By Ugo Aliogo
The International Press Centre (IPC), Lagos, in partnership with Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has organised a two-day media training workshop on the use of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act for investigative reports on campaign finance and COVID-19 accountability issues.
The training workshop was supported by the European Union through Component 4b: Support to the media of the EU Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria (EU-SDGN) Project being implemented by the International Press Centre (IPC).
Speaking at the event, the Executive director of IPC, Mr. Lanre Arogundade, said the goal of the workshop was to sensitise journalists towards improving the accountability of governments across all levels, to the people through the use of the FOI Act.
He noted that it became imperative for journalists to understand the importance of usage of the FOI Act to build capacity of journalists/media agencies.
“It is in the above context that the programme for this workshop has been designed to examine some dimensions to the issue at stake including the role of the media in ensuring good governance, the understanding of the frameworks and issues in campaign finance and the best practices in investigating political and campaign finance issues,” he pointed out.
Arogundade also said the workshop was designed to equip journalists with the required skills in highlighting issues of democratic accountability in order to check impunity in the electoral process and ensure that elected politicians are made to account for their campaign promises.
In his presentation, the Executive Director of Media Rights Agenda (MRA), Edetaen Ojo, explained the rudiments of the FOI Act and the need for journalists to apply the legislation in sourcing and reporting stories as well as highlighting issues bordering on transparency and accountability in governance.
“I urge you to sharpen your investigative reporting skills and build the confidence and ability of those of you for whom the Freedom of Information Act is still new, to use it as a tool for facilitating transparent, free, fair and credible elections as well as monitoring how funds received and allocated for the COVID-19 response are being managed and utilised,” he said.
He stated that transparency and accountability were imperative for the effectiveness of the measures taken by governments at federal and state levels in order to curtail the spread of the disease and to mitigate the negative economic impact on citizens brought about by both the virus itself and the government’s measures to check its spread.
In his remarks, the Executive Director of OJA Development Consult, Mr. Jide Ojo, in his presentation titled, “Understanding and Reporting Campaign Finance and Political Expenditure Frameworks and Issues,” highlighted the various laws governing electoral campaign financing and the importance of Journalists seeking and researching knowledge on campaign finance to enable them report factually and accurately.