The International Center for Investigative Reporting (ICIR) has identified poor funding, public sector corruption, and lack of political will to punish culprits as threats to investigative journalism while scoring the Federal Government low in its avowed fight against corruption.
ICIR’s Executive Director, Dayo Aiyetan, made the assertion ahead of the Center’s commemoration of its 10th anniversary. Over the years, ICIR has been at the forefront of promoting accountability and fighting corruption through robust and objective investigative reporting.
Speaking during an anti-corruption radio programme, PUBLIC CONSCIENCE, produced by the Progressive Impact Organization for Community Development, PRIMORG, Wednesday in Abuja, Aiyetan revealed that investigative journalism is severely challenged by funding and systemic corruption.
He noted that despite the persecution and harassment faced by journalists working for the organization, ICIR succeeded in churning out numerous investigative reports which exposed corrupt acts by public office holders. Adding that some of the reports made remarkable impacts as the government of the day had to react and address the abnormalities raised by the investigation.
Aiyetan commended the MacArthur Foundation, Ford Foundation, National Endowment for Democracy (NED), and the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) for funding their projects. He further noted that collaboration with PRIMORG and other Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) played a significant role in the height attained by the Center in the last decade.
“We are not where we want to be because corruption still persists in Nigeria, but I will say we have achieved a lot that we set out to do.
“Our strategy which has worked perfectly for us is that we have collaborated with other media houses. We have been at the forefront of collaboration between media and CSOs. Beyond that, we are encouraging collaboration between the media and even government agencies, and that’s why we share intelligence sometimes with the military, DSS, and ICPC.“
While, blaming the inability of anti-corruption agencies to take prompt action against individuals or agencies indicted by corruption reports on lack of political will, He rated the President Muhammadu Buhari administration’s fight against corruption as abysmally poor.
“This government that is using state institutions to fight us will earn minus twenty in my estimation.
“They have used DSS against us; DSS would just call us to their office. We are not criminals; we are helping the work of the government. But they’re using the state, including the office of the Attorney General, to harass and hound us. Why? For doing investigative stories.”
Aiyetan stressed that the release of convicted former governors of Taraba and Plateau states, Rev Jolly Nyame and Joshua Dariye, both serving jail terms for misappropriation of funds, climaxed the government’s unwillingness to fight corruption.
On her part, the Editor of ICIR, Victoria Bamas, while acknowledging that the government’s failure to react and address concerns raised from investigative reports was demoralizing journalists, stated that passion and commitment have kept investigative journalists going. He added that in some cases the outcome and impact of a report take a longer time to materialize.
Bamas also disclosed that the ICIR also has an initiative for fact-checking called The Fact Check Hub. “The fact check hub does misinformation conversion and also tries to enlighten the public, give youth skills and tutorials whereby one can identify basic misinformation,” She said.
Ahead of the 2023 general election, ICIR disclosed it had formed a coalition with other media organizations to engage the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC and other government agencies on misinformation.
ICIR will commemorate its 10th anniversary on June 22, 2022, with an international conference on media sustainability in Nigeria at Transcorp Hilton, Abuja.
Public Conscience is a syndicated weekly anti-corruption radio program used by PRIMORG to draw government and citizens’ attention to corruption and integrity issues in Nigeria.
The program has the support of the MacArthur Foundation.