Stallion Times Media Services under the ‘Get Involved, Dialogue and Improve Project (G-DRIP) has trained no fewer than 30 journalists on Budget Tracking and Reporting in Kano.
The two-day capacity-building workshop which took place on Wednesday and Thursday was conducted under the Collaborative Media Project with support from the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism and the MacArthur Foundation.
The objectives of the workshop include building the capacity of journalists on Budget processes and procedures and to train journalists on how to track and report constituency projects in the state.
In his opening remarks, the Project Coordinator and Chief Executive Officer, Stallion Times Media Services, Isiyaku Ahmed said the training amongst others seeks to equip journalists with the necessary skills on how to develop story ideas and write investigative reports, especially those of constituency projects.
He charged journalists to have a copy of the state budget documents by either downloading from the internet or buying, adding that “If you do not have a budget document, study and understand it, you cannot tell or write budget stories.
“Seek knowledge on budget tracking in order to be able to change the narrative via your reportage.
“When it comes to state budgetary allocations, there is nobody that is too big or small to ask questions, hence seek explanations from budget experts, financial experts, development advocates, civil society organization members even your colleagues.”
The first step to doing any story on the budget is to take your time to study it. This can be boring, especially when you are dealing with huge, confusing numbers, and complex data; but you will be the better of it, he added.
In his presentation on Mainstreaming Budget into News Report,’ Ahmed said a journalist is expected to carry out his work ethically to ensure that the news content he is going to disseminate is honestly conveyed, accurate, and fair, especially in the presentation of data and figures.
The Director of Budget, Kano State Ministry of Budget, Comrade Yakubu Sabi’u in his presentation on the ‘Budget Development Process’ said all budgets follow the procedures of formulation, approval, implementation, monitoring, evaluation, and reporting.
He elaborately explained the six processes and procedures of developing a federal, state, and local government budget.
The Director Budget encouraged journalists to follow the enacted budget law, in-year report, supplementary budget, and year-end report in order to have a clear understanding of how monies are being expended.
Sabi’u advised journalists to be knowledgeable, do follow-ups on constituency projects, and know when supplementary budgets are made in order to hold the government accountable.
He added that all budgets are linked with approved procurement plans and project execution must comply with procurement processes, be transparent, and be accountable.
The Director, Monitoring and Evaluation, Kano State Ministry of Planning and Budget, Abbas Iliyasu took participants through ‘Monitoring and Tracking Constituency Projects.’
He explained the importance of budget codes and how to use them in identifying a project.
Iliyasu said tracking constituency projects can be a huge task, journalists have to ask the right questions at the right time and at the right people.
After cautiously taking participants through project monitoring and tracking, he advised … ‘You must be ready to shuttle round the project you are tracking, the office of the constituency project coordinator at the state ministry of works and infrastructure, the community members, and the initiator of the project to seek additional information.
Earlier, in his goodwill message, the Chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalists, Kano State Council, Comrade Abbas Ibrahim urged journalists to perform their constitutional duty to ensure that they hold the government accountable at all times.
He said: “Budget tracking is very significant as this is what we can use to hold duties bearer accountable.
“The job of a journalist is to gather information and disseminate it appropriately, more so, a journalist is a teacher because he creates awareness.
“This implies that every journalist must be a reader to guild against misinformation.
He encouraged journalists to make use of the knowledge acquired from the two-day capacity-building workshop to do investigative stories for the common good of the state.
A participant, Bashir Bello said the training is the first of its kind that he has attended.
“You are not a complete journalist until you are able to track the budget.
“The training has exposed me to many things which in the past as a journalist I don’t understand.
“This training has granted me access to budget experts, he added.
On her part, Hannatu Suleiman Abba said the workshop has been able to expose her to the basic concept of investigative reporting.
“This is going to help me write with ease especially when it has to do with investigative stories as I now know the right terminologies to use and how to navigate the budget.
She thanked the Stallion Times Media Services for the in-depth, explicit information sharing.