PARTNERING WITH THE UMPIRE FOR CREDIBLE ELECTIONS IN 2011
Radio Nigeria has a tradition of engaging the Nigerian People in a National discourse every month of October through the presentation of a topic of overriding national interest delivered by eminent and knowledgeable scholars in that field.
As the pioneer broadcaster in Nigeria, Radio Nigeria’s policy thrust is on excellence with a view to promoting national unity and development. By creating political awareness through voter education, Radio Nigeria lived up to its billing when she held the 2010 edition of her Annual October Lecture.
This year’s Lecture the 4th in the series, took place at the Merit House Maitama Abuja on the 7th of October, 2010 under the distinguished chairmanship of Prince Tony Momoh. The theme of the lecture was "Free and Fair Elections: INEC’s Plan of Action" and was delivered by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega who was the Guest Lecturer.
Attendance at the event was unprecedented as the 700 seating capacity auditoriums was almost filled to the brim.
Prominent among the array of dignitaries that attended the event are the Edo State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole; the Honourable Minister of State for Information and Communications, Mr. Labaran Maku; the INEC Chairman, ably represented by the Commissioner in charge of Operations Dr. Nura Yakubu. The Governor of Sokoto State had earlier arrived but could not wait for the programme to commence because of other engagements which were equally important. The Governors of Imo, Ogun and Lagos States were represented.
In a goodwill address, the Governor of Edo State, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole called on the Nigeria Police to work for Nigeria during the 2011 elections and not for the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP. According to Oshiomhole, "2011 elections must be won and lost at the polling booths and not at the law courts". The former NLC leader while acknowledging that he was rescued by the Judiciary, noted that the Judiciary should not be seen as a substitute for free and fair elections.
The erstwhile Labour Leader commended the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria for her contributions towards credible elections in 2011 and advised the editorial arm of the Corporation to key into the vision and philosophy of what the Director General of the largest radio network in Africa, the FRCN, preached.
The Director General, Barr. Yusuf Nuhu had earlier in his address of welcome stated that “this effort to bring all interest groups to a round table is the FRCN’s contribution to the nation’s collective objective of political advancement through credible elections". Bar. Nuhu reassured the nation of Radio Nigeria's commitment to fairness in reportage for the forth coming elections in 2011 as it had always done.
Prof. Jega said in his paper that the responsibility of ensuring hitch-free elections in 2011 and beyond is the collective responsibility of all Nigerians, adding that the conduct of 2011 elections will be treated as a special process that would be handled specially as opposed to the way and manner previous elections were handled.
In his own contribution, the Minister of State for Information and Communications, Mr. Labaran Maku reiterated the Federal Government’s resolve to ensure credible elections that would be universally acceptable.
A panel of Discussants which comprised of Dr. Kabir Mato of University of Abuja, Dr. Farouk Umar Jubril of Bayero University Kano and Dr. Doyin Abiola from Lagos, was on hand to do justice to the subject of the day.
The event, which was transmitted live on the Network Service of Radio Nigeria enjoyed wide media coverage as more than 30 reporters from both the electronic and print media were present to give it the coverage it deserved.
A good number of the registered political parties were represented so where civil society groups, schools, embassies and non governmental organisations.
The insecurity that pervaded the nation at time following the Abuja bombings of October1 explained why the venue of the venue was heavily policed.