By Sarah Aminu
In a clear determination to sustain its business investigative series, Satellite Times last week held a two-day investigative reporting workshop for new and old media practitioners determined to join a growing team of change agents in Nigeria.
The workshop with title, “Shipping Fraud and Allied Maritime Investigations” was held on the 24th and 25th August at the Afiniki Events Centre, Wuse Zone 3, Abuja. The media training which had a total of 15 new and old journalists as trainees was held under the Collaborative Media Engagement for Development, Inclusivity and Accountability Project, an initiative of the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ), funded by the MacArthur Foundation. The Collaborative Media Engagement is aimed to strengthen media independence and presence, especially at state and local government levels and the private sector, in a bid to improve public awareness and the ecosystem for transparency, accountability and good governance.
In his opening statement Emmanuel Mayah, the Executive Director of International Centre for Development Reporting (ICDR) – publishers of SATELLITE TIMES and BUSINESS LEAKS – tasked the trainees to seize the opportunity of the training to make themselves a force to be reckoned with by serving as the new watchdogs in the Nigeria’s private sector. He said:
“I am happy that most of you here today were at our first business investigative workshop months back. I am happy that you made it back because this second training is essentially building on the knowledge and techniques acquired in our first training.”
“I cannot emphasize enough the great opportunity being offered to us to redefine ourselves, to retool and rebrand our journalism and indeed make ourselves a force to be reckoned with. Good a thing it is the election season and what we unearth as investigative journalists will help change and enrich political conversations on radio and television and of course in the all-powerful social media.
“As you must have noticed on our platform BUSINESS LEAKS; all we do is business investigation. We don’t report politics or split hairs over APC or PDP. All we do is to uncover information that can help set new political agenda; information that can help government recover billions of revenue diverted by bad elements in the private sector; information that can help change the narrative; information that can help voters ask the right question.
“Let me shock you a little bit. One of the leading candidates was talking about his brilliant plan to turn the electricity sector around. Meanwhile he is the beneficial owner of a big generator supply company in Nigeria. So how would such a person tomorrow agree to a reform policy capable of bringing to an end his multi-billion Naira generator business?”
The workshop which had sessions on group work had three experienced private sector practitioners, Mr. Akah Ibetedem, Lydia Agbo and Faith Audu as trainers. Participants were exposed to various trade malpractices through which the Nigerian economy is routinely sabotaged.
The journalists received training on how to identify a cloned Form M, how to calculate revenue losses from cloned and recycled Form M and how shipping companies sabotage the Nigerian economy by aiding importation of items on the Import Prohibition List.
Trainees were further taught how Nigeria loses billions of dollars annually to Illegal Fishing, how foreign companies siphon local revenues by sabotaging Nigeria’s Cabotage Act and how to investigate corruption inside Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB).
Tips and processes were equally provided to journalists interested in investigating corruption in allied areas such as the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) as well as how to track illegal activities of Concessionaires in Nigeria’s 26 Port terminals.
Mr. Mayah announced that after the workshop, trainees would not only be given support to carry out business investigations, they will regularly receive mentoring and monitoring until they can stand firmly on their feet.