The Naija Times Journalism Foundation (NTJF), the nonprofit arm of Naija Times, an online newspaper, has called for strong media oversight in order to ensure transparency and accountability in the use of the N5 billion per state and the FCT palliative fund recently announced by the Federal Government.
The frontline journalism foundation, which promotes a vibrant media ecosystem capable of holding government to account in a democracy, noted that past attempts by government to directly touch the lives of poor and vulnerable Nigerians, were undermined as a result of weak media oversight.
Chairman of the Foundation, Ehi Braimah, gave the charge in Lagos, while assessing the possible impact of the palliative on the lives of ordinary citizens. Braimah, who is also the Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of Naija Times, noted that previous facilities such as the Paris Club Refund and other initiatives that the government tried to implement through the state governors failed woefully.
He stressed that those interventions, which failed to make the desired impact on the lives and fortunes of ordinary Nigerians, should provide enough lessons for the federal government and citizens across the states.
He said: “If this palliative being released is to make any impact, there is need for serious planning and monitoring of how the funds will be spent. In the aspect of monitoring, the media and journalists should show more interest in reporting whether the benefits of these funds are reaching the ordinary people or not. Without such media oversight, the disbursements we are talking about will simply go the way of similar interventions in the past.”
The NTJF helmsman noted that given the level of poverty and destitution currently affecting Nigerians, governors and other political leaders could not afford to again bungle current efforts to bring reprieve to the people.
“As things stand, the level of hunger in the land has become deeply troubling, while the hardshipshave become unbearable. To avoid hunger-induced protests, the deprivation across the country must be addressed urgently and purposefully,” Braimah advised.
The media is critical in ensuring that the quest for transparent and accountable governance is realised across all the three tiers of government.
The recently announced palliatives should be closely monitored by the media and reported regularly in the public interest.