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BOOK REVIEW

PUBLICATION REVIEW

Title of publication:
SOLUTION-DRIVEN RURAL POVERTY REPORTING INITIATIVE
Summary of highlights and outcomes of IPC’s solution driven/poverty reporting project in Nigeria

Author: International Press Centre (IPC) with the support of World Association for Christian Communication (WACC)

No of pages: 24

Reviewer: Adewale Adeoye, Executive Director, JOURNALISTS FOR DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS

I wish to commend the International Press Centre, (IPC) for this piece of art and also the World Association For Christian Communication for supporting IPC in carrying out the project implementation, whose summary outcome makes up the content of this publication. Documenting this as an outcome of their work on how media and grass root collaboration can engender development, especially addressing rural poverty conditions at the grass roots serves as a valuable asset for posterity. All over the world, what moves nations and people from stupor to greatness is ideas. This publication is another major contribution to the world of form. The world will run out of energy the day ideas are no more.
This small but significant publication represents a critical engagement of the media’s role in reflecting the echoes from the valleys. I suspect the IPC took the challenge up owing to the declining fortunes of the Nigerian media in meeting public expectations and being the platform for all interests.
Over the years, the Nigerian media has witnessed its worst decline. News stories have come to reflect only the wishes and aspirations of the rich and influential. Newspaper and electronic media have come to portray more of the interests of the few. The travails, pains and pangs of the poor, the downtrodden, the marginalized majority are left unattended to. Even when stories of poverty are reported, the media only scratch the surface. Pictures about poverty follow the trend of opportunism instead of raising critical issues of underdevelopment.
The book has come to challenge this tradition by providing a new guideline that should lead to a paradigm shift.
The publication emphasizes the fact that journalism is not a property of the rich to be manipulated to the disadvantage of the people. It teaches us that the grundnorm of journalism must not be thrown into the thrashbin, that the founding principle of mass communication is to give a voice to the people, not alone to their leaders, who sometimes are also their tormentors alone.
The publication may be small but the frame of mind is huge and inexhaustible. It redefines the current role of the Nigerian media by making a conscious attempt to draw back the missing sheep. The publication captures the strategic role that the media can play in advancing the cause of the people at the lowest ladder of the ladder. Inspite of the fact that the poor do not have the purchasing power, but their expectations, their fears and aspirations must be projected.
This publication demonstrates IPC’s prominent lead in media capacity building which has enabled the institution to enhance public interest reporting. The book is a 24 page summary of media enhanced community led activities built around solution-driven rural poverty reporting initiative which focuses on Advancing the development issues of 8 Grassroots Communities in Lagos.
The publication summed up a series of engagement on how the media was instrumental in capturing the pains, frustrations and concerns of rural settings, and providing the edge to facilitating organs of government to meet the development needs of the eight pilot grass root communities in Lagos State
The report also provides information on the state of infrastructure in rural Lagos communities. It enriches the ability of journalists to report diversity issues involved in a class driven political economy.
One of the most striking aspects was to bring rural communities to interact with journalists. Journalists after training also conducted visits to communities between November 2015 and April 2016.
During the engagement, efforts were made to draw government attention to specific challenges of rural communities, leading to the achievement of certain milestones. For instance, the construction of poor roads at the Bolaji Omupo, Bashoa CDA in Somolu Local Government, the rehabilitation of Obele Odan community Primary School in Obele Oniwahala, Surulere and the construction of a major link road into Erejuwa community in makoko area of Lagos Mainland Local Government are striking examples. The project also involved empowering community representative to write of letters to local government administrators between March and October 2016 on the plight of affected communities, meeting local administrators and coming up with concrete solutions that address the needs of the people.
It is a great attempt at merging the wide gap between ordinary people and the men and women who control commerce, politics and economy. It gives a narrative that redirects our energy to the core tenets of journalism. It shows clearly the strong and inseparable link between sustainable development and journalism when practiced according to its traditional values and norms.
The publication of this book should not end in a room. It must not end on the table. It should be on the streets, in the news rooms, on the desk of every reporter and editor across Nigeria and throughout the West African sub-region.
I commend the IPC for this amazing contribution to development journalism. The publication is handy, easy to digest and produced in simple language that everyone should understand.
The other aspect is how do we transform this document into a working tool in the newsrooms? How do journalists adopt the recommendations in this book as a working document? What strategies have been adopted by the IPC to sustain the momentum that has been built with this project. What other roles can government, funders and development partners play in supporting initiatives like this to address the development of grass root communities?

