The chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega, has commended the media for adding value to nation’s electoral process but warned of grey areas that need to be addressed.
The election umpire made this known while speaking at an international conference “New Media and Governance: Tools and Trends” in Abuja on Monday, where he also disclosed that about 870,000 persons were apprehended for committing electoral offences in the 2011 general elections.
Jega said out of that number, INEC had successfully prosecuted about 250 persons who had been sentenced based on the nature of their offenses by various courts.
He also called on the government to implement the Justice Lawal Uwais report which recommended the establishment of the Electoral Offences Tribunal saying it will help INEC to offload that aspect of electioneering so as to focus on its main job of providing free, fair and credible elections.
Jega said the, “use of new media provided a vehicle for the unprecedented mobilisation of the emergent generation of youths in the political process. This was crucial because youths between the ages of 18 and 35 constituted 62.4 per cent of the 73.5 million people registered by INEC during the voter registration exercise conducted early 2011.
He noted that the new media tools had profoundly added value to the electoral process and they also, have the potential to entrench and deepen Nigeria’s democracy.
Specific benefits of the usage of new media tools according to him are that it enhanced the transparency of the political process and made INEC more accountable to the public in its conduct of elections.
It also helps to strengthen INEC’s power of oversight on the electoral process by empowering the public to alert the Commission of incidents requiring swift security intervention.
‘They have helped to mobilise the citizenry, particularly the younger generation who in the past stayed aloof to the political process and have helped to integrate our world into a community network in real time with inter-communication that Marshal McLuhan could never have foreseen when he projected that the world would become a ‘global village’ through the media of mass communication” he said.