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Media experts urge journalists to monitor COVID-19 funds

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Media experts have urged journalists across the country to beam their searchlights on the funds meant for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) response to ensure they are judiciously utilised.

Executive Director of International Press Centre (IPC), Lanre Arogundade, and his Media Rights Agenda (MRA) counterpart, Edetaen Ojo, as well as the Head of Mass Communication, Baze University, Dr. Abiodun Adeniyi, and other media gurus tasked the practitioners to monitor the said funds and save them from corrupt people.

Freelance investigative journalist, Tobore Ovuorie, and the Director, Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), Eze Onyekpere, urged the practitioners to guard the funds from being “stolen, misappropriated, misapplied or diverted.”

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In their various submissions at a two-day workshop organised for journalists across the northern part of the country, they asserted that by checkmating those in charge of the funds, the much-desired transparency and accountability in the government’s response to the pandemic would be achieved.

While urging journalists to tenaciously embrace investigative methods in their reporting of COVID-19 issues, they affirmed that such knowledge would go a long way in safeguarding the funds.

HOWEVER, Gombe State government is designing ways to survive the post-COVID-19 pandemic era starting from next year.

The state has earmarked N2.5 billion loan for Small and Medium-scale Enterprises (SMEs), youths and women across religious and party affiliations.

Disclosing this yesterday while declaring open a four-day workshop for SME operators in the state was the Commissioner for Finance, Muhammed Magaji.

“As a government, Governor Mohammed Yahaya has ensured that in the 2021 revised budget, there is a N500 million budget for COVID-19 support for SMEs.

“For us to ensure that you all (trainees) benefit from that COVID-19 support, this is the beginning.

“Aside the N500 million, there is also N1 billion support for the youths and another N1 billion for women enterprises,” he explained.

Addressing newsmen, the facilitator, Gbenga Abimbola, said: “Gombe government believes business must go on despite the COVID-19 problem; hence our engagement to train SMEs in new ways of doing businesses under emergency situations like COVID-19.”

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