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CDD Faults Ethical Lapses in Osun Rerun Poll

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  • Sep 28, 2018
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PRESS STATEMENT

 September 27, 2018 

CDD Faults Ethical Lapses in Osun Rerun Poll 

The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) has carefully observed the governorship rerun election in Osun State with a conclusion that the conduct of some key stakeholders clearly ran contrary to democratic norms and standards, as well as best practices in the conduct of credible elections. CDD notes that a number of the incidents recorded during the poll have undermined the sanctity of the vote and the overall credibility of the electoral process. Specifically, CDD frowns at the conduct of the security agents as well as political party stalwarts who took steps that were clearly inimical to the conduct of a free, fair and credible election.

CDD observers reported several cases of denial of access to Polling Units to observers, and even voters.  CDD field observers deployed to observe the process and ensure its credibility, especially in Orolu and Osogbo LGAs, were intimidated, threatened and in some cases arrested by security forces. Credible reports from our field observers showed that despite being duly accredited by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), several of the observers and journalists were stopped from observing the process. CDD observers reported palpable tension in Ifon, Orolu LGAs due to the high-handed conduct of the security agents who seemed bent to sway the vote the way of certain partisan interests. At Ajegunle Roundabout, which leads to Polling Unit 003 Ward 9 Gbogbo Primary School in Orolu LGA, security personnel mounted barricades to obstruct observers and deny them access to the polling unit.

Observers who attempted to carry out their legitimate duties were arrested and taken to nearby police station. They were only released after being denied the opportunity to keep an eye on the process so as to guarantee its credibility.  For instance, a CDD observer, Kemi Busari was arrested by the police on the pretext that he took pictures around a polling unit. The police officer’s stance contradicts the statement of INEC, which made it clear that voters and participants were allowed to go with their phones to polling units but not to polling booths after ballot paper must have been issued to an accredited voter.

This particular incident clearly demonstrates the fact that the law enforcement agents were not properly informed about or deliberately ignored the INEC directive, which banned the use of phones in the voting cubicle, not around the overall polling environment. In the face of the intimidation and unjust arrests, observers forced to leave the Polling Units. CDD also observed attempts by members of the security forces to prevent some voters who allegedly belong to opposition party from accessing PU012 Olode Ward 07 in Ife-south LG, even after showing their PVCs.

Also, despite all efforts by INEC and civic group to ensure violence-free polls, some political actors mobilized thugs and hoodlums to intimidate voters, journalists and observers. Chang Mantu, a senior police officer involved in the coordination of security in the Osun election, explained in Osogbo that there was an attempt by some party men disguising as observers to gain access to Orolu in the early hours of Thursday. He said they were arrested by the police. According to him, they loaded in a bus and when they were screened, they were found to be members of a political party. He explained the development was the reason why there were restrictions into the area as it was difficult for security officials to know those who were genuine observers and journalists. Our observer also reported that election was disrupted in PU 17, Ward 5 Osogbo LGA as a result of sporadic shooting by some hoodlums.

In terms of the sanctity of the vote, CDD observers reported over five attempts by impostors to vote with PVCs from other Wards at PU012 Olode Ward 07 in Ife-south LGA. Although these attempts were unsuccessful, they nonetheless reflect the kind of impunity, which undermines the credibility of the process.

In the light of these anti-democratic acts, which have undermined the sanctity of the ballot therefore, we hold strongly the view that the rerun poll of Thursday, September 27, 2018 does not meet up with the minimum standards for free, fair and credible elections. It falls short of global best practices in democratic elections which Nigeria aspires towards. The acts of intimidation by security forces and the violence unleashed by party thugs are suggestive of an attempt to compromise the integrity the poll.

Coming as the last off cycle election before the 2019 general election, the conduct of the security forces, politicians and their supporters are sources of concern to strengthening our democratic process. We recommend an urgent investigation of the roles and conduct of the security forces and political thugs in the Osun rerun with a view to sanctioning infractions and preventing a repeat during the 2019 polls.