I believe the IPC could do more in terms of the graphics of the book. I am also not sure of the percentage of print media especially radio that took part in the project.
In all, this is a great piece, a master piece, a clear example of how the IPC has continued to play roles in advancing the role of the media in development in Nigeria and West Africa in terms of capacity building and the commendable effort of creating a permanent synergy between journalism and sustainable development in an obviously tough environment.

THANK YOU.

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DECLARATION OF THE PEOPLE OF THE SOUTH-SOUTH

DECLARATION OF THE PEOPLE OF THE SOUTH-SOUTH AFTER A ONE DAY TRAINING ON  CAPACITY BUILDING, CONFLICT PREVENTION, CONFLICT MANAGEMENT AND PEACE BUILDING ORGANISED BY THE JOURNALISTS FOR DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS, (JODER) WITH THE SUPPORT OF THE FORD FOUNDATION (WEST AFRICA REGIONAL OFFICE),  HELD AT ALDAGATE CONGRESS HOTEL, PORT HARCOURT ON JULY 07, 2016

 

INTRODUCTION

The training programme was organized by JOURNALISTS FOR DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS (JODER) with the support of the FORD FOUNDATION. The theme: Promoting Peace, Democracy and Stability in Nigeria through the Media, Socio-Cultural Institutions and Youth Driven Community Based Groups.

The Mission: Strengthen a people-driven process for conflict prevention, conflict management and peace-building in the Niger-Delta

Training targets: Primary and Secondary Beneficiaries cutting across Faith-based groups, Community-Based Organisations (CBOs), Women Groups, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), security agencies, youth groups, organised labour and informal sector. Participants at the training programme include representatives of various ethnic groups like Ijaw, Isoko, Ikwerre, Ndoni, Ogoni, Urhobo, Efik, Ibibio and Itsekiri as well as non-indigenes in the Niger Delta amongst others.

 

 

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BACKGROUND

The Niger-Delta is home to indigenous ethnic groups that have lived in their territories for thousands of years. The Niger-Delta is a great ancestral homeland of several forest dependent peoples with a rich heritage of amazing culture and civilisations. The Niger-Delta is by far the second largest mangrove forest in the world, rich in natural resources, including but not limited to land and sea animals, the fauna, and hundreds of plant species which add value to the diverse tributaries and estuaries linking the vast ocean and the great Nun and Niger Rivers.

The Niger Delta has no fewer than 16 distinct ethnic nationalities with history of shared heritage and cultural identities including social and trade relations long before the advent of colonial rule. As with any other natural settings, there were history of conflicts and strives amongst the nationalities but the Niger-Delta however remains one of the most critical nerve centres of the Nigerian economy owing to its rich natural endowment and the resourcefulness of the people.

To a large extent, the social and economic activities of the nationalities that make up the Niger-Delta are linked to the environment which supports the survival of the people who depend on livelihood tied to land and forest resources.

For half a century, the people of the Niger-Delta specifically have been facing various challenges to their survival due to adverse factors including environmental pollution, gas faring, disruptive oil exploration, lack of opportunities, the national malaise of corruption, forest devastation, depletion of sea and land resources and gas flaring.

The Niger-Delta produces the mainstay of Nigerian economy which is oil, whereas there have not been equitable sharing or allocation of these resources which remains a major source of conflict in the area;

 

DELIBERATION

Participants noted:

That the forest reserve of the Niger-Delta has remained largely depleted and at present to an all time low with land and sea polluted, natural streams almost extinct, and means of living under sever attacks posing threats to generations unborn;

That previous efforts of relevant stakeholders at various levels to address the situation have not led to appreciable results in spite of the huge resources committed to the processes.

