Promoting Inclusion of Women, Youths, PLWDs in Nigeria’s Political Process
Over the years, mainstream media played a pivotal role in information dissemination to the public, upon which decision of the people is formed about a particular subject.
The media has played important role in influencing the opinions and attitudes of its viewers and listeners, as the choice of words of news stories and images on a particular group of people speaks volumes about the public perception and inform their belief about such.
During the elections, women are the most visible and in the forefront of leading songs with different types of uniforms to eulogize aspirants and candidates in elections who are often their male counterparts, while most women who contest political posts are manipulated and frustrated out from the race by the male stakeholders who mostly hold key party positions.
Similarly, youths who should be an element of peace and development are usually portrayed by the media as objects of thuggery while the people with disabilities have low or even no representation because of limitations of their physical appearance making them the most ostracized during elections, either as voters or candidates.
However, the inclusion of women, youths and people with disabilities in the electoral system will undoubtedly create a just, fair and equitable society, promote peace and enhance human cohesion.
To achieve this, it behoves on broadcast media to go out of their comfort zones to hear and air the views of these groups over that of the majority who govern the system.
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, as an election umpire has set machinery in motion especially for people with disabilities through the provision of magnifying glasses, braille papers and special voting queues.
These should adequately be monitored and publicized for the people with disabilities to have more confidence in the capacity of INEC and serve as an encouragement for them to participate in future elections.
Pieces of evidence abound that the opportunities provided by INEC to incorporate people with disabilities in the electoral process are still faced with some challenges.
For example, during the last governorship election, the EC30C Form provided for people with disabilities was not adequately utilized by ad-hoc staff because of complaints of inadequate time resulting in some polling units recording zero for people with disabilities.
The broadcast medium being the most accessible to the larger population should put INEC on its toes in ensuring that adequate provision was made in the process to allow this category of people exercise their franchise.
It is also important that media organisations give more coverage to women and youths by promoting policies and programmes that would give spaces for equity in social development.
The media should desist from derogatory phases that could further lead to injury on the emotions and interests of this group of people.
It is also believed that the extension of polling units across the country would further improve participation of women, youths and people with disabilities but the media has a duty to hold the electoral body responsible regarding the implementation of its policies not only on paper but in reality for the benefit of the people.