…builds journalists’ capacity to fight corruption
…as Ibanga charges journalists to unite against corruption
By By Gabriel Ewepu
UYO-AN international Humanitarian organisation, ActionAid Nigeria, has said victims of corruption in Nigeria are women, children and young people.
To check this manace, the NGO recently organised capacity-building workshop for journalists under the auspices of Journalists Against Poverty, JAP, to fight corruption and social injustice.
The training which was organised by ActionAid Nigeria in partnership with JAP, and Upright For Nigeria, focused on investigative journalism with the aim of tackling the disaster corruption had caused in national development which is threatening the future of the country.
The Country Director, ActionAid Nigeria, Ene Obi, at the opening ceremony of the training said it has become necessary for the media to be equipped with training to tackle corruption that is prevalent in various sectors of the economy by few corrupt persons in public positions including the private sector, leading to avoidable death of unborn babies, poor education, fearful level of youth unemployment, decayed infrastructure, increasing wave of violence and nepotism, and other vices across the country.
Aim of training was to put journalists at the vanguard of the fight corruption as enshrined in the Constitution to be watchdogs and hold government officials accountable in what they do in accordance with the principle of transparency.
According to Obi who was represented by the Director, Organisational Effectiveness, ActionAid Nigeria, Funmilayo Oyefusi, corruption over the years has brought about protracted poverty upon over 150 million Nigerians, particularly women, children and young people who constitute the largest proportion of the entire Nigerian population.
The three-day training and capacity building on the fight against corruption had 29 journalists in attendance, drawn from print and electronic media including renowned bloggers who converged on Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital.
She said: “On Accountability we need the support of journalists, and you are to work with ActionAid Nigeria to make Nigerians understand how their resources are being used.
“Women, children and youth in Nigeria are the worst hit bycorruption perpetrated by some public and private officials at the detriment of these vulnerable set of Nigerians.
“On distribution of resources, the monies meant for development should actually been used for development. Like the $2.1 billion the United Nations said will be released for development in the North East, which $1 billion is for relief materials administration and $1.1 billion for developments.
“The question is, in two years can we find out how much was spent and how many people were reached? The only people that can do this are the journalists. If you take the North East of the country, for instance, the people affected by the insurgency would have been settled in their homes by now, with the amount of money that has gotten into the area.”
She also said that the media should be the voice of the people and raise alarm over corrupt activities of public and private sector officials, “You are the voice of the voiceless people in the communities. We want you to create the picture of the real situation on ground in the communities.
“Use your investigative skills to tell the development needs of the people, as well as those things that are acting as obstacles to development. Let’s write compelling stories that will get people to think about social justice and how to end poverty in Nigeria”, she added.
One of the resource persons from the American University of Nigeria, AUN, Yola, Adamawa State, Isine Ibanga, who trained journalists on ‘Corruption in Nigeria: The Role of the Media in the Anti-corruption Fight’ said journalists should be courageous, bold, dedicated, committed, principled, fearless and wise in the fight against corruption, and promised support of JAP platform, and other civil society organizations like ActionAid.
However, Ibanga who also is a veteran journalist advised that in the course of fighting corruption if any member of JAP receives call of threat to their lives and families from a corrupt person or group should not hesitate to make an entry at the nearest police station and inform JAP and credible civil society organizations for action.
Other speakers were the coordinator, Journalists Against Poverty, JAP, Wale Elekolusi, and the project manager, SCRAP-C, ActionAid Nigeria, Newton Otsemaye.