THE need for the monitoring of government’s yearly budget, especially for children’s wellbeing by the media, topped discussions as the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) officials and other experts met at the weekend in Enugu.
They also noted that the implementation of the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act by both government and journalists would ensure adequate development of national frameworks for children’s rights.
At the media workshop on FoI Act and budget tracking supported by the UNICEF, Founder, Albino Foundation, Jake Epelle, urged the media to “begin to dig deeper into these salient areas that are connected to albinism and people living with the condition.”
He lamented unsound socio-cultural myths and negative beliefs as cause of the society’s perception about albinism and their assumptions.
According to Communications Specialist, UNICEF, Geoffrey Njoku, though basic provisions of the Child’s Rights Act 2003 ensure that the Act covers children’s rights with respect to child survival, development, participation and protection, gaps in budget implementation with regard to inequity still exists.
He said: “Many countries are on track to meet the Millennium Development Goals, some very comfortably, but they are leaving behind many children in penury. This realisation is galvanising the UN and others around an equity agenda.”
Njoku said that poverty, geographic location, gender, disability and ethnicity were critical factors boosting all forms of vulnerability.
Another speaker, Ralph Ndigwe, who dwelt on the “Role of the Media in Promoting Citizens’ Participation in the Budget Process”, noted that budgeting was one of the tools national governments used to allocate resources.
Ndigwe urged the media to identify the budgeting system in Nigeria, which “is closed and shrouded in mystery, these and other related barriers and dismantle them through advocacy and sensitisation.”
He cited media actions for government’s responsiveness to include consistently publishing information on budget.
Others are to advocate for budget documents to be produced for public access and ensuring their dissemination, providing budget projects for the next fiscal year, budget revenues, sources and execution.