African Journalists In the Diaspora To Monitor Nigerian Elections

A delegation of journalists from the US-based National Association of African Journalists (NAAJ), who are concerned about a successful democratic transition and the entrenchment of democratic principles, is set to visit Nigeria for the national elections scheduled for February 14 and 28.

Members of the organization, which has already contacted INEC for accreditation status, will be in the country throughout the elections, and also plan to conduct training sessions for Nigerian Journalists covering the elections.

Based on lessons learnt in the beacon of democracy, the NAAJ plans to use the monitoring template for the Nigerian elections in other African countries. This, it says, would be its token contribution to the sustenance of democracy and democratic principles across the continent.

Inaugurated 10 years ago at the Howard University in Washington, D.C., the NAAJ is led by Eyobong Ita, a Nigerian-born journalist with nearly 30 years of practice in Nigeria and the United States. The organization is made up of journalists from across Africa now residing in the USA.

At the inauguration 10 years ago, Jerome Mendouga, who was then Cameroon’s Ambassador to the United States and deputy dean of the African Diplomatic Corps, delivered a keynote address in which he urged African journalists to play a lead role in giving the continent a new image and political direction.

NAAJ was established to “promote balanced media coverage of Africa-related issues, provide education and professional development workshops to its members,  organize seminars and discussions in furtherance of its objectives, assist African-trained journalists’ transition to the American media and encourage African students to pursue careers in journalism.”

“The transparency of the Nigerian elections is very critical to the sustenance of the country’s democracy,” said Ita, Ohio-based freelance editor and NAAJ founder whose journalism career started as a sports reporter at the Vanguard Newspapers.

“We solicit the cooperation of INEC, the political parties, the electorates and other key players in this election to help us present the true picture of the upcoming elections to the world,” he said.

Prominent members of the NAAJ include Sonala Olumhense, founding editor of Nigeria’s THIS WEEK magazine and former editor/publisher of CITY TEMPO; Maudlyne Ihejirika, Assistant City Editor at the Chicago Sun-Times; Ugandan-born Shaka Ssali, managing editor at the Africa Division of the Voice of America and host of Straight Talk Africa; Liberian-born Getahn Ward, a reporter at The Tennessean; Zimbabwean-born Praxedes Jeremiah of the Voice of America; American-born Tracie Powell, founder of alldigitocracy.org; Joseph Omoremi, Nigerian-born editor of Chicago Inquirer and yours truly, a former editor of the Dixon Tribune and weekend editor as well as editorial board member of the Vacaville Reporter.

For more information on the National Association of African Journalists, you may please visit the following:  www.naajournalists.org or @ naajournalists; Facebook: National Association of African Journalists – NAAJ and Twitter:  @NAAJournalists.

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Ben Edokpayi

Ben Edokpayi is a strategic communications consultant with more than 25 years experience in the USA and Nigeria. His most recent corporate assignment was as Media Relations Officer with the California State Compensation Insurance Fund.

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