UNDP says media crucial to preventing election-related conflicts

By Blessing Odega

#TrackNigeria: The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), has said that the media was a “very crucial stakeholder” in the efforts toward preventing election-related conflicts.

“The media is a very critical stakeholder in our collective efforts to check electoral violence. The media can stop it from occurring or escalating, through a careful and balanced reportage of events around the elections,” Mrs. Betty Wabunoha, UNDP Resident Representative in Nigeria, said on Monday.

Wabunoha, who was represented by Mr Matthew Alawo, spoke in Jos, during a three-day workshop on “Conflict Sensitive Reportage”, organised by the world body for journalists and media practitioners.

According to her, the media has a unique role to play as both the conveyor and recipient of information.

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“If that role is effectively and transparently carried out, it will strengthen the democratic process and contribute to a more credible and inclusive election,” she said.

She observed that the voters and candidates usually rely heavily on the media to both impart and receive information, hence the need for media practitioners to ensure balanced and impartial coverage during the elections.

“The media plays a crucial role in enabling citizens make informed choices; it also plays a critical role toward fostering peace, especially where there are election-related disputes.

“The aim of the workshop is to build the capacity of journalists to identify potential sources of election-related violence and promptly report same to the appropriate authorities for action.

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“We are optimistic that the workshop will promote a conflict-sensitive reporting culture among media practitioners and sensitise them on key elements to lookout for, when covering elections, especially in conflict-sensitive settings,” she said.

Plateau Governor Simon Lalong, who declared the workshop open, described it as “timely and apt”.

Lalong, who was represented by Prof. John Wade, the Director-General of Research in the Plateau Government House, enjoined the participants to take advantage of the workshop to gain more knowledge on ways to forestall conflicts during elections.

One of the participants, Miss Martha Agas, a senior correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), described the workshop as “apt, timely and rewarding”.

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“We have not gone far, but from what I have heard so far, the workshop will give us more insights on conflict- sensitive reporting and help us to be more proactive,” she said.

The workshop, which commenced on Jan. 28, will end on Jan. 30.

The participants are drawn from the North-Central states of the country. (NAN)

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