A Stallion Times project, ‘Get involved, Dialogue and Improve, G-DRIP’ has trained 30 journalists on Budget Tracking and Reporting in Lokoja, Kogi state.
For the two-day event which held between Wednesday and Thursday in Lokoja, was on how to develop and write investigative story on constituency projects as a major objective.
G-DRIP is supported by the Wole Soyinka Center for Investigative Journalism under the Collaborative Media Project (collaborating for media independence, and government accountability), funded by the MacArthur Foundation.
In his opening address, the Project Coordinator and Chief Executive Officer, Stallion Times Media Services, Isyaku Ahmed said the training was aimed at building the capacity of journalists on Budget processes and procedures, as well as knowledge transfer on how to track budgets and report constituency projects.
He charged journalists to be agents of change in society by monitoring and ensuring the implementation of projects budgeted for by the government.
He said there was a need for legislators and executives to account for their stewardship of their people.
Ahmed also emphasized the need for journalists to be discreet, and adhere to the code of ethics from facts finding to the point of publication for their safety.
A Budget Consultant from BudgIT Foundation, Mr. Henry Omokhaye in his presentation on Budget Process said every Budget starts with Formation, Approval, implementation, monitoring, evaluation, and reporting.
He said journalists must strive to start monitoring and evaluating any budget from the formation stage to the execution in order to have full details of the content of the budget to hold the government accountable.
Mr. Omokhaye pointed out that proper monitoring of budgets by journalists will help to entrench accountability, ensure state resources are distributed fairly, help direct the policy priorities of the government, and assess the performance of federal, state, and community constituency projects.
Also, a Media Consultant, Mr Steve Salawu who dwells on investigative reporting said every detail in the budget should be taken into consideration as written but properly x-rayed for better understanding and reporting.
He said journalists must ensure they give an actual narrative of facts and figures that are verifiable, using the right language without importing their own personal opinion for credibility.
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The Chairman, Nigeria Union of journalists, Kogi State Council, Comrade Adeiza Momoh Jimoh commended the Stallion Times Media Services for their commitment to the growth of journalists and the development of Kogi state through continuous training and retraining.
The NUJ Chairman urged the journalists to use the knowledge acquired at the training in their reportage.
The trained journalists agreed to work on story ideas they developed during the workshop.
No fewer than thirty journalists from the print, broadcast, and online newspapers were in attendance.