That such efforts include the introduction of the 13 percent revenue derivation, the setting up of the Niger-Delta Development Commission, (NDDC) and the recent adoption of the United Nations Environmental Programme, (UNEP) report which the Nigerian Federal Government has promised to implement, leading to the  recent kick-off of the Ogoni clean-up exercise.

Regrettably however, participants noted that the Niger-Delta narrative has seen consistent stories of violence, desperation and various vices associated with legitimate agitations of the people;

That irrespective of the various efforts of the relevant stakeholders, the Niger-Delta remains fundamentally poor, vulnerable, with limited opportunities for the people to transform their lives in their own way through self actualisation;

That notwithstanding, participants recognise the infinite ability of the people of the Niger-Delta to aspire to a greater future founded on justice, liberty and respect for the dignity of the human person;

That peace and harmonious co-existence are essential to sustainable development in the entire region.

 

RESOLUTIONS

Towards achieving peace and sustainable development in the Niger-Delta, participants make the following resolutions:

  • Participants demand deliberate urgent attention and actions in addressing the growing poverty rate, growing number of out-of-school children due largely to poverty and economic misery, disruption of oil pipelines and the emergence of various groups making one agitation or the other;
  • Participants demand immediate cessation to all forms of violence in the Niger-Delta and that critical stakeholders should embrace peaceful resolution of all the lingering crises in the region through peaceful advocacy and necessary follow-up action;
  • Participants condemn the invasion of indigenous Ijaw and other Niger Delta Communities by armed security agents and frown against the gross human rights violations against the people by the military and other security agents;
  • Participants noted that there is the urgent need to resolve the crises in the Niger-Delta region in a honest, transparent and open manner with the aim of addressing the fears of the communities, the authorities, the multinationals and business community as well as the agitators themselves;
  • That the ongoing clean-up exercise in Ogoni should be extended to other lands polluted in the Niger Delta as soon as such plans are feasible.
  • Participants resolve to set up a Working Group on the Niger-Delta to constantly bring community leaders and civil society organisations together towards finding a people-driven solution to the problems of the Niger-Delta;
  • Participants call on all stakeholders not to undermine the Right to Self-Determination as entrenched in the United Nations (UN) Charter and other obligations of the UN on the rights of Indigenous peoples including the International Labour Organisation, (ILO) Convention 169 on Biological Diversity.
  • Participants demand speedy passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) by the 8th Session of the National Assembly.
  • Participants call on the government, communities and other stakeholders in the Niger-Delta to explore the potentials of working together, remove suspicion and mutual distrust in other to deal with the hydra-headed problems that confront the people of the oil producing communities.

SIGNED

PARTICIPANTS

 

Dimkpa Emmanuel Princewill.  Vice National Chairman South-South, Nigeria Youth-Assembly.

Fortune Alfred

Raphael Obaze

Styun Oboiloekwe

Oguntuase Akin Micheal

Uzoma Esther A.

Yahaya Abraham D.

Patterson Ogon

Toinpre Alabo

NsemekeFabian

 
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COMMUNIQUE ISSUES AT THE END OF THE ENUGU CONFERENCE

Communiqué issued at the end of a Training/Workshop organised by the JOURNALISTS FOR DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS, (JODER) with the support of the FORD FOUNDATION on Promoting Peace, Democracy and Stability in Nigeria through the Media, Socio-Cultural institutions and Youth Driven Community-Based Groups after the one-day event held at Bridge Waters Hotel, Garden Avenue, Enugu on July 4, 2016

 

Background

Participants drawn from socio-cultural groups, the media and professional organisations covering the entire South East of Nigeria in Enugu on July 04, 2016.

Observations and deliberations by participants

  • Delegates expressed delight at any people-driven peace-building mechanism necessary for the upliftment of the people from their state of fear and despair.
  • That Nigeria is a potentially great country. The country needs peace and understanding for her to be able to overcome the incessant forms of conflict that have been the source of the country’s underdevelopment.
  • Participants regret that since Nigeria’s independence, conflict and instability have been some of the major obstacles to national rebirth.
  • That Nigeria faces challenges of corruption, poverty, human rights abuse, violent crimes all of which undermine the prospect for peace and development.