Signed:

Idayat Hassan

Director, CDD

 

 

 

10 things to know about Osun governorship election

It is barely a week to the gubernatorial election in Osun State.

The election is expected by many to be a close contest between five leading candidates though there are 48 candidates in the election, including four women.

Several crisis trailed the conduct of primary elections in different political parties, for instance, the Social Democratic Party (SDP) conducted two primary elections with two candidates emerging from same party.

PREMIUM TIMES has examined the five major contenders, how they emerged and their experience in politics.

The winner will succeed outgoing governor, Rauf Aregbesola of the APC.

The Centre for Democracy and Development, CDD, in partnership with PREMIUM TIMES will bring you a comprehensive coverage of the election.

Here are 10 major things to know about the coming election:

1. Few women, more men

Out of the 48 candidates contesting the governorship election, only four candidates are women. They are; Rufai Adebisi Mujidat of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), Jegede Hannah Taiwo of the Nigeria Elements Progressive Party (NEPP), Ayodele Mercy Tosin of the Restoration Party (RP), and Adebayo Rasheedat of Peoples Alliance for National Development and Liberty (PANDEL).

The fact that only four out of 48 candidates are women further shows the low representation of women in Nigeria’s political space. In the 19 years of Nigeria’s recent democracy, no woman has emerged president, vice president or even an elected governor. In elective positions since 1999, a Fact Sheet by CDD shows that women have not reached 15 percent representation.

Osun has previously produced two female deputy governors. They are Titi Laoye Tomori and Erelu Obada.

2. Departure from two-horse race

Unlike in previous Osun governorship elections in which were two horse races (mostly between two contenders), Saturday polls will see several political heavyweights slug it out for the governorship position.

The vote is featuring five strong political actors flying different flags, they are Adegboyega Oyetola of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Nurudeen Adeleke of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Iyiola Omisore of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Fatai Akinbade of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), and Adeoti Moshood of the Africa Democratic Party (ADP).

It is important to point out that the three candidates who are flying the flags of ADC, ADP and SDP were formerly strong stalwarts of the APC and PDP.

3. Political realignment and voting pattern

Saturday polls will be interesting to poll watchers on account of the nature of political realignments and how those would affect the patterns of voting. In the previous governorship election in the State, the votes were largely divided among two major political parties.

The major political parties have been very strategic and calculating to gather votes beyond their stronghold and senatorial districts by picking their running mates outside their comfort zone. The last governorship election in the State in 2014 was between the incumbent governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola and senator Iyiola Omisore.

Mr Aregbesola won overwhelmingly in Osun Central and West Senatorial Districts to emerge as the winner of the 2014 governorship election.

The presence of more than two strong contenders this time could push up the numbers of votes, and thereby result in an uptick in participation. The last time, Mr Aregbesola clinched victory in eight local governments in both Osun Central and Osun West senatorial districts and also emerged victorious in six local governments in his region, Osun East senatorial zone.

His challenger, Mr Omisore got majority votes from his strongholds (Ife East, Ife South, Ife North and Ife Central) all in Osun East senatorial zone and further won two local governments each in Osun West and Central Senatorial Districts.

4. A contest of South west political godfathers

The election is of high stakes to the political parties and godfathers, particularly of the South West extraction. It is a contest between the home-based and out of state godfathers. All the five leading candidates in the election are enjoying the patronage of at least one Yoruba elder, group or movement.

For instance, the leader of the Oodua People’ Congress endorsed the APC candidate while Afenifere elders have endorsed SDP candidates.

The standard-bearer of APC has been widely reported to be the cousin of the APC National Leader and former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

The SDP, the platform on which former Deputy Governor, Iyiola Omisore is running, has strong ties to former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Olu Falae.

On its part, the African Democratic Congress (ADC) has strong links to former President Olusegun Obasanjo who has been vocal in his criticism of the president, Muhammadu Buhari and the APC.

5. Number of registered voters

The number of registered voters in the State as at the first week of September is 1,682,495. This marked an increase of 271,122 (19.2 per cent) from the 1,411,373 registered voters in 2014 governorship election in the state.

