The HumAgle Accountability Fellowship entered its second in-person training day yesterday, Jan. 13. Experts from the fields of research, accountability, activism, journalism, and humanitarian aid were brought in to train the fellows. The first day of the training had focused on trainings around grassroots organizing and mobilization.
Director of the Nigeria office at the MacArthur Foundation, Dr Kole Shettima, had a brief session with the fellows where he urged them to be people of integrity and should not be discouraged by the challenges that will be coming their way in the future. He noted that when you try to promote accountability, there will be pushback from the people who don’t want to be held accountable.
“Many of the younger generations of journalists are from places where there are no major newspapers or media houses,” he said. “Therefore, how do we identify younger people from rural areas in other places that may not be at the centre of the work we are doing and are interested in journalism? We have to initiate a programme called ‘Catch Them Young’ through HumAngle to block the leakages in the pipeline.”
He acknowledged that in the northeast in particular, there are no major news outlets. “We are hoping that through this fellowship, we will be able to develop skills necessary for the fellows and also for them to have a platform to report issues affecting their community. At our Foundation, we are proud of the work HumAngle is doing and we hope they do more,” he said.
Head of Tracka, Damen Ilevbaoje, held his session on budget tracking and the importance of citizen participation in the budget process. He emphasized the need for civic advocacy groups, especially in the Northeast, to improve service delivery.
He said, “Non-inclusion of citizens in developmental projects is bad. Only citizens truly know what the community wants not a politician who stays in Abuja and visits once a year. The lack of effective monitoring and evaluation body to verify projects implementation and standards is what is killing many Nigerians today.”
He noted that critical issues as they relate to social and economic development in the country are usually under-reported or, in some cases, not reported at all, especially in the Northeast.
“I am a Christian but tracking budget is my Holy Bible. Therefore, as beneficiaries of this prestigious opportunity to bring changes into your community, I urge you to be devoted and steadfast in your duty,” he added.
As a fellow, Ijasini Ijani was very emotional when narrating how conflict destroyed his family. He lamented that when the insurgency began in Jere, Borno state, his mother left office to relocate them to Bauchi out of fear, but his father declined to follow them and opted to stick to his civil service job instead. It created a barrier in his family and affected their education because the relocation meant they also had to change schools.
He said, “I lost my cousin who happened to be my best friend three months before his wedding because of the insurgency. Also, my mom had to retire from civil service for us to migrate to Bauchi from Jere local government in Borno while leaving our father alone because he refused to follow us.”
Witnessing the severe impact of the insurgency in his community by watching loved ones chased, dragged, and gunned down or butchered like animals, and their home destroyed, a place he once considered to be a refuge turned to hell. It felt like today’s session was designed only for him, he said.
He also explained that he came to the fellowship to be provided with the needed skills that will ease his ambition of tracking and monitoring humanitarian interventions in Southern Borno, particularly in the Biu and Gwoza communities.
He said, “As someone who is obsessed with HumAngle activities on social media and being an admirer of Kunle Adebajo and Zubaida Ibrahim’s work, I am more than happy to be learning under them and will seize every opportunity to learn all I can.”
“This is a lifetime opportunity for someone like me to learn more about investigative journalism which has been my passion and solution journalism. I will ensure that I do not waste the knowledge I gained from this fellowship,” he added.
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