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  • That these crises unfortunately were partly responsible for the avoidable civil war (1967-1970) which led to the loss of millions of human lives.
  • That since Nigeria emerged as a country, ethnic suspicion, violence and social disequilibrium have been recurrent dots on the country’s landscape.
  • Despite the various democratic experiences of the country, the sources of conflict which threaten stability and co-existence remain largely unchallenged.
  • That democracy remains the best option for the people in meeting their aspirations.
  • That election in Nigeria has always been associated with post-election violence, which in the past had bred unspeakable retrogression in the country.
  • That the training has brought hope and has improved the skill and understanding of the participants in dealing with challenge of conflict and peace building.

FURTHER DELIBERATIONS

  • That conflict is a natural element in human existence and that conflicts are man-made and could be resolved by mankind out of freewill and good choice.
  • That participants are concerned about the state of the nation and the emergence of several pro-ethnic groups some of whose activities continue to generate deep concern among Nigerians.
  • Participants are concerned about the current violent dimension that the engagements of the authorities have taken and call for peaceful resolution of all forms of disagreements.
  • Concerned that irrespective of the state of affairs in the country, the people on their own can drive a genuine peace process;
  • That participants are concerned about the spate of violence in the form of herdsmen attacks, the killings in NIMBO, the massacre of innocent unarmed demonstrators in the South East and call for restrain on the side of all stakeholders.
  • Realizing that no country can develop in the presence of conflict, constant friction, religious and ethnic bigotry,

 the delegates hereby resolve as follows:

  • That the various sources of conflict in Nigeria can be prevented between contending parties irrespective of its nature and form.
  • That peace and stability are necessary for livelihood and A crisis- free ethnic relationship in Nigeria.
  • That participants will work towards building a new bridge of understanding for peace among Nigeria’s social and cultural formations.
  • Participants will create and nurture a new, lasting bridge of mutual respect between the people of the South East and their counterparts in the South west and other parts of the country.
  • Participants agree to establish a new network of the people in the South West and South East for the peace and well-being of the indigenous peoples in these territories.
  • Participants commit themselves to peaceful resolution of any and all forms of conflict for the wellbeing of the people. The delegates also call for an end to all forms of violence either perpetrated by groups, individuals or by the state.
  • Participants strongly condemn the killings in NIMBO, the violence unleashed on a peaceful and innocent community.
  • That the relevant authorities should have respect for local and international legal instruments that promote the rights of indigenous people and should employ legal and constitutional means in resolving lingering forms of conflict confronting in the South East region.
  • That the perpetrators of violence in NIMBO and other parts of the South East must be brought to face the full weight of the law.
  • That all those arrested during the recent protests in the Eastern part of the country should either be released or be charged to court with due process being employed in their trial according to the constitution and other relevant international laws and standards.

SIGNED

PARTICIPANTS

Chief A.E. Okobi,
Olu Omotayo

Micheal Odiegwu

Hon. Mrs Vero Udeh

Obasi Elobuike

Ejimadu Chinonso

Onuoha Ifeoma

Olisa Echukwu

Amechi Echukwu Chief

Christopher Ukeogbu

Ike Nwalunor

 

 

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Advocacy Visit

 

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Journalists for Democratic Rights, (JODER) advocacy visit to the palace of HRH Tony Ojukwu, the Igwe of Ogui Nike in Enugu South Local Government Area, Enugu State, alongside Resource persons and participant at the Peace Building, Conflict Prevention and Conflict Management summit organized by JODER with support from Ford Foundation.

 

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Journalists for Democratic Rights, (JODER) advocacy visit to the palace of HRH Tony Ojukwu, the Igwe of Ogui Nike in Enugu South Local Government Area, Enugu State, alongside Resource persons and participant at the Peace Building, Conflict Prevention and Conflict Management summit organized by JODER with support from Ford Foundation.

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JODER officials in a group photograph with Nimbo Community leaders in Enugu during JODERs advocacy visit to the town.

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JODER officials in a group photograph with Nimbo Community leaders in Enugu during JODERs advocacy visit to the town.

 

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JODER officials speaking to the Balogun Spare Parts Dealers, Ikeja, Lagos.

