Stallion Times Media Services has trained no fewer than 40 Journalists and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) on how to track constituency projects in Kogi state.
The training was part of efforts to enhance accountability on duty bearers in the area of constituency projects at federal and state levels.
The 2-day event which ended on Wednesday at Modern-Age Hall in Lokoja was conducted under the Stallion Times Media Services participatory governance and media literacy project tagged “Get Involve, Dialogue and Improve (G-DRIP) with support from the Wole Soyinka Center for Investigative Journalism, and funded by the MacArthur Foundation.
The objectives of the training include but are not limited to building the capacity of Media/CSOs on Budget processes and procedures and improving journalists’ capacity on writing investigative stories on constituency projects in Kogi state.
The Budget Consultant from BudgIT Foundation, Henry Omokhaye led the participants through the basics of budget impact analysis and tracking constituency projects.
He said tracking constituency project is the act of monitoring the progress of nominated projects by legislators to ascertain the actual progress of work done.
“It helps to ensure that projects that are scheduled within the budget meet and maintain certain standards that are required for improved service delivery.
“It also helps to enhance accountability and assesses the performance of projects and programs set by governments.
“And it helps government institutions to make informed decisions on funds allocations during the budget development process.”
Omokhaye noted that the major aim of the constituency projects includes improving the rural economy, and standard of living, alleviating citizens from poverty, creating employment, and redistributing national resources to the communities.
He emphasized the need for journalists and CSOs to know the steps involve in tracking constituency projects.
“The steps include developing an activity plan, goal, tasks, timelines, resources needed, and indicators.
“Also Identify critical stakeholders like the legislator, media, CSOs, Ministries, departments, and agencies (MDAs), citizens, and traditional rulers.
“Get budget documents and extract constituency projects, visit sites and organize town -hall meetings to sensitize the citizens on your mission.
“Then prepare a tracking report and engage the legislators with your findings before disseminating.”
Earlier, the Project Coordinator and Editor-in-Chief of Stallion Times Media Service, Isiyaku Ahmed emphasized the need for journalists and CSOs to have a platform or mechanism for engaging the budget processes, and procedures and for tracking constituency projects in the state.
He urged participants to advocate for proper utilization of the E-procurement and project monitoring bureaus in the state to check the excesses of contracts.
Additionally, he said CSOs should ensure projects are assigned to appropriate MDAs who have the mandate of overseeing them.
Ahmed revealed that the incapability of many (MDAs) to effectively supervise project implementation has led to the poor execution of many projects thereby wasting taxpayers’ money.
Speaking on sensitization and media advocacy, he said sensitization is the attempt to create awareness of an idea, event, situation, or phenomenon with the aim of causing a response while Media Advocacy is a way of influencing decision-makers on problems to fix, solutions to implement, an idea/person to celebrate or challenging an opposing force, through all media outlet that matters.
He encouraged CSOs to work with the media, share ideas, and track constituency projects for the common good of the state.
In their separate goodwill messages, the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, Kogi State Council Chairman, Adeiza Momoh-Jimoh who was represented by Ibrahim Obansa, described the training as key for journalists and CSOs.
He commended Stallion Times Media Services for the constant support in training members of the union and other journalists in the state.
“This training will indeed empower more journalists to track not just constituency projects, but other any project that is contained in the state’s budget.”
He then urged the participants to hit the ground and track abandoned projects in various constituencies for the public interest.
Kogi Non-governmental Organization Network (KONGONET), Chairman, Ambassador Idris Ozovehe Muraina, represented by the Secretary, Ben Joshua said with this capacity-building training CSOs skills have been improved to hold the government accountable.
Joshua, a participant thanked Stallion Times for the initiative.
“As a civil society advocate, this training has immensely added value to my job because my organization’s major thematic area is good governance.”
“Some NGOs do not know they can also track abandoned projects by studying the budget and asking relevant stakeholders involved, but now, we know,” he added.
Abigail Oyenibi, a journalist with Radio Kogi said the training has answered the many questions in the hearts of journalists in areas of abandoned projects.
“With this training, we now know the documents for tracking a project to a logical conclusion.
“Before now I have never engaged in an in-depth investigation to write a report, but now I will definitely go beyond surface reporting,” she added.
Participants at the training workshop were drawn from CSOs working in the area of People with disabilities, Women, Children, and Vulnerable people, Human Rights, Advocacy, Civic Education, and the Media.