IT is no longer news that the general elections in Nigeria comes up on 14th  and 28th of  February 2015. However, what needed to be emphasized is the role of the media and other stakeholders in the electoral process before, during and after the elections, this was the crux of a ‘ day sensitization workshop organized by the Nigerian Press Council in collaboration with the Nigeria Union of Journalists held in Benin City on 9th and 20th January 2015.
Basically, the workshop focused on the need for Journalists to be objective in their reportage in order to ensure free and fair election. Objectivity here entails unbiased presentation of information concerning tile various political parties and their candidates, provision of equal airtime opportunity for campaign by the various political parties and their candidates, that is, given opportunity to every candidates or political party to be held. The workshop also x-rayed the expectations of the media in voter education. The media as watchdog of’ the society is expected to set agenda in the various political parties and their candidates. In the course o campaigns. the candidates may ignore sonic areas of needs, and it is tile duty of the media to highlight those needs, yearnings, aspiration and plights of the people. Therefore, it is the role of the media to examine the manifesto and programmes of the various political parties to know whether they are feasible or not. By so doing, the media would he making the candidates and their party to be responsive to the public interest, it is the responsibility of the media to demand accountability from candidates, especially I those seeking re-election  the media should demand that the they  render public account of their past stewardship to determine how well they have utilized the resources allocated to them for the benefit of’ the people. Any candidate that fails to subject him or herself to public accountability it should be exposed and blacklisted.
It is the role of the media to educate the people on the electoral Acts or law so that they would know what is expected of them as a citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Indeed, it is a civic duty of every adult to register  and vote in an election. There should be no apathy towards the election. The media should educate the people adequately for them to imbibe the principles of democracy which is anchored on adequate participation based on fairness, justice and equal right for all. Above all, the electorate must he enlightened on the need to be patriotic and committed to the conduct of a free, fair, credible, acceptable and violence free elect election.
The media should be in the fore front in educating politicians on the need for them to campaign on issues rather than character assassination, ethnic or religious bigotry. Importantly, the media must priority  the integrity and sanctity of the electoral process, so that the people could believe in  it and be ready to accept the results from the process. This will help prevent post election crisis and litigations in court over election result. The media as watchdog should always ascertain from the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC how ready or prepare they are for the conduct of the 2015 general elections in terms of men and materials including other logistics arrangements.
However  for the media to be able to perform enormous responsibilities placed on it, the practitioners must be adequately prepared and mobilised. For instance, the journalists covering the elections must be adequately trained through workshops on how best to effectively cover the election, so that their finding concerning the process and its outcome would be reported with utmost professionalism. This will help prevent sensational or biased reportage of events. But it is sad to note that no individual or organisation including INEC and other government agencies in the state are willing to organize such workshop for Journalists in Edo State. However, commendation goes to the Nigerian Press
Council and the United Nations Development UNDP for organizing a two day workshop in this regard. More of such workshop is needed as no knowledge or skills would be too much in the media practitioners towards ensuring effective coverage of the 2015 elections.
Again, there should be adequate security for all journalists covering the 2015 general elections. This is very important in order to guide against the attacks, assault, molestation, intimidation and harassment of Journalists that usually characterized past elections. If the security of media men covering the elections is not guaranteed, the politicians could hijack it thereby subverting the electoral process.
The various media houses must be constantly monitored by the regulatory bodies in order to curb their excesses and abuse of the code of conduct as it relate to print and broadcast journalism. In the past, many media organiszation have been found to be partisan. taking sides and reporting unprofessionally. Many media practitioners involve in self censorship and sensational reporting of political events. It is not good for our democracy or the electoral process. Some government media hardly use any report from the opposition, because of selfish political interest. This is against the ethics of Journalism and freedom of the press.
Government should at all times guarantee the freedom of Journalists and the press in order to have a society where truth and justice reigns supreme. Above all, stakeholders must support the media to guarantee c electoral process. This is so, because truthful and unfettered information is a key to the successful conduct of any election.

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