By Angela Atabo
Actionaid Nigeria, an NGO, has urged the media to effectively discharge its watchdog responsibility by holding leaders accountable to their obligations to the people in the implementation of policies, programmes and projects.
The organisation’s consultant, Mr Tunde Aremu, made the call at a media training on Mobilising Civil Society Support for the Implementation of African Governance Architecture (AGA) and African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (ACDEG).
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that ACDEG was adopted in 2007 at the 8th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union Heads of State and Government.
Nigeria ratified the document in January 2012 with 44 other member-states as signatories in 2012.
Aremu’s lecture was entitled “Understanding the Articles and Provisions of ACDEG and its Relevance to the Nigerian Democracy’’.
He said that the charter seeks to promote adherence by each state party to the universal values and principles of democracy and respect for human rights among other global standard best practices.
“It also seeks to promote and enhance adherence to the principle of the rule of law premised upon respect for constitutional order in the political arrangements of the state parties amidst other objectives.
“The challenge, however, is that Nigeria is yet to implement the charter and that is where the media comes in.
“As journalists, you are the only profession that the constitution gave a responsibility to, and that is to monitor the government and hold it accountable to its responsibilities, as expressly stated in section 22.
“You are to act as the watchdog of the society and ensure that the government implements policies it signed up to, especially the ACDEG and AGA charter.’’
Aremu, therefore, urged the media to examine the provisions of the charter and ensure that the government discharged its responsibility by implementing the provisions of the charter.
He said that journalists needed to highlight the socio-economic challenges confronting the people in their reportage as well as interrogate government policies and programmes with a view to engendering development and improving general well-being.
Similarly in her presentation, Mrs Nkechi Okoronkwo, Acting Editor-in-Chief, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), underscored the importance of investigative journalism in order to uncover, present and publish reports on facts that people try to hide.
Okoronkwo, in her lecture on “Fundamentals of Investigative Journalism’’ said that the job of journalists was to let people know about the happenings in the society around them.
She said that journalists do this by finding facts on governments, companies and criminals and informing their readers or listeners accordingly.
“In many other cases, governments, companies, organisations and individuals try to hide decisions or events which affect other people.
“Such stories border on selfish motives such as corruption, compromise, misappropriation, underhand dealings, abuse, breaking the law etc.
“People have a right to know about the society in which they live;they have a right to know about decisions which may affect them, even if people in power want to keep them secret.’’
Okoronkwo said that people in power, whether in government, the world of commerce, or any other group in the society could abuse that power.
She said that they could also be corrupt, steal money, break laws and do all sorts of things which harm other people or they might just be incompetent and unable to do their jobs properly.
She said that such people would usually try to keep this knowledge secret so it behoves journalists to try to expose such abuses.
She said that in view if the role of the media, it had a duty to watch how well people in power performed their jobs, especially those who had been elected to public office.
Okoronkwo, therefore, urged journalists to constantly ask whether such people were keeping their election promises, adding that politicians and others who failed in their promises should be exposed.
She urged the media to be diligent in its duty, respect the ethics of the profession, fact-check their reports and present only the truth to the public.
According to her, when the media is up to its task, the government will sit up, the rule of law will be upheld, policies would be implemented and the nation will be better off.