURITISM:- This can be done by the party acting on the influence of the state or the skewing of the electoral process to favour the preferred state candidate.
(g). CONSENSUS:- This issue of consensus in allocating political offices to the political class sometimes does not go down well with political opponents. Thus could result to conflict.
ROLE OF THE MEDIA AND THE JOURNALISTS IN MANAGING CONFLICTS
In stating the role of the media or journalist, it is pertinent to define what the media and journalists means.
WHAT IS THE MEDIA
The means by which news information and other news material etc are communicated to the public.
The media generally play a critical role in the society. It has the principal role of informing, educating and entertaining the citizenry. The media can be broadly classified into the print- ie Newspaper, Magazine, and Periodicals, Electronic media which include the Radio, Television as well as the Social media which is the latest entry into the journalism practice.
The media has always been at the forefront at any given time for the nations struggle. From Independence through the trying times of the civil war, the military dictatorship and the advent of democracy in 1999, the media and the Journalists have just been there contributing through their reports, opinion and commentary to the growth of the nation.
WHO IS A JOURNALIST
Igbinedion J.N.E (1987), referred to journalist as “The engineers of public opinion and for them to be effective, they must be trusted by a significant proportion of the public. They should be above reproach”.
It could also be said that the Journalist is the person who is in the business of gathering information and using the various tools of the mass media to disseminate such information to the general public or citizenry.
As the 2015 general election draw nearer, the media and the journalist should be more vigilant as there would be conflict among from the issues raised earlier in this paper. It therefore calls for more responsiveness to the ethics of the journalism profession. This is the only way we can assist in managing the conflict that may arise from the election.
The various ways the media or Journalists can manage conflicts — In this case electoral conflict are but not limited to the following;
(1). STRICT OBSERVANCE OF THE ETHICS OF THE PROFESSION: In journalism, ethics is taken seriously, because as a set of principles guiding and regulating the conduct of men and women of the noble profession it is generally binding and must be religiously observed. A violation of any the ethics in our reporting can promote conflict. So this must be adhered to in order to assist in managing conflict.
(2). OBJECTIVITY: This is one of the most important Journalistic ethics. lgbinedion said of objectivity, “journalists should present news in a fair and unbiased manner: keep your biases and opinion out of the news stories”.
According to Slavej Heskovec and Jorostar, objectivity is attained through a “methodical factuality of balanced news reporting such that facts and figures introduced into news items are checked and double checked, such that evaluating terms are used with utmost care and where if his possible to support them with proofs and reasons, where they are well founded on facts. This means news presentation or elections issues should be balanced in order to avert conflict.
(3). TRUTH: This is another way of reporting the election that can help in managing conflict. In reporting elections, consideration should be given to the fact that the public deserve unreserved trust to accept the media reports of the election. If trust is build in the media reports, conflicts can be managed or eliminated. The truth of a story should neither be suppressed nor distorted for example, if an election result in a particular unit has not been formally announced by the electoral body, the media or journalist should not report same. Doing same will result to conflict if at the end another result is announced.
(4). ACCURACY AND FAIRNESSS:- Since the public holds the media or journalist in high esteem, they also have the right to know factual, accurate information. It is only in reporting the election based on accuracy and fairness that electoral conflict can be managed. If for example, an opponent in an election has been announced and the other candidate complains, it is just fair for the media to give the same space to the two of them to react. This will not only reduce conflict but will give credence to the story and build confidence and public trust.
(5). AVOID SENSATIONAL OR SENSATIONALISATION OF ELECTORAL REPORTS
In reporting to avert conflict, the media should as much as possible try to adhere to the social responsibility theory. This places the interest of the society first. The media should not announce election result as observed or gotten by them.
(6). REWARD AND GRATIFICATION:- In reporting election, the journalist should not solicit nor accept bribe, gratification or patronage to publish unofficial results of election. This done, can avert electrical conflict.
(7). HONESTY:- The media or journalist should present facts as honestly as possible especially in reporting elections. This will in a long way avert conflict.
(8). PROMOTION OF VOTERS EDUCATION:- If the media through their reportage educate the citizens on citizen participation in election, it would help them to understand what election is all about. A deep knowledge of election will enable the electoral participants to see it as a game and not war.
(9). SETTING AGENDA: If the media agenda role setting is properly followed, it will give direction to the public on how to handle the issues of election and thus avert or help in managing electoral conflict.
The media or the Journalist must recognize that the responsibility imposed on them by the society is a sacred one and they must be guided by the dictates of truth, honesty, sincerity, integrity, accountability and transparency.
It is harmful for the media to assume the role of collaborators and conspirators with politicians, the electoral body, ethnic or religion group to misinform or misguide the general public in election issues. This if done, will surely promote violence rather than help in managing conflict that will arise from election.
So as we approach the 2015 general election, the media, journalists, should be more proactive in their reporting. The media should in exercising its statutory role of informing, educating, entertaining reports only facts, data based on truth, objectively, fairness, honesty accuracy and integrity. This is the only way the media and journalist can contribute to managing conflict especially on the electoral process come 2015 and even beyond.