The Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ), Prof. Ropo Sekoni, has called for increased support for investigative journalism in Nigeria. Prof. Sekoni made this plea at the fifth WSCIJ Media Lecture Series held at Bolaji Akinyemi Hall, Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, Lagos on July 13, 2013.
In his opening remark at the Lecture, Prof. Sekoni said: “From the quality of investigative reporting cases that our Centre had recognized with awards in the last few years, it is clear that there is no absence of talent and courage within the ranks of media professionals. But there is no doubt that the ownership structure of the media, particularly mass media houses in the country has not led to generous support for investigative journalism in any way near what media houses had done (and still do) in more advanced democracies to encourage and support investigative reporting.”
Prof. Sekoni used the occasion to call on individuals, organisations, government and its agencies to support investigative journalism. He said that media owners should go beyond the rhetorical fight against corruption by establishing investigative reporting units and to also provide adequate funds to support journalists who are willing to take the risk in delivering news worthy stories.
“Investigative reporting, like forensic medicine, law, and accounting, is a capital intensive and time consuming endeavour. It requires generous support from lovers of democracy, particularly transparency and accountability in governance,” he added.
He expressed shock at the manner in which the media has handle Freedom of Information (FOI) issues since it became law. Prof. Sekoni said: “It is surprising that since 2011, the press or media in general has been better armed to hold public officers responsible for their actions, especially with respect to the management of public finance, yet the depth of investigative reporting has not matched the additional access that the successful struggle by the media and some friends of the media in the legislature had brought to journalists through enactment of the FOI.”
Among notable speakers invited who delivered papers at the lecture was Prof. Biodun Jeyifo who spoke on the FOI Act and the ‘Dictatorship of Corruption and Mediocrity’.