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FrontFoot Media Initiative trains 46 North-East journalists in Media Audit Reporting at Gombe workshop

Forty-six journalists from five states in North-East Nigeria received training and exposure to the rudiments of audit reporting in the media at the fifth Media Audit Reporting Training in Gombe, Gombe State on 22-23 May 2024.

Participants came from Adamawa, Bauchi, Gombe, Plateau and Taraba States. The experienced journalists represented print, broadcast, and online platforms in their states.

A first-rate cast of facilitators exposed participants to the cross-cutting issues in audit reporting. The issues cover public finance management, budgeting and the nexus with auditing, and the prescriptions of the 1999 constitution on auditing. They also covered the “audit imperative for Nigerian journalism”, neglect of the local government system, where to find audit reports, and how to write and make audit stories exciting and engaging.

Mr Ismaila Zakari, a past president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria, emphasised the significance of proper public finance management and its link to sustaining democracy.

Zakari led a team if six facilitators. They included Mr Yusuf Doma, FCA, the Internal Auditor of Premium Pensions, Abuja, Mr Sully Abu, Eluem Emeka Izeze, and Sonala Olumhense, directors of FrontFoot Media Initiative. They are all veteran journalists.

Sully Abu was managing director of The African Guardian magazine and New Age newspaper; Emeka Izeze left last year as Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of Guardian newspapers where he served as editor of the Sunday and main newspaper for many years. Sonala Olumhense the columnist with the fiery pen was editor of ThisWeek magazine and chairman of the editorial board of The Guardian.

Mallam Zakari urged the media to carefully report on public financial management, particularly at sub-national or state and local government levels, as doing so will enhance good governance and boost Nigeria’s democracy.  He defined public financial management as “the framework, processes, and tools governments use to plan,

allocate, manage, and monitor public resources, including revenue, expenditure, assets, and liabilities. It encompasses the entire financial management cycle in the public sector, from budget formulation and execution to accounting, reporting, auditing, and legislative scrutiny.”

Zakari highlighted and educated participants on critical aspects of audit reports and how such knowledge would enable journalists to report public financial management to benefit audiences. Such reporting would enhance Nigeria’s democracy.

 Mr Doma gave an overview of the accounting system and the role and importance of the auditor general in the process.

Mr Abu decried the poor status of LGAs and their increasing failure to play their roles, caused by state governors bastardising local governments and continuously seizing their funds. Such conduct has, in turn, affected accountability at local government levels.

Emeka Izeze kept reminding the journalists of their role as society watchdogs to ensure that the executives of the state governments were held accountable. At the same time, Mr Sonala Olumhense affirmed that audit reporting is now imperative if the Nigerian media is to effectively report the government to the people.

Speaking on public interest reporting, FrontFoot Media Training Coordinator Chido Nwakanma urged participants to note the transformational powers of journalism embedded in public interest reporting.

He stated, “The public interest content that journalism serves is about the lives and well-being of citizens, relevant issues that affect individuals and communities. It is about the common good in health, livelihoods, quality of life, security, accountability, and governance. Note that the “public interest” is not merely what people find interesting. It is more of relevant issues different from what is entertaining, fascinating. or titillating. “

In a call to action within the workshop communique, participants called on journalists to intensify their watchdog role in monitoring governments at state and local governments, urged the media to deploy audit reporting for better coverage and to provide more in-depth reporting on public financial management.

Mr Umar Said, Chairman of the Bauchi NUJ, chaired the Communique Committee. Members were Victoria Roland Andekin from Taraba State and Chika Udenkwo from Gombe State.




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