Dr. Mike Omeri
Dr. Mike Omeri

Abuja- The Director-General of the National Orientation Agency (NOA), Mr Mike Omeri, said the agency was working hard to ensure that the upcoming elections would be free and credible.
Omeri made the statement on the sidelines of a meeting organised by the Nigeria Elections Debate Group (NEDG) which held at the headquarters of the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) in Abuja.
According to Omeri, NOA will also partner with NEDG to ensure that campaigns are issue-based.
“We’re working hard to ensure free, fair and credible elections. The NEDG will set agenda to ensure that campaigns are issue-based.’’
Addressing the formal opening of NEDG meeting, Omeri pledged to strengthen ties with the group.
“We will support you because this is part of what NOA should be doing. We need to know how we will play up issues that build up Nigerians,’’ he said.
He said candidates should explain how they intended to realise their promises.
In his opening address, Mr Sola Omole, the Chairman of the NEDG Board of Trustees and Director-General NTA, said the next six to eight weeks were critical due to the election.
“The media is to set the agenda to enable good decision making by Nigerians. We must work on debate to ensure success of the elections,’’ Omole said.
Also, the Chairman of NEDG Workgroup, Chief Taiwo Allimi, said the goal of the group was to make the debate permanent and strengthen democracy in the country.
“Nigerians now want issue-based debates by candidates. Debates strengthen and deepen democracy in the country and enables voters make informed choices.
“We’ve seen the results in Ondo, Anambra, the U.S. even borrowed the idea of candidates shaking hands and issuance of certificates of participation.
Allimi, however, listed some challenges facing the group.
“The major challenge facing the group is funding. Also, some candidates want to debate in their local dialect and there is a lot of demands for debates in several states.’’
In his remarks, the Chairman of DAAR Communications, Chief Raymond Dokpesi. who is also a member of NEDG, said the group was the only recognised group to organise election debates.
Dokpesi said: “Elections are here again, NTDG is the only recognised body to organise elections as it is recognised by the president and INEC, any other body is fake.
“We are a little bit behind so we need to prepare well to perform effectively. Debates should be issue-driven and we must get panelists that won’t cause trouble and handle the debate effectively.’’
The former Chairman of the Group, Alhaji Abubakar Jijiwa, said “there are motley groups on debate and it sends wrong signals hence there is need for one body and the pooling of ideas’’.
The NEDG is a coalition of broadcast organisations, civil society organisations and professional groups.
Present at the event were executives from the AIT, Nagarta Radio, Kaduna, FRCN, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Nigeria Broadcasting Corporation (NBC), Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) and Voice Of Nigeria (VON)