Stallion Times Media Services has trained 40 Journalists and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) on the method and strategies for tracking constituency projects in Kano State.
The broad objective was to train journalists and CSOs to work together in tracking constituency projects with a view of writing investigative stories on the implementation of the projects.
Constituency projects are usually nominated by elected representatives in the federal and state house of assemblies to extend the dividends of democracy to the various constituencies of the legislators across the country to spur grassroots development.
However, based on available data from BudgIT Foundation, in some cases, legislators have implemented constituency projects of good quality and standards and in other cases, a number of such projects worth billions of naira were not executed, poorly executed, or uncompleted.
The 2-day training was conducted on Wednesday and Thursday in Kano under the Get Involve, Dialogue and Improve Project (G-DRIP) with support from Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism and the MacArthur Foundation.
The training consultant, Dr. Abdussalam Kani led the participants through the basics of understanding budget processes and procedures.
According to Dr. Kani, tracking constituency projects simply means the act of monitoring government expenditure on the execution of projects in a particular constituency.
“Tracking the expenditure of a project by community members helps to ensure transparency, accountability, and sustainability.”
He noted that the role of Journalists and CSOs in tracking and reporting constituency projects cannot be overemphasized.
Journalists and CSOs need to hold the government accountable in order to advance the interests of citizens, he added.
He further explained that budget decisions affect everyone, particularly the poorest of the poor in remote communities, hence the need for CSOs and journalists to ensure that resources are accounted for by duty-bearers.
Dr. Kani gave some tips to consider when tracking constituency projects, one of which is to develop an activity plan which includes goals, tasks, strategy, timeframe, and resources that will be used in tracking a project.
Earlier, the Project Coordinator and Editor-in-Chief of Stallion Times Media Services, Isiyaku Ahmed urged journalists and CSOs to work together to monitor expenditure on constituency projects.
He encouraged participants to share information among themselves that will aid the tracking of any project in the state.
In their goodwill messages, the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, Kano State Council Chairman, Comrade Abbas Ibrahim who was represented by the Assistant Secretary of the Union, Nura Shehu Bakinruwa said that the workshop is very important for journalists as it will equip them with the basic and necessary information on how to track constituency projects.
“The training came at the right time because the 2023 general elections are fast approaching and there is a need to hold public office holders accountable for their stewardship in the state,” he added.
He called on journalists to use the knowledge gained at the workshop in the discharge of their professional duty to the public.
A participant representing the Network for Environment Safety and Society Development (NESSD) Ali Wali commended Stallion Times Media Services for the training.
“This training will indeed empower CSOs in the state to be more vigilant and ensure legislators are transparent and accountable in the execution of constituency projects.
Another participant, Suleiman Umar Ismail said: “As a civil society advocate, this training has prompted curiosity in me to track as many projects as possible within my locality and engage legislators to ensure full implementation of constituency projects.
“I now know that the entire constituency projects fund comes from the taxpayers, not from the personal income of the legislator, so we have every right to track the execution of constituency projects.
“Therefore, I promise to also share this knowledge with my colleagues as a way of exercising my civic responsibility that will lead to the betterment of Kano state and Nigeria at large, he added.
A reporter with Arise Tv and the publisher of Daily Fact Newspaper, Ayo Adenaiye said the training is indeed impactful.
“I have improved on my knowledge of the roles of the lawmakers in the implementation of constituency projects and the ways by which citizens, journalists, and CSOs would be able to monitor budget releases and track expenditure.”
This training will help journalists effectively write investigative stories on constituency projects in the state, Adenaiye added.
The training workshop was attended by CSOs, CBOs including people living with disabilities, and journalists from different media organizations in Kano state.