Stallion Times has concluded a two-day training workshop for journalists on Budget Tracking and Reporting to enable them to understand budgets and to hold governments accountable to the people.
Participants were also told to do more thorough investigations especially on the location, quality and quantity of constituency projects carried out by lawmaker in various constituencies of the federation so as to ensure whether they are in conformity with what is in the budget and report any discrepancies
In his presentation, Isiyaku Ahmed, editor in-chief and Project Coordinator of Stallion Times, said for effective monitoring of budget, journalists should as a matter of necessity understand its preparation, as well as understand the working of government machinery to enable tracking the infractions.
He charged participants to know the reason for the conception of the budget, what the intention of the government is for her citizens and the need to know the sectoral allocation of resources.
He added that knowledge of the budget would assist the investigative journalists to know which materials to source to give their stories infallible proofs.
He called on journalism practitioners to collaborate with each other for cross-fertilisation of ideas to enable them expose the shortcomings of budget implementation.
While discouraging journalists from relying on the yearly reel out of budget proposals by the government which often times gives pass mark to previous budget performance, he urged them to relate the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework to constituency projects to ascertain its effectiveness.
Mr. Henry Omokhaye, who took participants on Budget Development Process, advised media owners to strengthen institutional and staff capacity to churn out stories that will expose sharp practices in budget implementation.
Mr. Steve Salawu whose presentation was on Budget Mainstreaming in story writing charged journalists to be ethically minded while reporting budgets to earn public trust in their reportage.
He advised participants to always make use of the inverted Pyramid style to anchor their stories, adding that the stories should be able to create awareness, expose corruption; and influence government policies to provoke positive actions for the good of the people.
The Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Kogi State Council, Comrade Momohjimoh Adeiza commended the organiser for the opportunity avail to working Journalists in the state to be abreast with modern trends in reporting budget.
He said the workshop will equip journalists, broadcasters with the requisite knowledge to educate and inform the citizenry of how the Government is addressing their affairs through the budget enactment.
He stated: “This Training is going to impact us and will expose us to modern trends in budget reportage. It will help to build our capacity on the budget, not merely reportage, but to be knowledgeable on its implementation and performance.”
The NUJ chairman charged participants to avail themselves of the opportunity to sharpen their capacity and skills for responsible reportage.
The workshop which took place in Lokoja, the Kogi State capital was held under the Collaborative Media Engagement for Development, Inclusivity and Accountability (CMEDIA) Project, an initiative of the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ), funded by the MacArthur Foundation. The Collaborative Media Engagement is aimed at strengthening media independence and presence, especially at state and local government levels and the private sector, in a bid to improve public awareness and the ecosystem for transparency, accountability and good governance.