Twenty participants drawn from print, broadcast and online platforms enrolled as the FrontFoot Media Initiative Audit Reporting Training took off on 5 July at the Reiz Continental Hotel, Abuja. The workshop will end on 6 July.
Speakers at the two-day workshop came from audit practice, accounting, and media professionals. They include a past president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), Ismaila Muhammadu Zakari, a partner with HLB Z.O.Ososanya and Co, Babatunde Joel Kolawole, the Head of Internal Audit at Premium Pensions, Abuja, Mr Yusuf Doma and an educationist and accountant Mrs Umeshie Bernadine Anikwe.
FrontFoot Media executives Sully Abu, Emeka Izeze, and Sonala Olumhense spoke to issues in journalism practice. Training Coordinator Chido Nwakanma also spoke on the Principles and Purpose of Public Interest Journalism.
Mr Sully Abu charged the participants to pay closer attention to reporting on state and local government audits to monitor and hold them accountable. He stated, “The self-inflicted tragedies of our nation have derived substantially from the failure to hold people, not just the leaders, to account for their actions and transgressions. This has been quite evident at the state level, where governance touches most people’s lives, and only cursory attention is paid to the constitutional and institutional mechanisms to enforce accountability. The result is that in many places, state governors have turned into local potentates who, because of their often-unfettered access to and control of the public treasury, can suborn individuals and other branches of government to do their will with results not always guaranteed for the public good”.
Sonala Olumhense, a foremost columnist, reiterated the constitutional obligation of journalism in Chapter Two, Section Two, Subsection 2 of the Nigerian constitution to hold the government responsible for attaining the fundamental objectives outlined in the constitution and accountable to the Nigerian people.
Olumhense emphasised the role and significance of the Auditor-General of states and local governments as an independent servant of the people and the Nigerian constitution.
Said Olumhense: The Auditor-General of a State is appointed by the Governor on the recommendation of the State Civil Service Commission and confirmed by the House of Assembly. The Auditor-General is not accountable to the governor or supervised by the governor or any other authority.”
Olumhense noted further the constitutional strictures against removing an auditor-general, including the provision that while a governor may appoint an Auditor-General following laid-down paths, no governor can unilaterally remove or sack an Auditor-General.
The speakers commended the development in Cross Rivers State, where the Auditor-General and his counterpart for Local Governments insisted on their office’s independence by resisting the new governor’s arbitrary sack order.
The Audit Reporting Training is a flagship capacity development programme of FrontFoot Media Initiative. It is a part of the Collaborative Media Engagement for Development Project under the auspices of the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism and funded by the MacArthur Foundation.
Participants in the Audit Reporting Training learn how and where to locate the relevant audit reports, interpret the material, and write engaging news stories and features to enlighten, stimulate, and empower the electorate and discourage impunity.
FrontFoot Media Initiative held the first two Audit Reporting Training workshops in Benin City and Awka in 2022.