Nigerian journalists have been tasked with the responsibility of exposing corruption in the public procurement and budget processes.
The executive director of the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), Mr. Dayo Aiyetan, gave the charge in a 6-day training of journalists on Open Contract Reporting, Thursday.
The training which drew no fewer than 37 select journalists drawn from across the South East and North West geopolitical zones of Nigeria, was aimed at equipping journalists to expose corruption in the Nigeria.
Aiyetan, told participants that the major responsibility of an investigative reporter was to unearth corrupt practices in the public offices in order to hold government agencies and officials accountable.
He, however, said that investigative journalism was neither all about exposing evils nor negativity.
The executive director further told his audience to develop passion, initiative, self-discipline, tenacity, good research skills and patience as the hallmark of investigative reporting.
He urged participants to develop the habit of using the Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) 2011 to seek information from government officials and parastatals. He said that, being a federal law, the FoIA needed not be domesticated in states before a journalist can use it.
He assured that ICIR would provide both financial and mentorship support to every journalist while the project lasted, urging participants to make good use of the training.
In one of the paper presentations titled, “Improving Accountability and Transparency in Public Procurement in Nigeria”, a facilitator, Mr. Onyekachi Chukwu, noted that public procurement takes up to 70 per cent of the budget, stressing the need to carefully monitor its implementation to avoid corrupt practices.
He charged participants to identify red flags from procurement processes in order to report them, while emphasising the need to use data in combating corruption in public procurement to improve service delivery.
Earlier, in an opening remark, the ICIR senior programme officer, Rosemary Olufemi, said the objective of the training was to enhance the capacity of the media to understand public procurement processes and aggressively report budgetary and procurement-related corruption. This, according to her, is with a view to promoting accountability, transparency and good governance, as well as strengthening anti-corruption efforts.
Other facilitators and resource persons who spoke during the week-long training included Mr. Damilola Ojetunde, ICIR data analyst and Dr. Theophilius Abbah.