The Independent National Electoral Commission has urged stakeholders in the electoral process to join the commission in deepening the use of technology and instituting a regime of transparency in electoral process.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, represented by Festus Okoye, INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, made the call on Friday at a virtual workshop on reversed “INEC Communication Policy”.
Yakubu said the commission was fully aware that the old ways of doing things must gradually give way to the new by deepening the use of technology in the electoral process.
He said: “This is the basis of the introduction of the INEC party nomination portal, the election observer accreditation portal and the media accreditation portal.
“Transparency in the result transmission process led to the development and deployment of the INEC Result Viewing Portal wherein the commission uploads Forms EC8A for public viewing.
“We at the commission will continue to deepen our knowledge of global trends in election management and communication.
“We will continue to enhance our knowledge of electoral issues and processes and we urge the media, civil society groups and indeed all relevant stakeholders to join the commission in deepening the use of technology in the electoral process.
“We urge critical stakeholders to join the commission in instituting a regime of transparency in election and result management and transparency.
“This desire to achieve these noble goals is at the heart of the development of this Communication Policy.”
Yakubu described the INEC Communication Policy as a composite document designed to address both internal and external communication processes and procedures of the commission and for the commission.
Informing that it was designed to eliminate “ad-hocism” in the entire gamut of the Commission’s communication system, Yakubu implored all the participants to familiarise themselves with the clear intendment and intentions of the document.
He also told them to see it as a tool not only of understanding INEC communication policies, but also of seeing the challenges.
He said it was difficult communicating internally and externally when individuals and groups were facing existential challenges occasioned by a pandemic.
Yakubu said: “It is difficult getting individuals, groups and organisations to focus on the conduct and management of elections in a period of fear, anxiety or worse.
“It is difficult getting individuals and groups to focus on elections when the dominant issues in global lexicon relates to a virus and protocols relating to managing it.
“It is difficult getting people to focus on elections and electoral matters when there is looming danger that they may be out of job or already out of work or are in Internally Displaced Persons Camps.
“It is difficult getting people to focus on elections in a period of uncertainty.”
Yakubu added that communicating what people may see as non-essential service in a period of a pandemic or uncertainty requires a new form of capacity and skill, which required new thinking and new methodologies and strategy.
He said: “Consequently, information/communication experts and managers must design ways and means of getting the people to focus on messages that are related to the electoral process.
“It is also important to disseminate such messages and information using means that the people can relate to in a new setting of physical distancing, lock down and daily rise in infection level.
“Information managers must therefore communicate in such a way that people will see and appreciate election as an essential service.”
The commission chairman added that Communication Policy was designed to enable INEC communicate effectively.
Yakubu sought the cooperation of all the critical stakeholders in INEC external communication drive, pledging that the commission, more than before needs the understanding, cooperation and reach of the media to get its messages across to the Nigerian people.
Presenting the overview of revised INEC Communication Policy, the Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Rotimi Oyekanmi, said the 55 pages document covered different areas that would enhance effective communications of the commission.
Oyekanmi said the document emphasised that as much as possible, “only professionals or personnel that have received appropriate training should be put in charge of handling media relations and voter education programmes” of the commission at all levels.