Towards 2019 Elections: UNDP Supports the Review of INEC Communication PolicyJun 16, 2017
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has restated its support to the conduct of transparent, credible and peaceful 2015 General Elections in Nigeria. This commitment was made during a two-day high-level Workshop to review Commission’s Communication Policy of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
During the workshop held in Kaduna, Dr. Kehinde Bolaji, Team Leader for the Governance and Peacebuilding Unit, observed that a credible electoral process is impossible to achieve without effective internal and external communication. Highlighting the importance of citizens’ perception to the overall credibility of an election, Bolaji urged the Commission to go beyond the traditional media and maximize on the use of new media and engage with community-based structures as effective approaches to reaching out to citizens in the country.
A well-articulated communication policy provides guidelines for the Commission and other stakeholders for effective engagement and sharing of information during an election cycle.
Following the review of the Policy, INEC will better positioned to adopt effective internal and external communication processes and procedures that would strengthen public trust and confidence in its operation. The Policy will also guide political and non-political stakeholders in the way they conduct themselves during elections – with a focus on promotion of issue-based and peaceful campaigns.
Bolaji reaffirmed UNDP’s commitment to the ongoing partnership with INEC, particularly in areas of INEC strategic and operational planning, including the deployment of Information Communication Technology (ICT) in continuous voters’ registration; capacity development to enhance operational efficiency, strategic planning and competitiveness by political parties; mainstreaming the rights of women, youths and people with disabilities in the electoral process; support to public policy agenda-setting by civil society organizations; and development of preventative and monitoring mechanisms against hate media practices in the electoral process. He commended INEC for the inclusive approach it has adopted in revising its Communication Policy.
In his Remarks, Head of INEC, Professor Mahmud Yakubu, emphasized the need for the Commission to remain efficient and proactive in engaging the public as this has a direct impact on the public’s perception about INEC and its ability to continue being an independent institution at the centre of the country’s democracy. He urged participants to map out practical approaches towards enhancing seamless and easy to access information, particularly in this age of social media and citizen’s journalism. He expressed his deep and sincere gratitude to UNDP for funding the Workshop and for its consistent support to the Commission’s activities over the years.
Resource persons, scholars, media practitioners and INEC Staff who spoke at the event highlighted the weaknesses inherent in the current policy documents and made recommendations that would strengthen it. Recommendations were also made aimed at addressing the institutional, infrastructural and coordination challenges envisaged as obstacles to efficient implementation of the reviewed policy.
The Commission agreed that the updated policy will place premium on socio-cultural, religious, linguistic, population mix and peculiarities of Nigeria’s political environment and electoral system. INEC will partner with media regulatory and professional bodies to ensure compliance with existing frameworks on incitement and hate speech. At the operational level, participants agreed that INEC’s revised communication policy should be based on an effective, efficient, precise, honest and prompt dissemination and flow of information.
The Workshop was attended by Professor Mahmud Yakubu, the INEC Chairman, National Commissioners, some Resident Electoral Commissioners, Advisers, Directors and Communication Officers from field offices of the Commission, as well as leading scholars and practitioners on communication in Nigeria.