The executive director of International Press Centre (IPC), Mr Lanre Arogundade has harped on the need for journalists to embrace investigative methods in the reporting of COVID-19 issues, given the general perception that COVID-19 funds were embezzled.
He stated this in Abuja yesterday at a 2-day workshop on ‘Using Freedom of Information (FoI) for Investigative Reports of Campaign Finance and COVID-19 Accountability Issues’, organised by IPC, with the support from European Union- Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria (EU-SDGN).
The workshop was designed to equip journalists with appropriate skills to engage in the reporting of democratic accountability, in order to check impunity in the electoral process and ensure that elected politicians would account for their campaign promises.
He decried the widespread insinuation that the Nigerian media has been compromised due to the dearth of investigative journalism, stressing that one of the ways to regain public trust is to monitor governance and hold government accountable to the people.
According to him, “While not being oblivious of the obstacles that daily confronts us including all forms of threats by the government and the political class, media professional associations and bodies should be proactive and must realise that our best defense lies in sticking to good journalism”.
Also speaking, the executive director of Media Rights Agenda, Mr Edetaen Ojo encouraged the participants to widen their scope by reporting on political campaign finance issues as well as the coronavirus pandemic, with the aim of introducing measures to regulate political campaign financing and ensuring transparency and accountability towards government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He stated that effective regulation of political campaign financing is essential to the success of Nigeria’s quest for free, fair and credible elections, saying that transparency and accountability are imperative in curtailing the spread of COVID-19 and to mitigate its negative economic impact on the citizens.
Ojo was optimistic that the training would aid in sharpening journalists investigative skills, with the intention of using the FoI Act to facilitate credible elections as well as monitor how funds received and allocated for the COVID-19 response are managed and utilised.
He recalled that Section 22 of the constitution provides journalists the task of upholding the fundamental objectives and holding government responsible for financial spendings.
Ojo maintained that the workshop would bolster the capacity of the media, civil society organizations and other key stakeholders on the use of FoI Act, to hold all relevant agencies and actors accountable during electoral processes and COVID-19 financing.