BusinessDay

Budget: Put executive, legislature on their toes, experts task journalists in Kogi

Journalists all over the country have been urged to monitor budgetary allocation through in-depth reportage beginning from the stages of proposal, preparation, and approval to implementation.

The call was made at a two-day workshop in Lokoja tagged ‘Get-involved, Dialogue and Improvement Initiative’ (G-DRIP) aimed at building the capacity of journalists on Budget processes and procedures, training on how to track and report constituency projects, develop and write investigative stories.

Stallion Times, in collaboration with MacArthur Foundation, has trained thirty journalists in Kogi State drawn from print, electronic and online media practitioners on Budget Tracking and Reporting Techniques.

Declaring the workshop open on Tuesday, Isiyaku Ahmed, the Project Coordinator pointed out the need for both the executive and legislative arms of government to give an account of the allocation of resources and revenue handed over to them in accordance with the law.

“Budgetary allocation should be monitored through in-depth reportage by journalists beginning from the stages of proposal, preparation, approval and implementation,” he said.

According to him, “The Executive and Legislative arms of government must be put on their toes by journalists to ensure that they live up to their responsibility of being accountable and transparent in budgetary business.

Read also: Fulfil your promises to your constituency, Kogi NUJ chairman urges politicians

“The workings of government depended largely on how its budget is conceived before being captured. Budget is an accountability document which journalists must strive to make known to the public on its impacts and challenges.”

He equally disclosed that in the event of not being able to reach critical stakeholders directly, those very close to them would be of immense opportunity coupled with the use of relevant Internet information channels.

Ahmed pointed out that the call became necessary following the low-tracking and reporting of budget by journalists.

He emphasised that the trend must change for the constituents to know who to hold when their allocation didn’t reach them.

Henry Omokhaye of Budget Foundation, in his lecture titled ‘Budget Development Process and Budget Monitoring: Understanding the Concept and Tracking of Constituency Projects’, disclosed that asking probing questions concerning some provisioning in the budget in comparison with personal investigation gives the journalist an upper hand and also keeps the community abreast of the day’s business.

Omokhaye equally disclosed that a good reportage of Constituency project entails that the journalist knows everything about the project, the location, the estimate, planning, monitoring, adding that interacting with the initiator, sampling the feeling of the community towards the project must be covered by journalists.

Also contributing, Steven Salawu, who spoke on ‘Budget Mainstreaming in Story Writing, and Developing Investigate Story Ideas’, pointed out that sticking to facts, avoiding personal opinion and making sure that the story revolves around the matter on ground keeps both the executive and legislature on their toes.

He equally emphasised that journalists must investigate budget stories with the best of ethic before going to press, adding that budget story could be “Conventional, Investigative or Interpretative to adequately inform the public and get the people informed about government intentions towards them.”

Adeiza Momoh-Jimoh, the Kogi State Chairman of Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, commended the organisers of the programme, pointing out that the gesture will help in updating and shaping professional knowledge of journalists.

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