With 2015 elections clearly in focus, the U.S. ambassador yesterday tasked journalists to put politicians on the spot by making them take a public pledge against violence before, during, and after the elections. Ambassador James F. Entwistle said the “campaign will be much more powerful if it comes from Nigerians instead of from an outsider.” He spoke as the opening speaker to journalists attending a workshop on “Professional Journalism and the Electoral Process,” jointly organized by the U.S. Mission in Nigeria and the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Abuja.
Renowned U.S. journalist Eduardo Cue, with extensive international reporting experience, is providing a cross-cultural perspective on election reporting and electoral processes to more than 37 journalists who cover the activities of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the 2015 general elections. The first leg of the journalism training exercise started in Lagos on August 25, while the Abuja workshop will last four days.
In his remarks, Ambassador Entwistle said that good journalism is an essential tool in any election process as it protects the rights of all in the use of the ballot box to reflect views and concerns of communities–a process that helps produce a stable, democratic government, regardless of which candidate wins. Affirming U.S. support of Nigeria’s democratic progress, Ambassador Entwistle said, “I want to make it clear that we do so as your friend and partner who wants Nigeria to succeed.”
NUJ President Mohammed Garba advised journalists to fulfill the role of facilitators to easy access to information, enabling citizens to make informed choices during elections. He said every journalist has a professional responsibility to gather, collate, process, and disseminate news and “through this role, we act as gate keepers and contributors to the process of democratic sustainability in Nigeria.”