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Defend, sustain democracy in 2019, Okowa tells editors

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Defend, sustain democracy in 2019, Okowa tells editors

Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa has charged the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) on the need to be the voice of the poor and not the rich, if credible elections must be achieved next year to sustain democracy in Nigerian. The governor, who urged the guild to brace up to the challenges of extinction which technology was posing on traditional media, said the media was better positioned to speak to the psyche of politicians on the need to eschew violence and deliver on a credible election. Okowa, who led the executive session at the second day of the 14th All Nigeria Editors’ Conference (ANEC, 2018) in Asaba, yesterday, said the media must mount pressure, through report and advice on those at the corridor of power to conduct credible elections.

He told the President of the Guild, Mrs. Funke Egbemode and hundreds of other delegates, and the Governor of Edo, Akwa Ibom, Anambra and Bauchi states, ably represented by their respective Commissioners for Information, who succinctly enumerated the achievements of their bosses, that the onus is on the media to lead Nigeria out of electoral quagmire. He said: “We are counting on the press to help Nigeria to conduct a free, fair and credible elections.

You need to speak out on how the votes of the people will count. The sustainability of democracy does not depend on politicians but on the press. An average politician is greedy but you can hold us accountable. “Although, no election has gotten to the level of credibility in this country, especially when people on the top want to do things in their own way. We achieved credible primary elections in Delta state. I replicated this in Rivers state during the PDP national convention. “I cannot talk about other parties primary elections across the country.

The press is in a position to report and advice those of us who are politicians appropriately if we must do things better and deliver on credible elections in this country next year.” The governor, who queried the credibility of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to be completely unbiased during the forth coming general elections, asked that the commission should derive its powers from the legislative arm of government. He said INEC had not performed optimally because the law establishing it bureaucratically subsumed the commission under the executive arm of government at the national level.

“How can INEC be completely unbiased in the conduct of elections? Is the commission truly independent? What is the process leading to their appointments and funding? It is obvious that a lot needed to be done on the part of our legislators, such that if INEC needs to be answerable, it will be to the legislative and not to the executive arm of government,” he questioned.

While he said voters’ education remained an integral roadmap to credible election, he emphasized the need for the group to uphold the voice of the poor in their actions and not the political class, maintaining that “the press should help to educate voters on the need not to sell their votes.” The governor said a lot of people-oriented projects, including road projects, job and wealth creation, skill acquisition through revamped technical education, which has sustained thousands of graduate and unemployed youths, urged the editors not to bow to the obituary notices being issued by technological advancement that brought about the social media.

On her part, Egbemode, who described the security and infrastructural atmosphere in Asaba as excellent, said the conference would chat the way forward on accurate, objective, balanced and well researched and investigative reportage for credible elections and sustainable democracy.

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