Journalists have been advised to take practical steps to ensure that public office holders are more transparent for the development of the society.
The Inspector General of the Cuyagoha County In Cleveland, USA Mr. Mark Griffin gave the advise when he hosted seven Nigerian Journalists on a tour of the United States.
The Journalists which includes Voice of Nigeria’s Rafat Salami are in the US under the International Visitors Leadership Programme IVLP.
Mr Griffin stated that the role of Journalists in pushing for transparency in public administration was key in America, a model he said ensured that there was checks and balances.
He said that America’s First amendment guarantees the freedom of the press which is cherished and protected by all citizens.
“We are obliged to give information to anyone who requests it within the shortest possible time regardless of whether the person is a journalist or not,” he said.
He mentioned that the model has ensured good governance in the Cuyagoha county.
He was quick to add that despite the system they had in place, corruption devices new means of perpetuation.
Mr Griffin said until the conviction of former commissioner of the county Jimmy Dimora in 2012, the County did not have strong system for checking abuse of power.
The Cuyahoga County corruption case of 2008 involved over 60 local politicians, public employees and contractors.
The Cuyagoha County Inspector General said the county then developed a strong code of ethics which mandated public officers to full disclosure of family relations as well, contractors and lobbyist to register.
Established in 2011, the office of the Cuyahoga County Inspector General ensures that ethics and intetgrity are central features of local county government. The office recieved broad authority to investigate financial dealings of the county
The team of journalists participating in the International Visitors Leadership Programme IVLP are touring the US exploring the theme ‘Promoting Good Governance and accountability in the United States: The role of journalists.’
The Cleveland experience was on ‘accountability at state level: a case study and the role of the media in encouraging accountability.’
A county in the US is the equivalent of local governments in Nigeria.