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Extractive Sector Reporting: Five investigative journalists Get Support from Policy Alert

Extractive Sector Reporting: Five investigative journalists Get Support from Policy Alert

By Ekemini Simon



Five investigative journalists in the Niger Delta have received both technical and funding support from Policy Alert to investigate and publish extractive sector reports.

The journalists selected with the winning entries after a pitch contest are Ann Godwin of The Guardian, Ekemini Simon of The Mail, Aiwerie Okungbowa of The Nation, Tony Esin of Comfort 95.1 fm, and Enwonoabasi Elisha of The Crest.

According to Policy Alert, a Civil Society Organisation promoting economic and ecological justice in the Niger Delta,  the support is  under its #WetinWeGain2 project.

A statement released Tuesday morning and signed by the organisation’s Programme Lead on Energy, Extractives and Climate Justice, Mfon Gabriel, stated that 
the five journalists drawn from the print, online and electronic media, were awarded mini-grants totaling N1.25million.



The statement noted that the journalists,  are working in the four pilots states of the project – Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Delta and Rivers – and will be developing reports focused on the pilot oil, gas, and mining assets being investigated under the project – OML13/14 (Akwa Ibom), Lafarge Holcim cement operations at Mfamosing (Cross River), OML 127/128 (Rivers), and OML 40 (Delta). 



A statement reads: “The #WetinWeGain Reports is the investigative journalism component of Policy Alert’s project, #WetinWeGain2 – Putting Citizens at the Centre of Beneficial Ownership and Contract Transparency Reforms in Nigeria’s Extractive Sector. 

“The project seeks to popularise extractive sector data, particularly payments to government, beneficial ownership information and contract details. Although recent reforms in the extractive sector have huge potential for detecting and deterring corruption, plugging revenue leakages, and improving the benefits citizens derive from oil, gas and mineral resources, this can only happen where extractive data is effectively utilised by citizens and the media as tools for accountability and improved community beneficiation.”

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Policy Alert pointed out that in September 2021, the organisation had conducted a series of training workshops on data journalism and extractive sector reporting for investigative reporters in the four states of the Niger Delta where the project is being implemented.

The statement said that the project, which is implemented with funding support from the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), is leveraging recent reforms around beneficial ownership, contract transparency and payment disclosures to simplify and democratize access to extractive sector data. It noted that the media, civil society, legislatures, and host communities require a deeper grasp of the otherwise complex transactions in the extractive sector to ramp up pressure for more accountability in the industry. 



“We are confident that over the coming months, our support to these five exceptional journalists would be catalytic not only for triggering interest in reporting the extractive sector but also for reinforcing the role of the media as accountability stewards who owe society a duty to constantly question government and corporations operating in this very important sector,” Gabriel said.

 “As we have seen with recent reforms, data disclosures on their own cannot achieve much until citizens are able to uptake that data and utilise it to demand accountability, prevent corruption and ensure that hitherto diverted financial flows start finding their way back into government coffers for the benefit of citizens.”

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