Wole Soyinka lecture series: the center launches the CMEDIA project
Wole Soyinka Center for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ) Executive Director Motunrayo Alaka officially launched the Collaborative Media Engagement for development inclusivity and Accountability (CMEDIA) project on Wednesday.
The launch was made during the virtual 14th edition of the Wole Soyinka lecture series titled “Can Democracy Work Without Strong Subnational Media?
Alaka said the C-Media project supports 26 media organizations to execute investigative reporting at the local level, unmask institutional and regulatory failures at subnational levels in the public and private sectors, as well as pay attention to issues, places, and the people of Nigeria.
She explained the thematic areas of the project which include government (federal, state and local), sector (private and public), people (women, minorities, youth and persons with disabilities), issues (accountability, independent media, governance and inquiry histories).
Alaka said the project is about how to build the media we want and build the country we want.
The WSCIJ Executive Director quoted Nelson Mandela as saying, “A critical, independent and investigative press is the cornerstone of any democracy.
“The press must be free from state interference. He must have the economic strength to resist the blandishments of government officials.
“He must be sufficiently independent of vested interests to be bold and investigate without fear or favor.
“He must have the protection of the constitution to be able to protect our rights as citizens.”
Also speaking at the lecture series, MacArthur Foundation Deputy Director, Africa Desk, Kole Shettima Shettima agrees that democracy cannot thrive without strong sub-national media.
Mr Shettima, who was represented by MacArthur Foundation Deputy Director Olaide Oladayo, said: “Democracy dividends can only be distributed through strong subnational media that can hold state and local governments to account. .
He said some of the challenges facing Nigerian democracy are insecurity and impunity, irresponsible political leadership and a highly politicized culture of governance where religion and ethnicity determine development planning and spending.
Earlier, the keynote speaker during the virtual lecture series, the Vice Dean for Education and Academic Affairs at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, Chiedo Nwankwor, said that without strong and viable media, the masses will not enjoy the dividend of democracy.
She tasked the media to rise to the role of setting the agenda and amplifying the voice of the people at the community level, adding that effective governance must be local, hence the need to build sub-national media for a strong commitment.
The Managing Director of the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, Mansur Liman, in his brief comments, said that journalists must create a balance between allegiance to government and exercise of civic responsibility.
“Public and private media must recognize that their role is unique, and not think there are issues that are untouchable, but report without fear.”
According to him, the need to get more Nigerians to invest in and strengthen the media organization cannot be overemphasized because of its huge role in democracy.
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Also speaking, Executive Director of Gender Strategy Advancement International, Adaora Onyechere, said the media should educate and empower women and other marginalized groups at sub-national levels on issues relating to their rights.
She said, “Journalists need to hold government accountable and monitor service delivery in the community.”
Similarly, Haruna Mohammed, co-editor of WikkiTimes, said journalists need to build their capacity to be able to report on the issues of marginalized people, especially people with disabilities whose voices are silent.
Founder and editor of the Foundation for Investigative Journalism and Social Justice, Fisayo Soyombo, said the public does not know their rights and as such the journalist must build credibility in reporting on investigative issues.
“Investigative journalism involves covering all sides of a story.
“It is necessary for journalists to maintain a critical distance from those they are investigating,” Fisayo said.