Home Local News 2023 Elections: INEC charges it’s PR officers on integrity of elections

2023 Elections: INEC charges it’s PR officers on integrity of elections

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Well ahead of the 2023 general elections, Information managers and Public Relations Officers of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) have been charged to gear up to professionally and effectively communicate innovations by the Commission in order to protect the integrity of elections.

National Commissioner and Chairman of the Information and Voter Education Committee (IVEC), Festus Okoye Esq. gave the charge at the opening of a two-day Capacity Building Workshop for Heads of Voter Education and Publicity (HODs VEP) and Public Relations Officers (PAOs) on Strategic Communications and Operationalisation of the INEC Communication Policy, holding in Kano, today.

The workshop organised with support from the European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES), is the second of two batches with participants at the ongoing workshop drawn from the 19 Northern states and the FCT.

The IVEC Chairman who reminded the participants of the Commission’s resolve to raise or maintain the bar of credibility in elections, encouraged them to remain firm, focused and courageous in the months and years ahead. He said “2022 is really the election year and most of the activities leading to the 2023 general election will be executed this year. Let us resolve to be the difference and make the difference in the electoral process and the growth and development of democracy.”

Speaking on the need for participants to defend the Commission knowledgably, the National Commissioner said; “you must have a working understanding of the constitutive legal instruments that defines and circumscribes the powers of the Commission. If you have little or limited understanding of the Constitution, the Electoral Act, the Rules, Regulations and Guidelines of the Commission you cannot guide, advocate on and educate Nigerians on issues and processes that guides and defines the electoral process. Read the Constitution”.

“Read the Electoral Act. Read the Regulations, Guidelines and Manuals of the Commission. You don’t have a choice. It is your mandate. It is your field. It is your responsibility”, he added .

Admonishing the Commission’s information managers in the states to be up and doing and professional, Okoye said “you must engage the traditional media to assist in dissemination of information and sensitizing our people on issues in the electoral process. You must read, you must listen to the radio and watch the television”.

“It is important to go out there and make your points in the best way that the Nigerian people can and will understand. Advocacy and sensitization is not modelling or beauty contests. You are only required to be presentable, make your points and sell your message”.

The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Kano, Prof. Riskuwa Arabu Shehu, in his welcome remarks, noted that the workshop was very critical and central to the success of the Commission.

The REC underscored the importance of strategic communication in the Commission’s preparations for 2023 general elections. “He said no matter what we want to achieve, it will amount to nothing if we don’t communicate well and if our communication is not understood loud and clear”.

Prof. Shehu urged the participants to see their role in the Commission as critical, and encouraged them to participate fully in the workshop, as it provided the opportunity to upgrade themselves to be better spokes persons of the Commission.

In his goodwill message, the Project Coordinator, ECES, Hamza Fassi-Fihri, commended INEC observed that INEC has put in tremendous work towards combating fake news and disinformation about the electoral process.

He said his organisation was committed towards supporting the Commission in promoting the growth, development and sustenance of democratic tenets in Nigeria.

Explaining the objectives of the Workshop, the Director of Voter Education and Publicity Department, Victor Aluko, said Workshop aimed to equip the Commission’s information managers with the necessary skills and information for the task ahead.

He said the workshop will provide the opportunity to review the VEP activities in the states, with the aim of finding solutions to challenges, ahead of the busy period that heralds the 2023 general elections.

The Director implored participants to take advantage of the wealth of knowledge present at the workshop through the Chairman of IVEC and the well experienced facilitators to refresh themselves and worthy ambassadors of the department.

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