CISLAC Charges Nigerian Media Practitioners to be involved in Budget Tracking

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CISLAC Charges Nigerian Media Practitioners to be involved in Budget Tracking
Zainab Tanimu —Kaduna
Nigerian Media Practitioners have been charged to be involved in the area of budget tracking as that would go a long way in redefining our goals. This charge was given during a one day capacity building organized by a non- governmental organization, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) for Media Practitioners in Kaduna.
The Senior Programme Officer for CISLAC, Chioma Blessing Kanu in an interview with Zainab Tanimu, said it is of great importance that every Nigerian be concerned in the management of the nation’s resources by office holders as a way of holding them accountable to the people. She maintained that our resources if well utilized for the purpose for which they were meant, challenges being faced today in most of our sectors would have been a thing of the past. Example given being that of our health centers most of which are moribund. The media as information disseminators must therefore be deeply involved in bringing about awareness in order that Nigerians can begin to hold their leaders responsible where need be. Particularly, the area of maternal and child health.
Excerpt.
Why maternal health. Why the interest?
We are not only interested in maternal health though it is among the burning issue now in Kaduna state. I am Senior Programme Officer, SGDs, Reproductive Health and Gender. l work on all these diverse areas. Recently, we had a high level political forum on SDGs where 44 nations gathered to convey under the UN in New York City to review the SDGs progress. Is one of the things we are engaging as CISLAC. It is not as if maternal health is the only issue but it is the burning issue that brought us to Kaduna.
For how long have you been working on this project?
We have been working in Kaduna since 2013 especially in maternal and child health. This is the second leg of the project. We know that the state has high maternal mortality rate. Inadequate funding has been identified as one of the challenges of the health sector and reason for the high maternal mortality rate in the state.
Would it be right then to say that the Media practitioners are of importance in the realization of the objective of this project?
Yes, we have been engaging other CSOs, executives and legislators. But the new thing we are bringing in is that, we have learnt through need assessment that, media practitioners needed to understand the nitty-gritty of investigative journalism and budget tracking. We want to see how journalists can help beaming their searchlight to areas where interventions are needed while the implementers can do the needful for the benefit of our women and children.
What relevance has this budget tracking to the issue of maternal health?
The challenge in maternal mortality issue has been resonating for some time now with all stakeholders now talking about what we can do to make things work better. We have high maternal mortality ratio in the country and one of the challenges is funding for health. As a country, we are yet to meet up with United Nation budget standard that recommended 15 percent for health sector. Now, we have been budgeting between 3-5 percent and even this sometimes; do not even scale through because people responsible for the follow up are not doing their work which is where the media need to really come in to make people more responsible for their actions. We do not even have enough to take care of our hailing health system. If you visit the health centers, everything is moribund. In fact we have little or no primary health centers in the country and then we have very little money to tackle the problem we are having. And then you hear that such monies are not returned. What do they do with the money?


Would it be right then to say that the Media practitioners are of importance in the realization of the objective of this project?
Yes, we have been engaging other CSOs, executives and legislators. But the new thing we are bringing in is that, we have learnt through need assessment that, media practitioners needed to understand the nitty-gritty of investigative journalism and budget tracking. We want to see how journalists can help beaming their searchlight to areas where interventions are needed while the implementers can do the needful for the benefit of our women and children.
The next thing is for us to incorporate the executives because they are looking at policy issues in this project and of course the budget process and all that which of course we cannot do without the executives hence our interest now in engaging the executives.
I have read that overnight a health center had been constructed in a community. This was made possible through the job of a tracker. With this kind of accountability forum that is breeding among Nigerians, both the government officials and politicians would be made to stand up to their responsibilities. That is the way we work with government.

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