By Eunice Nnachi, Yenagoa
It is said that information is power. If you are not informed you are deformed. Is this applicable to voters? Yes or No. But the truth remains that, many don’t even know what voting process is all about.
The onus lies on us, the media practitioners to inform and educate the masses on why they should vote and be voted for.
Being a journalist fulfills a need to live life with a curious nature, to affect the public good, to disseminate information and to shape the public perception of key people, places, things and events. The masses need to have their civic education basics at the finger tips.
In a chat with Nigerian pilot, the Head voter Education, Mr. Wilfred Ifogah, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC’s head of department, voter education and publicity, Bayelsa said, the media plays a major role in keeping the citizenry abreast of current events and raising awareness of various issues in any society.
He described, civic education as the provision of information and learning experiences to equip and empower citizens to participate in democratic processes.
He said it also helps young people to acquire and learn to use the skills, knowledge, and attitudes that will prepare them to be competent and responsible citizens throughout their lives.
Speaking on why the voters should be educated, he said it makes citizens to be aware of their rights and responsibilities. It teaches people how to make their society orderly, peaceful and stable. It makes governance easy, because it teaches people about the programmes and policies of the government.”
He therefore encouraged media practicing journalists to up their game in providing voters the necessary information and education.
In his submission, a journalist with Daily Trust, Bassey Willie said, masses depend on journalists for information and education, and as such we should provide the basics.
Willie said, “journalists are information managers, the masses depend on them for information and enlightenment, that is why their role in educating Nigerians about voting is very critical.
“Even in our neighborhood, once people realised that one is a Journalists, the run to him in most of the issues of national discourse, thereby showing that the masses believe and trust Journalists in information dissemination.
” Besides, Journalists are the managers and operators of the nation’s media, such as Newspapers, Television, Radio and Social media, etc and their professional contents in those media outfit helped in shaping the society and set agenda for discourse, the role of Journalists in Voters’ Education is very paramount.”
He therefore urged INEC to always partner with journalists in enlightening the masses.
“That is why INEC should always partner with Journalists in enlightening the masses about their constitutional roles in election.”
Also another media guru, Eric Eweke said, there should be voter education Is a process where voters engage in public debate and have adequate information about parties, policies, candidates and the election process itself in order to make informed choices.
She said, “it is for this reason that the media is today considered a key actor to democratic elections, which on one hand provides eligible voters with information to make independent choices and on the other hand safeguards the transparency of the electoral process.
“Thus, a democratic election with no media freedom would make it very difficult to ascertain just how free and fair an election actually was.”
Also Mike Tayese of daily Asset said, “media role in voter education is not merely restricted to providing information to potential voters but it also serves as a platform for interaction between the political parties as well as the Election Commission of Nigerian and the public.
“The Election Commission has a need to communicate information to the people and within general public to specific groups including the political parties, candidates, women, youth and minorities. Media then serves as an important tool to reach out to its target audiences. Thus, both during the campaign phase, media in a variety of ways to get its various messages through.”