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Salone journalist elected regional WANJOP Veep

December 16, 2015 By Abdulai Turay

Managing Editor of the New Agenda newspaper, Minkailu Turay, has been elected Vice President of the West Africa Network of Journalists for the Promotion of Good Governance (WANJOP) during a media training held in the Senegalese capital of Dakar and organised by the Panos Institute of West Africa (PIWA).

The Network comprises 30 journalists from six West African countries who converged at Hotel Ndiambour in central Dakar for a three-day training on good governance bordering on women and media issues. The six participating countries include Sierra Leone, Benin, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Guinea and host Senegal. Sierra Leone was represented by Mr. Turay (head of delegation), Princetta Williams of AYV TV, Elizabeth Allie Blango of Radio Democracy FM 98.1, Yayah Bilal Turay of Radio MARWOPNET in Kambia, and Emmanuella Kallon of Awoko newspaper.

The election for the WANJOP executive officers was held after the training on Wednesday 9 December and the elected officers – each representing the six participating countries – are to serve a two-year term of office.

Mr. Turay, being bilingual, was elected Vice President of the Network. Other executive members include Janet Gbagbo from Ivory Coast as President; Adeline Kunyeng from Ghana – Secretary General; Hermine Akponna from Benin – Deputy Secretary General; Fatmata Kante from Guinea – Treasurer; and Birame Faye from Senegal as Officer-in-Charge of Foreign Relations. The executive was given a special task to draw-up a six-month work plan for the Network and Mr. Turay was requested to work on the project.

The project titled, “Women and Media, Partners for Better Governance in West Africa”, is being implemented by the Panos Institute of West Africa (PIWA) and is funded by the European Union (EU) for a three-year period. The objective of the project is geared toward strengthening relations between countries, journalists and CSOs (particularly those run by women). It is also designed to increase the political participation of citizens, especially women, their ability to monitor public policy, and the accountability of elected officials in the aforementioned countries in West Africa.

The workshop provided thematic training for journalists to enable them take on issues affecting women in the West African region, including access to land, discrimination and political participation.

Countries targeted by the project are all characterized by lack of citizens’ control over governance, leading to the marginalization of citizens when decisions are taken, especially concerning access to public resources. This thus results in an unequal distribution that does not always contribute towards alleviating poverty. Corruption is one of the most obvious symptoms of this bad governance.

According to Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) for 2014, these countries were ranked respectively 145th (Guinea), 115th (Cote d’Ivoire), 119th (Sierra Leone), 80th (Benin) and 61st (Ghana), on a scale ranging from 1 to 175.

According to one of the facilitators at the training, Birahim Seck from Forum Civil, where as all these countries formally adhere to regional standards on governance as stipulated by the African Chapter on democracy, elections and governance, and African Union regulatory  mechanisms such as the Africa Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), even if only three of the targeted countries (Ghana, Benin and Sierra Leone) have effectively adhere to the APRM, it is usually rare for the provisions of the Charter to be respected.

“Key factors identified as responsible for bad governance and corruption include the absence of checks and balances, the ineffectiveness of control mechanism, and lack of accountability,” Mr. Seck informed the West African journalists.

In his presentation of international and regional instruments of governance in the ECOWAS area, Mame Less Camara, former President of the Senegalese Press Union, explained methods used to address governance issues in media productions bordering on pitfalls, risks, constraints and how to get around.

He urged newsmen to have access to the different protocols relating to good governance, gender and the information including the UN, AU conventions and Maputo protocols. “There are international protocols our governments signed but do not implement them,” Camara observed.

Legal instruments on gender equity in ECOWAS were also dealt with by a renowned female civil society activist from The Gambia, Amie Joof Famedev. She mentioned among other things violations of the rights of women, gender mainstreaming and marginalization of woman, especially in rural setting and in the political arena.

Earlier in his statement, the Project Officer of PIWA, Libasse Hane, recalled that since 2013 several training workshops (thematic and technical) targeted journalists from each country (mainstream and community alike), who he said now work regularly and intensively on issues relative to women, the media and governance.

He observed that some of the journalists carry out regular monitoring and participation in enriching and deepening the debate aimed at including the concerns of women in governance. He said the main objective of the activity is to create a sub-regional network for journalists on governance, which he added specifically involves strengthening the thematic capacities of the journalists on some key governance related issues.

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