A Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), the FrontFoot Media Initiative, has trained journalists on how to identify and expose manipulations and corrupt practices in public accounts.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the theme of the two-day training programme, which began on Wednesday in Abuja, is “X-raying Government Audit Reports”.
NAN also reports that the training which is the third in the series, was organised as part of Collaborative Media Engagement for Development Project, under the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism, and funded by MacArthur Foundation.
During a technical session, FrontFoot Media Executive, Mr. Sully Abu, stressed the need for journalists to acquaint themselves with the tenets of auditing in order to report appropriately.
Abu, who was one of the facilitators, emphasised the pivotal role of newsmen in holding public officers accountable.
“The self-inflicted tragedies of our nation have derived substantially from the failure to hold not just people, but also leaders, to account for their actions.
“This has been quite evident at the state level, where governance touches people’s lives mostly.
“In many places, state governors have turned into local potentates because of their unfettered access to and control of public treasury.
“They can suborn individuals and other branches of government to do their will with results not always meant or guaranteed for the public good,” he said.
Also speaking, another official of the organisation, Mr. Sonala Olumhense, urged newsmen to take their constitutional obligation as contained in Chapter 2 of the 1999 Constitution (As Amended), seriously.
Olumhense, who is also a Columnist, said in view of the constitutional right of the press, it was necessary for newsmen to hold governments to account for their actions.
He added that auditors were critical to issues of accountability and transparency, adding that they had to act independently always.
Not left out, Coordinator of the FrontFoot Media Initiative Training, Mr. Chido Nwakanma, who delivered a paper on “the Principles and Purpose of Public Interest Journalism”, stresses the need for newsmen to always project the interest of citizens in their reportage.
Nwakanma urged journalists to use their profession to effect positive changes in the society.
According to him, journalists need to write in the public interest and adhere to other ethics of journalism at all times if they must effect changes in the society.
“The public interest content that journalism serves is about the lives and well-being of citizens and relevant issues that affect individuals and communities.
“It is about the common good in health, livelihood, quality of life, security, accountability and governance, among others.
“Note that public interest is not merely what people find interesting. It is more of relevant issues different from what is entertaining, fascinating or titillating,” he said.
Also, participants at the workshop commended the organisers of the training. They said the training had made them better equipped to write informed stories and features that would empower the people and deter public officers from corrupt tendencies.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that facilitators at the training include experts in auditing, accounting and media.
Topics covered at the training include, imperative of audit reporting for Nigerian journalism and principles and purpose of public interest journalism.
Others are Features of Government Audits, Crafting Good Stories from Audit Reports, where to find Audit Reports, among others.
NAN also reports that 20 newsmen, drawn from the print, broadcast and online media, benefited from the training. which ends on Thursday. (NAN)