The Imo-based Newspaper Editors on Tuesday said that activities of INEC in the 2019 General Elections have restored the confidence of the people in the electoral umpire in the state.
The Chairman of the home-based Editors, Mr Eze Adiuku, made this known when the group presented an ICON of Democracy Award to Prof. Francis Ezeonu, the Imo INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) at the NUJ Secretariat, Owerri.
He said that there was no gainsaying the fact that the coming of the REC brought back the confidence of the electorate on the capacity of INEC to conduct a credible, free and fair election in Imo.
He explained that before now, voters saw INEC as the real problem of election and democracy in Nigeria.
“The coming of Prof. Ezeonu and his management team to Imo with their performance and contact with stakeholders changed the Imo political narrative for good and shifted the paradigm.
“We are impressed with the transparent manner the REC and his team went about the electoral process in the state, while updating stakeholders before, during and after the election.
“He toured the 27 local government areas of Imo, and sensitised the electorate and the stakeholders to the need to come out, register and vote during the elections,” he said.
Adiuku said that 2019 elections in Imo were a true reflecion of the yearnings of Imo people hence the group had decided to recognise the work of the REC and his team in the state.
“The Imo editors have gathered to celebrate INEC in Imo, led by the professor because he performed creditably well in spite of teething challenges,” he said.
The NUJ Chairman, Mr Chris Akaraonye, described Ezeonu as a man with integrity, honour and impeccable character who withstood the challenges of Imo elections and delivered the will of the people of the state.
He commended INEC REC for carrying the journalist along before, during, and after the election and the editors for rewarding hardwork.
Responding, Prof. Ezeonu expressed gratitude for the award, describing it as a great honour.
He said he had respect for journalists whom he said, more often than not, used their pen to fight injustice and man’s inhumanity to man.
He described the media as agenda setters and the watchdog of the society which also contributed in changing the narrative of politics in Imo and dedicated the award to his management team.
Ezeonu pointed out that INEC had started to plan ahead for the next elections through the continuous voter registration exercise that would soon begin.
He said the commission would continue to hold interactive sessions with key media players and stakeholders in the state when the need arose.
NAN reports that the high point of the event was the presentation of award of ICON of Democracy to the Imo REC. (NAN)