MRA Wins Award for Advancing Use of Freedom of Information Act for Public Interest Reporting

Mr. Ayode Longe, Programme Director, MRA receiving the award from  Ms Amina Salihu, Senior Programme Officer, MacAthur Foundation

On October 22, 2022, the Africa Centre for Development Journalism (ACDJ) honoured Media Rights Agenda (MRA) with an award for its contribution to journalism through over two decades of work advancing the use of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act for public interest reporting.

The award was presented to MRA during the inaugural World Development Information Day Lecture organized by ACDJ in Lagos. Development Information Day is observed annually on October 24, as set aside by the United Nations (UN) to promote the use of relevant data, statistics and information for development goals.

Four other organisations were also honoured by ACDJ at the event: the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR) was recognised for its innovative investigative governance reporting; TheCable received an award for setting up TheCable Index and for using data to provide statistical context on a wide range of issues; while Premium Times was recognised for its efforts in promoting public interest development journalism by setting up a development desk. HumAngle, a niche media platform committed to insightful and objective coverage of Africa’s conflict, humanitarian, and development issues, was also honoured with an award for innovative reporting on conflict, insecurity, humanitarian issues and underdevelopment.

There was a panel discussion which explored the issues related to the theme of the day which focused on Sustainable Development Goas 10: Reducing inequality within and amongst countries.

In their interventions, the speakers spoke on the multiple Human Development Inequalities that need to be resolved to ensure equitable and sustainable development; the roles of Sub-national levels of governance; the implications for Social Cohesion, Fragility, Instability and Rights when these inequalities are not addressed; the tools countries need to identify priority demographics/sectors of society and economy for improved budget and investment; and how the media can best utilize data to shed light on these issues at Local, State and Federal levels.

The panelists who addressed these issues were Ms Ulla E. Mueller, Country Representative, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA); Ms Vanessa Phala, Country Representative, International Labour Organisation (ILO); Ms Amina Salihu, Senior Programme Officer, MacAthur Foundation; Martins Oloja; MD/Editor-in-Chief, Guardian Newspapers; and Mohamed Yahya, Resident Representative, UNDP Nigeria, who was represented by Mr. Amarakoon Bandara, Senior Economist at UNDP.

Earlier, Mr. Rotimi Sankore, Executive Director and Editor-in-Chief at ACDJ, while setting the scene gave an overview of what the National Bureau of Statistics, Demographic Health Survey (DHS) and Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) data tell us about key inequalities, fragility instability and insecurity.