MacArthur Foundation Approves $19.2m To Strengthen Nigeria’s Accountability Journalism

Head of the Nigeria office, Dr Kole Shettima, explains that supporting investigative reporting in the region is crucial to tackling corruption.

MacArthur Foundation has announced that it is providing more funding to independent media organisations in Nigeria to promote accountability, transparency, and civic engagement.

The grants, which are part of the foundation’s On Nigeria programme, total over $19.2 million and will go to 13 local and regional organisations.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the foundation said this batch of funding is a continuation of its work “to contribute to the health and resilience of Nigeria’s media and journalism sector, in particular, bolstering organisations that conduct investigative and accountability journalism to uncover and document corruption”.

The initiatives supported include training programmes on data and investigative journalism, development of sustainable business models, development of skills and language proficiencies, and election fact-checking exercises.

Dr Kole Shettima, MacArthur’s Nigeria Office Director, said it was crucial to strengthen the capacity of media organisations as part of efforts to tackle corruption.

“A strong, independent media sector forms the backbone of democracy,” he explained. “This continued support of key media and journalism organisations will deepen, consolidate, and institutionalise anti-corruption reporting at the local and state levels and create more opportunities for the voices of rural people, women, young people, and minority ethnic groups to be heard.”

The grantees include Bayero University, Cable Newspaper Journalism Foundation, Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID), The Conversation Africa, Daily Trust Foundation, Daria Media, HumAngle Media, International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF), Women Radio FM, Tiger Eye Social Foundation, Wadata Media and Advocacy Centre, and the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ).

MacArthur’s On Nigeria programme has since 2015 approved funding of over $133 million for 117 organisations to support their efforts in strengthening accountability.

Some of the grantees recently announced have received funding from the foundation in previous years, which they invested in impactful programmes.

“Corruption is very huge in Nigeria and there is no way the Nigerian media can tackle the problem of corruption in the country without independent funding,” Dayo Aiyetan, executive director of the ICIR, a MacArthur grantee, said in 2020.

“The funding MacArthur is giving has led to investigations that have shaken the foundation of the country in the last three years. It has expanded the works of journalists to scrutinise and make government, government institutions, and officials accountable. The biggest success of this project is that we have gotten more journalists interested in doing watchdog reporting that can have impact on society and bring about change.”

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'Kunle Adebajo

Head of Investigations at HumAngle. ‘Kunle covers conflict alongside its many intricacies and fallouts. He also writes about disinformation, the environment, and human rights. He's won a couple of journalism awards, including the 2021 Wole Soyinka Award for Investigative Journalism, the 2022 African Fact-checking Award, and the 2023 Michael Elliott Award for Excellence in African Storytelling.

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