By Progress Godfrey, Abuja
Few days to the presidential election, the Interfaith Dialogue Forum for Peace, IDFP, has called on media houses and Civil Society Organisations to ensure credible and balanced information.
The IDFP, a peace-building interfaith and intercultural organisation made this call at a press conference in Abuja on Wednesday, in a statement jointly signed by its co-chairmen, Dr Yusuf Arrigasiyyu and Rev (Dr) Amos Kiri.
Arrigasiyyu who read the statement noted that the negative trend of endorsing candidates by religious and political leaders, based on primordial sentiments was creating a divide among the citizenry.
He acknowledged that the monetary policy by the Central Bank of Nigeria which he said may have been intended to improve the economy but was affecting the ordinary citizens.
He, therefore, urged security agencies and others to ensure a peaceful, fair, transparent and credible election, while appealing to voters to avoid actions that could trigger suspicion and possible unrest.
He said, “The security forces should step up operations against armed groups and protect electoral commission offices countrywide as well as the polling units and collation centres insecurity should not be used as a tool to serve political interests such as voter suppression in some parts of the country
“An important step toward mitigating electoral violence is to curb the immunity that emboldens perpetrators. Several laws including the Public Order Act, the Nigeria Police Act and the Electoral Act of 2022 include penal sanctions for such misconduct. The judiciary should speedily punish those behind election violence while political parties and their supporters should tone down inflammatory rhetorics
“A third important step in defusing tensions is to curb fake news about candidates and the election processes. To counter such distorted narratives, media organisations should battle misinformation through vigorous and speedy fact-checking. Media houses should also ensure balanced and responsible reporting and provide quality information that will help voters understand the parties’ manifestos and the candidates’ track records. Civil society Organisations should also step up their advocacy for a healthier information environment.
“The government must ensure a transparent and efficient supply and distribution of petroleum products throughout the country to ease the sufferings of Nigerians. The Central Bank should boost its supply of the new naira notes to commercial banks. Anti-corruption agencies should intensify their watch over banks to ensure that they distribute the new notes for public use, rather than hoard them.
“The IDFP urges electorates to conduct themselves in an orderly and peaceful manner before, during and after the elections to ensure a successful election and transition to a new democratic government in the interest of a united, progressive and developed nation. Citizens are reminded to document and report any threat to the elections to the relevant security and election officials and to remember that we are Nigerians and Nigeria is the ONLY country we have.”
He, further, charged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to take necessary measures that would guarantee a credible process.
“Past elections have witnessed incidences of poor delivery of election logistics. This time, the issue may be compounded by the issue of fuel scarcity.
“Incidents like the burning or stealing of some of the commission’s materials, fake names on the electoral register and underage registrations in some parts of the country raise questions about possible connivance. There have also been concerns raised on the efficacy of the BVAS to deliver a credible election due to previous lessons from elections held using the machine with a clear example of the Osun state,” he added.