Saturday, November 28, 2015

Journalists of the Niger Delta receive 'Bread' from Germany...!


The Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ), Benin City, convened a workshop for journalists in Calabar, Cross River State. The workshop with the theme “The Role of the Media in Institutionalizing Good Governance in the Niger Delta”, was held in pursuance of “Resource Governance Enhancement in Niger Delta (REGOND) project” which ANEEJ is currently implementing with support from Bread for the World – Protestant Development Service, Germany.
Group photo of participants at the ANEEJ workshop for journalists in Calabar Cross River State, 26th November, 2015, at the Marian Hotel.

The workshop was organized to strengthen the capacity of journalists to hold government accountable in areas of good governance. It was also an opportunity to equip participants with extra media oversight capacities, develop critical, creative and strategic thinking skills. Twenty-two participants were in attendance cutting across both print and electronic media from Cross River State, led by the NUJ Chairman, Cross River State Chapter. 

Veteran Journalist, Tony Abolo, resource person facilitating the workshop titled ROLE OF MEDIA IN INSTITUTIONALIZING GOOD GOVERNANCE IN THE NIGER DELTA,
Participants used the opportunity to appreciate the organizers of the workshop including Bread for the World – Protestant Development Service, Germany for the opportunity afforded them to benefit from this important programme.
Participants commended the Cross River State government for the development of infrastructure in the state but noted that in spite of necessary legislation for good governance being in place, meaningful and sustainable development is yet to be realized. 

'Journalists must do everything they can to make sure that they understand the laws of the state before they attempt to follow the money', Tony Abolo is saying here.

Participants noted that despite the constitutional provisions that empower journalists in Chapter 2(22) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, and despite the fact that enabling laws like the Fiscal Responsibility, the Public Procurement, the Public Finance Management and the State Statistics System are already in place, journalists have not fully exploited these laws in their reportage to track government expenditure and ensure that it matches revenue inflow.

Eme Offiong, journalist from Voice of Nigeria, taking notes and listening with rapt attention to the deliberations
 Participants also noted that poor remuneration and welfare/security for journalists are critical challenges militating against the proper performance and good professional conduct of the average media personnel, thereby creating a limitation to the extent to which they can report.        
In view of the foregoing, participants noted the following:
  1. The political class  care less about reports relating to grassroots development
  2. Traditional rulers have not been supportive and journalists are worried about sycophants and informants who plant stories in newspapers and journalists are desirous of knowing how to deal with these situations.
  3. Journalists are worried that government institutions and the informed elite in Cross River State are unwilling to provide information even when they are requested to do so.
  4. Journalists are concerned that an insurance policy for their welfare is not in place in their workplaces, and want to effectively exploit the Freedom of Information Act, FOI, to institutionalize good governance in the Niger Delta.
    Journalists on the media workshop knocking in place a communique on their position on the fiscal responsibility, public finance management, public procurement and state statistical laws of Cross River State.
    In the light of the following, participants resolved as follows:
  1. That there should be regular training and retraining for media practitioners
  2. That the already existing code of ethics should guide journalists in the discharge of their professional duties.
  3. Media establishments should finance reporters adequately to be able to function effectively.
  4. In the absence of a viable political opposition, journalists must fill in the gap and be a viable alternative by also tasking the opposition to play their active roles.
  5. Media organizations should take into consideration the difficult physical terrain which hinders the performance of journalists, and hence supportive structures should be developed to overcome these difficult impediments in the course of work.
  6. Media and CSOs should be in the mainstream of budgetary policies, especially during budget proposals in the state.
  7. To improve transparency and accountability under the state public finance management law, Niger Delta state governments should key into the federal TSA policy.
  8. Journalists should use the Freedom of Information Act to demand information on all revenues accruing to the state.
  9. The media should synergies with CSOs on good governance through intelligence sharing and setting the agenda for good governance.
  10. Government should endeavor to carry communities along in citing projects in their localities.
  11. The media and CSOs should create awareness on the tracking of  funds meant for developmental purposes.
  12. Journalists should be abreast of the relevant laws on public procurement, fiscal responsibility, public finance management and the state statistical system laws.  
Eme Offiong of Group Two, presenting the position of her group. They were asked to identify the bottlenecks and challenges associated with effective journalism practice in Cross River State and how they can be overcome.
  1. Eme Offiong, Voice of Nigeria, VON
  2. Richard Ndoma, National Mirror
  3. Mathias Oko, the Authority Newspaper
  4. Edem Edem, The Union Newspapers
5, Eyo Charles, DAILY TRUST
  1. Kanjal Godshield Kanjal, The Sun Newspapers
  2. Emma Obi, Daily Times of Nigeria, DTN
  3. Ndoma Akpet- Chairman NUJ, Cross River State, Calabar.
  4. Faith Agbo Radio Nigeria
  5. Steve Onoh-Nig. The Chronicle Newspaper
  6. Lanre Arotimi, Leadership Newspaper.
  7. Bob MajiriOghene Etemiku, manager communications, ANEEJ, Benin City. 
After the workshop, homeward bound...!   

ABOUT ANEEJ: To contribute to the emergence of a just and equitable African society through socio-economic and environmental rights protection, institutional strengthening and people’s empowerment.

For more information please contact:
Bob MajiriOghene Etemiku
Communications Manager
Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice, ANEEJ
39 Oyaide Street,
Off Benoni, GRA,
Benin City,
+2348156171133, +2348187674339
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