Haruna Mohamed, the publisher of WikkiTimes among other speakers at the 14th lecture series of the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative journalism (WSCIJ), yesterday, harped on the need for vibrant sub-national media organisations to enable a “meaning democracy.”
During the virtual lecture, the speakers jointly believe that for any democracy to thrive, the sub-national as well as the privately-owned media organizations should embark on reporting from local communities where most of the government-owned media and other big national dailies neglect.
The lecture themed ‘Can democracy work without a strong sub-national media?’ was held to commemorate the 88th birthday of Africa’s first Nobel Laureate in Literature and Grand Patron of the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ), Professor Wole Soyinka.
In her keynote address, Professor Chiedo Nwankwor, the Vice Dean for Education and Academic Affairs at John Hopkins University, School of Advanced and International Studies (SAIS), said the media as a watchdog in society must keep to its primary responsibility to hold power accountable by reporting on local events in the villages.
In his remark, the Director, McArthur Foundation Africa Office, Kole Shekima, represented by Olaide Oladayo emphasised the need to allow the media to create a democratic atmosphere for national development.
He added that there is a great need for Nigerians to invest in the media, arguing that a sustainable democracy cannot work without strived subnational media.
Haruna Mohammed, the founder and Publisher of WikkiTimes, a Bauchi-based online media outlet, urged media owners to enhance the journalist’s financial capacity to have commensurate power to report events without being compromised.
He said there should be a partnership among the media houses as well as networking to sustain holding powers accountable and expose corrupt practices for sustained democracy and national development.
Mansur Liman, the Director-General, Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), opined that: “The funds paid by the government are not adequate to carry out investigations, yet many private funders do not fund public media organisations because of the stereotypes that they are controlled by the government.”
Other panellists present at the virtual lecture include Fisayo Soyombo, the founder of Foundation for Investigative Journalism and Social Justice, Ibiba Don Pedro, the Managing Director, National Point, Adaora Onyechere, the Executive Director, Gender Strategy Advancement International.
WikkiTimes had earlier reported that the webinar will also feature the public launch of the centre’s Collaborative Media Engagement for Development Inclusivity and Accountability (CMEDIA) project.
Wole Soyinka Media Lecture Series is an annual programme of the WSCIJ aimed at examining varying topical issues that have a reverberating effect on the perceived performance of the media on the health of Nigeria’s democracy and the country at large.
Held first on March 27, 2008, WSCIJ has since 2009 held the lecture on July 13, to commemorate the birthday of Africa’s first Nobel Laureate.
The centre also has a Collaborative Media Project which is a multi-level intervention for media independence and government accountability with support from MacArthur Foundation. WikikTimes, including other 25 outlets, are beneficiary.
The outlets with support from WSCIJ and McArthur Foundation are improving transparency, accountability and good governance as well as amplifying marginalised voices, especially at state and local government levels and the private sector.