The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Gombe State Council, on Tuesday trained journalists in the state, preparatory for the coverage of the 2019 general elections.
Speaking during the training, Alhaji Saidu Malala, Chairman of the council, expressed optimism that the training would equip journalists with the necessary skills to report accurately during elections.
Malala said that election was an important democratic process that needed to be protected by all, adding that journalists should take the lead by being unbiased in the reportage of the forthcoming exercise.
“In view of the importance of election to the democratic development of any nation, it is imperative to carry out a training of this sort.
“It is the responsibility of all Nigerians to protect our democracy with particular reference to 2019 general elections. Hence, journalists must take the lead by being firm and non-partisan in reporting elections.
“As journalists, our duty is to the nation and to the citizens of Nigeria. We must bear this in mind and re-kindle the confidence of the people in us across board,” he said.
Also speaking, Alhaji Umar Suleiman, Gombe Commissioner for Information and Orientation, said journalists must show professionalism in the discharge of their duties, to guarantee peaceful elections in 2019.
The commissioner, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Alhaji Saidu Gadam, said the action of journalists was key to avoiding violence during elections.
“Journalism has ethics. We must learn to work as journalists within the ambit of its ethics.
“We must bear in mind that we can set the nation on fire with our pen and we can make peace with our pen also.
“As we approach the general elections in 2019, we have a responsibility to do our jobs with professionalism,” Gadam said.
He emphasised that journalists must also see INEC and security personnel as partners during elections by building the needed synergy to achieve the victory that democracy deserved in Nigeria.
The commissioner, however, warned journalists not to allow themselves to be used by enemies of democracy during the general elections.
Mr Bigun Mohorret, the Public Relations Officer, INEC Gombe state, described journalists as important stakeholders in election matters.
Mohorret, however, stressed that journalists were not allowed to announce any election result that INEC had yet to release, adding that it was an offence to do so.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the one-day training had participants drawn from all media organisations in the state with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) personnel in attendance.