BY OLUFISOYE ADENITAN
Over the years, mainstream media played a pivotal role in information dissemination to the public, upon which decisions of the people are formed about a particular subject.
The broadcast media 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 speak volumes about public perception and inform their belief about such.
During Election, 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 are always holding 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 persons with disabilities have low or even no representation because of limitations of their physical appearance making them the most ostracized in 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 the broadcast media to go out of their comfort zones to hear the views of these groups over the majority that govern the system.
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 persons with disabilities to have more confidence in the capacity of INEC and serve as an encouragement for them to participate in future elections.
Although, evidence abounds that the opportunity provided by INEC to incorporate persons with disabilities in the electoral process is still faced with some challenges. For example, during the last governorship election, the EC30C form provided for persons with disabilities was not adequately utilized by adhoc staff because of complaints of inadequate time resulting in some polling units recording zero for persons 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 to exercise their franchise.
It is also important to note that the media should give more coverage to the less reported, women and youths by promoting policies and programmes that would engender 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 the participation of women, youths and PWDs
The media has a duty to hold INEC responsible to implement its policies not only on paper but in reality, for the benefit of the people.