Public office holders must show leadership, accountability — Director General, NGF.

Director General of Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), Mr. Asishana Okauru, on Wednesday, tasked Nigerians saddled with the responsibility for implementing policies in Nigeria to show leadership, knowledge, integrity, accountability, and transparency while in office.

Mr. Okauru gave the charge in Abuja, during the flag-off of a two-day annual training on ‘Governance and Public Policy Reporting’, jointly organised by Premium Times Academy and NGF for Journalists covering the activities of the Forum.

The NGF helmsman, who expressed excitement over the successes and impacts of the two previous annual trainings, assured of the sustainability of the initiative, adding that the Premium Times Academy training will be sustained.

While acknowledging the existence of good policy formulation being put in place at all levels of governance, he, however, decried the challenges associated with policy implementation by concerned public officeholders.

He said: “In my view, this resonates well with the several other policy works that we have prioritized at the NGF Secretariat. In the next couple of days, when our sectorial heads speak to you, this will become clearer.

“We are essentially a policy hub and have done an excellent job in locating some of the most competent research-minded hands to drive the work we do for our principals.

“Your role as Journalists is crucial in crafting and shaping policies. You could potentially derail a well-thought-out policy as a result of poor messaging. It is therefore extremely important we work together to understand the policy value chain better.

“For me, it would appear that the implementation segment has been the weakest part of the entire policy value chain in our environment. This calls for patience and understanding.

“Those charged with the responsibility of executing policies in the country must show leadership, knowledge, integrity, accountability, and transparency, especially at this time of major global happenings all around us.

“Here I am referring to the Israel-Hamas war; Russo-Ukrainian war and the attendant supply chain issues arising from these wars; the rise of extremism; worldwide depression, climate change, UK has been hit by Brexit; technology particularly artificial intelligence (e.g. Chatgpt, etc),” he noted.

On his part, Editor-in-Chief/Chief Operating Officer of Premium Times, Mr. Musikilu Mojeed, applauded NGF for prioritizing training for its media stakeholders as part of its approach to deepening democracy and governance in Nigeria.

While noting that Premium Times Academy has contributed immensely to strengthening our democracy by promoting accountability and transparency in governance, he admonished Media Practitioners, while serving as watchdogs, to “ensure honest and productive governance while focusing their coverage on issues vital to advancing citizens and society.

“While Nigeria had general elections this year. At both state and federal levels, winners in the polls were sworn in on May 29 for the commencement of their four-year tenures. Apart from those elected, several new officials have also been appointed at the federal and state levels. So, as the new crop of politicians assumes duties, journalists must prepare, including upping their skills, to report on them and their actions and policies.

“This course is built on the firm belief that the purpose of journalism is to serve society, just as the raison d’etre of governance and policy reporting is to empower citizens with the information they need to participate in civic affairs.

“We believe Journalists should serve as watchdogs to ensure honest and productive governance while focusing their coverage on issues vital to advancing citizens and society.

“This training is therefore designed to help journalists with the skills they need to cover public policies, governance, and the democratic process in Nigeria, Africa’s largest democracy.

“We believe governance and policy reporting should be informed by a more profound knowledge and skill level of how governments work and how public policy decisions are taken. At the end of this training, we expect participants to develop deeper insights and understanding of the Nigerian system and how to deepen accountability in governance.”

According to him, “For the media to effectively work for the promotion of good governance and report governance more responsibly, there is a need to develop the capacity of journalists to do their jobs professionally. We thank the Nigerian Governors Forum for including this activity in its Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives in the overall interest of the public.”

Mr. Mojeed expressed optimism that at the end of the two-day interactions, “Participants will become better informed and skilled reporters who understand the sensitivity and complexity of their duties and responsibilities in providing the right kind of information citizens and government need to make informed decisions; have a better understanding of solution-driven and reporting on governance issues in line with the desire of citizens to have a prosperous, orderly and stable society.”

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