Haruna Mohammed Salihu, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of WikkiTimes, an investigative digital platform in Bauchi State, said journalists should be determined in holding powers to account.
The publisher who spoke at the ongoing Amplify In-depth Media (AIM) Conference and 17th Wole Soyinka Awards for Investigative Reporting, decried that the media has derailed from its watchdog’s role, adding most times the media turn blind eyes to corrupt practices perpetrated by those at the helm of people’s affairs.
Haruna said: “Our argument is that for our democracy to be very strong, we must equally focus our attention at the subnational level because there are local actors, local politicians subverting the interest of the people in the process.”
For those advocating that the media must be neutral, Haruna opined that if the media must guard against those values that define an efficient democracy, the media must be very assertive and very adversarial in its practice.
“You can not claim to be neutral when the interest of the public is consistently being subverted by local actors, local politicians and local vested interests,” he said.
According to him since its inception, WikkiTimes had remained a viable tool for exposing corrupt practices at the subnational level. However, Haruna decried that those in power see the platform as an enemy of their progress, citing an example with a story published by the platform on how the former Bauchi Police Commissioner tried to manipulate a murder case into a road traffic offence which many news outlets overlooked.
Haruna said most of the time the rewards the platform gets from those in power are threats. He cited an example of a contract scandal in Adamawa which was exposed by the platform. In return, the politician called asking why the WikkkTimes is trying to destroy her career while she threatened to sue the platform.
“What is even more annoying is when the media is conspiring with the politicians, after we published this story, she issued public statement and take releases to media stations, and they published it without any effort to find out the veracity of this investigation, to even find out the methodology and some of the corruptions we unearth,” the publisher decried.
In the past four years, the online media outlet has published compelling investigative reports that examined government policies and programmes, making an impact at the sub-national level.