DESPITE the hail of criticisms of the conduct of last April’s elections, the chief electoral umpire won’t stop defending the exercise.
Prof. Maurice Iwu, the INEC Chairman, said yesterday that the environment was not conducive for the conduct of any democratic election.
The commission, according to Iwu, told the government of the “adverse” environment. He did not, however, state why INEC went ahead to conduct elections that were described as “deeply flawed” at home and abroad.
Besides, he did not state the government’s response to the commission’s complaint.
Iwu was delivering a paper in Bauchi at the fourth All Nigeria Editors Conference of the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) entitled: “Assessment of the Nigerian Media and Elections”.
The INEC chief blamed it all on the media, saying they failed to amplify the prevailing adverse environment in which the elections were held.
“The environment in which the 2007 general elections were conducted was not the best any democratic election could have been conducted in,” he said.
Iwu believed the media failed to monitor the following:
•influence of money in politics;
•willful abuse of power and rules by individuals elected into public offices; and
•manipulation of the political class.
He said: “The outcome of every election reflects the very environment and prevailing dispositions in which the election was conducted”.
The commission, he said, “severally made the point also that the political parties as they exist in the society today can only bequeath grief to the political process”.
He said the media, despite recognising the existence of the problems, did not tackle such serious shortcomings with any commitment and vigour.
“The direct result of this neglect as far as the 2007 general election was concerned is that many things happened which ought not to have,” he said. He however refused comments on such wrong things.
Iwu blamed the media for missing the real undercurrent of the high temperature of the period leading to the 2007 elections and also refused to apportion blame on the entities responsible for the hitches identified in the polls.
He said despite the odds, the commission conducted the most free, fair and successful elections, transiting from one civilian to civilian regime as against using excuses to postpone the exercise. He had earlier scored the commission 80 per cent, amidst protests by observers that the polls were fraudulent.
His words: “The most confounding aspect of the assessment and analyses in the media about the 2007 general elections, both before and after the polls, is the consistent refusal by many to place the entire process in context.”
Iwu said despite the shortcomings in the reportage of the elections, “the Nigerian media remains its vibrant and patriotic self but needs to be more profound in its interpretation of issues”.
Mrs Oluremi Oyo, the chairman of the session and Managing Director of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) applauded the courage of INEC in conducting the 2007 general elections in despite the odds.
More than 250 editors are attending the three-day conference opened by Bauchi State governor, Malam Isa Yuguda.
– The Nation