The increase at senatorial districts level, however, differs as at September 2018. Although, Osun West has the highest percentage increase while Osun Central has the highest number of registered voters. In Osun West, the number of registered voters increased by 21.4 per cent (from 430,209 to 522,272 voters), while Osun East increased by 17.02 per cent (from 514,698 to 602,275 voters). For Osun Central, the number of registered voters increased by 17.4 per cent from 460,603 to 557,948 voters.

6. Number of PVCs collected

According to the electoral Commission, 1,127,866 people have so far collected their Permanent Voters Card (PVC) out of 1,668, 524 received in the State as at August 2018. This collection rate implies that there are over half a million PVCs (540, 658) yet to be collected by prospective voters as the clock ticks towards Election Day.

7. Party primary crisis, defections and litigations

All Progressives Congress (APC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Social Democratic Party (SDP) are entangled in intra-party crisis as a fallout of the controversial parties’ primaries conducted ahead of the governorship elections.

APC encountered several challenges following the adoption of direct primary method which was the first of its kind in the party’s history as party members chose the flag bearer from 332 wards.

The method was criticised by about 17 governorship aspirants of the party and many alleged that the method was adopted to favour Gboyega Oyetola, tagged to be the anointed candidate of the outgoing governor, Rauf Aregbesola and the party’s national leader, Bola Tinubu.

Kunle Rasheed Adegoke, an aggrieved aspirant, called for an outright cancellation of the exercise and also to stop INEC from recognising the outcome of the primary. He filed a case against APC & INEC before the Federal High Court in Abuja.

Some aspirants pulled out of the race while the Secretary to the State Government dumped the party for Action Democratic Party (ADP) to become the sole flag bearer of the party.

Following his defection, several members of APC also left the party.

The PDP crisis is yet to be settled. The party’s flag bearer, Ademola Adeleke is still battling with a suit over his certificate by some aggrieved members of the party. Mr Adeleke emerged as the party’s flag bearer with seven votes more than that of Akin Ogunbiyi, who wrote a petition to the national body alleging fraud during the primary.

The factional crisis within SDP also became a subject of litigation as members loyal to Ademola Ishola faction sought for judicial intervention, asking for the nullification of the primary that produced Senator Iyiola Omisore as the party’s governorship candidate.

They argued that the primary conducted by the other faction was illegal, going by the earlier court order, secured by the Ademola Isola faction, flouted by Bayo Faforiji-led factional Chairman of the party.

Bayo Faforiji- led executives dismissed this claim, stating that the Ademola Isola faction is under suspension with the secretary, Jide Awe, by the national leadership of the SDP in Abuja and that the Bayo-led congress was supervised by INEC and national leadership of the party.

The case was struck out following settlement out of court by both parties involved.

8. Politics of zoning

In the lead up to the elections, zoning emerged as a significant factor as there were lots of agitation that power should shift to Osun West Senatorial District.

This is based on the claim that the zone is the most politically marginalised district since the creation of the State in 1991.

The clamour for power shift found its way into the political parties. In particular, in the APC, there was a strong clamour for power to shift to the West. It is also believed that the idea of the direct primary was first introduced in Osun State to defeat the progenitor of zoning. The clamour for zoning in the APC was so loud that twelve out of the seventeen governorship aspirants representing the Osun West jointly addressed a press conference rejecting direct primary and claiming it is to prevent them from emerging as Party candidate in the election.

The zoning agitation has been backed by interest groups and traditional rulers. Towns such as Osogbo and Iwo have claimed marginalisation. For instance, an example is the July rally held by Concerned Iwo Land Youth for Actualization of Iwolokan Agenda.

Late senator Isiaka Adetunji Adeleke, who incidentally is the first executive governor of the state, ruled between January 1992 and November 1993 before his administration was short-lived by the military. He only governed for 22 months.

Bisi Akande followed this from Osun Central, and he spent four years as a Governor. Olagunsoye Oyinlola, also from Osun Central, ruled for seven and a half years while the current governor, who is from Osun East, will relinquish power in November after spending eight years.

