Home News Corruption: MacArthur Foundation, others berate FG on investigative journalism

Corruption: MacArthur Foundation, others berate FG on investigative journalism

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The Federal Government and its agencies have been criticised for failing to take full advantage of investigative corruption reports churned out by media organisations in Nigeria. In contrast, commendations have gone to MacArthur Foundation for supporting the anti-corruption fight in the country.

Two renowned journalists and anti-corruption campaigners who identified the absence of a whistleblower law as a significant difficulty in the fight against corruption made their positions known in Abuja on Wednesday during Public Conscience, an anti-corruption radio programme produced by the Progressive Impact Organisation for Community Development (PRIMORG).

Reacting to the government’s response to corruption reports, the Executive Director International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), Mr Dayo Aiyetan said that one of the biggest problems of investigative journalism in Nigeria is the government’s lack of recognition of the constitutional role of the media which is to hold government accountable. He noted that “only about 20 to 30 percent of investigative corruption reports get government reaction”.

Aiyetan lamented the government’s use of state security and anti-graft agents to harass and hound investigative journalists, a development that has further worsened their job and the overall fight against corruption.

“Ten or 20 percent of our work gets the government’s attention, and that’s the tragedy of accountability reporting in Nigeria, sincerely many of us who do investigative reporting work see our work as complimenting government work. But rather than see us as partners, the government is using state institutions, that is the State Security Service, Department of State Security, and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the Attorney General’s office and all kinds of state agencies to harass us”.

Aiyetan hailed the MacArthur Foundation’s support in the fight against corruption in Nigeria, saying it has massively impacted many journalists – who are now more enlightened, exposed, and emboldened to report events and hold power to account, especially in rural areas.

Ahead of the 2023 general elections, he tasked Nigerians to ensure they elect persons of integrity into offices, insisting that credible leadership is of utmost importance to the nation’s development and will influence governance.

Towing a similar line, the Coordinator of the African Centre for Media and Information Literacy, Dr Mr Chido Onumah commended the MacArthur Foundation for supporting investigative journalism and advocacies on strengthening the whistleblower policy in Nigeria.

He said that the impact of the support from the MacArthur Foundation has been significant over the years and has gone beyond the fight against corruption and investigation to the development of journalists and members of civil society groups.

“MacArthur’s support is not just in investigations, even capacity building, training for journalists, many of our journalists are better today: they are better able to write, better able to report, because of the kind of support and training they get from these foundations. But many of us in civil society are better able to understand advocacy. We can better be frontiers for the rule of law and ensure accountability, taking on the government, taking on the institutions; it’s all thanks to the foundation’s support”, Onumah further said.

He noted that there had been little progress in government reaction to corruption investigations while expressing optimism that a whistleblower draft bill recently approved by the Federal Executive Council will be passed and signed into law despite the limited time left in the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.

He lamented that Nigerians dread reporting corrupt acts because of the shortcomings of the whistleblowing policy, noting that “a national survey after two years of introducing whistleblower policy showed that sampled thousands of people from all walks of life across the country dreaded risking their lives for whistleblowing.

“It’s a policy. A new government can change it any day, but if it’s a law, it can be taken to court and used as a basis for argument. So I think we can’t stop talking about the main imperative of a law”.

Ahead of the 2023 general elections, Onumah urged Nigerians to participate in the polls, emphasising that the Permanent Voter Card is as good as a whistleblowing tool in this electioneering period.

Public Conscience is a syndicated weekly anti-corruption radio program used by PRIMORG to draw government and citizens’ attention to corruption and integrity issues in Nigeria.

The programme has the support of the MacArthur Foundation.

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