• Opts for hybrid storage of sensitive electoral materials

‘Seun Ibukun-Oni, Abuja

DAILY COURIER – In a bid to deliver free, fair and credible general election in 2023, the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof Mahmood Yakubu has restated the need for the commission and the media to work as partners against misinformation and disinformation.

Prof Mahmood at the quarterly consultative meeting with the media on Thursday, October 27 reiterates the commission’s resolve to be open and transparent with information required to tame the scourge of fake news.

“As the 2023 general election approaches, we shall continue to work together with the media. We will remain transparent and provide the required information to combat the triple menace of misinformation, disinformation and fake news as the commission does not support censorship”.

He added, “We believe that the best antidote to fake news is greater openness and greater transparency. So, we appeal to the media to help us fact check, particularly some of the postings on the new media intended to either delegitimise those who conduct elections or to delegitimise the institution that conducts elections, with the ultimate aim of undermining the process.

“As I said, we will always remain open and provide information. I know you’re all professionals in your own right, but I have also learned on this job for some time now that a professional journalist is as effective as the amount and quality of information available to him or her. We will continue to provide you with the information necessary for transparent and credible elections”.

He updated the media with efforts to solve what he termed INEC’s greatest problem leading to the general election which is the storage of electoral materials. Among the various options opened to INEC with its attendant constraints are: renting storage facilities; building storage facilities; and maintaining its storage arrangements with the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Prof Mahmood said that the commission opted for a hybrid storage arrangement where the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System, BVAS machines will be stored with the commission while other sensitive materials will be warehoused at the apex bank’s state offices. An arrangement which all political parties without exception supported.

Speaking on behalf of the national chairman of the Nigerian Union of Journalists, NUJ, Dele Atunbi commended the chairman and the commission on the successful conduct of Ekiti and Osun off season elections. “The way the two elections turned out had shown that INEC is ready to conduct free, fair and credible general election come 2023” he said.

He added that the introduction of technology has further given the people the opportunity to vote their own leaders with the belief that their choices will count.

Atunbi noted that the media is worry with the level of bile and tantrums thrown by the political actors. He urged politicians to temper their language and stop heating up the polity.

He pledge the continued support of the NUJ and the media to the chairman and the commission to ensure that it delivers on its mandate for the overall interest of Nigeria.