Stallion Times Media Services has trained 40 non-state actors comprising representatives of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Community Based Organisation (CBOs), including people living with disabilities, and journalists from different media organizations in Kano State at a two-day workshop on methods and strategies for tracking constituency projects in Kano State.
The broad objective of the workshop which was held on November 9 and 10, 2022, was to train journalists and CSOs to synergise their efforts in tracking constituency projects with a view to writing investigative stories on the implementation of the projects.
Federal and state legislators usually nominate constituency projects to extend the dividends of democracy to the various constituencies of the legislators across the country to spur grassroots development.
Available data from BudgIT Foundation, show that in some cases, legislators have implemented constituency projects of good quality and standards and in other cases, a number of such projects worth billions of naira were either not executed, poorly executed, or not completed.
In his opening remark, Isiyaku Ahmed, Project Coordinator and Editor-in-Chief of Stallion Times Media Services, urged journalists and CSOs to work together to monitor expenditure on constituency projects and encouraged participants to share information among themselves that will aid the tracking of any project in the state.
Comrade Abbas Ibrahim, Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Kano State Council, represented by the Assistant Secretary of the Union, Nura Shehu Bakinruwa said, in his good-will message, that the workshop was vital for journalists as it will equip them with the basic and necessary information on how to track constituency projects.
He said the training came at the right time because the 2023 general elections are fast approaching and there is a need to hold public office holders accountable for their stewardship in the state. He urged journalists to use the knowledge gained at the workshop in the discharge of their professional duty to the public.
Dr. Abdussalam Kani, one of the trainers, took the participants through the basics of understanding budget processes and procedures. He explained that tracking constituency projects simply means the act of monitoring government expenditure on the execution of projects in a particular constituency.
He said “Tracking the expenditure of a project by community members helps to ensure transparency, accountability, and sustainability,” noting that the role of journalists and CSOs in tracking and reporting constituency projects cannot be overemphasized as they need to hold the government accountable in order to advance the interests of citizens.
He further explained that budget decisions affect everyone, particularly the poorest of the poor in remote communities, hence the need for CSOs and journalists to ensure that resources are accounted for by duty-bearers.
He gave some tips to consider when tracking constituency projects, one of which is to develop an activity plan which includes goals, tasks, strategy, timeframe, and resources that will be used in tracking a project.
The workshop under the Get Involve, Dialogue and Improve Project (G-DRIP) with support from Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism through the Collaborative Media Engagement for Development, Inclusivity and Accountability (The Collaborative Media Project), a multi-level intervention for media independence and government accountability funded by the MacArthur Foundation.