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Democracy: Former ICAN President urges collaboration between the Media and Auditors

“Collaboration between auditors, financial reporters, and journalists is essential for promoting transparency, accountability and good governance”, a former president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), Mr Ismaila Muhammadu Zakari, submitted on Thursday, 6 July 2023.

“Auditors provide reliable assessments; financial reporters translate complex financial concepts into accessible narratives, and journalists disseminate information to the public”, he added.

Zakari spoke on “Advancing Good Governance and Democracy Through Effective Public Financial Management Framework” at the third Audit Reporting Training workshop of FrontFoot Media Initiative held at Reiz Continental Hotel, Central Area, Abuja. The workshop focused on “X-raying State Government Audit Reports”.

Zakari further submitted that “regular engagement and knowledge-sharing between auditors, financial reporters, and journalists enhance their understanding of financial reporting and audit processes. This collaboration facilitates accurate reporting, insightful analysis, and the dissemination of important findings to the public.”

Underlining the need for the proposed collaboration, the ICAN Fellow noted the critical role of the media in “simplifying and communicating complex financial concepts to the public by bridging the gap between technical financial information and the public’s understanding, facilitating informed public debate, and ensuring that citizens are aware of the implications of financial decisions on governance.”

Auditors and accountants at the Audit Reporting Training emphasised the critical role of auditing in uploading Nigeria’s democracy by lighting up the dark recesses of governments. The 1999 Nigerian Constitution stipulates the rendering of accounts and their annual auditing before the end of June as a measure of accountability. However, many states and the federal government breach this provision.

Experts decried the failure of the Federal Government to submit its financial reports and audits since 2019.

The experts included Mr Babatunde Kolawole, FCA, a partner of HLB Z.O. Ososanya and Co, Mr Yusuf Doma, FCA, Head of Internal Audit at Premium Pensions, Abuja and Mrs Umeshie Bernadine Anikwe, an educationist and accountant.

FrontFoot Media Initiative states that the Audit Reporting Training is “a flagship capacity development programme”. It is part of the Collaborative Media Engagement for Development Inclusivity and Accountability Project, a targeted training of journalists the NGO is undertaking under the auspices of the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ) and the sponsorship of the MacArthur Foundation.

FrontFoot held training workshops in Benin City and Awka in 2022. “Participants learn how and where to locate the relevant reports, interpret the material, and write engaging news stories and features that will enlighten, stimulate, and empower the electorate and discourage impunity.”

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