Elections in Nigeria affect entire Africa – UN envoy #Realnews2018Lecture

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Chambas giving his goodwill message
Chambas giving his goodwill message

Mohamed Ibn Chambas, the special representative of the United Nations secretary general, for West Africa and the Sahel, in his goodwill message at the Realnews sixth anniversary lecture in Lagos Thursday, enjoins Nigerians to be mindful of their utterances so as not to ignite avoid violence

By Emeka Ejere

Nigerians have been charged to shun hate speech, inflammatory languages and all acts capable of ridding the forthcoming general elections of peace. Mohamed Ibn Chambas, the special representative of the United Nations secretary general, for West Africa and the Sahel, who gave the charge in his goodwill message at the Realnews sixth anniversary lecture in Lagos Thursday, noted that elections in Africa’s most populated country and largest economy has implications for the entire continent and beyond.

He said with so much at stake, emotions and tension will be high but elections would only serve the constitutional purpose if they are free, fair, credible and peaceful.

Chambas noted that the conduct of the media could make or mar the elections, pointing out that accurate and dispassionate reporting of electoral events will help to educate the electorate and contribute towards informed choice from among competing candidates.

He said on the other hand, biased reporting and deliberate falsehoods (fake news) contribute to distorting the choices of the voters and contribute to election-related violence, and that hate speech leads ultimately to hateful acts.

The renowned diplomat stated that the UN places much premium on the good work of the media as a major actor in conflict prevention, peace building and development, since the first signs of conflict are captured by the media most often.

His words: “The election season is indeed upon us, and electoral campaigns are kicking off in earnest. I do not need to remind you that election in Africa’s most populated country and largest economy has implications for the entire continent and beyond. With so much at stake, emotions and tensions will be high.

“Yet, the elections would only serve the constitutional purpose if they are free, fair, credible and peaceful.

“It is our collective responsibility to ensure such an outcome. We should be mindful that the conduct of the media can make or mar the elections.

“Accurate and dispassionate reporting of electoral events would help to educate the electorate and contribute towards informed choice from among competing candidates.

“On the other hand, biased reporting and deliberate falsehoods (fake news) contribute to distorting the choices of the voters and contribute to election-related violence. Hate speech leads ultimately to hateful acts.

“The United Nations therefore places much premium on the good work of the media as a major actor in conflict prevention, peacebuilding and development. Most often, the first signs of conflict are captured by the media.

“In its early warning role, the media is engaged in assisting with the defense and promotion of human rights, the inculcation of civic responsibility and economic development.”

Chambas commended Realnews for the choice of Mahmood Yakubu, the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, whom he described as an eminent social scientist with impeccable credentials and credibility, as the speaker.

 

 

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