By Bennett Oghifo
Journalists and officials of some anti-corruption agencies rose from a 3-day annual Media Workshop organised by the United Nationâ€™s Office on Drug and Crimes, supported by the European Union (EU), with a single resolve to collaborate and tackle corruption.
The annual Media Meeting on Anti-Corruption in Nigeria is under the â€œSupport to Anti-Corruption in Nigeriaâ€-Project. For three days, 11 officials of Anti-Corruption Agencies (ACAs), 22 Journalists and four resource persons from across the country were locked-down in Ikoyi, Lagos to deliberate on how to collaborate in the fight against corruption in the country.
At the end of the brainstorming sessions, the participants resolved that it was necessary for the journalists and the ACAs to have a common platform from which authentic anti-corruption information would be passed to the public.
The ACAs were urged to ensure uninhibited information flow to the media and that to make this work faster, the media should establish special desks that would report anti-corruption news that would be devoid of sensationalism, and fakeness.
Also, they appealed to the UNODC and ACAs to support such desks, saying it would encourage them to achieve the objective of effectively playing its role in the anti-corruption fight.
The participants then drew a list of what the Media houses should do in the struggle against corruption like follow up on anti-corruption stories to their logical conclusion; to show the negative impact of corruption, using infographics in telling corruption stories; collaborate with the National Orientation Agency (NOA) to inform and educate the public on corruption issues.
They also urged Journalists to report evidence-based issues on corruption, maintain their integrity and credibility by checking their facts, adding that in view of the huge cost of corruption to the nation, the media, as the watchdog of the society, are should help to set agenda in intensifying anticorruption campaign.
Participants also canvassed for the establishment of specialised courts to handle corruption cases for speedy trial of corruption cases and that there was need for journalists to be sensitive when reporting corruption issues in order not to glamourize crime.
The media and ACAs, they said should see themselves as advocates and partners in the fight against corruption and urged media owners to take the welfare of workers as a critical factor in the work environment.
Participants commended United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the European Union (EU) for their support to Nigeria in the fight against corruption.
The Country Representative, UNODC, Ms. Cristina Albertin said, in her opening remarks, delivered on her behalf that â€œthe workshop has been the opportunity to follow-up to the initial one held in Calabar last year which brought together Editors/Journalists from media houses and senior officers from the legal and communication departments of anti-corruption agencies. I am happy to see a platform that brings ACAs and the media together to discuss ways of effectivelyreporting and curbing corruption in Nigeria.
â€œAs most of you are very well aware, Corruption has disastrous impacts on development and if left unchecked, is a serious impediment to sustainable development and the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development throughout the world. It also breaches the essential trust between citizens and governments, as well as businesses and consumers. Therefore, it is critical that everyone in the community including media officers take up a responsibility to prevent and fight corruption.
â€œUNODC is the United Nations agency entrusted to assist Member States in their efforts against transnational organized crime, corruption, drug trafficking and terrorism, a mandate that is enshrined in several UN Conventions, which all have been ratified by the Government of Nigeria. UNODC has spearheaded the development and adoption of UNCAC, the United Nations Convention against Corruption to assist member States to fight corruption on a global scale. UNCAC is the only legally binding universal anticorruption instrument with 140 signatories and 181 state parties till date.â€
She said the role of the media as a key prevention tool in the fight against corruption is reflected in several chapters in the UNCAC. Article 10 on public reporting reiterates the need of state parties to â€œadopt procedures or regulations allowing members of the general public to obtain, where appropriate, information on the organization, functioning and decision making processes of its public administration and, with due regard for the protection of privacy and personal data, on decisions and legal acts that concern members of the publicâ€. Article 13 on Participation of society also calls on state parties to promote the active participation of individuals and groups outside the public sector, such as civil society, non-governmental organizations and community-based organizations, in the prevention of and the fight against corruption and to raise public awareness regarding the existence, causes and gravity of and the threat posed by corruption. Article 13 also suggests some measures in which this process can be strengthened including Enhancing the transparency of and promoting the contribution of the public to decision-making processes; Ensuring that the public has effective access to information; and Undertaking public information activities that contribute to non-tolerance of corruption, as well as public education programmes, including school and university curricula. And this list continues.â€