Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The Inter-Party Advisory Council of Nigeria (IPAC) has concluded plans to embark on a sensitisation campaign to educate election stakeholders on the need to avoid misinformation, hate speech and all forms of deliberate dissemination of fake news ahead of the Bayelsa and Kogi States governorhip elections.
IPAC President Peter Ameh, who made the disclosure at a press briefing in Abuja, advised stakeholders on the responsibility of ensuring that all participants from all political parties are given a level playing ground to exercise their franchise.
“Rising from meeting of the the 9th National Executive Committee, we recognize a strong need to intervene and educate the polity on the need to avoid misinformation, hate speech, and all forms of deliberate dissemination of fake news to prosecute the forthcoming gubernatorial elections in Bayelsa and Kogi States,” Mr Ameh said.
“The political parties, candidates, INEC, civil society groups, election observer groups, the media, the electorate and other stakeholders directly involved in the elections scheduled to hold on November 16, 2019 are advised of their responsibility to ensure that all participants from all political parties are given a level playing ground to exercise their franchise. Each group is reminded of their responsibility to disseminate the correct information at all times.
“IPAC through its recently reviewed code of conduct requires political parties to comply with all electoral laws, rules and regulations as well as INEC guidelines on electioneering processes in Nigeria to ensure free, fair and credible elections.
“Hate speech deliberate misinformation and dissemination of fake news are some of the factors which affect the fairness of our electioneering processes in Nigeria.
“IPAC condemns in strong terms all forms of hate speech and dissemination of fake information during and after campaigns, and even after the elections are held.
“It is expedient to note that the damage caused by hate speech affects our political system and our National unity adversely affecting our continued peaceful co-existence in our country.
“IPAC, has always been on the frontline of campaign against hate speech in all elections in Nigeria, recall that in the last election, we did rallies and campaign across the six geopolitical zones establishing to Nigerians and stakeholders that hate speech and disinformation does not add any positive value to our electoral and political systems or to our existence as a united people.
“We will continue to work closely with INEC, the media agencies, civil society groups, all political parties and stake holders in the coming elections.
“We will foster adequate compliance of political parties, candidates and their supporters to ensure that campaign statements that can cause violence, disintegration and electoral disinformation are not made while campaigning,” he said.
Speaking further, the IPAC boss said: “We are working with the media to make sure that our campaign and re-orientation programmes against hate speech and disinformation reach as many people of Kogi and Bayelsa states respectively.
“We believe that the more committed we are to the cause of seeing our democracy devoid of hate speech and disinformation, the more peaceful, free and fair and credible election will have in Nigeria.
“We shall not rest until we have succeeded in making sure that Nigerians in every states of the federation see elections as not a do or die affair but the only platform to produce managers of state resources trough good governance.
“It will be better for all of us to focus on the messages of commitment of political parties and their candidates through the commitment of political parties and their manifestos.
“Nigerians need to understand the political dynamics through truthful information and not false information that can lead to provocations and ends in violence.
“Hate speech is not free speech, hate speech attacks a person or a group on the basis of protected attributes such as religion, ethnic group, sex, gender identity or disability.
“It involves hostility, it rips people to shreds and destroys society let everybody come together in the interest of the state and peacefully continue our lives within the context of the economy of the states and be expectant of good governance that will make the lives of all in Kogi and Bayelsa better.
“IPAC says no to hate speech, disinformation and all forms of social and electoral vices in Kogi state and Bayelsa state as all stakeholders prepare for governorship election,” he said.