As it stands, the PDP candidate Ademola Adeleke, Fatai Akinbade of the ADC, and Adeoti Moshood of the ADP are from Osun West senatorial zone. The APC is fielding Isiaka Oyetola form Osun Central, and Iyiola Omisore of the SDP is from Osun East. It will be interesting to see how this shapes the voting pattern.

9. Vote buying

Indications that Osun polls will be fraught with vote buying, a practice of paying voters to compel them to vote for particular candidates during an election is worrisome.

It has become a hot-button issue ahead of Saturday polls and the 2019 general elections, particularly after cases of vote buying were significantly reported in the recently conducted guber elections in Ekiti state. The two major parties in the election, APC and PDP, were culpable in it with videos showing how money was given to the electorates to influence their votes.

Already, an election observer and monitoring group, the Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement (YIAGA Africa) in its pre-election findings, observed that voters’ inducement through the distribution of money and gifts was visible in Osun State.

10. Sixth governorship election in history of Osun State

The success of Saturdays’ polls will mark the sixth governorship election in Osun.

The state was carved out of the old Oyo State on August 27, 1991, by the military regime of Ibrahim Babangida.

The first democratically elected governor of the state, Isiaka Adeleke, took office in January 1992 and governed till November 1993, when the military junta of Mr Babangida dissolved all political offices, after the annulment of the June 12, 1993, presidential election.

The September 22, 2018 Governorship Election in Osun State would, therefore, be the sixth to be conducted since the creation of the state in 1991.

The poll, to be held by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), will usher in a successor to governor Aregbesola, whose tenure ends on November 6, 2018.

Osun is an off cycle election as a result of a post-election litigation arising from the widely condemned 2007 elections. The election was overturned by a decision of the Court of Appeal sitting in Benin, which saw Mr Aregbesola declared the rightful winner after three years of legal battle.

The names of the parties and their candidates as presented by INEC are as follows:

