The US Consulate General and the International Press Centre (IPC), Lagos, have challenged Nigerian journalists on the need for more vigour investigations for accountability and to put leaders on their toes towards building a better society.
Addressing journalists during a two-day virtual training programme for select journalists in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, on Tuesday, Stephen Ibelli, Public Affairs Officer, US Consulate General Lagos, noted that “journalism is an integral part of democracy as it helps check abuse and ensure accountability. Journalists help to keep the society informed, question government policies, gather information and put these information together for the public.”
According to the US Consulate General, investigation no doubt will bring about sanity in society, development, growth as well as prudent spending in governance.
He added that as part of its commitment to develop, equip, strengthen the skills in investigative journalism, the American government decided to partner the International Press Centre (IPC), to put together the two-day training for select journalists in the South-South region of Nigeria.
Speaking on the theme of the training, “Investigative Health Care Reporting”, Ms Rachel Goldstein, a US public health professional, opined that journalists have vital and all encompassing roles to play in investigative journalism to develop and grow public health care.
Goldstein, however, admonished journalists never to relent but continue to work to ensure that healthcare remains a priority to the government and that adequate resources are channelled towards the sector.
The programme was organised by the International Press Centre (IPC), in partnership with the US Consulate General, Lagos.
Lanre Arogundade, Executive Director, IPC, Lagos, tasked Nigerian journalists to do more in investigative journalism and always cross-check facts before doing reports.
“The need for investigation and fact-checking by journalists cannot be over-emphasised because it will bring about governance reform, accountability, public interest as well as credibility in reportage. This is imperative because when journalists fail to do the needful by properly checking their facts, this can lead to failure of journalism,” he said.
Arogundade, a veteran journalist and human resources developer, stated that the media capacity building programme, supported by the US Consulate General, would help to sharpen the reporting skills of journalists.
Presenting a paper titled “Challenges and Prospects of Primary Healthcare Development in Nigeria: The Akwa-Ibom Context and What The Media Need to Understand”, Chairman, Akwa Ibom Primary HealthCare Board, Martin Akpan described the investigative journalist as a nation reformer.
“Today the public is being fed with half-baked stories and outright lies about the COVID-19 pandemic. It is only investigative journalists like you that can come to the people’s rescue by unearthing the truth and disseminating same to re-orientate the people on the right way to go. As the watchdogs of the society, you must be manifestly objective and must keep at bay the tempting toga of sensationalism in order not to mislead the public,” he said.
In her presentation in a paper titled “Monitoring and Evaluation as a component of Investigative Journalism”, Executive Director, International Society of Media In Public Health, Moji Makanjuola, called for proper monitoring and evaluation by journalists, saying investigative journalism is crucial to development and good governance.
“In carrying out investigative journalism, three levels of information should be considered which include input level information where the journalist needs to scrutinise the area of investment, and the output level information, where the journalist needed to probe to what extent the government had gone. Journalists must be able to probe policies and not just input and output.
“In my days in NTA, as a health reporter, I used my tools to change lives, hold government accountable and better the society. As journalists, we must up our game at all times because the society depends on us so much. We must study the system and have a better understanding of how it works. As journalists, you must be bold, brave and command respect at all levels, and have trust and confidence in yourselves and let nothing but truth be your watchword always.”
In the same vein, Akinlabi Jimoh, Project Director, Development Communication Network (DEVCOMS), in a paper titled “Media, Accountability and Healthcare Governance,” challenged journalists to carry out investigations beyond the borders of government, saying a vigilant press is key to good governance and reforms.