Stallion Times Media Services on September 7 and 8, 2022, trained no fewer than 30 journalists on Budget Tracking and Reporting under the ‘Get Involved, Dialogue and Improve Project (G-DIP) in Kano, the Kano State capital.
The two-day capacity-building workshop was held with the objectives of, among others, building the capacity of journalists on budget processes and procedures and how to track and report constituency projects in the state.
The Project Coordinator and Chief Executive Officer, Stallion Times Media Services, Isiyaku Ahmed, in his opening remarks said the training amongst others seeks to equip journalists with the necessary skills on how to develop story ideas and write investigative reports, especially those on constituency projects.
Isiyaku encouraged participants to have a copy of the state budget documents by either downloading it from the internet or buying a hard copy, adding that “If you do not have a budget document, study and understand it, you cannot tell or write budget stories.”
He urged participants to “Seek knowledge on budget tracking in order to be able to change the narrative via your reportage.
“When it comes to state budgetary allocations, there is nobody that is too big or small to ask questions, hence seek explanations from budget experts, financial experts, development advocates, civil society organization members even your colleagues.”
He said the first step to doing any story on the budget is to take time to study it, saying although this can be boring, especially when dealing with huge, confusing numbers, and complex data, he said the journalist will be the better of it.
In his presentation on ‘Mainstreaming Budget into News Report,’ Isiyaku said a journalist is expected to carry out his work ethically to ensure that the news content he/she is going to disseminate is honestly conveyed, accurate, and fair, especially in the presentation of data and figures.
The Director of Budget, Kano State Ministry of Budget, Comrade Yakubu Sabi’u, in his presentation titled ‘Budget Development Process’ stated that all budgets follow the procedures of formulation, approval, implementation, monitoring, evaluation, and reporting.
Comrade Sabi’u elaborated on the six processes and procedures of developing a federal, state, and local government budget.
He encouraged participants to follow the enacted budget law, in-year report, supplementary budget, and year-end report in order to have a clear understanding of how monies are being expended.
Sabi’u advised journalists to be knowledgeable, do follow-ups on constituency projects, and know when supplementary budgets are made in order to hold the government accountable.
He added that all budgets are linked with approved procurement plans and project execution must comply with procurement processes, be transparent, and be accountable.
The Director, Monitoring and Evaluation, Kano State Ministry of Planning and Budget, Abbas Iliyasu took participants through ‘Monitoring and Tracking Constituency Projects.’
He explained the importance of budget codes and how to use them in identifying a project.
Iliyasu said tracking constituency projects can be a huge task and that journalists have to ask the right questions at the right time from the right people.
After taking participants through project monitoring and tracking processes, he advised participants to be be ready to shuttle round the project you are tracking, the office of the constituency project coordinator at the state ministry of works and infrastructure, the community members, and the initiator of the project to seek additional information.
Earlier, in his goodwill message, the Chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Kano State Council, Comrade Abbas Ibrahim urged journalists to perform their constitutional duty to ensure that they hold the government accountable at all times.
He said: “Budget tracking is very significant as this is what we can use to hold duties bearer accountable.
“The job of a journalist is to gather information and disseminate it appropriately, more so, a journalist is a teacher because he creates awareness. This implies that every journalist must be a reader to guide against misinformation.”
He encouraged participants to make use of the knowledge acquired from the two-day capacity-building workshop to do investigative stories for the common good of the state.
A participant, Bashir Bello, said the training was the first of its kind that he has ever had and saying: “The training has exposed me to many things which in the past as a journalist I don’t understand.”
Another participant, Ms Hannatu Suleiman Abba, said the workshop exposed her to the basic concept of investigative reporting and that “This is going to help me write with ease especially when it has to do with investigative stories as I now know the right terminologies to use and how to navigate the budget.
She thanked the Stallion Times Media Services for the in-depth, explicit information sharing.