 

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L-R; REUBEN BUHARI, LEADER SOKAPU; JODER ED, ADEWALE ADEOYE; ALH BALARABE MUSA, FORMER KADUNA STATE GOVERNOR; FRANCIS ABAYOMI, ED PEDEP AND AKINWALE KASALI, JODER ASST. PROGRAMME OFFICER IN A ADVOCACY VISIT TO ALH MUSA’S HOUSE

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SPEAKING ON THE NEWLY BUILT FARM SETTLEMENT PRIMARY SCHOOL, MR ADEWALE ADEOYE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF JODER.

Speaking on the newly built Farm settlement primary school, Mr Adewale Adeoye, Executive Director of JODER said the building of the school was conceived by Ford Foundation under the Good Neighborliness Project. He said a Ford staff that lives in Ikorodu, Mrs Yemisi Akin Adeniyi had identified the school’s poor conditions after which she informed Ford Foundation. Adeoye said JODER’s role was a mere “footnote” adding that the whole credit should go to Ford Foundation and its affectionate staff. “JODER is grateful that FORD contacted us to oversee the building. The whole credit goes to Ford Foundation and her amazing staff.”

Poor Odogunyan community erupted in excitement yesterday as locals and dignitaries watch the opening of six classrooms and toilets at the Farm Settlement Primary School located in rural suburb of Lagos. The world standard classrooms, equipped with modern furniture, borehole and toilets were conceived and built by the Ford Foundation under the group’s Good Neighborliness project.

The project also included the building of an extensive fence on the two acre vast land on which the school was built.  The school has a population of 1000 pupils, from diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds and by far the largest public primary school in the area. The pupils are from poor and vulnerable homes.
The primary was first built in 1978 specifically for wards of poor and rural parents who could hardly afford the benefit of modern primary schools. Even then, the learning conditions dwindled under the weight of years of authority neglect compounded later by dwindling fortunes of state resources. The Ford Foundation had asked the Journalists for Democratic Rights, (JODER) to supervise the project.
The Secretary to the State Governor, Mr Tunji Bello who represented the Governor of Lagos State, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode said the growing population of pupils in public schools remains a major challenge to the state government describing the intervention ofFord Foundation as strategic. He said the people of Lagos will never forget the monumental contributions of Ford Foundation for ending the despair of the pupils.
The Representative of Ford Foundation, West Africa, Mr Innocent Chukwuma who spoke at the event said an official of Ford Foundation, Mrs Yemisi Akin Adeniyi identified the school based on the peculiar challenges faced by the pupils. He said the idea is to promote good neighborliness.
Chukwuma said the original concept of public schools was to provide a platform for rich and poor children to mingle so as not to create a generation gap and to broaden understanding among the various classes of children within the social and economic spectrum of the larger society.
He said that  pupils from poor and rich homes hardly have a meeting point which is partly responsible for a string of hate, discord and social inequalities that exist today. The rich children never meet children of the poor. They don’t know their fears and aspirations. The same children of the rich when they grow up end up ruling a society they hardly understand. The head girl of the school, Makanjuola Khadijat said “We are happy. We no longer need to clear faeces of hoodlums. Before now we were ashamed of ourselves and the school, but now we have pride and dignity.” The JODER Executive Director, Mr Adewale Adeoye said the Ford Foundation has left an indelible footprints in the hearts of future leaders and in the host community.
 Until the rebuilding of the historic school, the lack of fence opened gory opportunities for armed gangs and street urchins who have converted the space into a red light district. On one occasion, said Mr Oduwoye, the Ikorodu Local Government LG Secretary, said a sophisticated gun was found at the school, apparently abandoned the day before by suspected armed robbers. The pupils also needed to clear the faeces of intruders who take over the space on weekends and in the dead of the night.
The head teacher of the school Mr Adewale Olukoga said since the school was rebuilt by Ford Foundation, the enthusiasm to enroll in the school has tripled. “People ask us how do we do it. They ask us if we are now a private school. We are very grateful to the Ford Foundation for this great edifice,” an excited Olukoga said amidst pomp, pageantry and sounds of local drums and flute provided by locals.

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