The Independent National Electoral Commission has advocated for an integrated electronic-data capturing of individuals to avoid repeated image capturing by different government agencies.
Prof. Francis Ezeonu, the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Imo, gave the advice at a two-day workshop on “Responsible Media Coverage of Elections” organised by the Nigeria Press Council in Owerri on Thursday.
The workshop was facilitated by Hammersmith Training Consult Ltd.
Ezeonu said that a situation where individuals were subjected to repeated image capturing by the Motor Licencing office, Nigeria Immigration Services, National Identity Managament Office, INEC, network providers and the banks was unwarranted.
According to him, an integrated e-data system will check the cumbersome nature of reapeated capturing, thereby enabling a one-time capture of such individual by a particular agency with other agencies queuing in to extract same information.
He said: “A central data system is necessary and important in Nigeria because once a child is up to 18 years and registers with any of the above agencies; he is not expected to be subjected to another capturing since the profile is already in the central data base.”
Ezeonu said that electoral activities ran in a cycle which is broadly classified into three segments – pre-election, election day and post-election activities.
He said that in all, the media was expected to be accurate, fair, balanced and timely in reporting the commission’s activities.
He said that most media outfits usually reported from the point of ignorance and advised them, as the fourth estate of the realm, to always cross check their facts before disseminating their reports to the public.
Ezeonu said: “We expect the media to help out with voter education, sensitization and mobilisation of the public.
“We expect that election matters should rule our airwaves and dominate the print media space henceforth.
“While INEC is doing its bit, it will depend on the corporate social responsibility of the media to steer the public to understand issues that would shape the election, rather than promote hate speech.
“We also expect the media to grant equal space and opportunity to all contending political parties and candidates in line with the NBC code.”
The REC said that there was the need for media officers to understand the procedure and the supporting law and legislative enablement to avoid undue sensationalisation which might upset the process.
Ezeonu plegded INEC’s commitment to work closely with the media and adhere strictly to the guidelines governing electoral processes as unauthorised announcement of results would attract penalty.
The Chairman of the occasion, Pastor Ralph Afoaku, who is the Director General of the Imo Broadcasting Corporation, said that the workshop bordered on a successful 2019 election.
He urged the media to be guided by the electoral laws, processes and guidelines as well as the ethics of the profession.
Afoaku enjoined the participants to guide against hate speech, which he said, could cause communal clashes, but rather dwell on reports that would promote the unity and development of the nation.