Edetaen Ojo the Executive Director of Media Right Agenda at a two day workshop organized for Civil Society Organizations from the South West states in Lagos stated that the overriding objective of the training is not for Civil Society organization to see the Freedom of Information Act as an instrument to witch-hunt government MDAs or agencies but as a Fundamental Human Right Law with Public institutions acting as custodian for the public good
Edetaen observed that by the provisions the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) expects that all public institutions will proactively provide information on the activities of the institution and where such information has not been proactively disclosed, such institution can be approached for the disclosure of such information.
Speaking further he stated that most of the challenges identified are the absence of Freedom of Information Unit in Public Institutions. The lack of critical understanding of the access to information Laws by Public officials and Citizens, poor documentation and record keeping process by Institutions.
Mojisola Akinsanya a participant from Ogun State stated that Civil Society Organizations’ were optimistic of a change in practice by effectively maximizing the opportunity presented to Civil Society organizations’ to constructively engage Institutions in supporting pro-active governance process. While, equally emphasizing the role of Policy Advocacy in engaging government Institutions without always resulting in legal redress.
Shaikh Busari a representative from Oyo State emphasized the role of Civil Society in ensuring that the communities are informed about the Freedom of Information Act as it serves as a veritable tool for ensuring the demand side of governance at all levels.
Equally, speaking with Cso Digest Tayo Elegbede a participant from Lagos emphasized the importance of social media in supporting the overriding role of Civil Society Organizations’ in ensuring wide spread dissemination of the Freedom of Information Act through the use of multi-media platforms like bulk sms, Twitter and Face-book in creating awareness for the usage of the Foi Act by Nigerians especially the Youthfully population.
Media Right Agenda is a non governmental organization with focus on freedom of expression, access to information and media development/persecutions.
A total of two hundred and three reporters were trained during the pilot edition of the Pro-Engage: House-to-House project conceived by the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism and executed through funding partnership with the British High Commission. The initiative, which held from Monday 19 to Friday 30 January 2015, took advocacy for investigative reporting from one media house in Nigeria to the other. It provided capacity support for the creation and or improvement of investigative reporting desks in eight selected media houses in Lagos and Abuja.
The media houses trained are The New Telegraph, Media Trust, The Leadership, The Nation, The Guardian, The Premium Times, The News and Television Continental. The Wole Soyinka Centre staff alongside its faculty comprising veteran investigative journalism professionals visited seven media houses to conduct the training for members of staff and followed up with workshops for representatives of the eight media houses.
The faculty for the capacity development programme included Prof Lai Oso, Dean of the School of Communication of the Lagos State University (LASU); Mr Dapo Olorunyomi, WSCIJ Founder; Mr Theophilus Abbah, Sunday Editor, Media Trust; Mr Solomon Adebayo, Senior Correspondent, Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria; and Mr Musikilu Mojeed, Editor, Premium Times. The experience of the Wole Soyinka Centre proves that there is a need for continuous training and retraining of media professionals to ensure the revival of the culture of investigative reporting.
At the end of the maiden House-to-House project, the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism and its partner, the British High Commission directly reached journalists from all cadres of the media with the advocacy for investigative journalism. The Centre is convinced that the intervention will contribute to improved thoroughness of news reporting and better position the Nigerian media to effectively perform its role in shaping the polity.
Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ)
The Lagos State Civil Society Partnership (LACSOP) with support from the state accountability and voice initiative (SAVI) as part of the various projects and programs geared towards sensitizing the electorates in the 2015 elections has produced an easy to read fact sheet that has information on mandate protection for the citizenry.
Election mandate” involves the relationship between the people’s votes and the outcomes of an election; people’s votes and their participation in the electoral process represent their giving consent to the candidates for whom they vote to govern on their behalf. In Nigeria, candidates who win a majority of votes are considered to have won the people’s mandate to govern. The people’s right to choose and reject representatives at the ballot box should be revered, and participating in an election is a fundamental right. However, it is also citizens’ responsibility to engage in the electoral process, to stand up against malpractice, and to ensure that the elections in their country are meaningful.
At the outbreak of EVD, the biggest challenge has always been emphasized. This of course was the ability and capability of the; foremost, the initially affected countries in West Africa, and, of course, the global community at large, to tackle and track human movements especially from infected environments to elsewhere – anywhere in the world.
While countries like Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, etc have continue to struggle to deal with this scourge, countries like Nigeria, Senegal has tried to contain, perhaps, possibly eliminate the Ebola scourge.
The speed at which Nigeria is responding to the challenge of Ebola viral disease and the near efficient way it has managed the challenge of this disease is highly commendable. Part of the fall outs is that Nigeria experience and responses has become the global template to adopt in tackling this challenge. This much was attested to and applauded, by Western countries and United Nations at the recent UN summits.
However, the work is not done. Not at all. The death of Thomas Eric Duncan in America, a Liberia that exported EVD to United States. Just like The late Mr. Sawyer, the Liberian that first exported the disease to Nigeria. But then, while that singular experience jolted Nigerians up from near apathetic state to realities, we knew we have got a time bomb in our hands. Big time! Yes. Nigeria and its government and people moved in the right direction through rigorous and painstaking tracking of people in contact with index cases. It is mostly, through this effort that most of the challenges faced are tackled in spite of the challenge of securing experimental drugs like ZMapp, etc. However, every point of entries became places of interest in gauging people’s temperature. This may yet be inadequate though.
Now, the global community as attested to Nigeria near success story can borrow a leave and take up the approach of rigorous and energy sapping tracking of human movement and bringing these people to observation and treatment if need be. Most especially until vaccine that can treat and eliminate this Ebola viral disease is fully developed. It’s no longer a West African or African challenge. This disease threatens the whole of humanity. We all must act. Now!!… And GOD help us we don’t have yet another challenge of Marburg!!….
The ninth edition of the Wole Soyinka Award for Investigative Reporting opens for submission of entries on Saturday October 4, 2014. This is happening as the 2013 winners return from a one-week study tour to the United Kingdom which spanned from Monday 29 September to Friday 3 October, 2014. The international exposure included classes at the Thomson Foundation as well as visits to some media organisations in the UK.
The award is open to any Nigerian professional reporter or team of reporters (full time or freelancers), who have produced a published story whether through print or electronic media (television; radio or online) primarily targeted at and received by a Nigerian audience.
Entries will be scored by a panel of judges drawn from the media and related professions who are passionate about investigative reporting. Towards strengthening the judging process, the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ), introduced an entry coding system that makes the details of media house and by-line of entrants anonymous to judges in 2012. This has helped to further increase the credibility of the award programme.
The 2014 award will honour works that expose corruption, human rights abuses and regulatory failures from the print, broadcast (radio and television); online, local government, photo, climate change, sports, health, editorial cartoon and report women categories.
The report women category is introduced this year as a part of WSCIJ’s Report Women! project. The project is geared at increasing the reportage of girls and women issues in the Nigerian media. The award will reward the most outstanding story which focuses on access and or abuse status of the girl or woman. The best work in the broadcast category will also win the VinMartin Ilo grant for investigative reporting.
The deadline for submission of entries is Friday, 24 October, 2014. Interested reporters may visit www.wscij.org for details of the 2014 award.