Stakeholders task media on coverage of political campaign finance
The media is not doing enough to unravel the mysteries surrounding political and campaign finance in Nigeria as many issues of importance and significant implications for governance remain uninvestigated and unreported.
This was the verdict of media stakeholders at a two-day media training workshop on using the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act for investigative reports on campaign finance and COVID-19 accountability issues organised by the International Press Centre (IPC) in partnership with Media Rights Agenda (MRA) in Lagos.
The workshop was supported by the European Union (EU) through Component 4b: Support to the media of the EU Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria (EU-SDGN) Project being implemented by the IPC.
The workshop brought together female and male print, broadcast and online journalists, including investigative reporters, political reporters, state house correspondents and editors from the public and private media in Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Ondo, Ekiti, Osun and Edo states.
According to participants, the media’s performance in holding federal and state governments accountable for the receipt and expenditure of COVID-19 funds has been grossly inadequate.
The event also featured presentations on “Understanding and Reporting Campaign Finance and Political Expenditure Frameworks and Issues”, “Using Investigative Reporting Techniques to Monitor Compliance with Campaign Finance and Political Expenditure Regulations” and “Deploying the FoI Act and Other Investigative Tools/Methodologies in Reporting COVID-19 Funds in the Public Interest”, among others.
Other presentations were: “Understanding the Key Features of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011” by Mr. Edetaen Ojo, MRA’s Executive Director and “The Role of the Media in Ensuring Good Governance and Government Accountability” by Mr. Lanre Arogundade, Executive Director of IPC.
The workshop had plenary sessions at which participants brainstormed on the matters arising from the presentations and came up with various story ideas on campaign finance and COVID-19 accountability issues that they will investigate using the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act.
“Investigative reporting remains a painstaking process of gathering evidence, which may require journalists to submit several requests for information to different public institutions and possibly private entities.
“In order to attain the objectives of the workshop, participants resolved to familiarise themselves with the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act to effectively use it for verification or fact checking in the course of investigations.
“They need to read and digest relevant sections of the Constitution and the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) so as to be able to report on the state of compliance with campaign finance disclosure and accounting obligations by political parties and candidates,” the participants declared, among others.