1. Party – Accord
Governor – Julius Olapade Okunola
Deputy Governor – Azeez Kayode Jimoh

2. Party – AA
Governor – Ogunmodede Adeloye
Deputy Governor – Adepoju Timothy Adetunji

3. Party – ABP
Governor – Oludare Timothy Akinola
Deputy Governor – Halimat Bunmi Ibrahim

4. Party – ACD
Governor – Genga Afeni
Deputy Governor – Oni Esther Oluwatoyin

5. Party – ACPN
Governor – Rufai Adebisi Mujidat
Deputy Governor – Agboola Peter Oluremi

6. Party – AD
Governor – James Olugbenga Akintola
Deputy Governor – Abdulhakeem Oyeniyi Bello

7. Party – ADC
Governor – Fatai Akinade Akinbade
Deputy Governor – Arowolo Oladele

8. Party – ADP
Governor – Adeoti Moshood Olalekan
Deputy Governor – Durotoye Adeolu Akinbola

9. Party – AGA
Governor – Kehinde Olufemi Lawrence
Deputy Governor – Lawal Oluseyi Afusat

10. Party – AGAP
Governor – Adejola Adebayo Rufus
Deputy Governor – Adebayo Adewale Olaolu

11. Party – ANRP
Governor – Alarape Babatunde A.
Deputy Governor – Adelu Ayoade David

12. Party – APA
Governor – Adeleke Adesoji M.A
Deputy Governor – Agbonmagbe Tosin Omowumi

13. Party – APC
Governor – Adegboyega Isiaka Oyetola
Deputy Governor – Benedict Olugboyega Alabi

14. Party – APGA
Governor – Oluwatoki Adetokunbo Adedayo A.
Deputy Governor – Adefila Mary Olaitan (Nee Olaleke)

15. Party – APP
Governor – Ekundayo Ademola Precious
Deputy Governor – Ojo Olugbenga Samuel

16. Party – BNPP
Governor – Olapade Olajide Victor
Deputy Governor – Dunmade Adejoke Wuraola

17. Party – C4C
Governor –Ilori Titus Oluwafemi
Deputy Governor – Alabi Temitayo Kadijat

18. Party – DA
Governor – Mutiu Abiodun Ibrahim
Deputy Governor – Fafioye Hammed Abiodun

19. Party – DPC
Governor – Aderemi Aree
Deputy Governor – Onitayo Yemisi Mary

20. Party – DPP
Governor – Solomon Ayodeji Oni
Deputy Governor – Issa Ademola Aderibigbe

21. Party – FJP
Governor – Babatunde Salako Joseph
Deputy Governor – Onifade Saheed Alade

22. Party – GDPN
Governor – Adetipe Adebodun Abiola
Deputy Governor – Ajiboye Funke

23. Party – GPN
Governor – Rafiu Shehu Anifowose
Deputy Governor – Oluwatoyin Adebayo

24. Party – HDP
Governor – Adedoyin Adegoke Joshua Oluwole
Deputy Governor – Olawale Adesoye Adewumi

25. Party – KP
Governor – Fabiyi Oluseyi Olubunmi
Deputy Governor – Ibrahim Adekunle Akande

26. Party – LP
Governor – Babatunde Olaniyi Loye
Deputy Governor – Aderonke Adebayor Jabar

27. Party – MMN
Governor – Raphael A. Feranmi
Deputy Governor – Ariyo Sunday Sina

28. Party – MPN
Governor – Lawal Ganiyu Akanfe
Deputy Governor – Idowu Kayode Olusegun

29. Party – NCP
Governor – Kamarudeen Kalemi Abiodun
Deputy Governor – Lawal Temitope Serifat

30. Party – NPC
Governor – Olaniyi Anthony Fadahunsi
Deputy Governor – Abdulrasheed Afusat Olanike

31. Party – NEPP
Governor – Jegede Hannah Taiwo
Deputy Governor – Rebecca Adeleke Oladepo

32. Party – NNPP
Governor – Adefare Segun Adegoke
Deputy Governor – Adeyeye Nurudeen Adeyemi

33. Party – PANDEL
Governor – Adebayo Rasheedat
Deputy Governor – Ajibola Fatimat

34. Party – PDC
Governor – Kolawole Rafiu Ojonla
Deputy Governor – Oladapo Deborah Oluwatoyin

35. Party – PDP
Governor – Ademola Nirudeen Adeleke
Deputy Governor – Albert A. Adeogun

36. Party – PPA
Governor – Adedokun Musbau Olalekan
Deputy Governor – Ibrahim Bukola

37. Party – PPC
Governor – Ifeolu Kehinde Adewumi
Deputy Governor – Sunday Makinde Babawale

38. Party – PPN
Governor – Akintunde Adesoji
Deputy Governor – Akanmu Saheed Abiodun

39. Party – PRP
Governor –Badmus Tajudeen Adefola
Deputy Governor – Olajire Gbolahan

40. Party – PT
Governor – Adegboyega Aderemi
Deputy Governor – Usman Omobolaji Taofeek

41. Party – RP
Governor – Ayodele Mercy Tosin
Deputy Governor – Adejumo Mukaila

42. Party – SDP
Governor – Iyiola Omisore
Deputy Governor – Lawal Azeez Olayemi

43. Party – SNP
Governor – Ayoade Ezekiel Adegboyega
Deputy Governor – Omolade Anike Adebayo

44. Party – SPN
Governor – Alfred Adegoke
Deputy Governor – Lameed Gafar

45. Party – UPN
Governor – Adediji Olanrewaju Adewuyi
Deputy Governor – Alabi Ola-Olu Adeniyi

46. Party – UPP
Governor – Odutade Olagunju Adesanya
Deputy Governor – Karonwi Festus Olamilekan

47. Party – YDP
Governor – Adebayo Adeolu Elisha
Deputy Governor – Aleem Atinuke

48. Party – YPP
Governor – Adetunji Olubunmi Omotayo
Deputy Governor – Salawu Kareem Adeniy

Media as major breeding for fake news in Nigeria

A new public opinion poll conducted by Nigeria’s leading survey and polling firm, NOIPolls says that the new media, comprising the social media, blogs are the major breeding ground for fake news in Nigeria.The result of the poll conducted by the NOIPolls, released on Tuesday in Abuja showed that by 67 percent of Nigerians believe that the social media was the major source of fake news in the country.

