IFAnet was inaugurated at the height of a tense social and political atmosphere in 1996. Military dictatorship held sway, inflicting untold hardship with its economic policies, mortgaging national development while also curtailing the independence of the judiciary, repressing the media and free speech; in short, circumscribing the civic and literary public sphere. Inspired by our avowed vision on ‘’How best the machines of the ICTs can serve humaninty’’ and a mission ‘’To use the ICTs and the new media in addressing and redressing the circumstances of poverty, ignorance and underdevelopment in Nigeria and the West Africa sub-region’’, we trundled on. And in no time, development oriented international organisations gradually started giving us a third party endorsement by supporting our programmes, some of which include:
- Ford Foundation
We got a seed grant to deepen our programmes. This gave us the benefit of improving on our work in training of media librarians in the context of the newly emerging environment of new media from the year 2000 on. This included training in new catalogue filing protocols, open access work and digital retrospective conversion of data, among others. Several other programmes were held with other units of the media on how to enshrine the culture of freedom of the press, the judiciary and deliberative governess.
- Panos Institute
With the support of the PANOS Institute we were able to equip our media and studio facility to further document issues of abuse of the press, monitor human rights situation in the country and also generate data in their assessment and evaluation. The outcomes were usually broadcast for public awarness, and served as vital reference for civil society groups to demand government to be more accountable to its citizenry.
- World Bank
The world bank gave us support to train journalists in election monitoring. IFAnet was able to evolve a model that systematised the cardinal issues to look out for in the pre, during, and post election period. The model, which highlighted both processes and actors and stakeholders in their diverse roles, was also fashioned for media agenda-setting publishing and broadcasing initiatives for the ultimate empowerment of civil society.
The Open Society for Initiative in West Africa (OSIWA) was quite timely in appreciating IFAnet’s desire to upgrade the consciousness of the civil society through an active media participation. Through OSIWA, our outreach expanded, and we could therefore replicate civic education on a diversity of issues pertaining to good governance. This integrated approach allowed us to infuse civic education with such components as gender education and mainstreaming, minority rights and those of other vulnerable members of society in the front burners of national discourse.
The USAID-IITA-EATP projects started with our initial patnership with the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA). As confidence grew with this modest effort in working with farmers and traders in West Africa’s largest grains market of Dawanau in Kano, Nigeria, the USAID, and subsequently a joint USAID and EATP—Expanded Agricultural and Trades Promotion—support came to facilitate our training of this sector in the use of the ICTS for access to agro-inputs and agribusiness through an online platform hosted by the Esoko.
- Freedom House
Members of IFAnet benefitted from the several programmes mounted by the Lagos outreach office of the Washington-based Freedom House. These programmes were generally focused on capacity building of research oriented and civil society groups in development communication.
IFRA suported our ICT4D and Cultural Diversity Training for Children of West Africa’s Migrant Workers. By the May of 2006, IFAnet commenced with a training programme of the Children of West African Migrant Workers in Southwest, Nigeria, along with some Nigerian children too. The choice of the children of the most vulnerable group (the migrants’ children) was informed by the emerging trend in the world to tackle the problem of unequal access to the newest media of the ICTs. But this project was as much for the concern for offsprings of transnational migration and their vulnerability in an increasingly conflictual world proliferated with small arms. Beyond the technicalities of the ICTs the training exposed the children to the different cultures and religions of West Africa and their beauty in such diversity. This is a tacit acknowledgement that the post-independence elite has failed the subregion, but perhaps the future can be saved!
- British High Commission
While the primary aim of the British High Commission was to ensure public enlightenment for citizenship participation in the electoral process, it welcomed our interpretation of that mandate as an act of media responsibility agenda-setting for actualising that vision. This led to mounting a country-wide training of media workers in the tenets of diversity in deliberative governance. It also meant that we had to assemble media executives and line editors on Media and Diversity Reporting of Conflict. Thus in 2009 we commenced this training on the diverse themes of Constitutional Guarantees/Havens for Minority Voices; Media, New Media and Diversity Reporting of Conflict; Media and Diversity Reporting of Environmental Conflict; Food Security and Conflict in Nigeria; Media Representation of Political God-fatherism in Conflict and Media, and Diversity Reporting of Ethno-Religious Conflict, among others.
Under our Gender-Sensitivity Scheme, the African Women Development Fund (AWDF) supported IFAnet in the training of women in scholarship and civil society advocacy work on how to mainstream gender in curriculum for a reorientation of perception and policy implementation in our diverse institutions. The programme was geared towards a mid-term impact on a society with governmental policies of denial of gender realities.
- DFID-ActionAid Nigeria
Since mid 2014 IFAnet has been working with the ActionAid Nigeria on Strengthening Citizens’ Engagement in Electoral Process (SCEEP) in select local governments in Oyo State, and collaborating with another USAID partner, the International Press Centre (IPC) on the same programme in Lagos.