By Christian Njoku
Women’s Situation Room Nigeria (WSRN) has admonished journalists in the nation to be mindful of their headlines and reports because they could make or mar the nation, as the general election draws nearer.
Speaking at a One Day Capacity Building Training for the Media on Tuesday in Calabar, Founder of WSRN, Prof Joy Onyesoh said it was important for media men to know that all over the world, elections could trigger conflict.
Onyesoh said the peace and unity of Nigeria were at stake in the 2023 election adding that with a fragile economy and society, any little thing could push the nation off the precipices
“I know journalists like sensational headlines because they grab attention but we must be mindful of what is at stake before churning out sensational headlines or reports.
“This is the first time we are having the three major ethnic groups in Nigeria, compete among themselves in the major political parties in an election, if we are not careful people will start going towards ethnic lines.
“Journalists need to know that fear is real not just in Nigeria today but in the world and can cause people to do a lot of things”, she said.
Onyesoh who is also the International President, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom said there was also a propensity of the media to stereotype women and always highlight rape and kidnap.
She said they needed to understand that voter apathy must not be created whereby people are afraid of violence and thereby remain indoors on election days.
“There is insecurity alright but we need to ask ourselves if Nigeria’s cases are more than what happens in other countries, empirically.
“We need to report facts but we also need to be mindful of how we report the facts and always be intentional to verify issues before reporting.
“The media is powerful in the way it tells the stories and so, have the opportunity to either ensure that the 2023 election in Nigeria will be peaceful or violent,” she maintained.
On her part, one of the facilitators, Mrs Diana-Mary Nsan who took the topic “Effective Gender Reporting through Understanding the Dynamics of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) in Election” told NAN that Nigerian politics was a difficult terrain for women.
While noting that it was a male-dominated field, she said there was a need for inclusion because there were issues that only women could best express and represent. After all, they have personal experiences.
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Nsan said although they were advocating for women’s inclusiveness in politics, it was not just any woman but those who had capacity, character, and values, who are sound thinkers and who did not see politics as a form of settlement.
“Our leadership has been poor because people who rise to power are those who can condescend so low to bloodshed thuggery even though they have nothing to offer, except seeing politics as a profession.
“2023 election is a deciding factor for Nigeria, as Nigerians, we must all make effort to ensure that Nigeria works, sentiments aside because we cannot all relocate”, she said.
NAN reports that the training was supported by UN Women and the Canadian Government. (NAN)