It noted that the natural instinct for some Nigerians to scrutinize the authenticity of a news report before sharing has been greatly reduced as some social media users want to be among the first to share a news story, be it on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or WhatsApp etc.

According to the report, this trend of sharing news report without validating its source is capable of triggering mob action, agitation, violence and in extreme cases, national security implications.

“This finding collaborates reports from a two-day conference organised by the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) in Abuja, revealing that the emergence of the new media, particularly social media, has given rise to unrestricted influx of fake news in Nigeria.

“More findings revealed that radio (39 percent) has remained the primary source of information for most Nigerians despite the emergence of social media.

“Also, perception on trust across media platforms regarding authentic information dissemination showed that Nigerians are more likely to trust information from traditional media; Television (59 percent), Radio (53 percent) and Newspaper (48 percent)) than other sources such as Facebook, Word of mouth, Instagram,” it said..

The poll results also revealed that the issue of fake news is very prevalent in Nigeria as indicated by 93 percent of the respondents interviewed and they believe that it is capable of upsetting the country’s social balance.

It added that a larger share (35 percent) of Nigerians lamented that fake news is capable of promoting and encouraging hatred and violence whereas, 25 percent believe it can cause panic and tension amongst other negative effects.

It acknowledged the launching of a national campaign against fake news, an initiative which 56 percent of the respondents claim to be unaware of, implying that more effort must be made in spreading the campaign, especially at grassroots level as mentioned by 30 percent of the respondents that there should be sensitization on the dangers of rumour mongering and the spread of fake news in the country..

 

Charter on Democracy and Governance will help Nigeria

Charter on Democracy and Governance will help Nigeria

 

Unarguably, democracy and good governance go hand in hand to achieve justice and equity for the citizens.

In spite of this, observers note with concern that good governance seems to be eluding African countries, including Nigeria occasioned by endemic corruption, among other malpractices.

In a bid to remove impediments to good governance in Africa, the African Union 8th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government in 2007 adopted the African Governance Architecture (AGA) and African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (ACDEG).

The motive of African leaders in adopting these documents is to stimulate adherence to the universal democratic values and principles which include respect for rule of law and human rights.

One of the objectives of the charter is to ensure that change of government is achieved through constitutional provisions.

Nigeria adopted ACDEG in 2007 and ratified it in January 2012 but it has yet to implement the charter.

A training for journalists entitled: “Mobilising Civil Society Support for the Implementation of AGA and ACDEG’’ organised by Actionaid Nigeria, a non-governmental organisation in Abuja recently was part of the steps toward ensuring implementation of the charter.

The charter has 42 provisions on virtually all the principles of democratic governance, inclusive of accountability.

It further provides that parties to the charter shall establish the necessary conditions to foster citizens’ participation, transparency, access to information, freedom of the press and accountability in the management of public affairs.

It has ample provisions on vertical and horizontal accountability measures to strengthen democracy on the continent.

One of the facilitators at the training, Mr Yusuf Shamsudeen, said that by ratifying the charter, Nigeria had expressed its willingness to implement the documents.

Shamsudeen, a Programme Officer with Centre for Democracy and Development, noted that implementation of the charter was imperative for Nigeria because the core values of its democracy were under threat.

According to him, Nigeria’s democracy is plagued by weak institutions, leadership problems, poverty, human rights abuse, corruption, unemployment and conflict, among other challenges.

“Nigeria, being a state party to the instrument, is bound to adhere to its core principles by domesticating ACDEG and AGA in the country because it stands to benefit greatly from it.

“By domestication, it means national laws should be formulated, if not available, and certain actions should be taken by the government to implement ACDEG principles in the country.

“This charter will take away the weaknesses of Nigeria’s democracy and strengthen its electoral processes, create equality, increase adherence to rule of law and human rights, among other systems.

