The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) said effective communication was critical in building stakeholders’ confidence in the electoral process.
Ms Mandisa Mashologu, UNDP Country Director, Nigeria, stated this at ongoing workshop to Review of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Communication Policy, on Monday in Kaduna.
Mashologu, who was represented by Dr Kehinde Bolaji, Team Leader, Governance and Peace-Building, UNDP, Nigeria, said that communication was critical to democracy and that credible electoral process was impossible without effective communication policy.
She explained that free and fair electoral process was not only about the exercise of the right to vote by citizens, but about dissemination of information.
She added that it also included robust voter’s feedback on the issues, policies, political parties and electoral procedures, capable of empowering citizens to support the process and to make informed choices.
“Effective communication is also critical in building stakeholder confidence in the electoral process.
“It helps the electoral commission to win and sustain trust.
“It also promotes citizen’s mobilization for issue-based, gender-sensitive, conflict-sensitive and inclusive political
“Conversely, poor communication, occasioned by weak planning, coordination and dissemination, is a major causal factor of election-related violence, as it breeds citizen’s
lethargy, speculations, and distortion of information and facts,” Mashologu said.
She commended INEC on the workshop to review its existing
communication policy, saying that it was a demonstration of the dynamism of the commission’s management.
This, she said, came after the review of the commission’s Strategic Plan, which had considered significant changes in Nigeria’s electoral environment since the last general elections in 2015.
She pledged UNDP’s continued support to INEC.
“Our current electoral cycle support project envisages UNDP’s partnership with INEC in critical areas such as
consolidation of institutional reform through strategic and operational planning, and enhancement of
ICT in voter’s registration.
“It is also in capacity-building for political parties, strengthened institutional frameworks for enhanced women and youth representation in politics, and support for enhanced partnership with political parties and civil society.
“Through its implementation, UNDP hopes to contribute to the INEC vision and mandate to deliver credible, transparent and peaceful elections in Nigeria,” she declared.
Prof. Ralph Akinfeleye, Chairman, Centre of Excellence in Multimedia and Cenimatography, Dapartment of Mass Communication, University of Lagos, said the new INEC’s communication policy should have a section dealing with religion and religiosity.
Akinfeleye, in a paper he presented, said that the policy must also address the issue of language and hate speeches.
“The experience and the damages that were caused during the 2015 elections should compel INEC to come out with its new communication policy.
“It needs a new communication policy control with clear-out reduction and appropriate sanction for any political party and agent engaging in hate speech at political rallies, campaigns and town hall meetings,” he said. (NAN)