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Corruption is a taxation of the people—that’s why we support independent media in Nigeria—MacArthur Foundation
KOLE Shettima, Nigeria Country Director of Mac Arthur Foundation, says the Foundation is supporting independent media organisations in the country with funds in order to promote good governance, transparency and accountability.
Speaking in Abuja on Thursday at the opening of a two-day experience sharing workshop on Open Contract Reporting (OCR) funded by the Mac Arthur Foundation and coordinated by the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), Shettima explained that corruption is taxation of the people who are voiceless but found their voice through the in-depth reports by investigative journalists on the project.
“We at the Foundation care about the life of the ordinary citizen. We know that the money that we cannot provide water, cannot provide road, cannot provide electricity, but we think, supporting people like you will contribute towards providing those services that we don’t have money to provide,” Shettima said.
“Corruption is a taxation of the people and that’s why we support people like you to do in-depth reports to improve the quality of the people who are voiceless.”
He said that the Foundation was mindful of the correlation between financial independence and editorial independence, noting that the Foundation was committed to support the media to hold the duty bearers accountable through investigative reporting.
“We believe that supporting independent media, supporting investigative journalism is one of the core works to be done in order to sustain and consolidate our democracy. We believe that there is a strong relationship between independent media and democratic values and ethos.
“We mindful of the fact that there is some correlation between financial independence and editorial independence.
“We feel that it is critical and important to support this kind of work that you do. Also it is important that those of you that are doing the work know it affects the life of the ordinary people.”
In his opening remarks, Dayo Aiyetan, Executive Director of ICIR, said the event was organised to afford journalists on the project to meet and share their experiences after three years that the project has been running.
“From day one, we had tailored something like this so that for the past three years all of us can come together to share experience. I think everybody who has been part of this project, we have a lot of challenges, success and failures.”
Aiyetan said the project has made significant impacts in the country in the last three years, noting that the funder, Mac Arthur Foundation was always boastful of the achievements of the Open Contract Reporting.
“And that’s why we have received another bigger funding because they believed we have achieved a lot. As we talk, we have received new grant from Mac Arthur Foundation and we will be looking forward to working with you.
During the project review, Rosemary Oluwfemi, Senior Programme Officer at ICIR said the goal of the project was to use evidence based and data driven reporting to reduce corruption in Nigeria and enhance transparency and accountability.
She disclosed that 30 journalists from different media establishments were trained on budgetary and procurement process noting that about 50 stories have so far been published while others are still being processed.
“About 130 investigative reports were proposed for the period of three years. Four trainings were conducted which focused on investigative reporting, data journalism and procurement monitoring,” she explained.