“It will also eliminate all forms of discrimination and enhance fundamental freedom, while enhancing rights of persons with disabilities, women, minority, migrants, refugees, displaced persons and other marginalised social groups,’’ he explained.

Shamsudeen observed that the charter has all the necessary ingredients for the accomplishment of democratic accountability in Nigeria, if implemented.

He said that for the principles of ACDEG to be achieved, state parties must be committed to the provisions of the charter as stated in the framework.

“As part of the commitment, political and public sector institutions must be strengthened to deliver democratic dividends, be accountable and responsive to the needs and aspirations of the citizens.

“Also, elected government officials and public servants must see accountability as an obligation and part of the democratic rights of the citizens,’’ he said.

He insisted that civil society and the media must play their role by compelling elected and appointed government functionaries to be accountable to the people.

In this regard, Mr Tunde Aremu, a Consultant to Actionaid Nigeria, enjoined the media to effectively discharge their watchdog responsibility by holding leaders accountable in the implementation of policies, programmes and projects.

Aremu entitled his lecture at the training: “Understanding the Articles and Provisions of ACDEG and its Relevance to the Nigerian Democracy’’.

He said: “As journalists, you are the only profession that the constitution gave a responsibility to and that is to monitor the government and hold it accountable to its responsibilities, as expressly stated in Section 22 of the 1999 Constitution.

“You are to act as the watchdog of the society and ensure that the government implements agreements it signed up to, especially the ACDEG and AGA Charter’’.

He also said that journalists should highlight the socio-economic challenges confronting the people in their reportage as well as interrogate government policies and programmes with a view to engendering development and improvement in the general well-being of the people.

Participants in the training, therefore, noted that achieving this goal will require investigating governments, companies, organisations and individuals in order to uncover, present and publish reports on facts that people try to hide.

Mrs Nkechi Okoronkwo, the Acting Editor-in-Chief, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), also presented a paper entitled: “Fundamentals of Investigative Journalism’’ in which she underscored the importance of investigative reporting.

She told the participants in the training that the job of journalists was to let people know about happenings in the society and around them.

She observed that in many cases, people in government and positions of authority attempted hiding facts.

“It is the duty of journalists to uncover these hidden facts and inform their readers or listeners accordingly.

“In many other cases, governments, companies, organisations and individuals try to hide decisions or events which affect other people.

“Such actions border on selfish motives such as corruption, compromise, misappropriation, underhand dealings, abuse and breaking the law, among others.

“People have a right to know about the society in which they live; they have a right to know about decisions which may affect them, even if people in power want to keep them secret,’’ she said.

Okoronkwo said that people in power, whether in government, the world of commerce, or any other group in the society could also abuse power, be corrupt, steal money, break laws and do all sorts of things which harm other people or they might just be incompetent and unable to do their jobs properly.

“Such people would usually try to keep this knowledge secret and it behoves journalists to expose such abuses.

“It is also the responsibility of the media to watch how well people in power do their jobs, especially those elected into public offices,’’ she advised.

Okoronkwo, therefore, urged journalists to constantly ask whether such people were keeping their election promises and if not, they should be exposed.

She urged the media to be diligent in its duty, respect the ethics of the profession, fact-check their reports and present only the truth to the public.

According to her, when the media discharges its duties effectively and efficiently, the government will sit up, the rule of law will be upheld, policies will be diligently be implemented and the nation will be better off.

In his remark, Mr Arome Agenyi, the Campaign and Advocacy Officer of Actionaid Nigeria, said: “ACDEG and AGA are developed to assist African countries to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

He also said that the training was organised to enlighten journalists about the charter and equip them to communicate the importance of the charter to the government and the general public through the publication of reports on the principles of ACDEG.

He said that effective implementation of ACDEG objectives could be achieved only if conscious efforts were made to promote comprehensive ratification and domestication of ACDEG across the continent.

All in all, participants in the training called for the implementation of ACDEG to address the critical challenges plaguing African nations such as corruption, lack of accountability, disrespect for rule of law and human rights abuses, among others.(NANFeatures)