NNRC Engages the Media to Improve Accountability within the Petroleum Sector

The Nigeria Natural Resource Charter (NNRC) has been engaging media practitioners at different fora on effective coverage of the oil and gas sector. This is with aim to help the media understand the intricacies of the sector and also be properly equipped to carry out value added reportage of the sector. The first of such engagements was a workshop hosted by the Cable Newspaper Journalism Foundation (CNJF) on “Reporting Oil and Gas Sector: The Nitty Gritty” which took place on Friday, December 1, 2017 at De Rembrandt Hotel, Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos. The purpose of the workshop was to train the in-house journalists of TheCable, the sister organization of CNJF, to have a better understanding of Nigeria’s oil and gas sector and to be able to report effectively and also conduct special investigative reporting on the sector.Recognizing the fast growing importance of the social media in information management and dissemination, a Social Media Influencers Workshop on the Social Amplification of Issues in the Oil and Gas Sector was held in Abuja on the 5th December, 2017. Both events were specifically tailored to help media practitioners have better grasp of the oil and gas sector which in turn will reflect in their coverage of the sector.The first workshop formed part of the training and capacity-building component of the Petroleum Industry Barometer Project (PIBP). Following the training, it is expected that the reporters will be able to improve the investigative reporting on the petroleum sector.The facilitators were Mr. Mike Oduniyi, former energy editor, THISDAY Newspapers, who did a workshop on “Reporting Oil and Gas Sector: Back to the Basics”; Ms. Tengi George-Ikoli, programme coordinator, Nigeria Natural Resource Charter (NNRC) who took the participants through the Precepts of the Nigeria Natural Resource Charter Framework; and Mr. Mike ‘Uzor, founder and managing director/CEO, Datatrust Consulting Limited, who made a presentation on “Falling in love with facts and figures.”The workshop presentations provided insights into types of news, news gathering techniques and methods, the structure of the oil and gas industry, regulatory agencies, processes involved in the award of oil blocks starting from the award of oil prospecting licenses (OPL) to oil mining leases (OML), and the importance of facts and figures to news reporting, among others.In her presentation, Ms. Tengi George-Ikoli spoke on the policies in the sector as well as its decision chain providing further insights into the activities of key stakeholders like governance institutions, oil companies, and host communities. She used the opportunity to abreast the participants of the 12 Precepts of the NNRC and how they are applied to monitor the activities of key stakeholders in the industry. She highlighted on issues such as preferential contract terms in the oil industry, investment in crony projects, tax evasion and savings fund malpractices. Others include environmental and human rights abuses, and illicit flight of revenues in the oil and gas industry among others.Mr. Mike Oduniyi took the participants through some of the processes involved in the award of oil blocks starting from the award of oil prospecting licenses (OPL) to oil mining leases (OML). While explaining that business in the oil and gas sector is often carried out surreptitiously by players in the sector, he added that journalists may have to resort to unofficial sources to gather information. He, however, urged reporters to be accurate when reporting the sector, as it affects the output of the sector.Mike Uzor, in his presentation, noted that facts and figures are integral to news reporting and urged participants to keep a database of useful information relevant to the beat being covered. He added that figures provide quick anchors for a story by providing insights into causes and effects while it also helps to avoid controversies, aside the fact that good usage of facts and figures by a reporter helps him or her to develop competence in the field of coverage.The workshop which was a highly interactive one which had Mr. Michael Uzoigwe, PhD, Technical Lead, Demand-side Accountability, Facility for Oil Sector Transformation (FOSTER), also in attendance. He told participants, that the FOSTER project started in 2011 while its first five-year term ended in 2016. He explained that the organisation works as a catalyst by trying to empower stakeholders in the oil and gas industry to do what they are supposed to do to make the industry better.At the Social Media Infleuncers Workshop in Abuja, Ms. Tengi George-Ikoli presented an overview of the extractive sector in Nigeria taking them through the Precepts. Amara Nwankpa spoke on public policy and resource governance; the role of citizens while Dauda Garba took participants on issues of resource curse and resource governance in the Nigerian extractive sector. Ambrose Ambagape spoke on the importance of visuals for data. The event helped the participants to understand some of the key issues involved in the oil and gas sector in particular and the extractive industry in general.Throughout the workshop, participants learnt about the basics of reporting news generally and the oil and gas sector in particular. They also learnt about how to use facts and figures to do interesting investigative stories. They were also enlightened on the key industry stakeholders and regulatory agencies in Nigeria’s oil and gas sector and give clues on good story ideas on the oil and gas sector that can be pursued and investigated by reporters.